Lampedusa

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Lampedusa
Native name: Lampidusa

North-Eastern cliffs of Lampedusa
Pelagie Islands map.png
Geography
LocationMediterranean Sea
Coordinates35°30′N 12°36′E / 35.5°N 12.6°E / 35.5; 12.6Coordinates: 35°30′N 12°36′E / 35.5°N 12.6°E / 35.5; 12.6
ArchipelagoPelagie Islands
Total islands3
Major islandsLampedusa, Linosa and Lampione
Area20.2 km2 (7.8 sq mi)
Country
Italy
RegionSicily
ProvinceProvince of Agrigento
Communes of LampedusaLampedusa e Linosa
Demographics
Population5,000
 
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Lampedusa
Native name: Lampidusa

North-Eastern cliffs of Lampedusa
Pelagie Islands map.png
Geography
LocationMediterranean Sea
Coordinates35°30′N 12°36′E / 35.5°N 12.6°E / 35.5; 12.6Coordinates: 35°30′N 12°36′E / 35.5°N 12.6°E / 35.5; 12.6
ArchipelagoPelagie Islands
Total islands3
Major islandsLampedusa, Linosa and Lampione
Area20.2 km2 (7.8 sq mi)
Country
Italy
RegionSicily
ProvinceProvince of Agrigento
Communes of LampedusaLampedusa e Linosa
Demographics
Population5,000

Lampedusa (Sicilian: Lampidusa) is the largest island of the Italian Pelagie Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The comune of Lampedusa e Linosa is part of the Sicilian province of Agrigento which also includes the smaller islands of Linosa and Lampione. It is the southernmost part of Italy and also of Europe. Tunisia, which is about 113 kilometres (70 mi) away, is the closest landfall to the islands. Sicily is further at 176 kilometres (109 mi).

Lampedusa, which has an area of 20.2 square kilometres (7.8 sq mi), has a population of approximately 4,500 people. Its main industries are fishing, agriculture and tourism. A ferry service links the island with Porto Empedocle, near Agrigento, Sicily. There are also year-round flights from Lampedusa Airport to Palermo and Catania on the Sicilian mainland. In the summer there are additional services to Rome and Milan, beside many other seasonal links with Italian mainland.

Since the early 2000s, the island has become a primary European entry point for migrants, mainly from Africa.[1]

Contents

History

Tourism is a major part of the islands economy.
Coastline of Lampedusa
The Isola dei Conigli, or Island of Rabbits

Historically, Lampedusa was a landing place and a maritime base for the ancient Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The Romans established a plant for the production of the prized fish sauce known as garum. As a result of pirate attacks, the island became uninhabited.

The first prince of Lampedusa and Linosa was Giulio Tomasi, ancestor of the famous writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, who received the title from Charles II of Spain in 1630.[citation needed] A century later the Tomasi family began a program of resettlement. In the 1840s the Tomasi family sold the island to the Kingdom of Naples.

In 1860 the island became part of the new Kingdom of Italy, but the new Italian government limited its activities there to building a penal colony.

In June 1943, during the Second World War, as a precursor to the Allied invasion of Sicily the island was secured without resistance in Operation Corkscrew by the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Lookout and ninety-five men of the 2nd Battalion the Coldstream Guards. White flags had been sighted in the port, and when Lieutenant Corbett of Lookout approached the port in a motor launch he was told that the island's garrison wished to surrender.[2] The Governor's formal surrender was accepted in the island's underground command-post by a combined Army/Navy delegation sometime after 9:00am on 13 June 1943. During this process the governor handed his sword to the Coldstream company commander, Major Bill Harris.[3] A second unofficial claim has also been made regarding the capitulation of the island, when earlier that same day elements of the garrison had also attempted to surrender in unusual circumstances when the pilot of a Royal Air Force Swordfish aircraft landed after suffering problems with his compass.[4]

The first telephone connection with Sicily was installed only in the 1960s. In the same decade an electric power station was built.

In 1972 part of the western side of the island became a United States Coast Guard LORAN-C transmitter station. In 1979, Lt. Kay Hartzell took command of the Coast Guard base.[5]

During the 1980s the Mediterranean was the scene of numerous terrorist attacks. The years 1985-1986 saw an increase in tensions. On April 15, 1986, Libya fired two Scuds at the Lampedusa navigation station on the island, in retaliation for the American bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi, and the alleged death of Colonel Gaddafi's adopted daughter. However, the missiles passed over the island, landed in the sea and caused no damage.[6]

On January 4 1989, U.S. Navy aircraft from the carrier USS John F. Kennedy shot down two Libyan fighters approximately 200 kilometres from the island.[7] The base commander was advised by U.S. Sixth Fleet Intelligence at La Maddalena that the Libyan president, Muammar al-Gaddafi, had threatened reprisals against the American commanders at Sigonella and Lampedusa.[8] Subsequently an Italian media frenzy followed which put the Lampedusa in the spotlight.[9]

The NATO base was decommissioned in 1994 and transferred to Italian military control.

North African immigration

Since the early 2000s, Lampedusa has become a prime transit point for immigrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia wanting to enter Europe. In 2004 the Libyan and Italian governments reached a secret agreement that obliged Libya to accept African immigrants deported from Italian territories. This resulted in the mass return of many people from Lampedusa to Libya between 2004 and 2005 without the endorsement of European Parliament.[10]

By 2006 many African immigrants were paying people smugglers in Libya to help get them to Lampedusa by boat.[11] On arrival, most were then transferred by the Italian government to reception centres in mainland Italy. Many were then released because their deportation orders were not enforced.[12]

In 2009 the overcrowded conditions at the island's temporary immigrant reception centre came under criticism by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The unit, which was originally built for a maximum capacity of 850 people, was reported to be housing nearly 2,000 boat people. A significant number of people were sleeping outdoors under plastic sheeting.[13] A fire started during an inmate riot destroyed a large portion of the holding facility on 19 February 2009.

In 2011 many more immigrants have come to Lampedusa during the rebellions in Tunisia and Libya.[14] By May 2011, more than 35,000 immigrants had arrived on the island from Tunisia and Libya.[15] By the end of August, 48,000 had arrived.[16] Most were young males in their 20s and 30s.[17] The situation has caused division within the EU, the French government regarding most of the arrivals as economic migrants rather than refugees in fear of persecution.[18] The Libyan ambassador to Italy stated that Gaddafi controlled illegal immigration to meet his goals- "he wanted to turn Lampedusa black with Africans".[16]

Geography and climate

Politically and administratively Lampedusa is part of Italy, but geologically it belongs to Africa since the sea between the two is no deeper than 120 metres. Lampedusa is an arid island, dominated by a garigue landscape, with maquis shrubland in the west. It has no sources of water other than irregular rainfall. The fauna and flora of Lampedusa are similar to those of North Africa, with a few pelagic endemic species.[citation needed] Overall the island has two slopes, from west to east, and from north to south of the island. The southern-western side is dominated by deep gorges, while the south-eastern part is dominated by shallows valleys and sandy beaches. The entire northern coast is dominated by cliffs: gently sloping cliffs on the east coast, and vertical sheer cliffs on the west coast.

The Isola dei Conigli (literally ‘Rabbit Island'), close to the south coast of Lampedusa, is one of the last remaining egg-laying sites in Italy for the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, which is endangered throughout the Mediterranean. The beach and the neighbouring island are part of a nature reserve: here the singer-songwriter Domenico Modugno spent his vacations, and died in 1994. Next to Parise Cape is a small beach accessible only by sea, through a low grotto. Other species living along the island's coast include mantas and dolphins.

Climate

Lampedusa has a Mediterranean climate, with very mild winters and warm, dry summers.

The sea surrounding Lampedusa is relatively shallow and sea temperatures stay warm most of the year, with the warmest being in August when the sea typically reaches 28°C to 30°C. The water stays warm until November, when temperatures range from 25°C to 21°C. The water is coolest in February and March when it averages between 18°C and 20°C.

Climate data for Lampedusa
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)20
(68)
22
(72)
21
(70)
23
(73)
30
(86)
32
(90)
36
(97)
36
(97)
35
(95)
31
(88)
28
(82)
25
(77)
36
(97)
Average high °C (°F)15.3
(59.5)
15.3
(59.5)
16.0
(60.8)
17.9
(64.2)
20.9
(69.6)
24.5
(76.1)
27.4
(81.3)
28.5
(83.3)
27.0
(80.6)
24.0
(75.2)
20.2
(68.4)
16.8
(62.2)
21.15
(70.07)
Average low °C (°F)11.9
(53.4)
11.8
(53.2)
12.4
(54.3)
13.9
(57.0)
16.7
(62.1)
20.1
(68.2)
23.0
(73.4)
24.3
(75.7)
23.0
(73.4)
20.1
(68.2)
16.7
(62.1)
13.5
(56.3)
17.28
(63.11)
Record low °C (°F)5
(41)
7
(45)
7
(45)
10
(50)
11
(52)
15
(59)
18
(64)
18
(64)
16
(61)
11
(52)
8
(46)
5
(41)
5
(41)
Precipitation mm (inches)42.6
(1.677)
29.7
(1.169)
23.6
(0.929)
21.5
(0.846)
6.0
(0.236)
2.3
(0.091)
1.0
(0.039)
2.8
(0.11)
15.5
(0.61)
59.3
(2.335)
63.3
(2.492)
51.5
(2.028)
319.1
(12.563)
humidity78767876787878787777747777.1
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)7.44.73.82.61.30.50.10.42.05.85.57.141.2
Source #1: Servizio Meteorologico[19]
Source #2: Weatherbase [20]

Media

The movie Respiro (2002), written and directed by Emanuele Crialese and starring Valeria Golino, was filmed entirely on Lampedusa.

See also

References

  1. ^ Refugee crisis on Lampedusa
  2. ^ Carl Cranmer (14 June 1943). "Actual surrender of Lampedusa described by reporter on scene". Pitsburgh post. Associated Press: p. 1. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=_zcxAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AWoDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3828,431491&dq=lampedusa&hl=en. 
  3. ^ Quilter, D., No Dishonourable Name (Clowes and Sons, 1947), pp.56-64
  4. ^ Relman Morin (14 June 1943). "Sergeant Cohen Reigns As "King of Lampedusa"". Youngstown Vindicator. Associated Press: p. 1. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=kO9RAAAAIBAJ&pg=5555,3875337. 
  5. ^ Women & the U. S. Coast Guard. United States Coast Guard / United States Department of Homeland Security, April 21, 2011, retrieved May 15, 2011
  6. ^ Libyan Missiles
  7. ^ Gulf of Sidra incident (1989)
  8. ^ Commanding Officer's Log, USCG Loran Station Lampedusa, January 4, 1989
  9. ^ Commanding Officer's Log, USCG Loran Station Lampedusa, January 5–9, 1989
  10. ^ European Parliament resolution on Lampedusa, 14 April 2005
  11. ^ Out of Africa: The human trade between Libya and Lampedusa
  12. ^ Bitter harvest, The Guardian, 19 December 2006
  13. ^ UNHCR Concerned over Humanitarian Situation in Lampedusa, Italy
  14. ^ Reid, Sue (4 April 2011). "Special dispatch: Gaddafi's diaspora and the Libyans overwhelming an Italian island who are threatening to come here". Daily Mail (London). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1373002/Gaddafis-diaspora-Libyans-overwhelming-Lampedusa.html. 
  15. ^ "Hundreds more migrants reach Italy from Africa". Reuters. 14 May 2011. http://af.reuters.com/article/libyaNews/idAFLDE74D02Z20110514. 
  16. ^ a b http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/World/Story/A1Story20110826-296417.html
  17. ^ Guterres, António (9 May 2011). "Look Who's Coming to Europe". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/10/opinion/10iht-edguterres10.html. 
  18. ^ http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5jYWyqZanCi2M7i3Z_qsl0FmHlBkA?docId=6562488
  19. ^ Pelagie Lampedusa "LAMPEDUSA". Servizio Meteorologico. http://clima.meteoam.it/viewClino.php?type=File&station=490&name_station=Isole Pelagie Lampedusa. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  20. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Lampedusa". http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/weatherall.php3?s=9461&refer=&units=metric. 

External links