Mountainous region occupying the ‘toe’ of Italy, comprising the provinces of Catanzaro, Cosenza, Crotone, Reggio di Calabria, and Vibo Valenzia; area 15,080 sq km/5,822 sq mi; population (2001 est) 1,993,300. A peninsula lying between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas, Calabria is separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina, and has a narrow, fertile coastal strip. Its capital is Catanzaro, and other major towns include Crotone and Reggio di Calabria.
The region contains two groups of the southern Apennines; in the southern group lies the peak of Aspromonte. The northern group in Cosenza province includes the plateau of La Sila.
On the densely populated plains and hillslopes, intensive garden plots produce cereals, vegetables, oranges, almonds, wine, and figs. There are also extensive olive groves. The development of industry and coastal tourism has helped to stem the tide of emigration from the region. Industrial centres include Crotone and Reggio di Calabria, and there are several large hydroelectric plants. Long one of the most economically depressed areas in Italy, during the second half of the 20th century the government tried to stimulate the economy through the introduction of new crops, land reform, and the promotion of tourism.
Crotone was the site of Croton, a Greek town founded by the Achaeans in 710 BC. Calabria was known in ancient times as Bruttium, and took its modern name in the 8th century. Taken over by Norman adventurer Robert Guiscard in the 11th century, the region was first part of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily and then part of the Kingdom of Naples after 1822; it was then conquered by Guiseppe Garibaldi in 1860. Catanzaro occupies an important gap south of La Sila, and was badly damaged in World War II. During that war the Eighth Army crossed the Strait of Messina to invade the Italian mainland of Calabria on 3 September 1943.
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