It is situated 200 km (120 miles) west of the mainland of Italy, 12 km (7.5 miles) south of the neighbouring French island of Corsica, and 200 km (120 miles) north of the coast of Africa.
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and before Cyprus), with an area of 24,100 square kilometers (9,305 square miles).
The coasts of Sardinia are 1,849 kilometers (1,149 miles) long. They are generally high and rocky, with long, relatively straight stretches of coastline, many outstanding headlands, a few wide, deep bays, rias, many inlets and with various smaller islands off the coast.
Sardinia is united geologically with Corsica, both being aligned along a mountain belt rising over 3,950 metres (13,000 feet) from the surrounding seafloor, with a continental slope deeply fretted by submarine canyons.
The highest point is Mount La Marmora (6,017 feet / 1,834 metres) in the Gennargentu massif.
In Sardinia there are more than 100 beaches. The geology of the island provides a variety of beaches, for example beaches made of fine sand or of quartz grain.
The climate is subtropical and Mediterranean.
Sardinia’s rivers, of which the Tirso and Flumendosa are the most important, are short and full of rapids.
The island is one of the most geologically ancient bodies of land in Europe. The island was populated in various waves of immigration from prehistory until recent times.
As time passed, the different Sardinian populations appear to have become united in customs, yet remained politically divided into various small, tribal groupings, at times banding together against invading forces from the sea, and at others waging war against each other. Habitations consisted of round thatched stone huts.
From about 1500 BC onwards, villages were built around a kind of round tower-fortress called nuraghe (usually pluralized as “nuraghes” in English and as nuraghi in Italian). These towers were often reinforced and enlarged with battlements. Today, some 7,000 Nuraghes dot the Sardinian landscape.
It is possible that the Sherden, one of the Sea People who fought in Egypt in the 13th and 12th centuries BC, either came from or settled in Sardinia, and they gave the island its name.
The recorded history of Sardinia begins with its contacts with the various people who sought to dominate western Mediterranean trade in Classical Antiquity: Phoenicians, Punics and Romans.
Initially under the political and economic alliance with the Phoenician cities, it was partly conquered by Carthage in the late 6th century BC and then entirely by Rome after the First Punic War (238 BC).
The island was included for centuries in the Roman province of Sardinia and Corsica, which would be incorporated into the diocese of Italia suburbicaria in 3rd and 4th centuries.
In the Early Middle Ages, through the European barbarian movements, the waning of the Byzantine Empire influence in the western Mediterranean and the Saracen raids, the island fell out of the sphere of influence of any higher government – this led to the birth of four independent kingdoms
called Judicates in the 8th through 10th centuries.
Falling under papal influence, Sardinia became the focus of the rivalry of Genoa, Pisa, and the Crown of Aragon, which eventually subsumed the island as the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1324.
The Iberian Kingdom was to last until 1718, when it was ceded to the House of Savoy – from Piedmont, the Savoyards pursued a policy of expansion to the rest of the Italian peninsula, having their Kingdom of Sardinia be later renamed into “Kingdom of Italy” in 1861.
Cagliari is the capital of the island of Sardinia. It has about 160,000 inhabitants, while its metropolitan city has more than 431,000 inhabitants.
Cagliari Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Cagliari dedicated to the Virgin Mary and to Saint Cecilia. It is the seat of the archbishop of Cagliari. The church was built in the 13th century in Pisan-Romanesque style, obtaining cathedral status in 1258. In the 17th and 18th centuries it was renovated along Baroque lines. In the 1930s it finally received the current façade, in Neo-Romanesque style, inspired by Pisa Cathedral.
The bastion of Saint Remy is one of the most important fortifications in Cagliari , located in the Castello district. The name derives from the first Piedmontese viceroy, Filippo-Guglielmo Pallavicini, baron of Saint Remy. At the end of the 19th century it was monumentally transformed into a staircase, surmounted by the triumphal arch, which gives access to a covered walkway and a large panoramic terrace.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Sardinia is the Nuraghe of Barumini, an incredible nuragic archaeological site in Sardinia. It earns the fame of being recognized as the World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
Neptune’s Grotto is a stalactite cave near the town of Alghero on the island of Sardinia. The cave was discovered by local fishermen in the 18th century and has since developed into a popular tourist attraction. The grotto gets its name from the Roman god of the sea, Neptune.
Much of the island’s arable land is devoted to cereal cultivation and fruit growing.
Sardinia is home to nearly 4 million sheep, almost half of the entire Italian assets and that makes the island one of the areas of the world with the highest density of sheep along with some parts of UK and New Zealand (135 sheep every square kilometer versus 129 in UK and 116 in New Zealand).
Most of the mammals are like those found in Italy, but some of those deserving special mention are a Sardinian weasel, a native wild cat, the mouflon (a wild sheep found only in Sardinia, Corsica, and Cyprus), and the Cape hare.