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Sardegna - Population and Economy

With a population density of 68 pop./sq. km., slightly higher than a third of the national average, Sardinia is the fourth least populated region in Italy.

The population distribution is anomolous compared to that of other Italian regions lying on the sea. In fact, contrary to the general trend, urban settlement has not taken place primarily along the coast, but towards the centre of the island.

Historical reasons for this include repeated Saracen raids during the Middle Ages (making the coast unsafe), widespread pastoral activities inland, and the swampy nature of the coastal plains (reclaimed only in the present century). The situation today has changed only to some extent with the expansion of seaside tourism.

The Sardinian dialect, with its subdivision into the Campana, Logudoro, Gallura and Sassari versions, directly descends from a Latin foundation still clearly evident, and over a period of time has been enriched by expressions adopted from the language of the various rulers of the island.

In Alghero, the Catalonian influence on the local dialect is extremely marked.

Taken as a whole, Sardinia's economic conditions are such that the island is in a slightly better position than the average southern regions. The greatest economic development has taken place inland, in the provinces of Cagliari and Sassari, characterized by a certain amount of enterprise.

The primary sector is still of outstanding importance, especially goat and sheep rearing (good production of cheeses).

Agriculture has been modernized on the Campidano plain (vegetables, especially artichokes), and Sardinian wines are famous.

There is little fishing (and no real maritime tradition), but the once prosperous mining industry is still active though restricted to coal (Carbonia, Bacu Abis), antimony (Villasalto), lead and zinc (Iglesiente, Nurra).

The principal industries are chemicals (Cagliari), petrochemicals (Porto Torres, Sarrach), metalworking (S. Antioco, S. Gavino Monreale, Monteponi, Villasalto), cement (Cagliari), papermaking (Arbatax) and food (sugar refineries at Villasor and Oristano). Craft industries include rugs (Barbagia), lacework (Bosa), basketmaking and coral.

Communications are obviously based on links with the continent. The busiest ports are Cagliari, Olbia, Porto Torres, Arbatax, and Palau, and the airports are Cagliari Elmas, Alghero Fertilia and Olbia. The north-south road link through the interior is the highway which connects Sassari and Cagliari.

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