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A large triangular island in the Mediterranean Sea, separated from the ‘toe’ of Italy by the narrow Strait of Messina. It forms, with the neighbouring islands of Lipari, Egadi, Ustica, and Pantelleria, a region of Italy. Settled successively by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians, it became a Roman province in 241 bc after the first Punic War. Sicily and southern Italy became a Norman kingdom towards the end of the 11th century. It was conquered by Charles of Anjou in 1266, but the unpopularity of the Angevin regime led to the uprising known as the Sicilian Vespers and the establishment in Sicily of the Spanish House of Aragon in its place; southern Italy remained under Angevin rule until reunited with Sicily in 1442. In 1816 the two areas were officially merged when the Spanish Bourbon Ferdinand styled himself King of the Two Sicilies. The island was liberated by Garibaldi in 1860 and finally incorporated into the new state of Italy.

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