Apulia (from Greek Ἀπουλία, in Italian: Puglia ['puШаблон:IPAa]) is a region in southeastern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its southern portion known as Salento, a peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy. The region comprises 19,345 km² (7,469 square miles), and its population is about 4 million. It is bordered by the other Italian regions of Molise to the north, Campania to the west, and Basilicata to the southwest. It neighbors Greece and Albania, across the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, respectively. The region extends as far north as Monte Gargano, and was the scene of the last stages in the Second Punic War.
Situated at the south-eastern tip of the Italian peninsula, Apulia covers over 19,357 km2 in succession of broad plains and low-lying hills. The only mountainous areas, the Gargano promontory and the Monti Dauni, do not exceed 1,150 m and are to be found in the north of Apulia, which is the least mountainous region in Italy.
Apulia is a very dry region. Its few rivers are torrential and are to be found on the Tavoliere delle Puglie, a tableland at the foot of the Gargano promontory that is one of the largest and agriculturally most productive plains in Italy. Elsewhere, rainwater permeates the limestone bedrock to form underground watercourses that resurface near the coast. Groundwater is therefore abundant, and there are many caves and potholes. The caves at Castellana Grotte are particularly spectacular.
The climate is hot and dry in the summer, and what rain there is falls in the winter months and averages no more than 500 mm per year.
, built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II between 1240 and 1250.]]
One of the richest in Italy for archeological findings, the region was settled from the 1st millennium BC by several Illyric and Italic peoples. Later, the Greeks expanded until reaching the area of Taranto and the Salento. In the fifth and fourth centuries BC, the Greek settlement at Taras produced a distinctive style of pottery (Apulian vase painting).
Apulia was an important area for the ancient Romans, who conquered it in the 4th century BC but also suffered a crushing defeat here in the battle of Cannae against Hannibal. However, after the Carthaginians left the region, the Romans captured the ports of Brindisi and Taranto, and established dominion over the region. During the Imperial age Apulia was a flourishing area for production of grain and oil, becoming the most important exporter to the Eastern provinces.
After the fall of Rome, Apulia was held successively by the Goths, the Lombards and, from the 6th century onwards, the Byzantines. Bari became the capital of a province that extended to modern Basilicata, and was ruled by a catepano (governor), hence the name of Capitanata of the Barese neighbourhood. From 800 on, Saracen domination in the area was intermittent, but Apulia was mostly under Byzantine authority until the 11th century, when the Normans conquered it with relative ease.
Robert Guiscard set up the duchy of Apulia in 1059. After the Norman conquest of Sicily in the late 11th century, Palermo replaced Melfi (just west of present day Apulia) as the center of Norman power, and Apulia became a mere province, first of the Kingdom of Sicily, then of the Kingdom of Naples. From the late 12th to early 13th centuries, Apulia was a favorite residence of the Hohenstaufen emperors, notably Frederick II. After the fall of the latter's heir, Manfred, under the Angevine and Aragonese/Spanish dominations Apulia became largely dominated by a small number of powerful landowners (Baroni). In 1734 there were the battle of Bitonto, a Spanish victory over Austrian forces. The coast was occupied at times by the Turks and by the Venetians. The French also controlled the region in 1806-1815, resulting in the abolition of feudalism and the reformation of the justice system.
Liberation movements began to spread in the 1820s. In 1861, with the fall of Two Sicilies, the region joined Italy. Social and agrarian reforms that had proceeded slowly from the 19th century accelerated in the mid-20th century.
The region's contribution to Italy's gross value added was around 4.6% in 2000, while its population was 7% of the total. The per capita GDP is very low compared to the national average and represents about 65% of the EU average.
In comparison with the country as a whole, the economy of Apulia is characterised by a greater emphasis on agriculture and services and a smaller part played by industry. The share of gross value added generated by the agricultural and services sectors in the total gross value added of the region is above the national average in 2000, whereas the share of industry is below.
In the last 20 years the industrial base of the region's economy has changed radically. Alongside highly capital-intensive large-scale plants - such as ILVA (steel-making) in Taranto and Eni (petrochemicals) in Brindisi and Manfredonia - a network of small and medium-sized firms has gradually expanded, and these now provide approximately 70% of the jobs in the region. The majority of such firms are financed by local capital. As a result, highly specialised areas have developed, producing on a scale not only of domestic but also of international significance: food processing and vehicles in the province of Foggia; footwear, textiles, wood and furniture in the Barletta area north of Bari; wood and furniture in the Murge area to the west; engineering, rubber, wood and furniture and computer software around Bari itself; textiles and clothing at Monopoli-Putignano to the south; and footwear and textiles in the Casarano area. In certain of these sectors - especially textiles, clothing, footwear, vehicles and food products - the region has attained a significant degree of competitiveness with foreign producers. A major contribution to the competitiveness of the region's economy stems from the existence of important research and development centres such as Tecnopolis-CSATA near Bari, the Cittadella della ricerca (Centre for research and new materials) near Brindisi and the new software development centres, again near Bari.
The region has a good network of roads but the railway network is somewhat inadequate, particularly in the south. Apulia's 800 km of coastline is studded with ports, which make this region an important terminal for transport and tourism to Greece and the eastern Mediterranean.
The population density in Apulia is just above the national average. In 2008 it was equal to 211 inhabitants per km2. Foggia is by far the less densely populated province (96 inhabitants per km2 in 2008), whereas Bari is the most densely populated province (308 inhabitants per km2 in 2008).
Emigration from the region's depressed areas to northern Italy and the rest of Europe was very intense in the years between 1956 and 1971. Subsequently the trend declined as economic conditions improved, to the point where there was net immigration in the years between 1982 and 1985. Since 1986 the stagnation in employment has led to a new inversion of the trend, caused not so much by an increase in the number of people leaving but by a fall in the number coming to live in the region , but in the 2000s net immigration has been positive again. As of 2008, the Italian national institute of statistics ISTAT estimated that 63,868 foreign-born immigrants live in Apulia, equal to 1.6% of the total regional population.
Apulia is traditionally a right wing region; despite this at the 2005 regional elections a Communist, Nichi Vendola, was elected as the region's President. At the April 2006 elections, Apulia gave about 51.54% of its votes to Silvio Berlusconi, and at the April 2008 election apulians gave about 47% of their votes to the People of Freedom-led coalition, eleven points more than to the Democratic Party-led coalition.
Apulia is divided into six provinces (the official datas for the 6th province (Barletta-Andria-Trani), instituited in 2009, will be available only with the 2011 census) :
|Province||Area (km²)||Population||Density (inh./km²)|
|Province of Bari||5,138||1,601,675||311.7|
|Province of Brindisi||1,839||402,973||219.1|
|Province of Foggia||7,190||682,476||94.9|
|Province of Lecce||2,759||812,690||294.5|
|Province of Taranto||2,437||580,497||238.2|
The official national language (since 1861) is Italian. However, as a consequence of its long and varied history, other historical languages have been spoken in this region for centuries. In the northern and central sections, some dialect of the Neapolitan language are spoken: for example the Barese, spoken in the zone of Bari or Foggiano near Foggia. In the southern part of the region, dialects of the Sicilian language called Tarantino and Salentino are spoken. In isolated pockets of the Southern part of Salento, a dialect of modern Greek called Griko, is spoken by just a few thousand people. A rare dialect of the Franco-Provençal language called Faetar is spoken in two isolated towns in the Province of Foggia. In a couple of villages, the Arbëreshë dialect of the Albanian language has been spoken since a wave of refugees settled there in the 15th century by a very small community. The Messapic language formerly spoken in the region was extinct by the 1st century BC due to the Romanization/Latinization of this area which took place after the definitive conquest of the region by the Romans during the 3rd century BC (see Punic Wars).