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Flag of the Calabria region

Coat of arms of the Calabria region
Sardinien Autonome Region Sizilien Kalabrien Kampanien Basilikata Molise Apulien Abruzzen Latium Marken Umbrien Toskana Ligurien Aostatal Piemont Lombardei Venetien Emilia-Romagna Trentino-Südtirol Friaul-Julisch Venetien San Marino Vatikanstadt Algerien Tunesien Malta Montenegro Bosnien und Herzegowina Kroatien Slowenien Ungarn Schweiz Österreich Schweiz Monaco Frankreich Frankreich FrankreichItaly, Calabria map highlighted
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Basic data
Capital Catanzaro
Provinces 5 including metropolitan city of Reggio Calabria
surface 15,080.55 km²
Residents 1,924,701 (Dec. 31, 2019)
Population density 128 inhabitants / km²
ISO 3166-2 IT-78
president Jole Santelli ( FI )

Relief map of the Calabria region

Calabria ( Italian Calabria ; Calabria Calàbbria ) is the southernmost region of mainland Italy . Figuratively speaking, it occupies the tip of the boot of the Italian peninsula. It has an area of ​​15,080 km² and 1,924,701 inhabitants (as of December 31, 2019). The capital of the region is Catanzaro .


Calabria, aerial photo by NASA

Calabria is bordered by Basilicata to the north, the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west and the Ionian Sea to the south and east . The coast extends over a length of 780 km. The Strait of Messina separates Calabria from the island of Sicily .

Calabria is almost completely covered by mountain ranges. In the south lies the Aspromonte with the Montalto (1955 m). This is followed by the mountains of the Sila and the Serre and in the north the massif of the Pollino with the highest mountain in the region, the Serra Dolcedorme (2267 m).

Calabria is crossed by numerous rivers, which, however, have no water in the summer months. The longest river is the Crati , which is the only one with water all year round. The largest lakes include the Lago di Cecita, Lago Arvo and Lago Ampollino reservoirs.

Especially the southern areas of Calabria are repeatedly exposed to earthquakes due to the Messina fault . On February 5, 1783, an earthquake struck in the southern part, which destroyed around 300 villages and killed around 30,000 people. Aftershocks followed on February 6th and 7th and March 1st and 28th. It is one of the best documented and studied historical seismic events in Italy and was also incorporated into the research of Giuseppe Mercalli . The Messina earthquake in 1908 almost completely destroyed Reggio Calabria .


There are three climatic zones in Calabria. The Tyrrhenian Sea in the west has a subtropical climate with little rainfall in the winter months. The Ionian Sea has a hot, dry climate with little rainfall. In the high altitudes of the mountain ranges it is cooler compared to the coastal regions, in the winter months snow falls up to 1200 meters. Average temperatures, depending on the area, are between 7 ° C and 15 ° C in January and between 26 ° C and 34 ° C in July and August. There is seldom ground frost and it can reach 20 ° C in January. Likewise, in summer the temperature is always above 30 ° C and often reaches 40 ° C. Night temperatures of more than 25 ° C are quite normal for this region. Weeks of drought and forest fires are not uncommon during midsummer. Calabria has 320 days of sunshine a year, making it one of the sunniest regions in Europe.

Flora and fauna

The region has a rich tree population, some of which are centuries-old beech and pine forests.

The densest forest areas in Italy are in the Aspromonte . The citrus plant bergamot , which is typical of Calabria, also thrives there . In Pollinogebirge is Lorica Kiefer at home, one of the oldest trees in Europe. Wolves, wild cats, snakes and birds of prey live in the forests. The tree typical of the Sila and Serra mountains is the black pine , which can grow up to 50 m high. The forests in this area are also known for their abundance of mushrooms. Foxes, rabbits and wild boars are mainly found here. In the coastal regions, palm trees, cacti, opuntias, agaves, pines, olive, lemon, orange and eucalyptus trees thrive.

To protect flora and fauna, three regional parks were set up. The Parco Nazionale del Pollino in the north extends into Basilicata . To the south are the Parco Nazionale della Sila and the Parco Nazionale dell 'Aspromonte .


Calabria is largely a mountain region. The "Calabrian Mountains" describe an arc in southwest Italy, the "Calabrian Arch". This connects the Apennines , the orographic "backbone" of Italy, with the Maghrebids, the high mountain range in northern Sicily.

The Calabrian Mountains are divided into three parts: the Sierra Dolcedorme in the north, the Silagebirge in the middle of Calabria and the Aspromonte in the southwest of the region. A part even extends over the Strait of Messina and forms with the Monti Peloritani the northeast corner of Sicily . Geologically, however, the Calabrian Mountains form a unit. It consists mainly of paleozoic granites and gneisses . Mesozoic to Miocene cover layers exist in places.

Geotectonic map of the Central Mediterranean and the Calabrian Arc; the blue line indicates the position of the cross section; from van Dijk (1992)
Geotectonic cross-section of the Calabrian Arc; left: north-west, right: south-east; from van Dijk (1992)

The coastal regions and the valleys of the Crati , Neto and smaller rivers are shaped by sediments from the Middle Miocene to Holocene sediments. The Calabrian Mountains originate from the Variscan orogeny phase, so they are older than the Apennines and Maghrebids in the north and south-west. Since its elevation, there has also been a steady erosion of the mountains. Since then, the debris has mainly been deposited in the west of the Ionian Sea, and in part has also been included in the uplift of the mountains. The northeast boundary follows a so-called “transform fault”, ie a geological fault zone located within the continental plate. There the two adjacent continental plates are pushed past each other. In the southeast of the Calabrian Mountains, subduction occurs, i.e. the basaltic ocean floor of the African plate sinks below the Adriatic plate , which is made of lighter materials . The subduction of the African plate led to the uplift of the Calabrian Mountains. Studies have shown that these upper strata rocks form a pile of overburden, the Apennines and the Sicilian Maghrebids.

The neogene evolution of the central Mediterranean system is dominated by the migration of the Calabrian arc to the southeast, where it pushes over the African plate and its promontori (Argand, 1916; Boccaletti and Guazzone, 1972). The most important tectonic elements of the Calabrian arches are the southern Italian Apennines, the "Calabria-Peloritani", or simply "Calabrian block" and the Sicilian Maghrebids. The foreland consists of the Apulia platform, which is part of the Adriatic plate, and the Ragusa or Hybleische platform, which is an extension of the African plate. These platforms are separated from the basins of the Ionian Sea . The Tyrrhenian Sea Basin is known as the Behind Arch Basin. This subduction system shows how the southern plate with African affinity descends below the northern plate with European affinity.

The fascinating geology of Calabria has been recorded in writing for more than a century. For details on the older literature, i.e. from the time before 1973, the reader is referred to the systematic review by Ogniben (1973). Ippolito (1959) presents a complete bibliography of the literature on Calabrian geology published up to this point. The neogene of sedimentary sequences was only viewed as "post-orogenic" padding of the "neo-tectonic" stretch structures. Over time, however, a shift in the temporal meaning of these terms can be noted, from post-Late Eocene to post-Early Miocene to post-Middle Pleistocene .

At the moment the area is seismically and volcanically highly active. This is commonly attributed to the restoration of equilibrium after the most recent (mid-Pleistocene) deformation phase. Some authors believe that the subduction process is still ongoing.


Finds and stone carvings (e.g. in the Grotta del Romito ) prove that Calabria was inhabited by humans in the Paleolithic . In the middle to the end of the Bronze Age (around 1700–950 BC), larger, partly fortified, settlements for the local population emerged. There was trade with other regions of southern Italy and Sicily, but also intensive contacts with the eastern Mediterranean, which is well documented by finds of Aegean and Cypriot origin, especially Mycenaean ceramics (e.g. in Punta di Zambrone and Broglio di Trebisacce, near Trebisacce ). From the late 8th century BC With the onset of Greek colonization, the original inhabitants were pushed back into the interior of the country. Until 500 BC All places on the coast were Greek . After the Second Punic War , Calabria became a Roman province .

In ancient times , what is now Calabria was called Bruttium . With Calabria the boot heel of Italy was called, the Salento peninsula in Apulia . In the early Middle Ages , when both areas came under Byzantine rule and administratively formed a unit, this designation was transferred to the previous Bruttium.

From the 6th to the 11th century, Calabria was part of the Byzantine Empire . The coastal towns were repeatedly plagued and plundered by Saracens . In the 11th century Calabria was conquered by the Normans . From 1130 it was part of the Kingdom of Sicily under Roger II, along with other southern Italian regions . At the end of the 13th century, the southern Italian mainland fell under the rule of Anjou and formed the Kingdom of Naples . In the centuries that followed, the kingdom came under the control of the Aragonese Crown , the Habsburgs and the Bourbons . In the course of the Risorgimento , it came to the United Kingdom of Italy in 1861 .

In the following years there were repeated clashes with brigands who revolted against the new rulers. At the end of the 19th century, economic hardship caused every third inhabitant to leave Calabria.

In 1946 Italy became a republic and Calabria an Italian region . In the 1960s, 338,000 Calabrese emigrated to find work in northern Italy or abroad.

Administration and population

Calabria is divided into four provinces and one metropolitan city. The metropolitan city of Reggio Calabria is located at the southernmost point, to the northwest the province of Vibo Valentia, the smallest in terms of area, and the provinces of Catanzaro and Crotone to the northeast . The northernmost and largest province is Cosenza . The capital of the region is Catanzaro . The seat of government is in Reggio Calabria .

The population is predominantly Roman Catholic , with devotion to Mary and patron saints in the foreground. The church region of Calabria comprises three church provinces and a total of twelve dioceses.

In addition to Italian , several dialects are spoken, Greek in some places in Aspromonte and an Occitan dialect in northwestern Calabria. Own traditions are maintained in the places with a predominantly Albanian population (Arbëreshe) . The settlements are all close together, so that one can actually speak of a small Albafonian language island. These are mainly located between the Pollino massif and the Gulf of Tarent (northeast of the region).

The internationally known personalities of Calabria include u. a. the fashion designer Gianni Versace and the soccer player Gennaro Gattuso .

The provinces and the metropolitan city of Calabria
Province or metropolitan city Capital ISO Communities Population
(December 31, 2019)
Area (km²) Population
density (inh / km²)
Catanzaro Catanzaro IT-CZ 80 354.851 2,391.35 148
Cosenza Cosenza IT-CS 150 700,385 6,649.96 105
Crotone Crotone IT-KR 50 170.718 1,716.58 99
Reggio Calabria Reggio Calabria IT-RC 97 541.278 3,183.19 170
Vibo Valentia Vibo Valentia IT-VV 50 157.469 1,139.47 138
Calabria Catanzaro IT-78 427 1,924,701 15,080.55 128


The main source of income in Calabria is agriculture and forestry. In the fertile plains on the coasts and in the river valleys, citrus fruits , olives and a variety of other fruits and vegetables such as red onions ( Cipolla rossa di Tropea ) thrive .

With a GDP per capita of 17,600 euros, which is only 59% of the EU average in purchasing power parity , Calabria is the poorest region in Italy. With a value of 0.850, Calabria ranks 18th among the 20 regions of Italy in the Human Development Index .

In 2017 the unemployment rate was 21.6%. Calabria had the highest unemployment rate of all regions in Italy.

Citrus fruits

Bergamot fruits
Halved lemon lemon
diameter 12 cm

The cultivation of special citrus fruits is particularly important in Calabria: the bergamot , a small, sour orange form, is grown here mainly along a narrow, approximately 100-kilometer-long coastal strip between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas from Villa San Giovanni to Gioiosa Ionica . The region is characterized by extreme weather conditions. Bergamots are usually not consumed, but bergamot oil , the so-called "green gold", is extracted from them . It is processed in the cosmetics industry, is an essential component of colognes and is used to perfume teas such as Earl Gray . 90 percent of world production of bergamot oil comes from this region. The first large-scale cultivation took place around 1750, when the Italian Cavalieri Nicola Parisi planted the first bergamot plantation. Around 1850 there were around 1250 hectares in Calabria that were planted with bergamot trees. Since 1999, Calabrian bergamot oil has also been allowed to carry the Denominazione d'Origine Protetta , or DOP for short .

In Calabria, lemon is also grown, probably the first citrus fruit to be grown on the European continent. It is also the only region in which the Diamante lemon ( Italian: Cedro ldi Diamante Citrus medica var. Vulgaris or Citrus medica cv. Diamante ), a smooth-skinned form of the citron, is grown. The area where this variety of citron is grown stretches along the northern Calabrian coast between Tortora and Belvedere Marittimo . The Diamante lemon is named after the Calabrian town of Diamante .


Viticulture also plays a role. Especially the DOC regions ( Denominazione d'Origine Controllata ) near Cirò , Lamezia Terme , in the Savuto Valley and near Reggio Calabria produce good red, rosato and white wines. In addition to agriculture, forestry, fishing, livestock farming and the production of various types of cheese play an important role.

Other industries

There are sulfur and rock salt mined. Industry did not develop in Calabria until after economic reforms in the 1970s, but it still plays a subordinate role. There are great hopes for tourism , which has recently seen a boom, especially thanks to Lamezia Terme Airport . Especially the region around Tropea and Capo Vaticano is perfectly developed for tourism with hotels in every category.


The influence of the mafia-like 'Ndrangheta in Calabria is very strong. Of the 82 municipalities across the country whose councils have been disbanded by the Italian government since 1991 because organized crime succeeded in infiltrating them, and which have subsequently been placed under administration, 76 are Calabrian municipalities. The 'Ndrangheta probably generates over three percent of GDP or € 44 billion tax-free. Corruption leads to a constant drain of talent to the north and abroad.


Calabria is connected to the northern regions of Italy by the A3 motorway on the Tyrrhenian Sea and a railway line. In addition, the SS 106 Jonica runs along the Ionian Sea , which connects the east of the region with the north of the country. There are daily scheduled flights from Lamezia Terme and Reggio Calabria airports to Rome and Milan, and charter flights to other European countries in the summer months. Ferries to Sicily leave from Villa San Giovanni and Reggio Calabria . The planned construction of a bridge over the Strait of Messina has been pushed forward again since Berlusconi's re-election in 2008.



The remains of ancient buildings in Calabria are u. a. to be visited in the excavation sites of Lokroi and Sybaris . The Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria also shows fragments of ancient architecture. Church buildings from Byzantine times have been preserved, such as B. the Cattolica in Stilo , the oratorios San Marco and Panaghia in Rossano and the Chiesa San Giovanello in Gerace . Under Norman rule, numerous fortifications were built alongside other church buildings. These include the castles of Vibo Valentia , Nicotera , Cosenza and Crotone . Due to severe earthquakes, many historical buildings were destroyed and rebuilt. An example of Neo-Romanesque architecture is the Reggio Calabria Cathedral , which was rebuilt after the 1908 earthquake.


One of the famous painter from Calabria's Mattia Preti , who by his frescoes in the Baroque style was famous. Representatives of modern art include the painter and photographer Mimmo Rotella , who was one of the most important Italian Pop Art artists.


The Premio Internazionale di Poesia Nosside literary prize is awarded annually in Reggio Calabria .

Folk art and customs

Traditional handicrafts in Calabria include wood carving, weaving, basketry and the manufacture of ceramic goods. In the mountainous areas of the Sila and Serre, pipes and musical instruments are carved, in the Aspromonte household items decorated with religious motifs. In the weaving mill, different materials such as wool, cotton, linen and hemp are combined and processed into fabrics and rag rugs , the pezzare .

Besides Christmas and Easter, the most important holidays of the Calabrese are the commemoration days of the numerous patron saints of the various provinces and municipalities. The patron saint of Calabria is Franz von Paola . Elaborate processions take place on the occasion of the celebrations. A traditional folk dance in Calabria is the tarantella .


An integral part of Calabrian cuisine are peperoncini , which were brought to Calabria from America in the 16th century, and the Cipolla rossa di Tropea (the red onion from Tropea ), which was introduced by the Phoenicians about 2000 years ago . Due to the strong influences of the Albanian and Greek immigrants since the Middle Ages , the cuisine of Calabria covers a diverse spectrum of dishes.

The mountain cuisine from Aspromonte , Monte Poro and Sila is determined by hearty meals . The tuna (in Pizzo) and swordfish (on the Costa Viola) are the focus of the light Mediterranean cuisine on the coast of Calabria. Numerous vegetables such as grilled aubergines , stuffed artichokes , hearty paprika vegetables and gratinated onions serve as an accompaniment to the main dishes.


As everywhere in Italy, the most popular sport is football. The football club Reggina Calcio from Reggio Calabria was founded in 1914 and plays (after years in Serie A) in the Lega Pro (2014/15). The club's home games take place at the Stadio Oreste Granillo , which can seat 27,454 spectators. Cosenza Calcio 1914 and FC Catanzaro also play in the Lega Pro. The club FC Crotone plays in the Serie B . Probably the most famous Calabrian footballer is the 2006 football world champion , Gennaro Gattuso .


See: List of Known People in Calabria

See also


  • Helena Attlee: The Land Where Lemons Grow: The Story of Italy and its Citrus Fruit. Penguin Books, London 2015, ISBN 978-0-14-196786-8 .
  • Francesco A. Cuteri: Paths in Ancient Calabria: Archaeological Routes in the Provinces of Calabria [Trad. a cura di Hansjörg Tschenett]. Koiné, Rome 2004
  • Ekkehart Rotter: Calabria, Basilicata . DuMont Art Travel Guide, Ostfildern 2002, ISBN 3-7701-5541-6

Web links

Commons : Calabria (Category)  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Calabria  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Statistiche demografiche ISTAT. Monthly population statistics of the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica , as of December 31 of 2019.
  2. ^ Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica, Catalogo dei forti terremoti in Italia dal 461 aC al 1980 , Roma 1995, pp. 334–346
  3. a b c d e J. P. van Dijk (1992); Late Neogene fore-arc basin evolution in the Calabrian Arc (Central Mediterranean). Tectonic sequence stratigraphy and dynamic geohistory. With special reference to the geology of Central Calabria. Geologica Ultrajectina, 92, 288 pp .; a complete bibliography can be found in it as well as in: JP van Dijk, M. Bello, GP Brancaleoni, G. Cantarella, V. Costa, A. Frixa, F. Golfetto, S, Merlini, M. Riva, S. Toricelli, C. Toscano, and A. Zerilli (2000): A new structural model for the northern sector of the Calabrian Arc. Tectonophysics , 324, pp. 267-320.
  4. Eurostat. Retrieved April 15, 2018 .
  5. ^ Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab. Retrieved August 12, 2018 .
  6. Unemployment rate, by NUTS 2 regions. Retrieved November 5, 2018 .
  7. Helena Attlee: The Land Where Lemons Grow . P. 157.
  8. The green gold of Calabria. The secret of Earl Gray and Eau de Cologne. Documentation, 2007, 45 min., Script and direction: Stephan Düfel, production: SR , first broadcast: February 9, 2008.
  9. Helena Attlee: The Land Where Lemons Grow . P. 168.
  10. Helena Attlee: The Land Where Lemons Grow . P. 160.
  11. a b Helena Attlee: The Land Where Lemons Grow . P. 177.
  12. Andrea Spalinger: Mighty Mafiosi and resigned citizens. Mistrust prevents development in southern Calabria . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, September 12, 2015, pp. 8–9, here p. 9.
  13. Wikileaks : Publication of cables from US-American embassies by WikiLeaks, Organized crime in Italy II: How organized crime distorts ( Memento of January 16, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), (ID: 08NAPLES37), Kabel of December 2, 2008, published on January 7, 2011, accessed January 14, 2011.

Coordinates: 39 ° 0 '  N , 16 ° 30'  E