Sardinia is the Mediterranean's second largest island, after Sicily. Its population is 1.6 million. Sardinia is of course a part of Italy, but in reality it has its very own, distinct culture and language. In fact Sardinian is the Romance language which has most in common with Latin. It does have many similarities with Italian too, but it is clearly a different language, with a different rhythm and intonation. These reflect the islanders' pristine emotionality. Sardinia is in fact an island that is still mostly in its natural state - the way it has been for millennia.

Of course, the island is defined by the sea - but just as much so by its mountains. Especially the Gennargentu is a very massive mountain range of astonishing proportions.

Punta la Marmora, rising 1,834 meters high, is its highest peak. It offers wonderful opportunities for climbing and other alpine sports. The island's climate is very favourable for its inhabitants and visitors alike - there is sunshine for (statistically) 300 days per year, and most of the rainy ones are to be found in the winter. Sardinia can be quite hot in the summer, but this heat has been described as being of a very bearable and mild type.

As one would expect from an island so close to Italy and Rome, Sardinia has had a long and fascinating history. Empires have come and gone, and usually they left their marks. So today Sardinia still has a multitude of monuments - representing various styles and epochs. The island boasts many World Heritage Sites from the Megalithic period - the Stone Age. Then of course there are Greek and Roman remains on a scale that surprises most visitors.

In Sardinia, agriculture is still alive - and an important sector of the economy as well. Sheep and goats are omnipresent in the villages and even in most towns - this does wonders for the atmosphere. Many tourists get the impression that Sardinia is something resembling a time machine. Agriculture and tourism often go hand in hand - so it is quite common that farmers rent out a few rooms to visitors. Of course, tourism is of eminent importance to the island. Nobody can claim, however, that Sardinia has already fulfilled its enormous potential. But the trend certainly indicates that its seaside and mountain resorts will be of growing importance in the relatively near future.

Sardinia has long been an archaic society. But the people of the island are now more and more getting used to foreigners - or Italians - whom they also call foreigners. To put it in a nutshell, Sardinia is still backward, but at the same time it is no longer afraid of modern times.

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