Lampedusa ( pronounced [] ; Sicilian : Lampidusa ; Ancient Greek : Λοπαδούσσα Lopadoussa ) is the largest island of the Italian Pelagie Islands in the Mediterranean Sea .

The comune of Lampedusa e Linosa is part of the Sicilian province of Agrigento which also includes the smaller islands of Linosa and Lampione . It is the southernmost part of Italy and southernmost island. Tunisia , which is about 113 kilometers (70 miles) away, is the closest landfall to the islands. Sicily is farther at 205 kilometers (127 miles), while the island nation of Malta is 176 kilometers (109 miles) to the east. [1]

Lampedusa has an area of ​​20.2 square kilometers (7.8 sq mi) and a population of about 6,000 people. Its main industries are fishing , agriculture , and tourism . A ferry service links the island with Porto Empedocle , near Agrigento , Sicily. There are also year-round flights from Lampedusa Airport to Palermo and Catania on the Sicilian mainland. In the summer, there are additional services to Rome and Milan , besides many other seasonal links to the Italian mainland.

Since the early 2000s, the island has become a primary European migrant , coming from Africa. [2] In 2013, Rabbit Beach, located in the southern part of the island, was voted TripAdvisor . [3]


The name Lampedusa derives from the ancient Greek name of the island, Λοπαδούσσα or Λαπαδούσσα ( Lopadoússa / Lapadoússa ). It has been suggested that the name derives from the word λέπας ( lepas ), which means ‘rock’, due to the rocky landscape of the island; This word was also used by the Greeks for a kind of oyster and the island may be called oyster. Other scholars believe that the name derives from λαμπάς ( lampás ), which means ‘torch’, because of the lights which were placed on the island for the sailors. [4]


Historically, Lampedusa was a landmark and a maritime base for the ancient Phoenicians , Greeks , Romans and Berbers . The Romans established a plant for the production of the prized fish sauce known as garum . In 812 (or 813), [5] directed by the Aghlabids , the island was sacked by Saracens during the ongoing Arab-Byzantine wars . [6] [7]

By the end of the medieval period, the island became a dependency of the Kingdom of Sicily . [8] In 1553, Barbary pirates from North Africa under the command of the Ottoman Empire raided Lampedusa, and carried off 1,000 captive into slavery . [9] As a result of pirate attacks, the island became uninhabited. citation needed ] In 1565, Don García of Toledo made a brief stop at Lampedusa while leading a relief force to break the Great Siege of Malta . In subsequent centuries, the Hospitaller Fleetwhich was based in Malta sometimes used Lampedusa’s harbor as a shelter from bad weather or from corsairs. [8]

In 1667, the island was given to Ferdinand Tomasi of Palermo, who acquires the title of Prince of Lampedusa from King Charles II of Spain . [8] Tomasi was the ancestor of the famous writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa . A century after acquiring the island, the Tomasi family began a program of resettlement. quote needed ]

In the late 18th century, the Order of St. John kept a small establishment on Lampedusa, which included a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary . Reviews This was manned by a priest and six Maltese men, Who Often traded with pirates. A structure known as marabuto , probably a mausoleum commemorating a member of the Marabouts , also existed on the island at this time, and was visited by many Muslim devotees. [8]

19th century

On June 25, 1800, Prince Giulio Maria Tomasi leased Lampedusa in perpetual emphyteusis to Salvatore Gatt, a Maltese merchant, on the condition that the latter would build two coastal watchtowers at Cala della Galere and Cala della Madonna . Gatt settled the island with some Maltese workers, and he was born and farmed. The old castle was reconstructed, and a windmill was also built. Gatt hoisted the British flag for protection. On June 27, 1804, the prince conceded to the island to Giuseppe Bugeja, another Maltese, Gatt remained in control of the island. [8]

At the time, the British have been taking over Lampedusa, possibly as an alternative to Malta, which had just become a British protectorate . In 1803, the Royal Navy dropped the idea of ​​the island’s small harbor was not comparable to Malta’s larger and well-fortified Grand Harbor . However, reports that the island could be useful in supplying Malta, especially with the threat of Sicily falling to the French. [8]

In 1810, Gatt leased the island to Alexander Fernandez of the Army Commissariat in the Mediterranean, who established a farm with cattle and sheep, and employed 28 workers to the surface of grazing. A small detachment of 26 men of the 14th Regiment were felt to the island in 1811 to support Fernandez, who was planning to built a strong on the island. By 1813, the island had a population of almost 200 Maltese workers. [8]

A Royal Commission stated in an 1812 report that there would be considerable difficulties in turning the island (together with Linosa and Pantelleria ) into a supply base for Malta. The Commission found Fernandez’s situation to be very strange, and the Treasury’s request for an explanation of his conduct. In November 1813, the HMS Partridge sloop was infected with yellow fever, and was sent to Lampedusa until convalescence. This is the most important issue of Malta, leaving only 50 to 60 people on the island. The Governor of Malta, Sir Thomas Maitland, visited Lampedusa and found that Fernandez was running a business venture, so on 15 September 1814 he announced the withdrawal of British troops stationed on the island. The same notice also states that “it is not the intention of [the British] Government to have any further concern or connection with [Lampedusa]”. [1] At this point, Greek privateers were prepared and took refuge at Lampedusa while being pursued by Tunisian vessels. [8]

Fernandez had left to Gibraltar in 1813, but he continued to make claims on his title in Lampedusa. The British Government refused to compensate him in 1818, and Sicilian courts deprived him of his title soon afterwards. The Gatt family retook possession to the island, but what happened in subsequent years is unclear. Salvatore Gatt is believed to have died or disappeared sometime between 1813 and 1821, and the island was taken over by Fortunato Frendo, who had murdered Giacoma Gatt, Salvatore’s wife. An official expedition was sent to the island of Naples in 1828, and the island was inhabited by members of the Frendo, Gatt, and Molinos families along with a few workers. [8]

A Neapolitan warship visited the island in 1841 as a show of force, but nothing changed until 11 September 1843, when two warships arrived and landed 400 soldiers on the island. They have the British flags on the island with Neapolitan flags. A royal decree was read out proclaiming the island as part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies . A few of the Maltese settlers remained on the island, while others returned to Malta or went to Tunisia. [8]

In the 1840s, the Tomasi family formally sold the island to the Kingdom of Naples. citation needed ] In 1861, the island became part of the Kingdom of Italy , but the new Italian government limited its activities to penal colony . quote needed ]

20th century

In June 1943, during the Second World War , a precursor to the Allied invasion of Sicily , the island was secured by Operation Corkscrew by the Royal Navy Destroyer HMS Lookout and ninety-five men of the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards . White flags had been sighted in the port, and when Corbett of Lookout approached the port in a motor launch, he was told that the island was garrisoned to surrender. [10]Mussolini had given the garrison his permission to surrender because it lacked any water. The Governor’s Formal Surrender was accepted on the island’s command-post by a combined Army / Navy delegation sometime before 9:00 pm on June 12, 1943. During this process, the governor handed over to the Coldstream command company, Major Bill Harris. [11] A second unofficial claim was also made concerning the capitulation of the island, when earlier that same day elements of the garrison had been attempted when Sergeant Sydney Cohen, the pilot of a Royal Air Force Supermarine Walrus aircraft landed having run low on fuel and suffering problems with his compass. [12]Cohen’s exploits were commemorated in a Yiddish play The King of Lampedusa that ran for six months. [13]

The first telephone connection with Sicily was installed only in the 1960s. citation needed ] In the same decade an electric power station was built. quote needed ]

In 1972, part of the western side of the island became a United States Coast Guard LORAN-C transmitter station . In 1979, Lt. Kay Hartzell took command of the Coast Guard base, becoming “the first female commanding officer of an isolated duty station”. [14]

The 1980s, and especially 1985-1986, saw an increase in tensions and the area around the island was the scene of multiple attacks. On April 15, 1986, Libya fired two Scuds at the Lampedusa navigation station on the island, in retaliation for the American bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi , and the alleged death of Colonel Gaddafi’s daughter. However, the missiles passed over the island, landed in the sea, and caused no damage. [15]

On January 4 , 1989 , US Navy aircraft from the USS John F. Kennedy carrier shot down two Libyan fighters approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the island. [16]

The NATO base was decommissioned in 1994 and transferred to Italian military control. quote needed ]

North African immigration

Since the early 2000s, Lampedusa, the European territory closest to Libya , has become a prime transit point for irregular immigrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia wanting to enter Europe . In 2004 the Libyan and Italian governments reached a secret agreement that obliged Libya to accept African immigrants deported from Italian territories. This result in the mass repatriation of many people from Lampedusa to Libya between 2004 and 2005, a move criticized by the European Parliament . [17]

By 2006, Many African immigrants Were paying people smugglers in Libya to help get ’em to Lampedusa by boat. [18] On arrival, most were then transferred by the Italian Government to reception centers in mainland Italy. Many were released because of their deportation orders were not enforced. [19]

In 2009, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees . The unit, which was originally built for a maximum capacity of 850 people, was reported to be nearly 2,000 boat people . A significant number of people are sleeping under plastic sheeting. [20] A fire that started during an inmate riot destroyed a large portion of the holding facility on 19 February 2009. citation needed ]

In 2011, many more immigrants moved to Lampedusa during the rebellions in Tunisia and Libya . [21] By May 2011, more than 35,000 immigrants had arrived on the island of Tunisia and Libya. [22] By the end of August, 48,000 had arrived. [23] Most were young in their 20s and 30s. [24] The situation has caused division within the EU, the French government, which is most vulnerable to persecution. [25] Italy has repeatedly asked for help from the United States.

In July 2013, Pope Francis visited the island of Rome. He is praying for migrants, living and dead, and denouncing their traffickers. [26] In October 2013, the 2013 Lampedusa disaster occurred; A boat carrying over 500 migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia , sank off the coast of Lampedusa with the deaths of at least 300 people. [27] [28]

From January to April 2015, about 1600 migrants died on the road from Libya to Lampedusa, making it the deadliest migrant route in the world. [29]

The 2017 Oscar-nominated Italian documentary film, Fire at Sea , is a part of this film and was filmed entirely on the island in 2014 and 2015. [30] The film also won the 66th Berlin Film Festival .


Lampedusa is the southernmost point of the Republic of Italy. It is also Italy’s southernmost island. Politically and administratively, Lampedusa is part of Italy , but geologically it belongs to Africa since the sea is no deeper than 120 meters. Lampedusa is a semi-arid island, dominated by a garigue landscape, with maquis shrublandin the west. It has no sources of water other than irregular rainfall. Overall the island has two slopes, from west to east, and from north to south of the island. The south-west side is dominated by deep gorges, while the southeastern part is dominated by shallow valleys and sandy beaches. The entire northern coast is dominated by cliffs: gently sloping cliffs on the east coast, and vertical sheer cliffs on the west coast.


The fauna and flora of Lampedusa are similar to those of North Africa, with a few pelagic endemic species. citation needed ] The Isola dei Conigli (literally “Rabbit Island”), close to the south coast of Lampedusa, is one of the last remaining egg-laying sites in Italy for the Sea Turtle Loggerhead , which is endangered throughout the Mediterranean . The beach and the neighbor island are part of a nature reserve : here the singer-songwriter Domenico Modugno spent his vacations, and died in 1994. Next to Parise Cape is a small beach accessible only by sea, through a low grotto. Other species living along the island include coasts and smaller cetaceans such as dolphins and Risso’s dolphins . [31] Waters nearby Lampedusa is the only area in the Mediterranean with sightings of great white sharks of pregnant and newly born individuals. [32] Recent studies revealed that the waters of Lampedusa are a wintering feeding ground for the Mediterranean group of late whales . [33] [34]Humpback whale , a species used to be considered as a major species in the Mediterranean basin. [35]

Along with Linosa , Lampedusa was a stronghold for critically endangered Mediterranean monk seals until 1950s and they are likely to be regional extinct today. [36]


Lampedusa has a semi-arid climate ( Köppen climate classification BSh ). It has very mild winters with moderate rainfall and hot, dry, and humid summers.

The sea surrounding the island is relatively shallow. The waters are warm most of the year, typically 27 to 28 ° C (81 to 82 ° F). The water stays warm until November, when temperatures range from 20 to 23 ° C (68 to 73 ° F). It is coolest in February and March, when it wilts around 16 ° C (61 ° F). The average annual temperature is 19.2 ° C, the average winter is between +15 ° C and +17 ° C, the summer between +28 ° C and +30 ° C.

[ hide ]Climate data for Lampedusa (1961-1990, extremes 1960-present)
month Jan Feb Mar Apr may Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec year
Record high ° C (° F) 21.6
Average high ° C (° F) 15.3
Daily mean ° C (° F) 13.6
Average low ° C (° F) 11.9
Record low ° C (° F) 2.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 42.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 7.4 4.7 3.8 2.6 1.3 0.5 0.1 0.4 2.0 5.8 5.5 7.1 41.2
Average relative humidity (%) 78 76 78 76 78 78 78 78 77 77 74 77 77.1
Source # 1: Servizio Meteorologico [37]
Source # 2: [38] [ unreliable source? ]

In popular culture

  • Lampedusa was the filming location for the music video of Mango’s single “Mediterraneo”, from the album Come l’acqua (1992). [39]
  • The movie Respiro (2002), written and directed by Emanuele Crialese and starring Valeria Golino , was filmed entirely on Lampedusa.
  • The book The Pharaoh’s Secret (2015) by Clive Cussler, a popular fiction writer.
  • Think of Lampedusa collection of poems by the 2014 Tchicaya U Tam’si Prize Joshua Guebo, refers to the 2013 shipwreck near Lampedusa.
  • The 2017 Oscar-nominated Italian documentary, Fire at Sea , was filmed entirely on the island between 2014 and 2015.

See also

  • Linosa
  • Pantelleria
  • Pelagie Islands
  • LORAN-C transmitter Lampedusa
  • Lampedusa Airport
  • Quadro Group


  1. ^ Jump up to:b Zerafa, Thomas (17 July 2011). “When the British planned to make Lampedusa part of the Maltese Islands” . Times of Malta . Archived from the original on 21 September 2017.
  2. Jump up^ Refugee crisis we Lampedusa
  3. Jump up^ “Tripadvisor’s top 25 beaches” .
  4. Jump up^ “History of Lampedusa, Italy” . Italy This Way . Retrieved 16 October2013 .
  5. Jump up^ Ferdinand Gregorovius (2010). History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages (reprint ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 66. ISBN  9781108015028.
  6. Jump up^ Setton, Kenneth Meyer, ed. (1969). A History of the Crusades: The first hundred years (illustrated ed.). Univ of Wisconsin Press. p. 43. ISBN  9780299048341 .
  7. Jump up^ Henri Pirenne (2013). Mohammed and Charlemagne . Routledge. p. 160.ISBN  9781135030179 .
  8. ^ Jump up to:j Ganado, Albert (10 November 2013). “Lampedusa’s strong and long-standing relationships with Malta” . Times of Malta . Archived from the original on 21 September 2017.
  9. Jump up^ “Lampedusa Island”. Encyclopædia Britannica
  10. Jump up^ Carl Cranmer (14 June 1943). “Actual surrender of Lampedusa” by reporter on scene ” . Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . Associated Press. p. 1.
  11. Jump up^ Quilter, D. (1947). No Dishonourable Name . London: Clowes and Sons. pp. 56-64.
  12. Jump up^ “” Darwin Army News – Pilot “King” of Lampadusa .
  13. Jump up^ “Poster for ‘The King of Lampedusa ‘ ” . Jewish Britain: A History in 50 Objects . The Jewish Museum, London. 2012.
  14. Jump up^ Coast Guard Women’s History
  15. Jump up^ Libyan Missiles
  16. Jump up^ Gulf of Sidra incident (1989)
  17. Jump up^ European Parliament resolution is Lampedusa, 14 April 2005
  18. Jump up^ Out of Africa: The human trade between Libya and Lampedusa
  19. Jump up^ Bitter harvest, The Guardian , 19 December 2006
  20. Jump up^ UNHCR Concerned over Humanitarian Situation in Lampedusa, Italy
  21. Jump up^ Reid, Sue (April 4, 2011). “Special dispatch: Gaddafi’s diaspora and the Libyans overwhelming an Italian island who are threatening to come here”. Daily Mail . London.
  22. Jump up^ “Hundreds more migrants reach Italy from Africa” . Reuters . May 14, 2011.
  23. Jump up^ AFP Friday, Aug 26, 2011 (2011-08-26). “Gaddafi planned to turn Italian island into migrant hell” . . Retrieved 2013-03-26 .
  24. Jump up^ Guterres, António (9 May 2011). “Look Who’s Coming to Europe” . The New York Times .
  25. Jump up^ . Retrieved February 26, 2016 . Missing or empty( help ) [ dead link ] |title=
  26. Jump up^ “Pope Francis visits Italy’s migrant island of Lampedusa” . BBC News . July 8, 2013.
  27. Jump up^ “Italy to hold state funeral for migrants shipwreck” . BBC News . October 9, 2013 . Retrieved 9 October 2013 .
  28. Jump up^ “Lampedusa boat disaster: Aerial search mounted” . BBC News . October 5, 2013.
  29. Jump up^ “Hundreds of Believed Migrants Dead in Shipwreck Off Libya, Says UNHCR” . Wall Street Journal . April 19, 2015 . Retrieved 19 April 2015 .
  30. Jump up^
  31. Jump up^ esplorasicilia. 2010,Balene to Lampedusaon Flickr
  32. Jump up^ Monsters in the Med: Huge great whites found in ‘safe seas’ of European holiday hotspots
  33. Jump up^ Revealed north-south end whales road across the Mediterranean, from Strait of Sicily to PELAGOS SANCTUARY
  34. Jump up^ End whale satellite tracking 2015: the ArchivedMigration2016-04-25 at theWayback Machine.
  35. Jump up^ Are humpback whales electing the Mediterranean Sea as new residence?
  36. Jump up^ A brief survey of Linosa Island
  37. Jump up^ “Stazione 490 Lampedusa” . Servizio Meteorologico. Archived from the original on 26 February 2017 . Retrieved 13 October 2012 .
  38. Jump up^ “Lampedusa” (in Italian). Temperature estreme in Toscana . Retrieved 13 May 2017 .
  39. Jump up^ ” ” Scusate “Poi Mango muore” (in Italian). . Retrieved 3 February 2015 .

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