Due to its strategic position, Sicily has been inhabited since Palaeolithic and Mesolithic times as the traces found in the northern coast caves show. The earliest inhabitants were, as Thucydides said, the Sicanians, who came from Iberia (VIII-VII c. B.C.). The Elymi, perhaps Trojan exiles coming from Libia, settled in the neighbourhood of Erice and Segesta. The Siculians came from the Italian mainland and occupied the eastern area of the island. When the first Greek settlers arrived in 735 B.C., the Phoenician, who had settled in Western Sicily from Mozia to Capo Lilibeo, had to retreat. In 265 B.C. Romans took Messina, allying with the local mercenary soldiers. At the end of the Second Punic War (212 B.C.), the island was taken by the Romans who divided it into provinces and was regarded as land to be exploited to supply Rome with grain. At the end of the Gothic-Byzantine conflict in 552 A.C., Sicily became part of the Eastern Roman Empire and till the 9th century was a peripherical province. The Arab invasion and conquest of 827 endowed Sicily with its ancient splendour. The conquest started from Mazara del Vallo and finished in 902 with the fall of Taormina, while the Greek and Latin elements still prevailed in the east (the Noto and Demone Valleys). Palermo, conquered in 831, became the new flourishing capital of the semi-independent emirate of the Kalibi family. The Norman conquest of the island started in 1061, when Roger I of Hauteville was crowned King of Puglia, Calabria and Sicily. After Henry VI, Constance of Hauteville's husband, the young Frederick II succeeded to the throne. He was crowned by the Pope in 1212. Swabian rights to the throne were thus confirmed.
In 1266 Manfred, Frederick's heir, was defeated by Charles of Anjou so Sicily felt into a deep economic crisis again and the power of the barons was growing beyond measure (the Chiaramonte and Ventimiglia family laid down their law in the Western Sicily until 1500). In 1415 the island became a Spanish viceroyalty and was relegated to a very marginal position in the Mediterranean area. In spite of discontent and disturbances in the main towns, the Spanish domination remained as strong as ever until the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) that marked the close of Spanish rule and the consequent passing of Sicily to the House of Savoy. Pressed by the French, Ferdinand IV of Bourbon King of Naples, took refuge in Sicily, united the two States in a single Kingdom of the two Sicilies and abolished the feudal privileges in 1812. In 1848 the revolutionary movements started across the whole island and Sicilians, together with the temporary government of Ruggero Settimo, declared the Bourbons deposed. Giuseppe Garibaldi arrived in Marsala on 11 May 1860. He defeated the Bourbon's troop at Calatafimi but social tensions found an explosive outlet again in the Sicilian Fasci movement, repressed in 1894 by Francesco Crispi, then leader of the italian government. Due to a heavy crisis of the agricultural economy, the phenomenon of the massive migrations to the new World, America, took place in Sicily. In 1948 the statute of the autonomous region was promulgated by the italian government together with the institution of the autonomous parliament of the newborn Sicilian Region. The parliament had to face with the dramatic economic and social situations the day after the First World War. Today the island is a region with various potentials but not completely showed, from the economic point of view, as for example in the transport and Hitech sector. But there are some very well known, such as: tourism, monuments and agroalimentar sectors.