Basilicata (bäzēlēkäˈtä) [key], region (1991 pop. 610,528), 3,856 sq mi (9,987 sq km), S Italy, bordering on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the southwest and on the Gulf of Taranto in the southeast. It forms the instep of the Italian "boot."Potenza is the capital of Basilicata, which is divided into Potenza and Matera provs. (named for their capitals). The region is crossed by the Lucanian Apennines; its main river is the Bradano. Because of a dry climate and a scarcity of groundwater, farming is difficult, although it is the occupation of most inhabitants of the generally poor region. Olives, plums, and cereals are grown, and sheep and goats are raised. There is also some fishing. The transportation network is very limited, and commerce and industry are minimal, except in the Pisticci zone where a chemical plant is located. Natural gas also has been discovered near Matera. Basilicata corresponds to most of ancient Lucania and to part of ancient Samnium. Rome took the region in 272 B.C.; it later passed in turn to the Lombards, to the Byzantines, and (11th cent.) to the Norman duchy of Apulia, of which Melfi (now in Basilicata) was the capital. Although later a part of the kingdom of Naples, Basilicata was controlled by virtually independent feudal lords. Malaria, still a scourge on the coasts, caused the flourishing coastal towns to be abandoned in the early Middle Ages. In the 20th cent. there have been reclamation works and social and land reforms in Basilicata, but many of the inhabitants have emigrated to foreign countries (especially the United States) or have taken jobs in the industrial cities of N Italy. The region has suffered numerous earthquakes.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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