Pontine Marshes (pŏnˈtēn, –tĪn) [key], Ital. Pontina, low-lying region, c.300 sq mi (780 sq km), in S Latium, central Italy, between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Apennine foothills; it is crossed by drainage canals. The Appian Way, a Roman-built road, passes through the region. In pre-Roman and early Roman times the area was populated and fertile, but it was later abandoned because of the malaria in its unhealthful marshlands. The Roman emperors Trajan and Theodoric and several popes started reclamation works, but a drainage system was not completed until the 1930s under Mussolini. The large estates in the area were then broken into lots, and farmers from N Italy settled there permanently. The first rural town, Littoria (now Latina), was inaugurated in 1932. Sabaudia, Pontinia, Aprilia, and Pomezia were founded in the following years. During World War II the drainage works were damaged and the region was flooded. Wheat and cotton are now produced, and livestock is raised.