Taken as a whole, Sardinia's economic conditions are such that the island is in the best position among Italian regions located south of Rome. The greatest economic development had taken place inland, in the provinces of Cagliari and Sassari , characterized by a certain amount of enterprise. The per capita income in Sardinia is the highest of the southern half of Italy. The Sardinian economy is, however, constrained due to the high costs of the transportation of goods and electricity, which is twice that of the continental Italian regions, and triple that of the EU average.
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Sardinia is the only Italian region that produces a surplus of electricity, and exports electricity to Corsica and the Italian mainland : in , the new submarine power cable Sapei entered into operation. Small scale LNG terminals and a km gas pipeline are under construction, and will be operative in They will decrease the current high cost of the electric power in the island.
Three main banks are headquartered in Sardinia. However, the Banco di Sardegna and the Banca di Sassari , both originally from Sassari , are controlled by the mainland-based Banca Popolare dell'Emilia-Romagna ; likewise the Banca di Credito Sardo , originally based in Cagliari , has been absorbed by the parent company Intesa Sanpaolo in There are chances for Sardinia to become a tax haven , the whole island territory being free by custom duties , vat and excise taxes on fuel; since February , the town of Portoscuso has become the first free trade zone.
The unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of was 8. The Unemployment rate drop to This table shows the sectors of the Sardinian economy in . Sardinia has been for thousands of years specializing in sheep breeding, and, to a lesser extent, goats and cattle that is less productive of agriculture in relation to land use. It is probably in breeding and cattle ownership the economic base of the early proto-historic and monumental Sardinian civilization from Neolithic to the Iron Age.
Even agriculture has played a very important role in the economic history of the island, especially in the great plain of Campidano , particularly suitable for wheat farming. The Sardinian soils, even those plains are slightly permeable, with aquifers of lacking and sometimes brackish water and very small natural reserves. Water scarcity was the first problem that was faced for the modernization of the sector, with the construction of a great barrier system of dams, which today contains nearly 2 billion cubic meters of water. The reclamations have helped to extend the crops and to introduce other ones such as vegetables and fruit, next to the historical ones, olive and grapes that are present in the hilly areas.
The Campidano plain, the largest lowland Sardinian produces oats , barley and durum , of which is one of the most important Italian producers. Among the vegetables, as well as artichokes, has a certain weight the production of oranges , and, before the reform of the sugar sector from the European Union, the cultivation of sugar beet.
The cork district, in the northern part of the Gallura region, around Calangianus and Tempio Pausania , is composed of companies. In fresh food, as well as artichokes, the production of tomatoes including Camoni tomato and citrus fruit are of a certain weight. Sardinia is the 5th Italian region for rice production, the main paddy fields are located in the Arborea Plain.
In addition to meat, Sardinia produces a wide variety of cheese, considering that half of the sheep milk produced in Italy is produced in Sardinia, and is largely worked by the cooperatives of the shepherds and small industries.
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Sardinia boasts a centuries-old tradition of horse breeding since the Aragonese domination, whose cavalry drew from equine heritage of the island to strengthen their own army or to make a gift to the other sovereigns of Europe. There is little fishing and no real maritime tradition , Portoscuso tunas are exported worldwide, but primarily to Japan.
The once prosperous mining industry is still active though restricted to coal Nuraxi Figus , hamlet of Gonnesa ,  antimony Villasalto , gold Furtei , bauxite Olmedo and lead and zinc Iglesiente , Nurra. The granite extraction represents one of the most flourishing industries in the northern part of the island. The principal industries are chemicals Porto Torres , Cagliari , Villacidro , Ottana , petrochemicals Porto Torres , Sarroch , metalworking Portoscuso, Portovesme, Villacidro , cement Cagliari , pharmaceutical Sassari , shipbuilding Arbatax , Olbia , Porto Torres , oil rig construction Arbatax , rail industry Villacidro ,   arms industries at Domusnovas   and food sugar refineries at Villasor and Oristano, dairy at Arborea , Macomer and Thiesi , fish factory at Olbia.
In Sardinia is located the DASS Distretto Aerospaziale della Sardegna , a consortium of companies, research centers and universities focused on aerospace industry and research. Plans related to industrial conversion are in progress in the main industrial sites, like in Porto Torres, where seven research centres are developing the transformation from traditional fossil fuel related industry to an integrated production chain from vegetable oil using oleaginous seeds to bio-plastics.
Sardinia is involved in the industrial production of the AIRPod , an innovative car powered by compressed air, with the first factory being built in Bolotana. The Sardinian economy is today focused on the overdeveloped tertiary sector In there were 2,, arrivals up 1. In the same year, the airports of the island registered 11,, passengers up 1. Due to its isolated and insular location, Sardinia focused part of its economy on the development of digital technologies since the dawn of internet era: the first Italian website, one of the first webmail system and one of the first and largest internet providers Video On Line were realised by the CRS4 ,   the first European online newspaper was developed by L'Unione Sarda   and also the first Italian UMTS company was founded on the island.
On the island are headquartered some telecommunication companies and internet service providers, such as Tiscali and the Mediterranean Skylogic Teleport, a ground station controlled by satellite provider Eutelsat. Sardinia has become Europe's first region to fully adopt the new Digital Terrestrial Television broadcasting standard.
From 1 November TV channels are broadcast only in digital.
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Internal air connections between Sardinian airports are limited to a daily Cagliari-Olbia flight. Sardinian citizens benefit from special sales on plane tickets, and several low-cost air companies operate on the island. The development of Alisarda followed the development of Costa Smeralda in the north east part of the island, a well known vacation spot among billionaires and film actors worldwide. A regional ferry company, the Saremar , links the main island to the islands of La Maddalena and San Pietro , and from , also the port of Olbia with Civitavecchia and Porto Torres with Savona.
The principal road is the SS " Carlo Felice ", linking the south with the north of the island, crossing the most historic regions of Porto Torres and Cagliari ; it is part of European route E The SS d. A work in progress is converting the main routes to highway standards, with the elimination of all intersections.
The secondary inland and mountain roads are generally narrow with many hairpin turns , so the speed limits are very low. Public transport buses reach every town and village at least once a day; however, due to the low density of population, the smallest territories are reachable only by car. Networks of city buses serve the main towns. In Sardinia 1,, vehicles circulate, equal to per 1, inhabitants.
The Sardinian railway system was developed starting from the 19th century by the Welsh engineer Benjamin Piercy. Vintage railcars and steam locomotives run through the wildest parts of the island. They allow the traveller to have scenic views impossible to see from the main roads. In the recent past the population distribution was anomalous compared to that of other Italian regions lying on the sea.
In fact, contrary to the general trend, most urban settlement, with the exception of the fortified cities of Cagliari , Alghero , Castelsardo and few others, has not taken place primarily along the coast but in the subcoastal areas and towards the centre of the island. Historical reasons for this include the repeated Saracen raids during the Middle Ages and then Barbary raids until the early 19th century making the coast unsafe , widespread pastoral activities inland, and the swampy nature of the coastal plains reclaimed definitively only in the 20th century.
The situation has been reversed with the expansion of seaside tourism; today all Sardinia's major urban centres are located near the coasts, while the island's interior is very sparsely populated. It is the region with the lowest total fertility rate  1.
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Romania , Africa and Asia. Average life expectancy is slightly over 82 years 85 for women and Sardinia's most populated cities are Cagliari and Sassari. Eurostat has identified in Sardinia two Functional Urban Areas :  Cagliari, with , inhabitants, and Sassari, with , inhabitants. Its particular statute, which in itself is a constitutional law , gives the region a limited degree of autonomy, entailing the right to carry out the administrative functions of the local body and to create its own laws in a strictly defined number of domains.
Since , Sardinia is divided into four provinces  Nuoro , Oristano , Sassari , South Sardinia and the metropolitan city of Cagliari. Among the most notable military bases on the island are the Interagency Polygons in Quirra, Capo Teulada and Capo Frasca, used by Italian and NATO forces to test-fire ballistic missiles and weapons and by Italian and European Space Agency to test space vehicles and for orbital launches.
Until , the US navy also had a nuclear submarine base in the Maddalena Archipelago. Depleted uranium and thorium dust from missile tests has been linked to an increase in cancers according to activists and local politicians. Italian military officials were instructed in a memo to blame inbreeding among the Sardinians.
Sardinia is the only autonomous region in Italy where its special Statute uses the term popolo distinct people to refer to its inhabitants. While this formula is also used by Veneto , which unlike Sardinia is an ordinary region , the Sardinian Statute is adopted with a constitutional law. In both cases, such term is not meant to imply any legal difference between Sardinians and any other citizen of the country. Of the prehistoric architecture in Sardinia there are numerous testimonies such as the domus de janas hypogeic tombs , the Giants' grave , the megalithic circles, the menhirs , the dolmens and the well temples ;  however, the element that more than any other characterizes the Sardinian prehistoric landscape are the nuraghe ;  the remains of thousands of these Bronze Age buildings of various types simple and complex are still visible today.
There are also numerous traces left by the Phoenicians and Punics who introduced new urban forms on the coasts. The Romans gave a new administrative structure to the whole island through the restructuring of several cities, the creation of new centers and the construction of many infrastructures of which the ruins remain, such as the palace of Re Barbaro in Porto Torres or the Roman Amphitheatre of Cagliari.
Even from the early Christian and Byzantine epoch there are several testimonies throughout the territory both on the coasts and inside, especially linked to buildings of worship. A particular development had Romanesque architecture during the Judicates period. Starting from the Sardinian Judges judikes , through substantial donations, had favored the arrival to the island of monks of different orders from various regions of Italy and France. These circumstances favored in turn the arrival to the island of workers from Pisa , Lombardy , Provence and Muslim Spain , giving rise to unprecedented artistic manifestations, marked by the fusion of these experiences.