Some facts• Apulia is a region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Otranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south.• Its most southern portion is known as Salento.• The region comprises 19,345 square kilometers (7,469 sq mi).• Its population is about 4.1 million.
Apulia is a very dry region. Its few rivers are torrentialand are to be found on the Tavoliere delle Puglie at thefoot of the Gargano promontory.
Elsewhere, rainwater permeates the limestone bedrockto form underground watercourses that resurface nearthe coast. Groundwater is therefore abundant, andthere are many caves and potholes. The caves atCastellana Grotte are particularly spectacular.
Some History• Apulia is one of the richest regions in Italy in terms of archaeological findings.• It was first settled by Illyric peoples, the most well known of whom were the Messapii
In the 8th century BC, the Ancient Greeksexpanded until reaching the area of Taranto andSalento in Magna Graecia.
In the 5th and 4th centuries BC, the Greek settlementat Taras produced a distinctive style of pottery (Apulian vase painting).
Apulia was an importantarea for the ancientRomans, who conquered itduring the course of warsagainst the Samnites andagainst Pyrrhus in the 4thand 3rd centuries BC butalso suffered a crushingdefeat here in the battle ofCannae against Hannibal.
However, after the Carthaginians left theregion, the Romans captured the ports ofBrindisi and Taranto, and established dominionover the region.During the Imperial age Apulia was a flourishingarea for production of grain and oil, becomingthe most important exporter to the Easternprovinces.
After the fall of Rome, Apulia was held successively bythe Goths, the Lombards and, from the 6th centuryonwards, the Byzantines. Bari became the capital of aprovince that extended to modern Basilicata
Apulia remained under the Byzantine authority, untilthe 11th century, when the Normans conquered it with relative ease.
From the late 12th to early 13th centuries, Apulia was a favorite residence of the Hohenstaufen emperors, notably Frederick II
Under the Angevine and Crown ofAragon/Spanish dominations Apulia becamelargely dominated by a small number ofpowerful landowners (Baroni).In 1734 there were the battle of Bitonto, aSpanish victory over Austrian forces.The coast was occupied at times by the Turksand by the Venetians.The French also controlled the region in 1806–15, resulting in the abolition of feudalism andthe reformation of the justice system.
In 1861, with the fall of TwoSicilies, the region joined Italy.
• On July 28, 1480, an Ottoman fleet of 128 ships arrived near the city of Otranto.• On July 29 the garrison and the citizens retreated to the citadel, the Castle of Otranto.• On 11 August this was taken by the invaders.
According to ChristianhistoriographyArchbishop StefanoAgricoli and otherswere killed in thecathedral.Bishop StephenPendinelli and thegarrisoncommander, countFrancesco Zurlo, weresawn in two alive.
On August 12, 800 citizens who refused to convertto Islam were taken to the Hill of the Minerva andbeheaded.
Some of the remains of the 800 martyrs are today stored in Otranto cathedral
The EconomyIn comparison with the country as a whole, theeconomy of Apulia is characterized by a greateremphasis on agriculture and services and a smaller partplayed by industry.
In the last 20 years the industrial base of the regionseconomy has changed radically. Alongside highlycapital-intensive large-scale a network of small andmedium-sized firms has gradually expanded, and thesenow provide approximately 70% of the jobs in theregion.
The region has a good network of roads but the railwaynetwork is somewhat inadequate, particularly in thesouth. Apulias 800 kilometers (497 mi) of coastline isstudded with ports, which make this region animportant terminal for transport and tourism to Greeceand the eastern Mediterranean.
Language• The official national language (since 1861) is Italian. However, as a consequence of its long and varied history, other historical languages have been spoken in this region for centuries.• In the northern and central sections, some dialects of the Neapolitan language are spoken.
• In the southern part of the region, dialects of the Sicilian language called Tarantino and Salentino are spoken.• In isolated pockets of the Southern part of Salento, a Greek dialect called Griko, is spoken by just a few thousand people.• A rare dialect of the Franco-Provençal language called Faetar is spoken in two isolated towns in the Province of Foggia.• In a couple of villages, the Arbëreshë dialect of the Albanian language has been spoken by a very small community since a wave of refugees settled there in the 15th century.