Lampedusa

Infobox CityIT
img_coa =
official_name = Comune di Lampedusa e Linosa
name = Lampedusa
region = Sicily
province = Agrigento (AG)
elevation_m = 16
area_total_km2 = 25.48
population_as_of =
population_total = 6025
population_density_km2 = 230
timezone = CET, UTC+1
coordinates = coord|35|30|N|12|36|E
mapx = 35.621
mapy = 12.591
frazioni = Lampedusa, Linosa, Cala Creta, Cala Francese, Grecale, Terranova
telephone = 0922
postalcode = 92010
gentilic = Lampedusani, Linosani
saint = Madonna di Porto Salvo
day = September 22
mayor = Bernardino De Rubeis (since May 15, 2007)
website = [http://www.isoladilampedusa.it/Comune/comune.htm www.isoladilampedusa.it]
The Mediterranean island of Lampedusa (Italian: "Isola di Lampedusa"; Sicilian: "Isula di Lampidusa") belongs to Italy and is the largest of the Pelagie Islands, situated 205 km from Sicily and 113 km from Tunisia. Its population subsists on fishing, agriculture and tourism. There is currently a crisis due to illegal immigrants. [ [http://sievx.com/articles/psdp/2003/20030622JonathanMiller.html Refugee crisis on Lampedusa] ]

Lampedusa is the largest part of the comune of Lampedusa e Linosa which also includes the smaller islands of Linosa and Lampione with the former being inhabited, but the latter just hosting an automatic lighthouse.

Geography

since the sea between the two is no deeper than 120 metres. Lampedusa is an arid island, with no sources of water other than irregular rainfall. The fauna and flora of Lampedusa are similar to those of North Africa.

The "Isola dei Conigli" (literally ‘Island of Rabbits’), which is close to the south coast of Lampedusa, is one of the last remaining egg-laying sites in Italy for the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, which is endangered throughout the Mediterranean. The beach and the neighbouring island are part of a nature reserve: here the famous singer-songwriter Domenico Modugno spent his vacations, and died here in 1994. Next to Parise Cape is a small beach accessible only by sea, through a low grotto.

Other species living along the island's coast include mantas and dolphins.Lampedusa is also known as being the gateway from Europe to Africa and is one of the southernmost points in all of Europe, after Cyprus and Crete.

History

Historically, Lampedusa was a landing place and a maritime base for the ancient Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs. The Romans established a plant for the production of the prized fish sauce known as "garum". As a result of pirate attacks by the Arabs, the island became uninhabited.

The first prince of Lampedusa and Linosa was Giulio Tomasi, ancestor of the famous writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, who received the title from Charles II of Spain in 1630. A century later the Tomasi family began a program of resettlement.

In 1860 the island became part of the new Kingdom of Italy, but the new government limited its activities there to building a penal colony.

During World War II, the island was captured by British forces in Operation Corkscrew, as an immediate precursor to the Allied invasion of Sicily.

The first telephone connection with Sicily was installed only in the 1960s. In the same decade an electric power station was built. The western part of the island became a U.S. Coast Guard LORAN-C transmitter in 1972.

In 1979, [http://www.uscg.mil/History/Women%20Chronology.html Lt. Kay Hartzell took command] of the Coast Guard base, becoming the first female commanding officer of an isolated [http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode14/usc_sec_14_00000001----000-.html U.S. military base] . [ [http://www.uscg.mil/History/Women%20Chronology.html Women in the Coast Guard: Moments in History ] ]

The Mediterranean during the 1980s was the scene of numerous terrorist attacks. 1985-1986 saw an increase in tensions. On April 15, 1986, Libya fired two Scuds at the U.S. Coast Guard navigation station on the Italian island, in retaliation for the American bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi. However, the missiles passed over the island, landing in the sea, and caused no damage.

At the time of the missile attack, the LORAN station was under the command of Lt. Ernest DelBueno. DelBueno and his Coast Guard crew had spent the previous six months increasing their security preparedness including arming the crew and hardening the station's defenses. Expecting a traditional terrorist attack the American forces were surprised by a missile attack. American military commanders in Europe decided to temporarily evacuate non-essential crew to Sicily leaving behind a small security team under DelBueno's command. However the commander of the U.S. Navy transport helicopter from Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Four (HC-4) received orders from his chain of command to evacuate the entire American crew including DelBueno and his security team. DelBueno and his security crew returned the following morning, The confusion caused a rift with many of the island's residents including some of the Italian employees of the base. Several of the civilian employees including interpreter, Marco Bartolo, returned to work and performed their jobs in an exceptional manner. As a result of the missile attack, the U.S. Coast Guard improved communications equipment, built fences and developed procedures for missile attacks and threats.

, Sicily, and at Lampedusa. [Commanding Officer's Log, USCG Loran Station Lampedusa, January 4, 1989]

The aircraft remained on the ground overnight, and an Italian media frenzy followed, putting Lampedusa and Armstrong in the spotlight. Armstrong responded by hosting a media tour of the base, conspicuously wearing his body armor and pointing out defensive forces on the base. The move quieted speculation that the Americans were once again preparing to leave. [Commanding Officer's Log, USCG Loran Station Lampedusa, January 5-9, 1989]

The NATO base was decommissioned in 1994 and transferred to Italian military control. It can still be seen clearly on Google Earth (keyword: Lampedusa), at the west end of the island, with swimming pool and outbuildings visible.

Illegal immigration issue

Lampedusa has made international news as a prime transit site for illegal immigrants hoping to enter Europe from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. A secret agreement between the Libyan and Italian governments in 2004 obliged Libya to take in returned refugees and resulted in the deportation of many people from Lampedusa to Libya in 2004 and 2005. The European Parliament did not endorse this. [ [http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2005-0138+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN European Parliament resolution on Lampedusa] , 14 April 2005]

In 2006 it was reported that illegal immigrants from Africa still commonly pay smugglers in Libya for a transit to Lampedusa. [ [http://www.springerlink.com/content/v774j854r6n18438/ Out of Africa: The human trade between Libya and Lampedusa] ] From there they are transferred by the Italian government to detention camps in mainland Italy and eventually released; their deportation orders are not enforced. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1974925,00.html Bitter harvest] , "The Guardian", 19 December 2006] The illegal immigration into Italy's territory is a major issue in recent times, with parties who campaign with the issue as part of their promises.

Transportation

The island of Lampedusa is connected to Sicily by a ferry service with the seaport of Porto Empedocle, near Agrigento. Lampedusa also has a small national airport which carries out service mainly during the summer period.

Popular entertainment

The movie "Respiro" (2002), written and directed by Emanuele Crialese and starring Valeria Golino, was filmed entirely on Lampedusa.

ee also

* Linosa
* Pantelleria
* Pelagie Islands
* LORAN-C transmitter Lampedusa
* Lampedusa Airport

References

External links

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3712052.stm BBC News – Italy Deports Island Immigrants] – Covers the changing face of immigration in 2004
* [http://www.isoladilampedusa.it/ Official site] it icon


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