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Sicily is an autonomous region of Italy and the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
Sicily was colonized by Phoenicians and Punic settlers from Carthage and by Greeks, starting in the 8th century BC. The most important colony was established at Syracuse in 734 BC. Other important Greek colonies were Gela, Acragas, Selinunte, Himera, and Zancle or Messene. These city states were an important part of classical Greek civilization, which included Sicily as part of Magna Graecia - both Empedocles and Archimedes were from Sicily. Sicilian politics was intertwined with politics in Greece itself, leading Athens, for example, to mount the disastrous Sicilian Expedition during the Peloponnesian War. The volcano Etna, situated close to Catania is 10,900 ft high, making it the tallest volcano in Europe. It is also one of the world's most active volcanoes. The Aeolian islands to the north are administratively a part of Sicily, as are the Aegadian Islands and Pantelleria Island to the west, Ustica Island to the north-west, and the Pelagian Islands to the south-west.