Sardinia (pronounced /sɑrˈdɪnɪə/; Italian: Sardegna; Sardinian: Sardigna or Sardinnya) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily). The area of Sardinia is 24,090 square kilometres (9,301 sq mi). The island is surrounded (clockwise from north) by the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands. Sardinia is a constitutional part of Italy, with a special statute of regional autonomy under the Italian Constitution.
Around the beginning of the nuragic age circa 1500 BC the island was first called in greek, Hyknusa (Latinised Ichnusa) by the Mycenaeans, probably meaning island (nusa) of the Hyksos, the people who had just been expelled by Ahmose I of Egypt circa 1540 BC. Sandalyon was another greek name, probably due to its shape, resembling a footprint. Its present name is Sardinia, after the Shardana (whose invasion of Egypt was defeated by Ramesses III circa 1180 BC).
Sardinia is separated from Corsica by the Strait of Bonifacio.
Sardinia is a generally mountainous island with a few coastal plains. The island's mountains are divided into three ranges; the highest peaks are in the middle section of the island. Punta La Marmora in the Gennargentu mountain range, at 6,016 feet (1,834 m), is the highest point in Sardinia. Sardinia has few major rivers; the largest river on the island is the Tirso, which has a length of 94 miles (151 km) and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. The island has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and very mild winters. The climate in the mountains tends to be wetter and cooler than the lower coastal plains; and winter snowfalls are not uncommon in the higher peaks. Sardinia also has more mountains than flat, low land and forests.
Until 2006, Sardinia had been divided into four provinces:
Now Sardinia is divided into eight provinces, following the creation of four more provinces just recently by the Sardinian regional government, becoming operative with the provinces' elections for the Presidents and the Councils held in 2006. The four additional provinces are as follows: