Sardinian people

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Sardinians.jpg 1st row:Sergio Atzeni - Caterina Murino - Pasquale Tola - Ampsicora - Comita I de Lacon-Zori

2nd row: Eleonor of Arborea - Joseph Toronto - Paola Antonelli - Enrico Berlinguer - Pinuccio Sciola

3rd row: Giovanni Antonio Sanna - Francesco Cossiga - Antonio Gramsci - Giovanni Matteo Mario - Anna Maria Pierangeli

4th row: Gian Luigi Gessa - Costantino Nivola - Marisa Sannia - Giovanni Maria Angioy - Francesco Cocco-Ortu

5th row: Giuseppe Manno - Goffredo Mameli (Genoese of Sardinian descent) - Salvatore Satta - Grazia Deledda - Andrea Parodi

6th row:Pope Hilarius - Amedeo Nazzari - Antonio Segni - Antonio Marras - Leonardo Alagon

7th row: Maria Lai - Emilio Lussu - Paolo Fresu - Domenico Alberto Azuni - Pope Symmachus

8th row: Domenico Ruiu - Marianus IV of Arborea - Maria Carta - Franco Columbu - Giovanni Spano - Giovanni Soro
Regions with significant populations
(inhabitants of Sardinia)
Italian and minority languages (SardinianSassareseGallureseCatalanLigurian)
Predominantly Roman Catholicism

The Sardinian people or Sardinians are the people from or with origins in Sardinia, a western Mediterranean island and autonomous region of Italy.

Origin and influences[edit]

The Sardinian people are originally from the island of Sardinia, which was populated in waves of emigration from the Paleolithic period until recent times.


Sardinia was first colonized in a stable manner during the Upper Paleolithic and the Mesolithic by people from the Iberian and the Italian peninsula. During the Neolithic period, people from Italy, Spain and the Aegean area settled in Sardinia. In the Eneolithic-Early Bronze age the "Beaker folk" from the Franco-Iberian area and from Central Europe[1] settled on the island, bringing new metallurgical techniques and ceramic styles and probably some kind of Indo-European speech.[2]

Composition of Nuragic tribes according to the Greek geographer Ptolemy

The Nuragic civilization arose during the Middle Bronze Age. At that time the island was divided into three or more major ethnic groups, the most important being the Ilienses, the Balares and the Corsi.[3] Nuragic Sardinians have been connected by some scholars to the Shardana, a tribe of the Sea Peoples, which appear several times in ancient Egyptian records,[4] but this hypothesis has been discredited by some other historians.

The language (or the languages) spoken in Sardinia during the Bronze Age is unknown . According to some reconstructions, the Proto-Sardinian language was akin to Basque with similarities with ancient Iberian, or even Etruscan. Other scholars believe that there were various linguistic areas (two or more), possibly pre-indoeuropeans and indoeuropeans.

Ancient history[edit]

In the 10th century BC, the Phoenicians founded cities and ports along the south-west coast, such as Caralis, Bithia, Sulki and Tharros.

The south of the island was partially conquered by the Carthaginians in the 6th century BC and was conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC. Sardinia, with the exception of the central mountainous area, was heavily "Latinized" during the Roman period, and the modern Sardinian language is considered one of the most conservative Romance languages.

Middle age[edit]

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Sardinia was ruled in rapid succession by the Vandals, the Byzantines, the Ostrogoths[5] and again by the Byzantines.

During the Middle Ages, the island was divided into four independent Kingdoms (Sardinian: Judicados; Italian: Giudicati), some of which coming under Genoese and Pisan political influence. Genoa founded the cities of Alghero and Castelgenovese (Castelsardo) while the Pisans founded Castel di Castro (Cagliari) and Villa di Chiesa (Iglesias), who become with Sassari a commune. From the 12th century in the northwestern Sardinia, mainly in Nurra and Anglona, trades and immigration from Tuscany, Corsica and Liguria led to the birth of the Italian-sounding Sassarese, still spoken in Sassari and some northern villages.

From 1324 to 1420, Sardinia came under the rule of Kingdom of Aragon who repopulated the cities of Castel di Castro and Alghero with colonists, mainly Catalans.[6][7] A local dialect of Catalan is still spoken today in the city of Alghero.

Modern and contemporary history[edit]

The Spanish era ended in 1713 when the whole island was ceded to the Austrian House of Habsburg, followed with another cession in 1718 by the Dukes of Savoy, who assumed the title of "Kings of Sardinia". During this period Ligurian colonists settled on the island of San Pietro and Sant'Antioco, in the south-west area of Sardinia, bringing with them a dialect called "Tabarchino", still widely spoken there. Then, the Kingdom of Sardinia annexed the whole Italian peninsula and Sicily in 1861 after the Risorgimento, becoming the Kingdom of Italy.

Since 1850 limited groups of specialised workers from Styria, Austria, followed by German miners from Freiburg began to settled temporarily in the Iglesiente in particular in the mining areas of Monte Vecchio, Guspini and Ingurtosu . Some Germans influenced building and toponym is still visible in this area.[8] The contemporaneous migration flow from the Italian peninsula towards the Sardinian mining areas of Iglesiente was more considerable and more stable ; these miners came mostly from Lombardy, Piedmont, Tuscany and Romagna.[9] According to an 1882 census realised by the French engineer Leon Goüine, in the south-western Sardinian mines worked 9.780 miners, 3.571 of which were of mainland Italian origin;[10] most of the them settled in Iglesias and frazioni .

At the end of the 19th century communities of fishermen from Sicily, Torre del Greco (Campania) and Ponza (Lazio) migrated on the east coasts of the island, in the towns of Arbatax/Tortolì, Siniscola and La Maddalena.

In the 20th century there was extensive emigration from the Italian peninsula during the Fascist government, when people from Veneto but also from Marche, Abruzzo and Sicily came to Sardinia to populate the island, especially the new mining town of Carbonia and the villages of Mussolinia (now Arborea) and Fertilia. Venetian and Friulan are still spoken today in Arborea by the elderly.[11] After World War II Istrian refugees were relocated in the north-west coast of Sardinia in the Nurra region, today Istriot and Venetian are spoken in Fertilia, Tanca Marchese and Arborea . In the same period few Italian Tunisian families settled in the sparsely populated area of Castiadas, east of Cagliari.[12]


With a population density of 69/km2, slightly more than a third of the national average, Sardinia is the fourth least populated region in Italy. The population distribution is anomalous compared to that of other Italian regions lying on the sea. In fact, contrary to the general trend, urban settlement has not taken place primarily along the coast but towards the centre of the island. Historical reasons for this include repeated Saracen raids during the Middle Ages (making the coast unsafe), widespread pastoral activities inland, and the swampy nature of the coastal plains (reclaimed 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 Italian region with the lowest total fertility rate[13] (1.087 births per woman), and the region with the second-lowest birth rate;[14] However, the population has increased in recent years due to immigration, mainly from the Italian mainland, Eastern Europe (esp. Romania), Africa and China.

As of 2010, there were 37,853 foreign national residents, forming 2,3% of the total Sardinian population.[15]

Age expectancy and Longevity[edit]

Diagram of longevity clues in the main Blue Zones

Average life expectancy is 81.9 years (84.9 for women[16] and 78.9 for men[16]).

Sardinia is the first discovered Blue Zone, a demographic and/or geographic area of the world where people live measurably longer lives.[17] Sardinians share with Okinawans the highest rate of centenarians in the world (22 centenarians/100,000 inhabitants). The key factors of the high contentration of centenarians are identified in the genetic of Sardinian population,[18] lifestyle such as diet and nutrition, and the social structure.

Demographic indicators[edit]

Historical population[edit]

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1485 157,578 —    
1603 266,676 +69.2%
1678 299,356 +12.3%
1688 229,532 −23.3%
1698 259,157 +12.9%
1728 311,902 +20.4%
1751 360,805 +15.7%
1771 360,785 −0.0%
1776 422,647 +17.1%
1781 431,897 +2.2%
1821 461,931 +7.0%
1824 469,831 +1.7%
1838 525,485 +11.8%
1844 544,253 +3.6%
1848 554,717 +1.9%
1857 573,243 +3.3%
1861 609,000 +6.2%
1871 636,000 +4.4%
1881 680,000 +6.9%
1901 796,000 +17.1%
1911 868,000 +9.0%
1921 885,000 +2.0%
1931 984,000 +11.2%
1936 1,034,000 +5.1%
1951 1,276,000 +23.4%
1961 1,419,000 +11.2%
1971 1,474,000 +3.9%
1981 1,594,000 +8.1%
1991 1,648,000 +3.4%
2001 1,632,000 −1.0%
2011 1,639,362 +0.5%
Source: ISTAT 2011, - D.Angioni-S.Loi-G.Puggioni, La popolazione dei comuni sardi dal 1688 al 1991, CUEC, Cagliari, 1997 - F. Corridore, Storia documentata della popolazione di Sardegna, Carlo Clausen, Torino, 1902

Division by gender and age[edit]


Total population by age[edit]

Geographical distribution[edit]

Most Sardinians are native to the island but a sizable percentage have settled outside Sardinia, it had been estimated that between 1955 and 1971 308,000 Sardinians have emigrated to the Italian mainland.[24] Sizable Sardinian communities are located in Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Tuscany and Latium.
Sardinians and their descendants are also numerous in Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland. In the Americas Sardinians migrated almost all in Southern part of the continent, especially in Argentina (between 1900 and 1913 about 12,000 Sardinians lived in Buenos Aires and neighbourhoods) [25] and Uruguay (in Montevideo in the 1870s lived 12,500 Sardinians) . Small communities with Sardinians ancestors, about 5000 people, are also found in Brazil (mostly in the cities of Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo),[26] the UK and Australia.

Sardinians residing in European countries 2008[27]
 Germany 27,184
 France 23,110
 Belgium 12,126
  Switzerland 7,274
 Netherlands 6,040
Others 17,763
Total 93,497

Unlike the rest of Italian emigration, where migrants were mainly males, between 1953-1974 an equal number of females and males emigrated from Sardinia to the Italian mainland.


Geographic distribution of traditional languages and dialects spoken in Sardinia

Alongside Italian (Italiano) that, once first introduced in the island by law on July 1760,[28] became the official language of the Piedmontese Kingdom at the expense of Spanish (Español), Sardinian (Sardu)[29][30] is the other most widely spoken language of the island; however, because of a rather rigid model of standardized education system that strongly discouraged the Sardinian youth from learning and speaking the language, fewer people now have proficiency in it and Sardinian has therefore been designated as endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. Other languages spoken on the island, all also endangered, include Sassarese (Sassaresu),[31] Gallurese (Gadduresu),[32] Algherese Catalan (Alguerés),[33] and Tabarchino (Tabarchin).[34]


The vast majority of the Sardinians is baptized as Roman Catholic. Our Lady of Bonaria is the Patroness Saint of Sardinia.

Notable Sardinians[edit]

Main article: List of Sardinians

Genetic peculiarities of the population[edit]

Sardinians are one of the most genetically isolated peoples in Europe, though they are the single population that encloses all the genetic characteristics of the Europeans, such as the highest variability of the Y chromosome found among all of them.[35][36][37][38]

According to some studies, along with the Basques they represent an example of a pre-Indo-European population surviving in Europe from the Paleolithic period.[39][40] The lineage of most Sardinians today goes back approximately 20,000 years, to the island's original settler population.[41][42]

Haplogroup I Distribution

While Sardinians do not constitute a homogeneous population from a genetic point of view (studies have found micro-differentiation in the population genetic structure in different sub-regions of the island[43]), in comparison to other European and Mediterranean populations (Italians included), are distinguished by own genetic characteristics.[44]


Distribution of Sardinian Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) haplogroups in percentage according to Eupedia.[45]

Region I2 R1a R1b G2a J2 J1 E1b1b T
Sardinia 39.5% 1% 18.5% 12% 9% 4% 9.5% 1.5%

About 42% of the Sardinians belong to Y-chromosome haplogroup I, which is otherwise frequently encountered only in Scandinavia, Northern Germany and the Croatia-Bosnia-Montenegro-Serbia area.

Furthermore, the I haplogroup of the indigenous Sardinians is of the I2a1 subtype (I-M26), which is almost unique to the island, though it takes origin in the Pyrenees region. The I2a1 haplogroup also has a low distribution around the Pyrenees, the Basque Country, Castile, the department of Béarn and Brittany in France, England, Sweden and Corsica. I-M26 may have evolved in southern France. It could have been introduced to Sardinia around 9,000 years ago and been preserved by isolation and drift.[46] The second-most common Y-chromosome haplogroup among the Sardinian male population is the haplogroup R1b (22% of the total population) mainly present in the northern part of the island. Sardinia also has a relatively high distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroup G (11%),[47] which is also found mainly in the Caucasus, the Sardinian subtype of the Haplogroup G is closer to that one still present today in the Alps region, in particular the Tyrol area. Ötzi the Iceman, the mummy of a man who lived about 3,300 BC and had been found on the Alps in 1991, was discovered recently to be closely related genetically to modern-day Sardinians.[48][49]


Origin of U5b3 Mdna Haplogroup

The most common mtDNA haplogroups in Sardinia are H (H1 and H3) and V who are also particularly common on the Iberian peninsula.[50] Some subclades typical of Sardinia and rare in the rest of Europe are:

The subclade U5b3a1 of Haplogroup U (mtDNA) came from Provence to Sardinia by obsidian merchants, as it is estimated that 80% of obsidian found in France comes from Monte Arci in Sardinia reflecting the close relations that existed at one time for these two regions. Still about 4% of the female population in Sardinia belongs to this haplotype.[51] One other interesting anomaly is the presence of H13a of Haplogroup H (mtDNA) is present in the island at around 9.2%. As this is an extremely rare subclade normally present in the Caucasus, its worthy of further investigation. [52] [53]


Sardinian folk costumes and traditional masks:

See also[edit]


  • Casula, Franco Cesare (1994). La Storia di Sardegna. Sassari: Carlo Delfino Editore. 
  • Brigaglia, Manlio; Giuseppina Fois; Laura Galoppini; Attilio Mastino; Antonello Mattone; Guido Melis; Piero Sanna; Giuseppe Tanda (1995). Storia della Sardegna. Sassari: Soter Editore. 
  • Ugas, Giovanni (2006). L'Alba dei Nuraghi. Cagliari: Fabula Editore. ISBN 978-88-89661-00-0. 


  1. ^ Manlio Brigaglia - Storia della Sardegna , pg. 48-49-50
  2. ^ Giovanni Ugas - L'alba dei Nuraghi , pg.22-23-24
  3. ^ Giovanni Ugas - L'alba dei Nuraghi, p. 241
  4. ^ - Interview with Giovanni Ugas, archaeologist and professor of the University of Cagliari (Italian)
  5. ^ Francesco Cesare Casula - La Storia di Sardegna, pg.141
  6. ^ Manlio Brigaglia - Storia della Sardegna , pg.158
  7. ^ Minority Rights Group International - Sardinians
  8. ^ ^ Stefano Musso, op. cit., p.314
  9. ^ Quando i bergamaschi occuparono le case
  10. ^ Il progresso sociale della Sardegna e lo sfruttamento industriale delle miniere -
  11. ^ Veneti nel Mondo (Venetians in the World) - Anno III - numero 1 - Gennaio 1999 (Italian)
  12. ^ E al ritorno conquistarono le terre abbandonate - La Nuova Sardegna
  13. ^ ISTAT Numero medio di figli per donna per regione 2002-2005
  14. ^ ISTAT Tassi generici di natalità, mortalità e nuzialità per regione 2002-2005
  15. ^ Rapporto Istat - La popolazione straniera residente in Italia al 31º dicembre 2010
  16. ^ a b c d e ISTAT [1]
  17. ^ Sardinia, Italy - Blue Zones
  18. ^ Sardinia Exploration Backgrounds - Blue Zones
  19. ^ ISTAT Numero medio di figli per donna per regione 2002-2005
  20. ^ a b Ministero della Salute Speranza di vita e mortalità
  21. ^ La mortalità per suicidio in Italia
  22. ^ a b Analfabetismo Italia - Censimento 2001
  23. ^ a b Sardegna Statistiche: Analfabeti
  24. ^ Giuseppe Sanna - L'emigrazione della Sardegna (Emigration of Sardinia) (Italian)
  25. ^ L'emigrazione sarda tra la fine dell' 800 e i primi del 900
  26. ^ Il messagero sardo - Una piccola ma attiva colonia di sardi vive nello stato di Bahia (Italian)
  27. ^ Museo Nazionale Emigrazione Italiana - 25-03-2012
  28. ^ S'italianu in Sardìnnia, Amos Cardia, Iskra
  29. ^ Sardinian is generally considered to be the most conservative Romance language, and was also the first language to split off genetically from the rest of the others, possibly as early as the first century BC. Most of the academic community usually subdivides Sardinian into two groups: the first one would be Logudorese (Sardu logudoresu) and the second one would be Campidanese (Sardu campidanesu).
  30. ^ Sardinians - World Directory of Minorities
  31. ^ It's a language born as a lingua franca of Tuscan-Corsican origin, with minor Ligurian, Catalan and Spanish influences and major Logudorese Sardinian influence.
  32. ^ It's a Corsican dialect with Logudorese Sardinian influence.
  33. ^ It's a Catalan dialect spoken in Alghero by the time Catalan invaders repopulated the town and expelled the indigenous population.
  34. ^ It's a Ligurian dialect spoken in Carloforte and Calasetta.
  35. ^ Sardegna madre di tutti gli europei
  36. ^ Le origini degli europei scritte nel dna dei sardi
  37. ^ Le origini dell'uomo europeo scritte nel Dna dei sardi
  38. ^ Low-Pass DNA Sequencing of 1200 Sardinians reconstructs European Y-Chromosome Phylogeny - Science
  39. ^ Continuity between Neolithic, Bronze Age, and recent Sardinians
  40. ^ Admixture
  41. ^ Gene clues to immune strength - Englemed Health News
  42. ^ Gene variants found associated with human immune system, autoimmune disease
  43. ^ High Differentiation among Eight Villages in a Secluded Area of Sardinia Revealed by Genome-Wide High Density SNPs Analysis
  44. ^ "Sardinian Population (Italy): a Genetic Review" (PDF). International Journal of Modern Anthropology. 2008. p. 55. Retrieved 2010-04-23. 
  45. ^ [2] Eupedia : Distribution of European Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) haplogroups by region in percentage. See note n° 4
  46. ^ Robert Henvell - Aspects of Sardinian Genetics
  47. ^ Zei, G. et al. (2003). "From surnames to the history of Y chromosomes: the Sardinian population as a paradign.". Eur J of Human Genetics 11 (10): 802–07. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201040. PMID 14512971. 
  48. ^ Iceman's DNA reveals health risks and relations, Nature
  49. ^ Tratti genetici comuni tra la mummia Oetzi e gli attuali abitanti di Sardegna e Corsica
  51. ^ [4] American Journal of Human Genetics : Mitochondrial Haplogroup U5b3: A Distant Echo of the Epipaleolithic in Italy and the Legacy of the Early Sardinians
  52. ^ "The Molecular Dissection of mtDNA Haplogroup H Confirms That the Franco-Cantabrian Glacial Refuge Was a Major Source for the European Gene Pool" (PDF). American Journal of Human Genetics. 2004. p. 910. Retrieved 2010-12-26. 
  53. ^ "High-resolution mtDNA evidence for the late-glacial resettlement of Europe from an Iberian refugium" (PDF). Genome Research. 2005. p. 19. Retrieved 2010-12-26.