The Maddalena Archipelago is a group of islands in the Straits of Bonifacio between Corsica (France) and north-eastern Sardinia (Italy). It consists of seven main islands and numerous other small islets.
The largest island is Isola Maddalena, on which sits the archipelago's largest town, La Maddalena. The other six islands, in order of size, are: Caprera, Spargi, Santo Stefano, Santa Maria, Budelli and Razzoli. Only Maddalena, Caprera and S. Stefano are inhabited.
Lying adjacent to the tourist resort of the Costa Smeralda, Maddalena has the same clear waters and wind blown granite coastlines but remains a haven for wildlife. It is a designated national park, the Parco Nazionale Arcipelago di La Maddalena. It is a popular tourist destination especially among boaters. In 2006 it was placed on the tentative list for consideration as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The islands have been inhabited since prehistoric times. They were known by the Romans as Cunicularia and were a busy shipping area during the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. The Maddalenas have a strategic value and were the object of a dispute between the maritime republics of Pisa and Genoa in the 13th century and subsequently were abandoned for a long period before being colonised again by Corsican shepherds and by Sardinian settlements in the 18th century. Napoleon Bonaparte, Admiral Nelson and Giuseppe Garibaldi all have historical links with the area.
Administratively the islands are in the province of Olbia-Tempio, having moved from Sassari in 2005. The main access into and out of the archipelago is via the frequent car ferries from Palau on Sardinia that run into La Maddalena. There are roads only on Maddalena and Caprera.
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