Autonomous region (pop., 2001 prelim.: 595,727), southern Italy. Roughly divided into a western mountainous region and an eastern section of low hills and wide valleys, its capital is Potenza. Known in ancient times as Lucania, the area was under Lombard League rule in the early Middle Ages. Until the fall of the Swabian Hohenstaufens (1254), it played a significant part in the affairs of southern Italy; later it followed the variable fortunes of the Kingdom of Naples until united with the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. The region suffered severe damage in a disastrous earthquake in 1980. Agriculture is an economic mainstay.
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Basilicata is a region in the south of Italy, bordering on Campania to the west, Apulia (Puglia) to the east, Calabria to the south, it has one short coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea and another of the Gulf of Taranto in the Ionian Sea to the south-east. The region may be thought of as the "instep" of Italy, with Calabria functioning as the "toe" and Apulia the "heel." The region covers 9,992 km² and in 2001 had a population of about 600,000 inhabitants. The regional capital is Potenza. The region is divided into two provinces: Potenza and Matera.
Basilicata is divided into two provinces:
The district of Lucania was so called from the people bearing the name Lucani (Lucanians), who invaded the country about the middle of the 5th century BC, driving the indigenous tribes, known to the Greeks as Oenotrians, Chones, and Leuterni (or Leutarni), into the mountainous interior. The coasts on both sides were occupied by powerful Greek colonies, part of Magna Graecia.
The Lucanians were engaged in hostilities with the Greek colony of Taras/Tarentum, and with Alexander, king of Epirus, who was called in by the Tarentine people to their assistance, in 326 BC, thus providing a precedent for Epirote interference in the affairs of Magna Graecia.
In 298, Livy records, they made alliance with Rome, and Roman influence was extended by the colonies of Venusia (291), Paestum (Greek Posidonia, refounded in 273), and above all Roman Tarentum (refounded in 272).
Subsequently, however, the Lucanians suffered by choosing the losing side in the various wars on the peninsula in which Rome took part. They were sometimes in alliance with Rome, but more frequently engaged in hostilities, during the Samnite wars.
When Pyrrhus of Epirus landed in Italy, 281 they were among the first to declare in his favor, and after his abrupt departure they were reduced to subjection, in a ten year campaign (272).
The country never recovered from these disasters, and under the Roman government fell into decay, to which the Social War, in which the Lucanians took part with the Samnites against Rome (90 - 88 BC), gave the finishing stroke.
The few towns of the interior were of no importance. A large part of the province was given up to pasture, and the mountains were covered with forests, which abounded in wild boars, bears and wolves.
For several centuries the area was under the rule of the Byzantine Empire - having been conquered in Justinian's war with the Ostrogoths, and retained even when the Byzantines lost contol over most other parts of Italy.
During that time the area became identitied as a domain of the Basileus (King), Greek title of the Byzantine Emperor. From this was derived the name it continued to bear also when Byzantine rule ended with the invasion of the Norman Robert Guiscard in the 10th Century, and which it continues to bear at present.
(To be extended)