Sardinia is an island with an area of 24,000 km2, located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea (40°03′N 9°05′E) with a long history, comprising of a breath-taking countryside, miles of forest, pristine seas, old traditions, and largely uninhabited areas. For this reason, Sardinia has been defined as a micro-continent. Administratively (Regional Law 4th February 2016), the region is divided into five provinces: Nuoro, Sassari, Oristano, South of Sardinia, and Cagliari (metropolitan city), with 377 municipalities. Although Sardinia is the third largest Italian region, in terms of area, it has the third lowest population density.
Historically, Sardinia has been described by renowned writers as an ancient land, with habits different than those of the rest of the nation, and many places have been defined as rural. These rural areas are still present in Sardinia, along with its ancient breeding and agricultural traditions; in 2000 the Sardinian region established the Rural Development Plan, which provides the list of municipalities defined as rural/deprived areas. Approximately 34% of Sardinian is used for agriculture and 60% for farming; the remainder is occupied by tree farming. Sheep and goat farming have always been Sardinia’s primary economic source, while pig farming has generally been oriented toward individual family production and self-consumption. Agriculture and farming have a stronger role compared to the Italian average – sheep farming, and sheep products are particularly relevant to the regional economy. In addition to international trade, the public sector, and new technologies, tourism is a key industry and most prevalent on the Northern coast of the island.
As far as the industrial sector is concerned, historically, Sardinia has exploited coal, zinc, iron, silver, lead, and bauxite. The extraction of granite has also played an important role in the industrial sector. For a very long time, natural resources supported the development of the iron and steel industry, shipbuilding industry, metallurgical industry as well as chemical and petrochemical sectors. The manufacturing activity represents 7% of the total activity in the Region, lower than the national average manufacturing activity (8.7%) (Istat, 2020).
The regional strategy has identified the following areas of specialization that represent policy priorities:
2. Intelligent networks for intelligent energy management;
6. Tourism and cultural and environmental heritage.