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island off the southwest tip of Italy, from Latin Sicilia, from Greek Sikelia, from Sikeloi (plural) "Sicilians," from the name of an ancient people living along the Tiber, whence part of them emigrated to the island that was thereafter named for them. The Greeks distinguished Sikeliotes "a Greek colonist in Sicily" from Sikelos "a native Sicilian." Related: Sicilian.
Note: Palermo's convenient location has made it an important port for trans-Mediterranean shipping for three thousand years. Settled by Phoenicia in the eighth century b.c., it has come under the influence of many civilizations, including the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. It has also come under the control of the Arabs and the French. Palermo has long been a center for art and architecture.