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economically underdeveloped region roughly coextensive with the former Kingdom of Naples (see Naples, Kingdom of); in current Italian administrative usage, it is a mainland subregion consisting of the modern southern Italian regions of Abruzzi, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, and Calabria and an insular subregion composed of Sicily and Sardinia. Mezzogiorno is the Italian term for "midday" or "noon," and southern Italy is known as the Mezzogiorno because of the intensity of sunshine there at midday.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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