Calabria (in Greek: Καλαβρία), known in antiquity as Bruttium or formerly as Italia, is a region in southern Italy, forming the "toe" of the Italian Peninsula. The capital city of Calabria is Catanzaro. The most populated city and the seat of the Calabrian Regional Council, however, is Reggio.
It is bordered to the north by the region of Basilicata, to the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea, and to the east by the Ionian Sea. The region covers and has a population of just over 2 million. The demonym of Calabria in English is Calabrian.
Calabria was first settled by Italic Oscan-speaking tribes. Two of these tribes were the Oenotrians (roughly translated into the "vine-cultivators") and the Itali. Greek contact with the latter resulted in Calabria taking the name of the tribe and was the first region to be called Italy (Italia). Greeks settled heavily along the coast at an early date and several of their settlements, including the first Italian city called Rhégion (Reggio di Calabria), and the next ones Sybaris, Kroton (Crotone), a settlement where the mathematician Pythagoras later resided, and Locri, were numbered among the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the 6th and 5th centuries BC.
The Greeks were conquered by the 3rd century BC by roving Oscan tribes from the north, including a branch of the Samnites called the Lucanians and an offshoot of the Lucanians called the Bruttii. The Bruttii conquered the Greek cities, established their sovereignty over present day Calabria and founded new cities, including their own capital, Cosenza (known as Consentia in the ancient times).
The Romans conquered the area in the 3rd century BC after the fierce Bruttian resistance, possibly the fiercest resistance the Romans had to face from another Italic people. At the beginning of the Roman Empire the region would form the Augustan Regio III Lucania et Bruttii of Roman Italy.
In 918, Arab raiders captured Reggio (which was renamed Rivà) and sold the majority of its population in the slave markets of Sicily and North Africa.
In the 1060s the Normans, under the leadership of Robert Guiscard's brother Roger, established a presence in this borderland, and organized a government along Byzantine lines that was run by the local Greek magnates of Calabria. In 1098, Roger named the equivalent of an apostolic legate by Pope Urban II, and later formed what became the Kingdom of Sicily. The administrative divisions created in the late medieval times were maintained right through to unification: Calabria Citeriore (or Latin Calabria) in the northern half and Calabria Ulteriore (or Greek Calabria) in the southern half. By the end of the Middle Ages, large parts of Calabria continued to speak Greek as their mother tongue. During the 13th century a French chronicler who travelled through Calabria stated that “the peasants of Calabria spoke nothing but Greek”. By the 15th and 16th centuries, the Greek spoken in Calabria was rapidly replaced by Latin, the dominant language of the Italian Peninsula through a process of Italianization. Today, the last remnants of the Greek formerly spoken widely throughout Calabria can still be heard amongst the ethnically Greek Griko people of the Aspromonte mountains of southern Calabria.
Beginning with the subsequent Angevin rule, which ruled Calabria as part of the Kingdom of Naples, Calabria was ruled from Naples right up until unification with Italy. The kingdom came under many rulers: the Habsburg dynasties of both Spain and Austria; the Franco-Spanish Bourbon dynasty which created the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte, and then French Marshal Joachim Murat, who was executed in the small town of Pizzo. Calabria experienced a series of peasant revolts as part of the European Revolutions of 1848. This set the stage for the eventual unification with the rest of Italy in 1861, when the Kingdom of Naples was brought into the union by Giuseppe Garibaldi. The Aspromonte was the scene of a famous battle of the unification of Italy, in which Garibaldi was wounded.