Basilicata is a southern Italian province bounded by Puglia, Campania and Calabria with a short frontage on the Tyrrhenian Sea (between Siri and Scalea on the Gulf of Policastro) and on the Ionian Sea (between Novi Siri and Metaponto on the Gulf of Taranto). The name appears to derive from that of a Byzantine administrator, Basilikòs, who was in charge of a part of the ancient Lucania during the second century. The name Lucania substituted that of Basilicata in December 1932 though finally reverting to the former, medieval name under the Costitution.
The western part of Basilicata consists of a number of high mountain peaks with hollow valleys flanked by spurs descending to the Ionian Sea. In the north and the centre, the peaks are not more than two thousand metres (Mount Voltorino, 1856 metres); in the south they are more imposing with Sirino 2005 metres and especially Pollino at 2271 metres which constitutes a barrier between Basilicata and Calabria.
In the north, there is the isolated, spent volcano Vultura (1330 metres) adorned by two water filled craters. Earth tremors are frequent in Basilicata.
So far as vegetation is concerned, it is possible to distinguish four height zones : Mediterranean scrub (up to 400 metres – species of lentiscus, myrtle etc.): submontane woodland of oak and chestnut (400 – 1000 metres), mountain woodland of beech and conifer (these last species from 1000 – 2000 metres on Pollino ) and mountain pasture.
Wheat is the most widely farmed followed by oats, potatoes, barley and maize cultivated in an extensive manner. Flax (linseed) and tobacco also give good crops. Vineyards cover eighteen thousand hectares and produce more than half a million hectolitres of wine. Olives are cultivated on the hillsides and citrus fruits on the Ionian beaches. Fruit growing is extensive everywhere and sheep rearing is a traditional occupation for a part of the population.