Sardinia (Italian: Sardegna) is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and before Cyprus) and an autonomous region of Italy. It is located in the Western Mediterranean, to the immediate south of the French island of Corsica. It is divided into four provinces and a metropolitan city. Its indigenous language and the other minority languages (Sassarese, Corsican Gallurese, Algherese Catalan and Ligurian Tabarchino) spoken by the Sardinians enjoy "equal dignity" with Italian under regional law.
Sardinia is the only autonomous region where its special Statute uses the term popolo (distinct people) to describe its inhabitants. While this formula applies even to Veneto, which unlike Sardinia is an ordinary region within the Italian Republic, the Sardinian Statute is adopted with a constitutional law. In both cases, this term does not imply any legal difference between Sardinians and the other Italian citizens.
The coasts of Sardinia (1,849 kilometres long) are generally high and rocky, with long, relatively straight stretches of coastline, many outstanding headlands, a few wide, deep bays, rias, many inlets and with various smaller islands off the coast. Megalithic building structures called nuraghes are scattered in great numbers throughout Sardinia.
Sardinia has four endemic subspecies of birds found nowhere else in the world: its great spotted woodpecker, great tit, common chaffinch, and Eurasian jay. It also shares a further 10 endemic subspecies of bird with Corsica. In some cases Sardinia is a delimited part of the species range. For example, the subspecies of hooded crow, Corvus cornix occurs in Sardinia and Corsica, but no further south.
The island has also long been used for grazing flocks of indigenous Sardinian sheep. The Sardinian Anglo-Arab is a horse breed that was established in Sardinia, where it has been selectively bred for more than one hundred years.
Over 600,000 hectares of Sardinian territory is environmentally preserved (about 25% of the island's territory). The island has three national parks: Asinara National Park, Arcipelago di La Maddalena National Park and Gennargentu National Park.