Former province and present region in southern Italy.
It is mostly mountainous and is drained by the Rivers Basento, Agri and Sinni, which flow to the Gulf of Taranto. It also has a short coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
It was part of the region of Magnum Graecia in the ancient world and in that period was deforested. Since then it has been amongst the most impoverished regions in Italy. It was the eastern half of the Roman province of Lucania, and in the later 6th century became part of the Lombard Duchy of Benevento.
The break-up of that Duchy in the 9th century left the western part of Lucania in the Principality of Salerno and the east in the reviving Byzantine Empire. Western Lucania then became known as the Principato, while the east became the Basilicata (from the Greek word basileios, meaning royal, imperial). Basilicata was seized by the Normans of Apulia in the mid 11th century and remained part of the southern Kingdom until the unification of Italy in 1860.
The Basilicata then became the province of Potenza, which was divided into the provinces of Potenza and Matera in 1927. After the Second World War, though only becoming effective in the 1970s, the two provinces formed the autonomous region of Basilicata.