The history of the Cosa Nostra, or Sicilian Mafia, is intricately entwined with the social and political fabric of the island. The movement emerged in the late 19th century in reaction to economic depression and tyrannical foreign authority. As time went on, the group morphed into a criminal empire that ruled over many facets of Sicilian society.
Early in the twentieth century, the Mafia established ties to American crime families and migrated to the United States, expanding its influence. Power was also enhanced by the gains made during Prohibition. After WWII, efforts to battle the Mafia ramped up, resulting in high-profile trials and heightened law enforcement monitoring.
The Mafia’s power has dwindled in recent decades due to law enforcement victories and alterations in public opinion, but its actions are still felt today. The Sicilian Mafia has left an indelible effect on the island’s history and culture through its unique combination of perseverance, criminality, and the quest for power.