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Sicilian Mafia

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The Sicilian Mafia (also known as Cosa Nostra) is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering. Each group, known as a "family", "clan", or "cosca", claims sovereignty over a territory in which it operates its rackets – usually a town or village or a neighbourhood (borgata) of a larger city. Its members call themselves "men of honour", although the public often refers to them as "mafiosi".

According to the classic definition, the Mafia is a criminality originating in Sicily. However, the term "mafia" has become a generic term for any organized criminal network with similar structure, methods, and interests.

The Mafia proper frequently parallels, collaborates with or clashes with, networks originating in other parts of southern Italy, such as the Camorra (from Campania), the 'Ndrangheta (from Calabria), the Stidda (southern Sicily) and the Sacra Corona Unita (from Apulia).

The American Mafia arose from offshoots of the Mafia that emerged in the United States during the late nineteenth century, following waves of emigration from Sicily. There were similar offshoots in Canada among Italian Canadians.

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