MOLISE, now CAMPOBASSO, a province of Italy, stretching twenty miles along the coast of the Adriatic, and bounded by the Abruzzi (Chieti and Aquila), Terra di Lavoro (Caserta), Benevento, and Capitanata (Foggia). Most of it lies on the north-eastern side of the Apennines, and is watered by the Biferno, the Forlone, and the Trigno ; but it also includes the country on the other side which contains the head streams of the Volturno. About five-sixths of the surface may be described as mountainous or hilly, the loftiest range being the Matese on the borders towards Benevento, with its highest point in Monte Miletto, 6750 feet. The population, which increased from 346,007 in 1861 to 365,434 in 1881, is mainly dependent on pastoral and agricultural pursuits, neither manufactures nor trade being highly developed. According to the census of 1871, there were six places with more than 5000 inhabitpopulation exceeding 4000.
The Molise territory was in ancient times part of the country of the Sabiues and Samnites. Under the Lombards it was included in the duchy of Benevento ; but the districts of Scpino, Boiano, and Isernia were cut off to form a domain for the Bulgarians who had come to assist King Grimoald. About two centuries later this became the countship of Boiano, and the name was soon after changed to eountship of Molise, probably because the lordship was held by Ugone di Molisio, or Molise. Attached under Frederick II. to the Terra di Lavoro, and at a later date incorporated with Capitanata, the district did not again become an independent province till 1811. In 1861 it surrendered fifteen communes to Benevento, and received thirteen from Terra di Lavoro.