The Mafia (also known as Cosa Nostra, in English "Our Thing") . 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".