Mount Etna Facts

Here are some facts about Mount Etna, the famous volcano:

  • Mount Etna is located on the east coast of the Italian island of Sicily, in the Mediterranean. It is almost 11,000 feet high, making it the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps.
  • It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Almost half of Etna’s major eruptions have happened during the last 100 years.
  • The volcano covers a huge area, of over 460 square miles. About one quarter of the population of the island of Sicily lives on its slopes.
  • Mount Etna has snow on it for most of the year. The sides of the volcano are also home to a large number of animal species, and there are vineyards and olive groves near the foot of the mountain.
  • The most violent eruption was in March, 1669. The mountain erupted lava for several days, which destroyed several nearby villages and the city walls of Catania.

Eruption of Mount Etna

  • Vulcan was the Roman God of metalworking and fire and the Romans believed his workshop was at the base of the mountain. The word ‘volcano’ comes from his name.
  • Some of the lava on the side of Mount Etna is 300,000 years old. Because the geological and atmospheric conditions are similar to those on Mars, scientists have tested space robots here.
  • It is estimated that more than 70 people have died as a result of Mount Etna’s eruptions. However, the mineral rich lava is seen as a good thing by nearby farmers, as it makes the soil more fertile.
  • The volcano has a longer history of written accounts of its eruptions than any other volcano. One of the earliest accounts was by the poet Virgil in his famous book, The Aenid.
  • Mount Etna is popular with tourists, who climb or ski on the mountain. Local people often call Etna ‘Mongibello’ meaning ‘beautiful mountain’ in Italian.

What next? Find out some facts about Mount Vesuvius, a famous volcano in Italy, visit the Primary Facts Volcanoes resources page, or learn about some of the world’s most famous mountains.

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