Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and remains in a state of activity all the time - the last eruption took place in February 2022.
Despite this, the region where it is located is inhabited and agriculture, cultivation of vines, citrus fruits, olive and fig trees is developing there. Above all, Etna is one of the main tourist attractions of Sicily, visited by thousands of tourists every year. It is also one of the seven Sicilian UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It is located within the metropolitan area of Catania, between the cities of Messina and Catania.
In Sicilian it bears the name Mongibello.
It is also the highest peak in Italy south of the Alps. Its current height is 3357 meters (July 2021), although this varies depending on peak eruptions.
During the six months of 2021, Etna erupted so much volcanic material that its height increased by about 30.5 meters, and its southeast crater has now become the highest part of the volcano.
The first volcanic activity on Etna took place about 500,000 years ago, with eruptions occurring under the sea off the ancient coast of Sicily.
The volcano formed in the direction of the western axis, and as a result of later eruptions and the filling of the bay with solidified lava, a volcanic cone named Callanna was formed (about 168-100 thousand years ago).
In the following years, the cone Trifoglietto I was formed, which was covered by Trifoglietto II (about 80-64 thousand years ago). The collapse of Trifoglietto II led to the formation of the Valle del Bove caldera.
About 20-15 thousand years ago, as a result of a strong explosion, the then existing Ellittico cone formed a caldera with a diameter of about 4 km. In place of the caldera, the Mongibello cone (Etna) was formed, which still towers over Sicily.
Because of the volcano's history, its highly destructive eruptions, and its proximity to densely populated areas, the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI) has included Etna in the Decade of Volcanoes (16 volcanoes are included).
The Decade of Volcanoes is a project initiated in the 1990s as part of the International Decade for Disaster Reduction sponsored by UN.
On the eastern slope is the caldera Valle del Bove with steep walls up to 1,000 m (3,281 ft) deep in the shape of a 5 x 10 km (3.1 x 6.2 mi) horseshoe.
The first records of eruptions date back to 1500 BC. It is estimated that there have been about 200 eruptions since then.
In 396 BC, the eruption of Mount Etna probably thwarted an attempted Carthaginian assault on Syracuse during the Second Sicilian War.
The strongest eruption is said to have lasted from March 11 to July 11, 1669, when the volcano ejected so much lava that it covered an area of about 37 square kilometers. It flowed about 16 km, destroying several villages along the way. It reached the sea and Catania, partially destroying it.
An exemplary attempt was then made to change the course of the lava by digging a trench - the first such attempt in the world.
Since 1750, seven eruptions of Etna have lasted more than 5 years, more than any other volcano except Vesuvius.
They are inhabited by about 213,200 people, the largest number being in Adrano, which lies on the southern side of the volcano, with 34,490 people. There are 78 people living within 5 km of the volcano.
The massif moves on an unconsolidated layer over older, sloping terrain.
It also destroyed the first generation of Etna's cable car and seriously threatened several small villages on its eastern slope.
This ash fell in Libya, 600 km south across the Mediterranean Sea. The seismic activity during this eruption caused the eastern slopes of the volcano to shift by up to two meters, and many houses on the slopes of the volcano suffered structural damage.
Footage of the eruption was recorded by Lucasfilm and incorporated into the landscape of the planet Mustafar in the 2005 film "Star Wars: Part III - Revenge of the Sith."
The eruption lasted 417 days until July 6, 2009, making it the longest eruption on Etna's flank since the 1991-1993 eruption, which lasted 473 days.
The March 16, 2017 eruption injured 10 people, including a BBC News television crew, after magma exploded on contact with snow.
By March 12, 2021, the volcano had erupted 11 times in three weeks. The eruptions have thrown clouds of ash more than 10 kilometers into the air closing Sicily's airports.
The last major eruption took place on February 11, 2022.
This was one of the first recorded events of this type, which are extremely rare. This happened again in 2000, and another event occurred in 2013.
In 1987, Etna Regional Park was created as a protected area around the volcano. The 580 km2 (360 sq mi) park is home to nearly 200 caves that were formed by flowing lava and used by humans as shelters, burial sites or for snow storage.
The vineyards there cover an area of about 2,900 hectares. There are also olive, citrus and fig groves.
The Greeks had vineyards in this area as early as the 6th century BC.
One of the oldest legends says that the volcano Etna was created when Zeus could not bear the behaviour of Typhon - the most terrible of all giants, the father of all living monsters on Earth. Zeus knocked him down into the depths of the Mediterranean Sea and threw Sicily on him, which crushed him. The giant cannot free himself, and when he tries, he lets out a great scream while boiling lava pours from his mouth.
Peter Skarga, in his "Lives of the Saints", writes about St. Agatha, a Sicilian martyr and patroness of Catania. When the Roman governor of Sicily decided to kill the saint in the third century, the volcano Etna came to life and began to wreak havoc. The citizens of Catania took the veil of the martyr and moved towards the lava, which at that moment stopped and the eruption ceased.
St. Agatha became the patron saint of the city.
There are two ski resorts on Mount Etna.