Mount Etna Eruption, originally uploaded by P•A•U•L | Photography.
Mount Etna (Αἴτνη (Aítnē) in Classical Greek, Aetna in Latin, also known as Muncibeddu (beautiful mountain) in Sicilian and Mongibello in Italian (from the Latin mons and the Arabic gibel, both meaning mountain) is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, close to Messina and Catania. Its Arabic name was Jebel Utlamat (the Mountain of Fire). According to Adrian Room’s book Placenames of the World, the name Etna is said to have originated from a Phoenician word attuna meaning “furnace.” He dismisses the theory that Etna is from a Greek source meaning “I burn.” It is the largest active volcano in Europe, currently standing 3,329 metres (10,922 ft) high, though this varies with summit eruptions; the mountain is 21 m (69 ft) lower now than it was in 1981. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km⊃2; (460 sq mi) with a basal circumference of 140 km. This makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius. Only Mount Teide in Tenerife surpasses it in the whole of the European region (though geographically Tenerife is an island of Africa). In Greek Mythology, the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under this mountain by Zeus, the god of the sky.
Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity. The fertile volcanic soils support extensive agriculture, with vineyards and orchards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain and the broad Plain of Catania to the south. Due to its history of recent activity and nearby population, Mount Etna has been designated a Decade Volcano by the United Nations.
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