Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe. It is on the southern side of Italy on the eastern coast of Sicily. It covers an area of 1,600 square miles, and in the late 1990's, it was 10,902 feet high.
This mountain is an gigantic cone that has 250 minor cones. Valle del Bove, an abyss, is on the eastern flank of the mountain. It is an original crater that is three miles wide. The center of the volcano was shifted to form this present crater on the summit.
The slopes on the mountain are divided into three zones of vegetation. The first zone is the fertile cultivated zone which is 3,000 feet long. It contains many villages and the towns of Catania, Acireale, and Nicolosi. The second zone is the forested zone. And the third zone is the desert zone, which is 6,300 feet high.
Most of the highest peaks are covered with snow. The first recorded eruption of Mount Etna occurred in the 18th century B.C. Geological studies show that this mountain was active before that time. Since the first eruption, there was about 90 more. The most disastrous one occurred in A.D. 1169. The town of Catania was destroyed, and 15,000 lives were lost. More than 20,000 people died in 1669. In 1928, two villages were almost completely buried by lava, and in 1947, two new craters were formed by renewed activity of the volcano. Many other eruptions occurred in, 1971, 1981, 1983, and 1992. Mount Etna has been one of the most active volcanoes in history, taking many unfortunate lives, and still standing in Sicily.