The Aeolian Islands is a volcanic archipelago of eight islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, named after Aeolus, the demigod of the winds. Located north of Sicily, Italy, the islands are a popular tourist destination, especially during the summer. The Aeolian islands are a volcanic area formed by shifting plate tectonics. Thus, the islands have several volcanic features, and the fertile volcanic soil on some of the islands helps supports the plant life. The archipelago covers a total area of 1,600 square km. In 2000, the Aeolian islands were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The biggest of the eight Aeolian Islands is Lipari, which covers a total area of 37 square km and has an elevation of 16 ft above sea level. Lipari is also the name of the biggest town on the island. The island is home to four major villages with permanent residents: Acquacalda, Canneto, Quattropani, and Pianoconte. As of May 2017, the population of Lipari was 12,734 and its population density was 340 persons per square km. The population of the island soars during the summer months due to high levels of tourism. According to geologists, Lipari was formed as a result of a series of four volcanic movements thousands of years ago. Pumice mining is a popular economic activity on the island, and pumice from Lipari is shipped worldwide.
Vulcano is the southernmost of the Aeolian Islands and is located about 25 km north of Sicily. The island encompasses an area of 21 square km and has an elevation of about 1,644 ft above sea level. Vulcano lives up to its name, as it is home to an active volcano, and various volcanic features are evident across island's landscape. The last major eruption on the island occurred in 1888. Vulcano is part of several mythological stories, a film, and a comic series. Hyperthermophiles and thermophiles also live in the hot environment of Vulcano’s volcanic habitat.
With an area of 27 square km, Salina is the second biggest of the Aeolian Islands. The island has a peak elevation of 3,176 ft. Salina has a population of 4,000 people and a population density of 150 persons per square km. Salina is home to six volcanoes, the highest of which is Monte Fossa Delle Felci. Several types of plants grow on the island, including cultivated crops like olives, capers, and grapes. The island also hosts a nature preserve that protects the natural flora and fauna. The slopes of the volcanoes in Salina are covered in vegetation, and thus the island appears very green from a distance. Malvasia, a type of white wine, is unique to Salina. The island also includes various historical sites.
Stromboli is one of the eight Aeolian Islands, and has a population of only 500 people living in small villages. The island contains an active volcano that has a history of many eruptions. Minor eruptions in recent times have earned Stromboli the nickname "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean.” The island has been featured in several novels and a film, including Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth (1984).
The Aeolian island of Filicudi covers an area of 9.49 square km and has a population of 235 people. The 2,539 ft tall Monte Fossa Felci is the highest elevation on the island. A large part of the island has been coverted into a Natural Reserve. Farmers one the island cultivate olive oil, grain, wine. Like other Aeolian islands, Filicudi also attracts a large number of tourists.
Alicudi is the westernmost of the Aeolian Islands, and occupies an area of 5.2 square km. The island has a population of 120 people and a population density of 23 persons per square km. The volcanic island was formed about 150,000 years ago. There is considerable mystery associated with the residents of the island, based on claims of witchcraft and sorcery, which is attributed to the ergotism contained in locally-grown foods. Fishing and agriculture are the main sources of livelihood on the island.
Panarea occupies an area of 3.4 square km and is the second smallest of the Aeolian Islands. A popular tourist destination, the population of the island surges significantly during the summer season, including many celebrities. The permanent population of Panarea is only 280, and its population density is 82 persons per square km. The 1,381 ft tall Punta del Corvo is the island’s highest point. Thermal springs are present on the island and scuba diving is a popular activity for tourists.
The smallest Aeolian island, Basiluzzo has an area of only 1 square km. The island was featured in an Italian film named L'avventura.