The geography of Italy includes everything from the tall snow-covered peaks of the Alps in the north to the sandy beaches in the south. On this page, we list the geographical features of Italy including descriptions of its amazing mountains, lakes, rivers, and volcanoes. There are links to pages with more detailed information about many of these geographical features. These interesting lists of facts are written for both kids and adults.
Islands of Italy
Italy has over 300 islands ranging from extremely small uninhabited islands to the huge island of Sicily.
The two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia, are part of Italy. Sicily is 9,926 square miles (25,708 km2) and Sardinia 9,300 square miles (24,090 km2).
Sicily along with the islands of Egadi, Lipari, Panteleria, and Pelagie make up the region of Italy called Sicilia.
Elba, located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, is Italy's third largest island; it is approximately 86 square miles (224 km2).
Much of Italy's 116,350 square miles (301,340 km2) is mountainous.
Italy has two mountain ranges; the Alps and the Apennines.
The Alps mountain range extends across northern Italy and has historically served as a defensive barrier from invasion.
The Apennine mountain range extend from the Alps in northern Italy down almost the entire length of Italy to the coastal city of Reggio di Calabrianear near the southern tip of the country.
Located in the Alps, Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco), which translates to "White Mountain", is Italy's tallest mountain; its peak is 15,780 feet (4,810 meters) above sea level.
Italy has three active volcanoes; they are Mount Etna on Sicily, Stromboli which is a small island just north of Sicily in the Tyrrhenian Sea, and Mount Vesuvius just east of Naples which last erupted in 1944.
The volcanism on Italy is due to the country's location just north of where the earth's Eurasian Plate and the African Plate are colliding.
Mount Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland. It is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world due to it's potential for violent explosions and the number of people who live near it.
In 79 AD Mount Vesuvius explode and buried the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The ruins at Pompeii are now one of Italy's biggest tourist attractions.
Under the city of Naples lies a supervolcano named Campi Flegrei. This volcano has not erupted since 1538; however, it may be the most dangerous volcano in the world. A May 2017 Newsweek article explains how recent analysis by scientist have shown an explosion could be imminent that could have a catastrophic effect on 1.5 million people living in and around Naples.
There are over 1,000 rivers and small streams in Italy; however only a few would be considered major rivers, they include the Po, Adige, Tiber, Savio, Alcantara, and Arno rivers.
At 405 miles (651.8 kilometers) long the Po River is Italy's longest river. This river, located in northern Italy, flows from west to east.
The Tiber, the third-longest river in Italy, flows through Rome and was an important river for commerce and trade for the ancient Romans.
Italy has over 1,500 lakes.
Lake Garda, located in northern Italy, is the largest lake in Italy; its total surface area is approximately 143 square miles (370 square kilometers).
Besides Lake Garda other major lakes in Italy include Lake Maggiore, Lake Como, Lake Trasimeno, and Lake Bolsena.
Although it has a smaller total surface area than Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore is Italy's longest lake. It extends 40 miles long (64 kilometers) in length.