Apennine Mountains

Apennine Mountains
Monte Pollino (P.N.P.).jpg
Mt. Pollino inside the Pollino National Park, Calabria
Highest point
PeakCorno Grande (Big Horn)
Elevation2,912 m (9,554 ft)
Coordinates42°28′9″N 13°33′57″E / 42°28′9″N 13°33′57″E / 42.46917; 13.56583
Length1,200 km (750 mi) northwest to southeast
Width250 km (160 mi) southwest to northeast
Native nameMonti Appennini  (Italian)
Italia fisica appennini.png
Relief Map of the Apennines
CountriesItaly and San Marino
Range coordinates43°16.9′N 12°34.9′E / 43°16.9′N 12°34.9′E / 43.2817; 12.5817
Age of rockMesozoic for formation of rock,
Neogene-Quaternary for orogeny
Type of rockApennine fold and thrust belt

The Apennines[1] or Apennine Mountains (n/; Greek: Ἀπέννινα ὄρη or Ἀπέννινον ὄρος;[2] Latin: Appenninus or Apenninus Mons — a singular with plural meaning;[note 1] Italian: Appennini [appenˈniːni])[3] are a mountain range consisting of parallel smaller chains extending c. 1,200 km (750 mi) along the length of peninsular Italy. In the northwest they join with the Ligurian Alps at Altare. In the southwest they end at Reggio di Calabria, the coastal city at the tip of the peninsula. Since 2000 the Environment Ministry of Italy, following the recommendations of the Apennines Park of Europe Project, has been defining the Apennines System to include the mountains of north Sicily, for a total distance of 1,500 kilometres (930 mi).[4] The system forms an arc enclosing the east side of the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas.

The Apennines conserve some intact ecosystems, which have survived human intervention. In here there are some of the best preserved forests and montane grasslands in the whole continent, now protected by national parks and, within them, a high diversity of flora and fauna. These mountains are, in fact, one of the last refuges for the big European predators such as the Italian wolf and the marsican brown bear, now extinct in other countries of central Europe.

The mountains lend their name to the Apennine peninsula, which forms the major part of Italy.[5] They are mostly verdant, although one side of the highest peak, Corno Grande is partially covered by Calderone glacier, the only glacier in the Apennines. It has been receding since 1794.[6] The eastern slopes down to the Adriatic Sea are steep, while the western slopes form foothills on which most of peninsular Italy's cities are located. The mountains tend to be named from the province or provinces in which they are located; for example, the Ligurian Apennines are in Liguria. As the provincial borders have not always been stable, this practice has resulted in some confusion about exactly where the montane borders are. Often but not always a geographical feature can be found that lends itself to being a border.


The etymology most frequently repeated, because of its semantic appropriateness, is that it derives from the Celtic penn, "mountain, summit":[3] A-penn-inus, which could have been assigned during the Celtic domination of north Italy in the 4th century BC or before. The name originally applied to the north Apennines. However, historical linguists have never found a derivation with which they all agree.[5] Wilhelm Deecke said: "[…] its etymology is doubtful but some derive it from the Ligurian-Celtish Pen or Ben, which means mountain peak."[7]

A large number of place names seem to reflect pen: Penarrig, Penbrynn, Pencoid, Penmon, Pentir, etc. or ben: Beanach, Benmore, Benabuird, Benan, Bencruachan, etc.[8] In one derivation Pen/Ben is cognate with Old Irish cenn "head", but an original *kwen- would be required, which is typologically not found in languages that feature labio-velars. Windisch and Brugmann reconstructed Indo-European *kwi-, deriving also the Greek Pindus Mountains from the same root, but *kwen- < *kwi- is not explained by any rule[9]. By some, English pin,[10] as well as pen and Latin pinna or penna "feather" (in the sense of the horn of the quill)[11] have been connected to the name. This view has the word originating in Latium inconsistently with the theory of the northern origin. None of these derivations are unquestionably accepted.