The Aeolian Islands (Italian Isole Eolie) are a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily. They are a popular tourist destination in the summer, and attract up to 200,000 visitors annually.
The largest island is Lipari, and tourism marketing often names the entire archipelago the Lipari Islands because of the ease of pronouncing Lipari compared to Aeolian. The other islands include Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea and Basiluzzo. The town of Lipari has about 11,000 inhabitants. Vulcano is famous for its fango (mud) baths.
In 1544, when Spain declared war on France, the French king Francis I, asked the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman for help. The latter sent a fleet headed by Khair ad Din (also known as Barbarossa) who was victorious over the Spaniards, and managed to retake Naples from them. In the course of the battle the Aeolian Islands were depopulated. Later immigrants from mainland Italy, Sicily and Spain re-established communities on the archipelago.
The Aeolian Islands are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, although inaccuracy, the missing closure of a pumice quarry, and the oncoming building of some four harbours by the shore of the sole town of Lipari pose a threat to the islands' place on the list, according to the Italian UNESCO Commission.