Some of the most famous volcanoes are Mount Vesuvius in Italy, Mount Fuji in Japan, Mount Saint Helens in the state of Washington, and Kilauea in Hawaii. Some have been quiet for centuries, but others have erupted in 2015.
Mount Vesuvius, reaching an elevation of 4,000 feet, remains the only active volcano on the European mainland as of 2015. The volcano last erupted in 1944 but is best known for the eruption that destroyed the villages of Pompeii and Herculaneum in A.D. 79. The eruption was so violent, and the hot ash and toxic gas expelled so quickly, that both Roman villages were destroyed.
Mount Fuji, at 12,388 feet, is Japan's highest mountain. It is considered a sacred place, often depicted in artwork, both ancient and modern. The cone-shaped volcano last erupted in 1708 and is within sight of Tokyo and Yokohama on clear days. Despite it being an active volcano, Mount Fuji is a popular tourist attraction.
Mount St. Helens made the news on May 18, 1980, when an explosive eruption obliterated homes and forests. The eruption blasted the top off the cone mountain, leaving a giant crater. The prior swelling of the surface dome caused officials to evacuate the area, saving countless lives.
Kilauea pushes out an almost constant stream of lava. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was created to protect Kilauea, the crater Halema'uma'u and the surrounding lava fields. The park's Visitor Center has information on the latest volcanic activity and the safest places to view the lava flow.