Elba (Italian: Isola d'Elba) is third largest island of Italy, after Sardinia and Sicily. The land area of the island is about 224 square kms. The coastline is about 147 km. The highest mountain is Monte Capanne at 1018 metres (3340 feet). Elba and the other islands (Gorgona, Capraia, Pianosa, Montecristo, Giglio and Giannutri) of the Tuscan Archipelago are protected in the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago. The French island of Corsica lies about 50 km to the west. Recently,the island has become famous for its wine.
The island is divided into eight communes: Portoferraio, Campo nell'Elba, Capoliveri, Marciana, Marciana Marina, Porto Azzurro, Rio Marina and Rio nell'Elba. The island has a population of about 30 000 people.
The island was well known in to the last century for the iron resources. Mines were created by the Etruscans first and (after 480 BC) the Romans. After the end of the Roman Empire, the island knew barbarians and Saracens. In the early 11th century it became a part of the Republic of Pisa. In 1398, was sold to the Visconti family of Milan. After a few years, the island was acquired by the Appiani, Lords of Piombino, who kept it for two centuries. In 1546 part of the island was controlled by Cosimo I de' Medici. He fortified Portoferraio and renamed it "Cosmopoli". In 1577, the rest of the island was returned to the Appiani. In 1603 Philip II of Spain captured Porto Azzurro and built two fortresses there.
In 1802 the island became a part of France. Following the Treaty of Fontainebleau, French emperor Napoleon I was exiled to Elba after his forced abdication in 1814 and arrived at Portoferraio on May 3, 1814 to begin his exile there. He was allowed to keep a personal guard of six hundred men. Napoleon stayed on Elba for 300 days before he escaped and returned to France on February 26 for the Hundred Days. Thanks to Napoleon Elba is well-known around the world. In the Congress of Vienna the island was given to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In 1860 it became part of the new unified Kingdom of Italy.