The history of Naples is long and varied. The city has been occupied by Greeks during the 2nd millennium BC. During the end of the Greek Dark Ages a larger mainland colony known as Parthenope, occupied the area and it was rebuilt as Neapolis in the 6th century BC. The city held an important role in Magna Graecia. The Greek culture of Naples was important to later Roman society. When the city became part of the Roman Republic in the central province of the Empire, it was the major cultural center.
Naples played a really important role for the Italian unification during the Neapolitan War. Today Naples is part of the Italian Republic and is the third populated area after Rome and Milano, with the second or third largest metropolitan area of Italy.
The Duchy of Naples began as a Byzantine province that was constituted in the 7th century, in the coastal lands that the Lombards had not conquered during their invasion of Italy. It was governed by a military commander (dux), and rapidly became a de facto independent state, lasting more than five centuries during the Early and High Middle Ages. The modern city of Naples remains an important region of Italy, today.
Really important periods for Naples and its region were during the Kingdom of Sicily, the Aragonese one as the Spanish and the Austrian dominations.
Protagonist of the area is the Mount Vesuvius, the strong volcano that in AD 79 destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae, as well as several other settlements. Vesuvius has erupted many times during the history. Today, it is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the high concentration of population living near enough to be affected, making it the most densely populated volcanic region in the world, as well as its tendency towards violent, explosive eruptions of the Plinian type, the most destructive type of eruption.