It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands and including its small satellite islands, forms the margin of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered by three municipalities with the islands of Othonoi, Ereikoussa and Mathraki. The principal city of the island (pop. 32,095) is also named Corfu. Corfu is home to the Ionian University.
The island is bound up with the history of Greece from the beginnings of Greek mythology. Its history is full of battles and conquests. Ancient Korkyra took part in the Battle of Sybota which was a catalyst for the Peloponnesian War, and, according to Thucydides, the largest naval battle between Greek city states until that time. Thucydides also reports that Korkyra was one of the three great naval powers of fifth century BC Greece, along with Athens and Corinth. Ruins of ancient Greek temples and other archaeological sites of the ancient city of Korkyra are found in Palaiopolis. Medieval castles punctuating strategic locations across the island are a legacy of struggles in the Middle Ages against invasions by pirates and the Ottomans. Two of these castles enclose its capital, which is the only city in Greece to be surrounded in such a way. As a result, Corfu’s capital has been officially declared a Kastropolis (“castle city”) by the Greek government. From medieval times and into the 17th century, the island, having successfully repulsed the Ottomans during several sieges, was recognised as a bulwark of the European States against the Ottoman Empire and became one of the most fortified places in Europe. The fortifications of the island were used by the Venetians to defend against Ottoman intrusion into the Adriatic. Corfu eventually fell under British rule following the Napoleonic Wars, and was eventually ceded to Greece by the British Empire along with the remaining islands of the United States of the Ionian Islands. Unification with modern Greece was concluded in 1864 under the Treaty of London. Corfu is the origin of the Ionian Academy, the first university of the modern Greek state, and the Nobile Teatro di San Giacomo di Corfù, the first Greek theatre and opera house of modern Greece. The first governor of independent Greece after the revolution of 1821, founder of the modern Greek state, and distinguished European diplomat Ioannis Kapodistrias was born in Corfu.
In 2007, the city’s old town was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, following a recommendation by ICOMOS. The 1994 European Union summit was held in Corfu. The island is a very popular tourist destination.
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Paxi or Paxoi and Antipaxoi or Antipaxos (Greek: Παξοί και Αντίπαξοι, pronounced /pækˈs/ in English and [pɐˈksi] in Greek) is the smallest island group within the Ionian Islands (the Heptanese). In Greek it is a plural form. The largest islands are Paxos and nearby Antipaxos. Antipaxos is famous for its wine and two of the finest[citation needed] sand beaches in the Ionian Sea. The main town of Paxoi, and the seat of the municipality, is Gaios. The municipality has an area of 30.121 km2. The area of the island is 76 square kilometers = just under 30 square miles. In Greek mythology, Poseidon created the island by striking Corfu with his trident, so that he and his wife Amphitrite could have some peace and quiet.
Although it was possibly inhabited from prehistoric times, the Phoenicians are traditionally held to have been the first settlers on Paxos. The name is believed to be derived from Pax, which meant trapezoidal in their language. This island is noted for the Battle of Paxos, fought between the ancient Greek and Illyrian fleets during the First Illyrian War in 229 BC. The battle is recorded by the ancient historian Polybius (The Histories, book 2, chapter 2). The Romans ruled the island from the 2nd century BC, and during the Byzantine period and Middle Ages it was constantly attacked by pirates. After various rulers and Crusaders had passed through, the island was taken by the Venetians at the end of the 14th century. During the Napoleonic wars, the Ionian Islands were taken by the French and the Russo-Turkish alliance. On 13 February 1814, the island of Paxos surrendered to the Royal Navy frigate HMS Apollo and 160 troops from the 2nd Greek Light Infantry from Cephalonia and the 35th Regiment of the Royal Corsican Rangers. In 1815, the United Kingdom established the Ionian Union. In 1864, together with the rest of the Heptanese, Paxos was ceded to Greece.
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Lefkada also known as Lefkas or Leukas (Ancient Greek and Katharevousa: Λευκάς, Leukás, modern pronunciation Lefkás) and Leucadia, is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea on the west coast of Greece, connected to the mainland by a long causeway and floating bridge. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Lefkada. It is situated on the northern part of the island, approximately 1 hour by automobile away from Aktion National Airport. The island is part of the regional unit of Lefkada.
Lefkada measures 35 kilometres (22 miles) from north to south, and 15 kilometres (9 miles) from east to west. The area of the island is about 302 square kilometres (117 sq mi), the area of the municipality (including the islands Kalamos, Kastos and several smaller islets) is 333.58 km2 (128.80 sq mi). Its highest point is the mountain Stavrota, 1,158 metres (3,799 feet) above sea level, situated in the middle of the island. The east coast section of the island has small resorts of Lygia, Nikiana and Perigiali, all north of Nidri, the largest resort on the island. It is set in a sheltered location with views across to Skorpios (formerly owned by Aristotle Onassis), Meganisi and other small islands, as well as the Greek mainland. The main coastal road from Lefkada to Vasiliki runs through the village, although a bypass has now been completed which skirts the village to the west. There are regular car ferries to Kefalonia, Ithaca and Meganissi.
20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Nidri is the resort of Vasiliki, a windsurfing center. There are ferries to Kefalonia and Ithaca from Vasiliki. South of Vasiliki is Cape Lefkada, where the Greek female poet Sappho allegedly leapt to her death from the 30 m high cliffs.
The famous beach of Porto Katsiki is located on Lefkada’s west coast. Lefkada was attached to mainland Greece (see below about Homer’s Ithaca being Lefkada). The Corinthians dug a trench in the 7th century BC on its isthmus.
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Ithaca, Ithaki or Ithaka is a Greek island located in the Ionian Sea, off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and to the west of continental Greece. Ithaca’s main island has an area of 96 square kilometres (37 sq mi) and had a population in 2011 of 3,231. It is the second-smallest of seven main Ionian Islands, after Paxi. Ithaca is a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. The capital is Vathy (or Vathi). Modern Ithaca is generally identified with Homer’s Ithaca, the home of Odysseus, whose delayed return to the island is the plot of the classical Greek tale the Odyssey.
The island has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC. It may have been the capital of Cephalonia during the Mycenaean period and the capital-state of the small kingdom ruled by Odysseus. The Romans occupied the island in the 2nd century BC, and later it became part of the Byzantine Empire. The Normans ruled Ithaca in the 13th century, and after a short Turkish rule it fell into Venetian hands (Ionian Islands under Venetian rule).
Ithaca was subsequently occupied by France under the 1797 Treaty of Campo Formio. It was liberated by a joint Russo-Turkish force commanded by admirals Fyodor Ushakov and Kadir Bey in 1798 and subsequently became a part of the Septinsular Republic, which was originally established as a protectorate of the Russian Empire and Ottoman Empire. It became a French possession again in 1807, until it was taken over by the United Kingdom in 1809. Under the 1815 Treaty of Paris, Ithaca became a state of the United States of the Ionian Islands, a protectorate of the British Empire. In 1830 the local community requested to join with the rest of the newly restored nation-state of Greece. Under the 1864 Treaty of London, Ithaca, along with the remaining six Ionian islands, was ceded to Greece as a gesture of diplomatic friendship to Greece’s new Anglophile king, George I. The United Kingdom kept its privileged use of the harbour at Corfu.
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Othonoi (Greek: Οθωνοί, also rendered as Othoni) is a small Greek island in the Ionian Sea, located northwest of Corfu, and is the westernmost point of Greece. Othonoi is the largest of the Diapontia Islands. It is a former community of the Ionian Islands.
From the September 2019 local government reform it is municipal unit of the Central Corfu and Diapontia Islands’ municipality. The municipal unit has an area of 10.444 km2 and population of 392 (2011). In the 19th century the island was the capital of the Diapontia Islands municipality, which also included nearby islands of Ereikoussa, Mathraki, islets and rocks of Diakopo, Diaplo, Karavi, Kastrino, Leipso, Ostrako, Plaka, Plateia and Tracheia. Othonoi is about 47 nautical miles from Santa Maria di Leuca cape, Italy.
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Ereikoussa (Greek: Ερείκουσσα, Italian: Merlera) is an island and a former community of the Ionian Islands, Greece. It is one of the Diapontia Islands, an island complex to the northwest of Corfu. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality of Corfu, of which it is a municipal unit. It is located off the northwestern coast of the island of Corfu, and is almost equidistant from Corfu to the southeast, Mathraki to the southwest, and Othonoi to the west.
There is only one town on the island, also named Ereikoússa. Its population was 496 at the 2011 census and its land area is 3.65 square kilometres (1 sq mi). The municipal unit has an area of 4.449 km2. The island is rich in green forests, filled with cypress, and olive trees. It has two beaches, Porto (Πόρτο) and Braghini (Μπραγκίνι); the names are of Italian origin, and date back to the period of Venetian rule. Braghini is rarely visited because it is further away from the main part of the island.
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Mathraki (Greek: Μαθράκι, older form: Μαθράκιον) is an island and a former community of the Ionian Islands, Greece. It is one of the Diapontia Islands. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality of Corfu, of which it is a municipal unit. The municipal unit has an area of 3.532 km2. Population 329 (2011). Mathraki is a 45-minute boat ride off the coast of Corfu (4 NM from Cape Arilas). It has three restaurants that double as general stores, villas and “rooms to let”.
Mathraki is a quiet island that manages to stay clear of tourists except for the occasional hikers that brave the rocky coastline. The municipal unit includes the three nearby islets Diakopo, Diaplo and Tracheia.
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Cephalonia or Kefalonia (Greek: Κεφαλονιά or Κεφαλλονιά), formerly also known as Kefallinia or Kephallenia (Κεφαλληνία), is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece and the 6th largest island in Greece after Crete, Evoia, Lesbos, Rhodes, and Chios. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It was also a former Latin Catholic diocese Kefalonia–Zakynthos (Cefalonia–Zante) and short-lived titular see as just Kefalonia.
The main island of the regional unit is Cephalonia and has a size of 773 km2 (300 mi2), with a population density of 55 people per km2 (140/mi2). The town of Argostoli has one-third of the island’s inhabitants. Lixouri is the second major settlement, and the two towns together account for almost two-thirds of the prefecture’s population. The other major islands are: Petalas Island, Asteris Island, but they are uninhabited. Cephalonia lies in the heart of an earthquake zone, and dozens of minor, unrecorded tremors occur each year. In 1953, a massive earthquake destroyed almost all of the settlements on the island, leaving only Fiskardo in the north untouched. Important natural features include Melissani Lake, the Drogarati caves, and the Koutavos Lagoon in Argostoli. The island has a rich biodiversity, with a substantial number of endemic and rare species. Some areas have been declared a site in the European Union’s Natura 2000 network.
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Zakynthos is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. Zakynthos is a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and its only municipality. It covers an area of 405.55 km2 (156.6 sq mi)[3] and its coastline is roughly 123 km (76 mi) in length. The name, like all similar names ending in -nthos, is pre-Mycenaean or Pelasgian in origin. In Greek mythology the island was said to be named after Zakynthos, the son of the legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus.
Zakynthos lies in the eastern part of the Ionian sea, around 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of the Greek (Peloponnese) mainland. The island of Kefalonia lies 15 kilometres (9 miles) to the north. It is the southernmost of the main group of the Ionian islands (not counting distant Kythira). Zakynthos is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) long and 20 kilometres (12 miles) wide, and covers an area of 405.55 km2 (156.58 sq mi). Its coastline is approximately 123 km (76 mi) long. According to the 2011 census, the island has a population of 40,759. The highest point is Vrachionas, at 758 metres (2,487 feet).
Zakynthos has the shape of an arrowhead, with the “tip” (Cape Skinari) pointing northwest. The western half of the island is a mountainous plateau and the southwest coast consists mostly of steep cliffs. The eastern half is a densely populated fertile plain with long sandy beaches, interrupted with several isolated hills, notably Bochali which overlooks the city and the peninsula of Vasilikos in the northeast. The peninsulas of Vassilikos to the north and Marathia to the south enclose the wide and shallow bay of Laganas on the southeast part of the island.
The capital, which has the same name as the prefecture, is the town of Zakynthos. It lies on the eastern part of the northern coast. Apart from the official name, it is also called Chora (i.e. the Town, a common denomination in Greece when the name of the island itself is the same as the name of the principal town). The port of Zakynthos has a ferry connecting to the port of Kyllini on the mainland. Another ferry connects the village of Agios Nikolaos to Argostoli on Kefalonia. Minor uninhabited islands around Zakynthos included in the municipality and regional unit are: Marathonisi, Pelouzo, Agios Sostis in the Laganas bay; Agios Nikolaos, near the eponymous harbor on the northern tip; and Agios Ioannis near Porto Vromi on the western coast.
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Kythira is an island in Greece lying opposite the south-eastern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula. It is traditionally listed as one of the seven main Ionian Islands, although it is distant from the main group. Administratively, it belongs to the Islands regional unit, which is part of the Attica region, despite its distance from the Saronic Islands, around which the rest of Attica is centered. The island is strategically located between the Greek mainland and Crete, and from ancient times until the mid 19th century was a crossroads of merchants, sailors, and conquerors. As such, it has had a long and varied history and has been influenced by many civilizations and cultures. This is reflected in its architecture (a blend of traditional, Aegean and Venetian elements), as well as the traditions and customs, influenced by centuries of coexistence of the Greek, and Venetian cultures.
Kythira has a land area of 279.593 square kilometres (107.95 sq mi); it is located at the southwestern exit from the Aegean Sea, behind Cape Malea. The rugged terrain is a result of prevailing winds from the surrounding seas which have shaped its shores into steep rocky cliffs with deep bays. The island has many beaches, of various composition and size; only half of them can be reached by road through the mountainous terrain of the island. The Kythirian Straits are nearby.
Kythira is close to the Hellenic arc plate boundary zone, and thus highly prone to earthquakes. Many earthquakes in recorded history have had their epicentres near or on the island. Probably the largest in recent times is the 1903 earthquake near at the village of Mitata, that caused significant damage as well as limited loss of life. It has had two major earthquakes in the 21st century: that of November 5, 2004, measuring between 5.6 and 5.8 on the Richter scale and the earthquake of January 8, 2006, measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale. The epicenter of the latter was in the sea about 20 km (12 mi) to the east of Kythira, with a focus at a depth of approximately 70 km (43 mi). Many buildings were damaged, particularly old ones, mostly in the village of Mitata, but with no loss of life. It was felt as far as Italy, Egypt, Malta and Jordan.
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