Corfu - Ionian islands

The Ionian Sea (Greek -- Ionion Pelagos) is another arm of the Mediterranean Sea, separating Greece and Albania from Italy and Sicily. The Ionian Sea is connected with the Adriatic Sea in the north by the Strait of Otranto. The sea forms a deep indentation, the Gulf of Taranto, in the southern coast of Italy between the regions of Calabria and Apulia and a number of deep inlets on the Greek coast, including the Gulf of Corinth.

Corfu Beach

Corfu cliffs

Corfu, or Kerkira is one of the seven islands and the most northern of the Eptanisa cluster (Greek--Seven islands), located northwest of Greece, in the Ionian Sea, separated from the Greek and Albanian mainland by a narrow channel. Considered relatively one of the large Greek isles, Corfu's area is 593 square kilometers (229 square miles). With the small islands of Paxi and Antipaxos, it forms the department (Greek--nomos) of Kerkira with a population of 97,506, being the capital and largest town. Practically all the commerce of the island passes through the town of Kerkira, which is also a center of tourism, housing the Club Med headquarters in Greece. The northern part of the island is mountainous with Mount Pandokrator reaching 906m (2,972ft), the central part hilly, and the southern part low and fairly leveled. The island is well watered and fertile. Olives, olive oil, citrus fruits, figs, and textiles are principal products.


Corfu shore

Kerkira is the ancient Corcyra. In about 734 BC the island, which has been identified as Scheria, home of the Phaecians in Homer's Odyssey, was colonized by the Corinthians. After the Persian Wars, in which Corcyra did not partake, further dispute with Corinth led the Corcyreans to ally themselves in 435 BC with Athens, and the intervention of Athens contributed to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. In 229 BC the island came under Roman protection. It was part of the Byzantine Empire until around 1400 AD, when it passed into the possession of the Venetians, who called it "Corfu" and held it until 1797, despite numerous attacks by the Ottoman Turks. It became British protectorate in 1815 and then a part of Greece in 1864. During World War I the French took military possession of the island in 1916 to provide a refuge for the exhausted Serbian army. The Declaration of Corfu, proclaiming the union of the Yugoslavs, was signed here in 1917. Benito Mussolini sent naval forces to bombard the town of Kerkira and to occupy the island in 1923, but these troops were evacuated later that year. During World War II the island was held by Italian and German forces until it was retaken by Greek and British troops in October of 1944.

Ithaki, also Ithaca is one of the Eptanisa, the seven islands in the Ionian Sea, in the Kefallinia or Cephalonia Department (Greek--nomos). The small community of Ithaki, on a sheltered bay in the southern part of the island, is the capital and chief port, with a population of 3,646 and a total area of 96 square kilometers (37 square miles). This mountainous, rocky island has many archaeological relics and may have been the site of the legendary kingdom of Odysseus depicted by Homer in the Odessey. In 1953 an earthquake severely damaged the island.

Kefallinia or Cephalinia (ancient Cephallenia) is the largest of the Eptanisa (a seven major island group in the Ionian Sea). Kefallinia with a total land are of 750 square kilometers (290 square miles), together with nearby small islands including Ithaki, forms the Kefallinia Department (Greek--nomos) with a total population of 31,267. It has an irregular coastline 48km (30mi) long and from 5 to 32km (3 to 20mi) wide. Mount Ainos is the highest peak of this mountainous island, reaching 1,620m (5,315ft) above sea level. The chief towns are Argostolion, the capital of the island and the department, and Lixourion. The principal crops are currants, olive, olive oil, grapes, citrus fruits, and cotton. The principal industry on the island is handcrafting of all sorts, including metals (gold, silver, brass) leather, marble, garments, and various household cotton upholstery.

Kefallinia , like other Ionian Islands, was seized and ruled by a succession of foreign powers from the time of its fall in 189 BC to the Romans, until its annexation in 1864 by Greece. It was occupied by Italy in World War II.

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