|• Total||2,306.94 km2 (890.71 sq mi)|
|• Density||90/km2 (230/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
|ISO 3166 code||GR-F|
The Ionian Islands (Modern Greek: Ιόνια νησιά, Ionia nisia; Ancient Greek, Katharevousa: Ἰόνιοι Νῆσοι, Ionioi Nēsoi) are a group of islands in Greece. They are traditionally called the Heptanese, i.e. "the Seven Islands" (Ἑπτάνησα, Heptanēsa or Ἑπτάνησος, Heptanēsos; Italian : Eptaneso), but the group includes many smaller islands as well as the seven principal ones.
Modern Greek is the form of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The end of the Medieval Greek period and the beginning of Modern Greek is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic modern features of the language arose centuries earlier, between the fourth and the fifteenth centuries AD.
The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by medieval Greek.
Katharevousa is a conservative form of the Modern Greek language conceived in the late 18th century as a compromise between Ancient Greek and the Demotic Greek of the time. Originally, it was widely used both for literary and official purposes, though seldom in daily language. In the 20th century, it was increasingly adopted for official and formal purposes, until minister of education Georgios Rallis made Demotic Greek the official language of Greece in 1976, and in 1982 Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou abolished the polytonic system of writing both for Demotic and Katharevousa.
As a distinct historic region they date to the centuries-long Venetian rule, which preserved them from becoming part of the Ottoman Empire, and created a distinct cultural identity with many Italian influences. The Ionian Islands became part of the modern Greek state in 1864. Administratively today they belong to the Ionian Islands Region except for Kythera, which belongs to the Attica Region.
The Ionian Islands were an overseas possession of the Republic of Venice from the mid-14th century until the late 18th century. The conquest of the islands took place gradually. The first to be acquired was Cythera and the neighboring islet of Anticythera, indirectly in 1238 and directly after 1363. In 1386, Corfu voluntarily became part of Venice's colonies. Following a century, Venice captured Zante in 1485, Cephalonia in 1500 and Ithaca in 1503. The conquest was completed in 1718 with the capture of Lefkada. Each of the islands remained part of the Venetian Stato da Màr until Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the Republic of Venice in 1797, annexing Corfu. The Ionian Islands are situated in the Ionian Sea, off the west coast of Greece. Cythera, the southernmost, is just off the southern tip of the Peloponnese and Corfu, the northernmost, is located at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea. In modern Greek, the period of Venetian rule over Greek territory is known as Venetokratia or Enetokratia and literally means "rule of the Venetians". It is believed that the Venetian period on the Ionian Islands was agreeable, especially compared with the coinciding Tourkokratia — Turkish rule over the remainder of present-day Greece.
The Ottoman Empire, historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.
The seven islands are; from north to south:
Corfu or Kerkyra is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. 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 as a single municipality, which also includes the smaller islands of Ereikoussa, Mathraki and Othonoi. The municipality has an area of 610,9 km2, the island proper 592,8 km2. The principal city of the island and seat of the municipality is also named Corfu. Corfu is home to the Ionian University.
Paxi or Paxoi and Antipaxoi or Antipaxos is the smallest island group within the Ionian Islands. 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 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.
Lefkada, also known as Lefkas or Leukas 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.
The six northern islands are off the west coast of Greece, in the Ionian Sea. The seventh island, Kythira, is off the southern tip of the Peloponnese, the southern part of the Greek mainland. Kythira is not part of the region of the Ionian Islands, as it is included in the region of Attica.
The Ionian Sea is an elongated bay of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by Southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily, and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and the west coast of Greece.
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.
The Peloponnese or Peloponnesus is a peninsula and geographic region in southern Greece. It is connected to the central part of the country by the Isthmus of Corinth land bridge which separates the Gulf of Corinth from the Saronic Gulf. During the late Middle Ages and the Ottoman era, the peninsula was known as the Morea, a name still in colloquial use in its demotic form.
In Ancient Greek the adjective Ionios (Ἰόνιος) was used as an epithet for the sea between Epirus and Italy in which the Ionian Islands are found because Io swam across it. Latin transliteration, as well as Modern Greek pronunciation, may suggest that the Ionian Sea and Islands are somehow related to Ionia, an Anatolian region; in fact the Ionian Sea and Ionian Islands are spelled in Greek with an omicron (Ιόνια), whereas Ionia has an omega (Ιωνία), reflecting a classical difference in pronunciation. In Modern Greek omicron and omega represent the same sound, but the two words are still distinguished by stress: the western "Ionia" is accented on the antepenult (IPA: [iˈonia] ), and the eastern on the penult (IPA: [ioˈnia] ). In English, the adjective relating to Ionia is Ionic , not Ionian.
Epirus is a geographical and historical region in southeastern Europe, now shared between Greece and Albania. It lies between the Pindus Mountains and the Ionian Sea, stretching from the Bay of Vlorë and the Acroceraunian mountains in the north to the Ambracian Gulf and the ruined Roman city of Nicopolis in the south. It is currently divided between the region of Epirus in northwestern Greece and the counties of Gjirokastër, Vlorë, and Berat in southern Albania. The largest city in Epirus is Ioannina, seat of the region of Epirus, with Gjirokastër the largest city in the Albanian part of Epirus.
Io was, in Greek mythology, one of the mortal lovers of Zeus. She was an ancestor of many kings and heroes such as Perseus, Cadmus, Heracles, Minos, Lynceus, Cepheus, and Danaus. The astronomer Simon Marius named a moon of Jupiter after Io in 1614.
Omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 70. This letter is derived from the Phoenician letter ayin
The islands themselves are known by a rather confusing variety of names. During the centuries of rule by Venice, they acquired Venetian names, by which some of them are still known in English (and in Italian). Kerkyra was known as Corfù, Ithaki as Val di Compare, Kythera as Cerigo, Lefkada as Santa Maura and Zakynthos as Zante.
Venice is a city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto region. It is situated on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges. The islands are located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay that lies between the mouths of the Po and the Piave rivers. In 2018, 260,897 people resided in the Comune di Venezia, of whom around 55,000 live in the historical city of Venice. Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE), which is considered a statistical metropolitan area, with a total population of 2.6 million.
Venetian or Venetan is a Romance language spoken as a native language by almost four million people in the northeast of Italy, mostly in the Veneto region of Italy, where most of the five million inhabitants can understand it, centered in and around Venice, which carries the prestige dialect. It is sometimes spoken and often well understood outside Veneto, in Trentino, Friuli, Venezia Giulia, Istria, and some towns of Slovenia and Dalmatia (Croatia) by a surviving autochthonous population, and Brazil, Argentina and Mexico by diasporans.
Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to Vulgar Latin of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.
A variety of spellings are used for the Greek names of the islands, particularly in historical writing. Kefallonia is often spelled as Cephallenia or Cephalonia, Ithaki as Ithaca, Kerkyra as Corcyra, Kythera as Cythera, Lefkada as Leucas or Leucada and Zakynthos as Zacynthus or Zante. Older or variant Greek forms are sometimes also used: Kefallinia for Kefallonia and Paxos or Paxoi for Paxi.
The islands were settled by Greeks at an early date, possibly as early as 1200 BC, and certainly by the 9th century BC. The early Eretrian settlement at Kerkyra was displaced by colonists from Corinth in 734 BC. The islands were mostly a backwater during Ancient Greek times and played little part in Greek politics. The one exception was the conflict between Kerkyra and its mother-City Corinth in 434 BC, which brought intervention from Athens and triggered the Peloponnesian War.
Ithaca was the name of the island home of Odysseus in the epic Ancient Greek poem the Odyssey by Homer. Attempts have been made to identify Ithaki with ancient Ithaca, but the geography of the real island cannot be made to fit Homer's description. Archeological investigations have revealed interesting findings in both Kefalonia and Ithaca.
By the 4th century BC, most of the islands were absorbed into the empire of Macedon. Some remained under the control of the Macedonian Kingdom until 146 BC, when the Greek peninsula was gradually annexed by Rome. After 400 years of peaceful Roman rule, the islands passed to the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire.
Under Byzantine rule, from the mid-8th century, they formed the theme of Cephallenia. The islands were a frequent target of Saracen raids and from the late 11th century, saw a number of Norman and Italian attacks. Most of the islands fell to William II of Sicily in 1185. Corfu and Lefkas remained under Byzantine control.
Kefallonia and Zakynthos became the County palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos until 1357, when this entity was merged with Lefkada and Ithaki to become the Duchy of Leucadia under French and Italian dukes. Corfu, Paxi and Kythera were taken by the Venetians in 1204, after the dissolution of the Byzantine Empire by the Fourth Crusade. These became important overseas colonies of the Republic and were used as way-stations for their maritime trade with the Levant.
From 1204, the Republic of Venice controlled Corfu and slowly all the Ionian islands fell under Venetian rule. In the 15th century, the Ottomans conquered most of Greece, but their attempts to conquer the islands were largely unsuccessful. Zakynthos passed permanently to Venice in 1482, Kefallonia and Ithaki in 1483, Lefkada in 1502. Kythera had been in Venetian hands since 1238.
The islands thus became the only part of the Greek-speaking world to escape Ottoman rule. Corfu was the only Greek island never conquered by the Turks.
Under Venetian rule, many of the upper classesspoke Italian (or Venetian in some cases) and converted to Roman Catholicism, but the majority remained Greek ethnically, linguistically, and religiously.
In the 18th century, a Greek national independence movement began to emerge, and the free status of the Ionian islands made them the natural base for exiled Greek intellectuals, freedom fighters and foreign sympathisers. The islands became more self-consciously Greek as the 19th century, the century of romantic nationalism, neared.
In 1797 Napoléon Bonaparte conquered Venice. By the Treaty of Campo Formio the islanders found themselves under French rule, the islands being organised as the départments Mer-Égée , Ithaque and Corcyre . In 1798, the Russian Admiral Ushakov evicted the French, and established the Septinsular Republic under joint Russo-Ottoman protection—the first time Greeks had had even limited self-government since the fall of Constantinople in 1453.In 1807, the Ionian Islands were ceded again to the French in the Treaty of Tilsit and occupied by the French Empire.
In 1809, the British defeated the French fleet in Zakynthos (October 2, 1809) captured Kefallonia, Kythera and Zakynthos, and took Lefkada in 1810. The French held out in Corfu until 1814. The Treaty of Paris in 1815 turned the islands into the "United States of the Ionian Islands" under British protection (November 5, 1815). In January 1817, the British granted the islands a new constitution. The islanders elected an Assembly of 40 members, who advised the British High Commissioner. The British greatly improved the islands' communications, and introduced modern education and justice systems. The islanders welcomed most of these reforms, and took up afternoon tea, cricket and other English pastimes.
Once Greek independence was established after 1830, however, the islanders began to resent foreign colonial rule by the British, and to press for Enosis , i. e. union with Greece. The British statesman William Ewart Gladstone toured the islands and recommended that having already Malta, giving the islands to Greece wouldn't hurt the interest of the British Empire. The British government resisted, since like the Venetians they found the islands made useful naval bases. They also regarded the Bavarian-born king of Greece, King Otto, as unfriendly to Britain. However, in 1862, Otto was deposed and a pro-British king, George I from Denmark, was installed.
In 1862, Britain decided to transfer the islands to Greece, as a gesture of support intended to bolster the new king's popularity. On May 2, 1864, the British departed and the islands became three provinces of the Kingdom of Greece though Britain retained the use of the port of Corfu. On 21 May 1864 the Ionian Islands officially reunited with Greece.Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark was born in Corfu in 1921 and grew up to become Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
In 1941, when Axis forces occupied Greece, the Ionian Islands (except Kythera) were handed over to the Italians. In 1943, the Germans replaced the Italians, and deported the centuries-old Jewish community of Corfu to their deaths. By 1944, most of the islands were under the control of the EAM/ELAS resistance movement, and they have remained a stronghold of left-wing sentiment ever since.
The 1953 Ionian islands earthquake occurred with a surface wave magnitude of 7.2 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme) on August 12, 1953. Building damage was extensive and the southern islands of Kefalonia and Zakynthos were practically levelled. The islands were reconstructed from the ground up over the following years under a strict building code. The code has proven extremely effective, as many earthquakes since that time have caused no damage to new buildings.
Today, all the islands are part of the Greek region of the Ionian Islands (Ionioi Nisoi), except Kythera, which is part of the region of Attica. Kerkyra has a population of 103,300 (including Paxoi), Zakynthos 40,650, Kefallonia 39,579 (including Ithaca), Lefkada 22,536, Ithaki 3,052, Kythera 3,000 and Paxi 2,438.
In recent decades, the islands have lost much of their population through emigration and the decline of their traditional industries, fishing and marginal agriculture. Today, their major industry is tourism. Specifically Kerkyra, with its harbour, scenery and wealth of ruins and castles, is a favourite stopping place for cruise liners. British tourists in particular are attracted through having read Gerald Durrell's evocative book My Family and Other Animals (1956), which describes his childhood on Kerkyra in the 1930s. The novel and movie Captain Corelli's Mandolin are set in Kefallonia, in which Captain Corelli is part of the Italian occupation force during the Second World War.
The Ionian Islands' official population, excluding Kythera, in 2011 was 207,855, decreased by 1.50% compared to the population in 2001. Nevertheless, the region remains the third by population density with 90.1/km² nationwide, well above the national of 81.96/km². The most populous of the major islands is Corfu with a population of 104,371, followed by Zante (40,759), Cephalonia (35,801), Leucas (23.693) and Ithaca (3.231).The foreign-born population was in 2001 19,360 or 9.3%, the majority of which was concentrated in Corfu and Zante. Most of them originate from Albania (13,536). The fertility rate for 2011 according to Eurostat was 1.35 live births per woman during her lifetime.
The regional Gross Domestic Product for 2010 was 4,029 million euros. The GDP per capita for the same year was 18,440 euros per capita which was lower than the national median of 20,481. However, the GDP per capita of Cephalonia and Zante, 23,275 and 24,616 respectively, was much higher than the national figure. Additionally, unemployment for 2012 was 14.7, the lowest among all Greek regions, and much lower compared to the national unemployment of 24.2.
The region is a popular tourist destination. The airports of Corfu, Zante and Cephalonia were in the top ten in Greece by number of international arrivals, with 1,386,289 international arrivals for 2012, with Corfu being the sixth airport by number of arrivals nationwide, with Zante and Cephalonia also being in the top ten. While Cephalonia Airport had the biggest increase nationwide by 13.11% compared to 2011, while Corfu had an increase of 6.31%.'
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.
Cephalonia or Kefalonia, 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.
Zakynthos or Zante, 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) 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.
The Septinsular Republic was an oligarchic republic that existed from 1800 to 1807 under nominal Russian and Ottoman sovereignty in the Ionian Islands.
Epirote Islands are considered those northern Ionian islands that are in proximity to the Epirus mainland.
The Italian title prov[v]editore, "he who sees to things" (overseer), was the style of various local district governors in the extensive, mainly maritime empire of the Republic of Venice. Like many political appointments, it was often held by noblemen as a stage in their career, usually for a few years.
The United States of the Ionian Islands was a state and amical protectorate of the United Kingdom between 1815 and 1864. It was the successor state of the Septinsular Republic. It covered the territory of the Ionian Islands, in modern Greece, and it was ceded to Greece as a gift of the United Kingdom to the newly enthroned King George I after the Resolution for union with Greece which was proposed by the Party of the Radicals.
The Treaty of London in 1864 was in regard to the United Kingdom ceding the United States of the Ionian Islands to Greece. The United Kingdom had held an amical protectorate over the islands since the 1815 Treaty of Paris.
The County Palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos existed from 1185 to 1479 as part of the Kingdom of Sicily. The title and the right to rule the Ionian islands of Cephalonia and Zakynthos was originally given to Margaritus of Brindisi for his services to William II, King of Sicily, in 1185.
Mer-Égée was one of three short-lived French departments of Greece. It came into existence after Napoleon's conquest in 1797 of the Republic of Venice, when Venetian Greek possessions such as the Ionian islands fell to the French Directory.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Corfu, Zakynthos, and Cefalonia is an archdiocese comprising the Ionian islands of Corfu, Zakynthos and Cephalonia in western Greece.
The Greek Senate was the upper chamber of the parliament in Greece, extant several times in the country's history.
Leonardo I Tocco was the Count palatine of the islands of Cephalonia and Zakynthos from 1357 until his death, and later lord of Ithaca, Lefkada, and the port of Vonitsa as well.
The Ionian Islands Region is one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. The administrative region does not include all of the Ionian Islands; the island of Kythera, which historically was part of the island group, was separated and integrated to the Attica Region.
The Albanian Regiment was a military unit of the First French Empire formed in 1807 in Corfu. It was commanded by Colonel Jean-Louis Toussaint Minot and served mainly as defence unit in the French-ruled Ionian Islands. It was disbanded in 1814.
The first period of French rule in the Ionian Islands lasted from June 1797 to March 1799. Following the Fall of the Republic of Venice in May 1797, the Ionian Islands, a Venetian possession, were occupied by the French Republic. The French instituted a new, democratic regime and, following the Treaty of Campo Formio, annexed the islands to France, forming the three departments of Corcyre (Corfu), Ithaque (Ithaca) and Mer-Égée.
Zakynthos is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. Today, 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) 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 a legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus.
The Treaty of Constantinople of 2 April [O.S. 21 March] 1800 was concluded between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, and heralded the creation of the Septinsular Republic, the first autonomous Greek state since the Fall of the Byzantine Empire.
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