|• 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 ("Seven Islands"; Ἑπτάνησα, Heptanēsa or Ἑπτάνησος, Heptanēsos; Italian : Eptaneso), but the group includes many smaller islands as well as the seven principal ones.
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 seven islands are; from north to south:
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.
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. Although they have the same Latin transliteration and Modern Greek pronunciation, the Ionian Sea and Islands are not related to Ionia, an Anatolian region; in Greek, the Ionian Sea and Ionian Islands are spelled with an omicron (Ιόνια), whereas Ionia has an omega (Ιωνία), reflecting a classical difference in pronunciation. 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.[ citation needed ]
The islands themselves are known by a 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.
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.[ citation needed ] Archeological investigations have revealed 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 - union with Greece. The British statesman William Ewart Gladstone toured the islands and recommended that having already Malta, giving the islands to Greece would not 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 (probably and as a counterbalance to the newly established Italian state).
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 1923, following orders by Mussolini, the Italians temporarly occupied Corfu.
In 1941, when Axis forces occupied Greece, the Ionian Islands (except Kythera) were handed over to the Italians. Long a target of Italian expansionism, the Greek civil authorities were replaced by Italians in preparation for a post-war annexation.
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 in general 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), Kefalonia (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 KeFalonia 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 Kefalonia 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 Kefalonia Airport had the biggest increase nationwide by 13.11% compared to 2011, while Corfu had an increase of 6.31%.'
The Ionian Sea is an elongated bay of the Mediterranean Sea. It is connected to the Adriatic Sea to the north, and 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, including the Peloponnese.
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 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.
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, and the smallest of the thirteen by area. 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.
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.
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.
The second period of French rule in the Ionian Islands began in August 1807, when the Septinsular Republic, a Russian protectorate comprising the seven Ionian Islands, was occupied by the First French Empire in accordance with the Treaty of Tilsit. The French annexed the Republic but maintained most of its institutions for local governance. In 1809–10, the British occupied the southernmost islands, leaving only Corfu, Paxoi, and the mainland exclave of Parga in French hands. The British also imposed a naval blockade on the French-ruled islands, which began to suffer from famine. Finally, the British occupied Paxoi in late 1813 and Parga in March 1814. Following the Abdication of Napoleon, the French governor-general in Corfu, François-Xavier Donzelot, capitulated and the French garrison was evacuated. In 1815, the islands became a British protectorate, the United States of the Ionian Islands.
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