- Ionian Islands
:"This article is about the group of islands west of Greece. For the ancient region in western Anatolia, see "
Infobox Peri GR
name = Ionian Islands
name_local = Περιφέρεια Ιονίων Νησιών
prefec = Corfu
Kefalonia and Ithaka
capital = Corfu
population = 220097
population_as_of = 2005
area = 2307
website = [http://www.ionianisia-region.com/en_default.asp ionianisia-region.com]
The Ionian Islands (
Modern Greek: Ιόνια νησιά, "Ionia nisia"; Ancient Greek: polytonic|Ἰόνιοι Νῆσοι, "Ionioi Nēsoi"; Italian "Isole Ionie") are a group of islands in Greece. They are traditionally called "Eptanisa", i.e. "the Seven Islands" (Greek: Επτάνησα, "Heptanēsa", or Επτάνησος, "Heptanēsos", the Heptanese; Italian "Eptaneso"), but the group includes many smaller islands as well as the seven principal ones. The seven are, from north to south:
*Kerkyra (Κέρκυρα) usually known as
Paxi(Παξοί) also known as Paxosin English
Lefkada(Λευκάδα) also known as Lefkasin English
Ithaki(Ιθάκη) usually known as Ithacain English
*Kefallonia (Κεφαλλονιά) often known as Kefalonia/Cephalonia/Kefallinia in English
Zakynthos(Ζάκυνθος) sometimes known as Zantein English
Kythira(Κύθηρα) sometimes known as Cerigoin English 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 Peloponnesus, the southern part of the Greek mainland. It should be noted that Kythira is not part of the periphery of Ionian Islands ("Ionioi Nisoi"), as it is included in the periphery of Attiki.
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 spelt in Greek with an omicron (Ιόνια), whereas Ionia has an omega (Ιωνία). In Modern Greek this is purely a spelling distinction, but the different pronunciations in Ancient Greekwould have eliminated the risk of confusion between the two areas. Furthermore in both Ancient Greek and Modern Greek, the Ionian is accented in the antepenult(i-O-nia) whereas Ioniain the penult(ion-I-a); also the proper adjective for Ioniais , not Ionian.
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 Mauraand 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
Cephalleniaor Cephalonia, Ithaki as Ithaca, Kerkyra as Corcyra, Kythera as Cythera, Lefkada as Leucasor Leucadaand Zakynthos as Zacynthusor Zante. Older or variant Greek forms are sometimes also used: Kefalliniafor Kefallonia and Paxosor Paxoi for Paxi.
Throughout this article the islands will be called by their Modern Greek names.
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
Eretriansettlement at Kerkyra was displaced by colonists from Corinthin 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 Athensand triggered the Peloponnesian War.
Ithaca was the name of the island home of
Odysseusin the epic Ancient Greekpoem The Odysseyby 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.
Macedonian, Roman and Byzantine rule
In the 4th century BC, the islands, like most of Greece, was absorbed into the empire of
Macedon. They remained under the control of Macedon and its successor kingdoms until 146 BC, when the Greek peninsula was annexed by Rome. After 400 years of peaceful Roman rule the islands passed to the Eastern Roman Empire, and remained part of the Byzantine Empirefor another 900 years, until the destruction of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusadeby marauding Western Europeans and Venetians in 1204.
When the allies of the Fourth Crusade - the French rulers of the
Latin Empirebased in Constantinople and the Venetians, who competed with the Byzantines for control of Mediterranean trade - split up the spoils of the Byzantine territories between themselves, the Venetians acquired Kerkyra and Paxi, and also Kythera, which they used as way-stations for their maritime trade with the Levant. Kefallonia and Zakynthos became the County palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthosuntil 1357, when this entity was merged with Lefkada and Ithaki to become the Duchy of Leucadia under French and Italian dukes. When Greeks retook Constantinople in 1261, they briefly liberated some of the islands, but the Venetians gradually increased their grip.
From 1204 the
Republic of Venicecontrolled Corfu and slowly all the Ionian islands fell under venetian rule.In the 15th century the Ottomans occupied most of Greece, but the islands remained Christian thanks to the Venetians. Zakynthos passed permanently to Venice in 1482, Kefallonia and Ithaki in 1483, Lefkada in 1502. Kythera had been Venetian since 1393.
The islands thus became the only part of the Greek-speaking world to escape Ottoman rule, which gave them both a unity and an importance in Greek history they would otherwise not have had. Corfu was the only Greek island never conquered by the Turks.
Under Venetian rule, many of the upper classes spoke Italian (or Venetian in some cases) and converted to
Roman Catholicism, but the mass of people remained Greek in language and religion.
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, however, Napoléon Bonaparte conquered
Venice, and by the Treaty of Campo Formiothe islanders found themselves under French rule, the islands being organised as the départments Mer-Égée, Ithaqueand Corcyre. In 1798 the Russian Admiral Ushakovevicted the French, and established the Septinsular Republicunder joint Russo-Ottoman protection—the first time Greeks had had even limited self‐government since the fall of Constantinople in 1453. But in 1807 they were ceded again to the French and directly annexed to 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 Kerkyra 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, cricketand other English pastimes.
Once Greek independence was established after 1830, however, the islanders began to resent foreign rule and to press for "
enosis" - union with Greece. The British statesman William Gladstonetoured the islands and recommended that they be given to Greece. The British government resisted, since like the Venetians they found the islands made useful naval bases. They also regarded the German-born king of Greece, King Otto, as unfriendly to Britain. But in 1862 Otto was deposed and a pro-British king, George I, 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, 1864the British departed and the islands became three provinces of the Kingdom of Greece though Britain retained the use of the port of Corfu.
World War II
In 1941 when Axis forces occupied Greece, the Ionian Islands (except Kythera) were handed over to the Italians, who in their three years of rule attempted to Italianize the population of Corfu (as has happened with the
Corfiot 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 earthquake
The islands were struck by an especially powerful
earthquake, of 7.1 magnitude, 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 periphery of Ionian Islands ("Ionioi Nisoi"), except Kythera, which is part of the periphery of Attiki. Kerkyra has a population of 113,479 (including Paxoi), Zakynthos 38,680, 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 magnificent harbour, splendid scenery and wealth of picturesque 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" is set in Kefallonia.
* [http://www.ionianisia-region.com/en_default.asp Region of Ionia Nisia] (Periphery of Ionian Islands)
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Look at other dictionaries:
Ionian Islands — • A group of seven islands and a number of islets scattered over the Ionian Sea to the west of Greece Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Ionian Islands Ionian Islands … Catholic encyclopedia
Ionian Islands — (Киллини,Греция) Категория отеля: Адрес: Kyllini, Киллини, 27068, Греция … Каталог отелей
Ionian Islands — group of islands along the W coast of Greece, on the Ionian Sea: 891 sq mi (2,308 sq km); pop. 191,000 … English World dictionary
Ionian Islands — a group of Greek islands including Corfu, Levkas, Ithaca, Cephalonia, Paxos, and Zante off the W coast of Greece, and Cerigo off the S coast. * * * ancient Heptanesos Group of seven Greek islands (pop., 2001: 214,274) in the Ionian Sea. They… … Universalium
Ionian Islands — Admin ASC 1 Code Orig. name Ionian Islands Country and Admin Code GR.ESYE22 GR … World countries Adminstrative division ASC I-II
Ionian Islands — noun A group of islands in the Ionian Sea one of the 13 peripheries of Greece The main islands are Corfu, Ithaca, Kefallonia, Kythira, Lefkada, Paxoi and Zante … Wiktionary
Ionian Islands — geographical name islands W Greece in Ionian Sea population 191,003 … New Collegiate Dictionary
IONIAN ISLANDS — (250), a chain of forty mountainous islands lying off the W. coast of Greece, the largest being Corfu (78), Santa Maura (25), Cephalonia (80), and Zante (44). The climate is good, and there is much fertile soil in the valleys except in… … The Nuttall Encyclopaedia
Ionian Islands — Io′nian Is′lands n. pl. geg a group of Greek islands including Corfu, Levkas, Ithaca, Cephalonia, and Zante off the W coast of Greece, and Cerigo off the S coast … From formal English to slang
Ionian Islands — /aɪoʊniən ˈaɪləndz/ (say uyohneeuhn uyluhndz) plural noun the islands along the west coast of Greece, including Corfu, Levkas, Ithaca, Cephalonia, and Zante, and Cerigo off the south coast … Australian English dictionary