Greece has several large islands numbering between 1,200 and 6,000 depending on the range of size considered. However, the number of inhabited islands is as low as between 167 and 227. The islands of Greece are grouped into several clusters such as Argo-Saronic, Cyclades, North Aegean, and the Dodecanese among other clusters. The clustering of the islands mainly depends on their location. The islands are the main characteristics of the morphology of Greece and they are an important part of the country’s culture and tradition.
6. Argo-Saronic Islands
The Saronic Islands were named after the Saronic Gulf where the islands are located, near Athens. The islands are sprinkled over the Argo-Saronic Gulf and steeped in ancient mythology. The Saronic Islands are a small haven, acting as a perfect habitat for tourists and permanent residents. Some of the notable islands include Salamina, Aegina, Hydra, Poros, Spetses, Dokos, and Agistri. These islands have vacation homes that are served by ferries from the port of Piraeus. Tourists who visit the Saronic islands will enjoy the natural beauty, unique architecture, and a glamorous atmosphere.
The Cyclades are located in the Aegean Sea, in the southeast of mainland Greece. The islands form part of the Aegean Archipelago. The Cyclades is a group of 220 islands with the major islands including Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Delos, Kea, and Kythnos. There are also other minor islands that form part of the Cyclades. The name “Cyclades” was given to islands that form a circle around the island of Delos. Unlike the smaller islands, the larger islands are inhabited. The Cyclades are peaks of submerged mountainous terrains are bound to the south by the Sea of Crete.
4. North Aegean Islands
North Aegean Islands is a group of disconnected islands located in the north of the Aegean Sea. They are shared between Greece and Turkey. The North Aegean Islands do not form a physical chain but are administratively clustered together. The group of islands was incorporated into the Greek state 1912 after the First Balkan War. The main islands include Samos, Lesbos, Lemnos, Psara, Tenedos, and Rabbit. These islands are major tourist attractions in Greece and Turkey because of their unpopulated beaches and warm water.
The Dodecanese is a group of 15 large and over 150 small islands located in the Aegean Sea. They define the eastern limit of the Sea of Crete and belong to the wider Southern Sporades island cluster. Only 26 of the over 165 islands are inhabited. The term “Dodecanese” translates to “Twelve Islands.” Some of the major Dodecanese islands include Agathonisi, Kalymnos, Kasos, Patmos, Rhodes, and Karpathos. The Dodecanese was incorporated into Greece in 1947, immediately becoming a popular travel destination.
The Sporades are located along the east coast of Greece. The cluster is made up of 24 islands of which only four are permanently inhabited. The inhabited Sporades islands include Alonnisos, Skiathos, Skopelos, and Skyros. The inhabited islands are sometimes referred to as the Thessalian Sporades. The term “Sporades” means “scattered” and was used to refer to the island groups outside of Cyclades. The modern geography groups the Sporades into five categories; Thessalian, Thracian, Western, Eastern, and Southern Sporades..
1. Ionian Islands
The Ionian Islands, also known as “the Seven Islands,” is a group of seven major islands and several other smaller islands. The major islands include Kerkyra, Paxi, Lefkada, Ithaki, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Kythira. The islands date back to the Venetian Rule which preserved them from becoming part of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetian created a unique cultural identity with several Italian influences for the islands. The Ionian Islands were incorporated into Greek state in 1864 and currently belong to the Ionian Islands Region. The islands have a combined population of about 206,000 people.