Zakynthos; Venetian: Zacinto), is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. It covers an area of 410 km2 (158 sq mi) and its coastline is roughly 123 km (76 mi) in length. The island is named after Zakynthos, the son of a legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus. The name, like all similar names ending in -nthos, is pre-Mycenaean or Pelasgian in origin. Zakynthos has a thriving tourism industry.


Zakynthos has a varied terrain, with fertile plains in the southeastern part and mountainous terrain with steep cliffs along the coasts on the west. Zakynthos town coordinates are: Latitude 37.79139/37°47'29 N, Longitude: 20.89528/20°53'43 E.

The mild, Mediterranean climate and the plentiful winter rainfall endow the island with dense vegetation. The principal products are olive oil, currants, grapes and citrus fruit.

The capital, which has the same name as the prefecture, is the town of Zakynthos; apart from the official name, it is also called Chora (i.e. the Town, a common denomination in Greece when the name of the island itself is the same as the name of the principal town). According to the 2001 census, the island has a population of 38,957.

Among the most famous Zakynthians is the 19th century poet Dionysios Solomos, the principal modern Greek poet and author of the national anthem of Greece. His statue adorns the main town square. Also the explorer Juan de Fuca (Ioannis Focas) and the Italian poet Ugo Foscolo were born here.


The island has one airport, the Zakynthos International Airport, "Dionysios Solomos" (on former GR-35) in its southwest which connects flights with other Greek airports. Further southwest is the National Marine Park of Zakynthos where loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) are found in the Bay of Kalamaki. Caretta caretta is an endangered species - especially by the deck chairs laid out on their breeding grounds and the inevitable pollution. Every year at the beginning of June, the female turtles come to the southern beaches in order to bury their eggs in the sand. The incubation period for the nest is approximately fifty five days, after which time hatchlings emerge from the nest and make their way to the sea. The survival rate for hatchlings is very small, and it is estimated that only one in one thousand hatchlings that enter the sea live to adulthood. Each nest contains around one hundred to one hundred and twenty eggs, each of which are around the size and shape of a ping-pong ball. Female turtles begin to lay nests at around twenty to thirty years of age.

The port of Zakynthos has a ferry connecting to the port of Kyllini on the mainland. Another ferry connects the village of Skinari to Argostoli on the island of Kefalonia.

The Zante currant, a small sweet seedless grape is native to the island.

Island length: 40 km
Island width: 20 km
Highest point: Vrachionas, 758 m
Sites of interest include Shipwreck Bay, Cape Skinari and the Blue Caves. The western part of the island is accessible and has a panoramic view of the sea. The ridge area from Anafontria has a small observation deck which overlooks the shipwreck and there is a monastery nearby.

Keri is located in the far south of the island. It is a mountain village and has a lighthouse in the south. It includes a panorama of the southern part of the Ionian Sea.

For tourist facilities, Zante has campsites and beaches including, a beautiful stretch near Keri, around 100 m in length and surrounded by cliffs. The island also offers a plethora of arches and cliffs which are widely known beyond the island ; one is underground. Several documentaries have been filmed around this area of Zakynthos/Zante. Beaches are to be found in Porto Limnionas, Porto Vromi and Porto Zoro.




CultureThe island has a long musical tradition. It was a precursor of opera and operetta in Greece and on the island it constituted links between nobles and the rest of the people. In 1815 it saw the establishment of the first Music School in Greece. During the first Olympic Games, in Athens 1896, the Music Band of Zakynthos took part in the event. It was the period when composers of Zantiote origin, such as Domeneginis Kapnissis enjoyed some fame in Europe. Since 2009 Zakynthos has its own jazz festival (Zante Jazz Festival). Clubbing has become a huge part of the culture, bringing in a lot of money in the summer months.


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Sports


The island offers exceptional attractions for SCUBA divers. Many of the dive sites are cave dives around the island; a wide range of marine life can be found, and common amongst it are moray eels, monk seals, octopus, and loggerhead turtles (caretta caretta).


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