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A few words about Kefalonia:
Kefalonia (ΚΕΦΑΛΟΝΙΑ in Greek) also known as Cephalonia, Kefallinia, or Cefalonia,
is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece.
The Island is named after Cephalus, but some think its name means 'an island
with a head', because 'Cephalus' comes from the Greek word for 'head'.
The capital of the Kefalonia prefecture Argostoli. The
population has reached nearly 45,000. It used to be the fastest-growing part
of Greece, with a growth rate of 35% to 40% in 10 years and reaching 30,000 in
the 1990s. The size of the island is around 800 km² (300 sq miles), and the
present population density is 55 people per km² (140 per sq mile). Argostoli
is home to one-third of the island's habitants. Lixouri is the second major
city. The two cities account for almost two-thirds of the prefecture's
In ancient times, before it was named Cephallonia, only around 100 to 300
people lived there. When Cephallonia was founded in ancient times, the
population had trebled to around 500–1,000 people. The population steadily
grew until the population reached 10,000 in the mid-20th century. The number
topped 20,000 in the 1970s.
The island is covered by dense vegetation and includes plenty of natural
beauty including beaches, many of them inaccessible from land, and spectacular
caves. Mirtos, the most famous of these beaches, is a major tourist
attraction, and has ranked fifth worldwide for its scenic view.
Its tallest mountain is Mount Ainos or Ainos with an elevation of 1628m
(almost the same elevation as Denver, Colorado in North America). To the
west-northwest is the Paliki mountains where Lixouri is located other
mountains include Gerania.
There are five harbours and ports in the prefecture, four main harbours on the
island, Sami or Same, and a major port with links to Patras and Ithaca. Poros,
in the south, has ferry routes to Kyllini. Argostoli, in the west, is the
largest port, carrying local boats around, and ferries to Zante and
occasionally to Lixouri. Vasiliki, in the north, has links to Lefkas and
Ithaca. There is room for around 100 small boats in Argostoli, with the port
stretching 1 kilometer around the estuary. Lixouri is situated 4km across the
bay from Argostoli, on the Lixori peninsula. There is a road connection to the
rest of the island; however, driving from Lixouri to Argostoli involves a 30
There is one airport, Argostoli Airport, with a runway of around 1 km. The
airport is about 10 km south of Argostoli. Almost every scheduled flight is an
Olympic plane. The planes mainly fly to Athens; however, there is an Ionian
Island Hopper service 3 times a week calling at Kefalonia, Zante and Lefkas.
In summer the airport handles a lot of charter flights from all over Europe.
Kefalonia is located in the heart of an earthquake zone. Dozens of minor
tremors occur each year. In 1953, a massive earthquake almost destroyed the
island, with only Fiscardo in the north left untouched.
Most of the population have the surname ending with -atos.
In summer many tourists visit Kefalonia, however as one of the
largest islands in Greece, it is well equipped to handle them. Most tourists
stay in or around Lassi, a serene resort a few kilometers from Argostoli.
Almost every community in Kefalonia has an ending with -ata like Lourdata,
Favata, Delaportata, etc.
Off the North East coast is Ithaca, a island well known worldwide thanks to
the Odyssey, an epic poem written by Homer. Odysseus was said by Homer to be
the leader of the "Kefallinians", which is often offered as an explanation for
why modern habitants of the islands are keen on travelling to other countries.
It has also been suggested that Kefalonia and Ithaca may have once been joined
because Homer describes Ithaca as if it is much larger than it now is and on
the west side. Geographical data also suggests the islands may have once been
connected, although research is still being done to prove this.
The island is home to two large monasteries. One is Aghia Panagia in
Markopoulo to the southeast, and the other is on the road between Argostoli
and Michata, on a small plain surrounded by mountains. This monastery has an
avenue of about 200 trees lined from NW to SE with a circle in the middle.
Forestry and Fishing
Forestry is very rare on the island, however production is one
of the highest in Ionian, but fewer than Elia in the Peloponnese. Forest fires
were common during the 1990s and the early 2000s, but they have been handled
safely by the island's fire service.
Fishing is very common throughout the waters within and around the island. The
harbors of Argostoli and Lixouri are the main fishing centres on the island.
Overfishing can be a problem in Kefalonia, and the Ionian at large.
The primary agricultural resources are pasture and olives,
with the remainder largely composed of grain and vegetables. Most of the
vegetable production is on the island's plains, which cover less than 15% of
the island. The majority of the island is rugged and mountainous, suitable
only for goats. Less than a quarter of the land is arable.
The majority of Kefallinians/Cephallenians lived in rural areas before the
1970s. Today, the urban population accounts for two-thirds of the prefecture
while the other third remain in rural towns and villages close to farmland.
The first inhabitants of the island were Teloboes, or Taphioi
as they were called by the Greeks when Cephalus founded the island and gave
his name to the island, along with colonists from Attica.
The towns and villages were mostly built high on the hilltops to prevent
attacks from raiding parties of pirates that sailed the Ionian Sea during the
In 1861, Kefalonia and the southern half of the Ionian Islands become a full
part of the Kingdom of Greece, which later became a republic.
In World War II, the island was occupied by Axis powers. Until late 1943, the
force was predominantly Italian, but some troops from Nazi Germany were also
present. The island was largely spared from the fighting until Italy
surrendered and Benito Mussolini was removed from power in September of that
year. Confusion followed on the island, as the Italians were hoping to return
home, but the Germans did not want the Italians' munitions to eventually be
used against them. The Italian forces were hesitant to turn over their weapons
for similar reasons.
As German reinforcements were headed to the island, the Italians dug in and
eventually fought against the new German invasion. Ultimately, the German
forces prevailed in taking full control of the island. Most of the remaining
Italian forces were rounded up and executed.
While the war ended in central Europe in 1945, Kefalonia remained in conflict
due to the Greek Civil War. Peace returned to Greece and the island in 1949.
Almost every house was destroyed in the 1953 earthquake, with only regions in
the north escaping heavy shaking. Damage was estimated in tens of millions of
dollars, however the real damage to the economy occurred when residents left
Kefalonia became famous in the late 1990s thanks to the novel Captain
Corelli's Mandolin, written by English author Louis de Bernières. The love
story that is the theme of the book takes place during the events of the
Second World War, and is based on historical facts. A film adaptation was
released in 2000.
The strong Lefkada earthquake of August 14, 2003 - 50 years to the week after
the 1953 quake - also shook the entire island. However, little damage was
reported on Kefalonia and Ithaca.
Three months after the Lefkada earthquake, another mid-November earthquake
measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale caused minor damages to business,
residential property, and other buildings within the Argostoli periphery.
Damages were in the $1,000,000 range (300,000,000 drachmas).
Stone roads and sidewalks were once common in Argostoli, and
Lixouri. Gravel roads replaced stone roads in the late 20th century, with the
first paved road created in the 1960s on two one-way main streets in Argostoli.
Other roads linking to Sami, to Poros, and to Lixouri, were built in the 1970s
and 1980s. In the 1990s the road network east of Argostoli to Michata and the
monastery was opened. There is a now paved road, opened in 2002, with gravel,
east of Argostoli. There are approximately 2.5 km of one-way streets on the
island, the main street is J. Metaxas Street. The island has now traffic
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