Ionian Islands  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Ionian Islands 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 Corfu in English
  • Paxi (Παξοί) also known as Paxos in English
  • Lefkada (Λευκάδα) also known as Lefkas in English
  • Ithaki (Ιθάκη) usually known as Ithaca in English
  • Kefalonia (Κεφαλλονιά) often known as Kefalonia, Cephalonia and Kefallinia in English
  • Zakynthos (Ζάκυνθος) sometimes known as Zante in English
  • Kythira (Κύθηρα) sometimes known as Cerigo in 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 Greek would 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 Ionia in the penult (ion-I-a); also the proper adjective for Ionia is Ionic, 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 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.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ionian Islands" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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