Zakynthos (Greek: Ζάκυνθος(), sometimes called Zante in English; in Italian Zacinto or Zante), the third largest of the Ionian Islands, covers an area of and its coastline is roughly 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.
|Municipality||Municipal code||Seat (if different)||Postal code|
|1. Alykes||1601||Katastari||290 90|
|2. Arkadion||1602||Vanato||291 00|
|3. Artemisia||1603||Macherado||290 92|
|4. Elatia||1604||Volimes||290 91|
|5. Laganas||1606||Pantokrator||290 92|
|6. Zakynthos (city)||1605||291 00|
In 2006, there were 507 births and 407 deaths. Zakynthos is one of the regions with highest population growth in Greece. It is also one of the only 3 prefectures (Out of 54) in which rural population have a positive population growth rate. In fact rural population have higher growth rate than the urban population in Zakynthos. Out of the 507 births, 141 were in urban areas and 366 were in rural areas. Out of the 407 deaths, 124 were in urban areas and 283 were in rural areas.
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 Dionysos Solomos Airport (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 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.
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 an 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 strech 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.
The famous ancient Greek poet and writer, Homer, first mentioned the island in his masterpieces, the Iliad and the Odyssey, stating that the first inhabitants of it were the son of King Dardanos of Troy called Zakynthos and his men and that they first came on the island around 1500-1600 BC.
Later on, a treaty was signed that made Zakynthos an independent democracy, the first established in the Hellenic area, and that lasted more than 650 years.
Zakynthos, along with the rest of the Ionian islands, spent centuries as a subject of the Republic of Venice and other Italian principalities. Italian rule protected the island from Ottoman domination but in its place it put a feudal oligarchy. The cultural influence of Italy (and of Italian on local dialect) was considerable. The wealthy made a habit of sending their sons to Italy to be educated. A good example is Dionysios Solomos, a native of Zakynthos and Greece's national poet. However, both the Greek language and Orthodox faith survived intact. During the Napoleonic wars the islands were occupied at different times by France, as part of the département Mer-Égée (which induced the peasants to revolt), Russia, Turkey (Septinsular Republic) and finally Britain, which held on to them under the guise of the United States of the Ionian Islands until 1864, when they were ceded to Greece to stabilize the rule of the newly crowned Danish-born King of Greece, Georgios I.
After the enormous earthquake, the island's roads were expanded and paved along with the GR-35, one of the roads linking with the town and Porto Roma along with Laganas, Keri and Volimes and from Lachans to Keri. Its airport was opened in the 1960s. Its population partly emigrated but subsequently boomed in later years.
Mining is also common on the island. A small mountain located in Zakynthos' west side was mined during the 1990s, though it is no longer in use. Today, mining continues, but with two quarries on the mountain range on the western part of the island. Tourism continues to thrive and Zakynthos is currently one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.
A few earthquakes rumbled later in the 2000s, one on Sunday June 8, 2008 at 6.4 R, felt without any damages or injuries. Another but less trembling four months later occurred on Saturday October 11 and measured at 4 R also nearly causing no damages.
The Ionian Islands are situated upon one of Europe's most notorious faults, capable of producing earthquakes potentially causing both widespread damage and considerable loss of life. However it should be stressed that, following the catastrophe of 1953, the authorities of Zakynthos have enforced a strict program of antiseismic standards to be applied in every building to be constructed. All buildings have been built on a swimming slab and enforced with steel, determined by the government to ensure safety. As a result, an earthquake similar to that of August 12, 1953, will almost certainly result in far less destruction.
On Thursday July 18, 2006, the western portion of the island was hit by a forest fire. The fire spread to the island's forest and ended up spreading by hectares. Firefighters along with helicopters and planes from the mainland arrived to fight the fire's expansion and further deforestation. The fire lasted for several days and on July 20, much of the area was contained; though it had become unpopular and unattractive scenery. One of the conflagrations appeared as a fiery line visible from as far away as the southern portion of the island and the Ionian Sea.
Greece National Road 35, a road linking Zante and Porto Roma; and another road linking Zante and Volimes.
A tale of two islands ; The Greek islands' charm lies in their variety. Kevin Courtney visits Zakynthos and Kefalonia, and finds two very different neighbours
Jul 19, 2003; It's Saturday afternoon on the Greek island of Zakynthos, and it's bucketing with rain. We're sheltered beneath the canopy...
A Taste of the Slow Life on Zante's Turtle Beach; REGULAR VISITOR: Loggerhead Sea Turtles Nest on Zakynthos, Which Is a Haven for Nature-Lovers as Well as Clubbers and Partygoers
Jun 01, 2008; FRIENDS are keen for us to join them on a holiday to Zakynthos thissummer. A young colleague at work tells me that...