Since the 8th century BC the island the Greeks call Kerkyra has been prized for its untamed beauty and strategic location. Ancient armies fought to possess it, while in the early days of modern Greece it was a beacon of learning. Corfiots remain proud of their intellectual and artistic roots.
Corfu is part of the Ionian Islands and lies in the north of the group, at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea, facing Albania. It is the second largest island of the Ionian group after Kefalonia. Shaped like a sickle, with its hollow side facing inwards, the island is about 65 kilometres long and 32 kilometres across at its widest point. There is 217 kilometres of diverse coastline, although anyone venturing inland will find that the interior has at least as much to offer as the shore. Much of Corfu is mountainous. At 906 metres above sea level, its highest peak, Mount Pantokrator, is visible from most places on the island.
The island has a local population of around 112 000 inabitants, and the economy is mainly based on tourism, however a small part is still related to agriculture, with islanders producing high-quality olive oil and wines throughout the mountainous villages. There are 209 towns and villages on Corfu.
Because of the mild Mediterranean climate and the high rainfalls during winter, Corfu is full of abundant and verdant vegetation and wild plants, and is one of the greenest islands in Greece. The island is mountainous, yet also boasts several flat areas, plains, two lakes and a couple of rivers to complete the beautiful landscape.
The capital of the island is called Corfu Town and is also the main port. This is the largest town of the Ionians and one of the most beautiful towns of the Greek islands. Imbued with Venetian grace and elegance, historic Corfu Town (also known as Kerkyra) stands halfway down the island’s east coast. The name Corfu, meaning ‘peaks’, refers to its twin hills, each topped by a massive fortress built to withstand Ottoman sieges. Sitting between the two, the Old Town is a tight-packed warren of winding lanes, some bursting with fine restaurants, lively bars and intriguing shops, others timeless back alleys where washing lines stretch from balcony to balcony. It also holds some majestic architecture, including the splendid Liston arcade, and high-class museums, along with no fewer than 39 churches. Built between two fortresses and full of superb Italian and French buildings, Byzantine churches and flowered squares, Corfu Town is a real jewel full of innumerable charms and beauties.
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