How many Greek islands are there? It depends on your definition of an ‘island’. If you count every lump of rock, there are more than 6,000, but realistically, there are around 1,000 which have been named – yes, even very small islands have names!
Approximately two thirds of Greek territory is occupied by the sea. Unraveling the indented coastline of mainland Greece along with all of the islands, the coastline length is over than 15.000 km, which is the largest coastline of any other country in the Mediterranean.
How many Greek islands are inhabited? Again, that depends. Some have no settlements, but are used by fishermen, hunters, shepherds, or the occasional visiting priest. Approximately 225 are counted as having some permanent residents. Of these, 53 islands have more than 1000 residents, and 95 have less than 100 residents.
Here’s a previous post about my top ten favourite Greek islands
Which is the largest Greek island?
1 Crete (Kriti)
2 Euboea (Evia, Evvia)
3 Lesbos (Lesvos)
4 Rhodes (Rodos)
5 Chios (Khios, Xios)
6 Kefalonia (Cephallonia, Cefalonia)
7 Corfu (Korfu)
8 Lemnos (Limnos)
11 Zakynthos (Zante,Zakinthos)
15 Karpathos (Carpathos)
16 Kos (Cos)
18 Icaria (Ikaria)
19 Skyros (Skiros)
The next ten in order of size …..
The Greek islands are traditionally grouped into six major areas:
Ionian: The islands in the Ionian Sea are located off the NW coast of mainland Greece, and contain the popular holiday islands of Corfu, Kefalonia and Zante.
Saronic: These islands are closest to Athens, the main islands are Aegina and Poros.
Cyclades: A large, dense group of islands in the central Aegean Sea that include the popular islands of Mykonos and Santorini. The capital is the island of Syros.
North Aegean: A widespread island group to the north-east of Greece. The main islands in this group are Thassos, Lesvos and Samos.
Sporades: A small group of islands just off the east coast of Greece, which includes Skiathos and Skopelos.
Dodecanese: A group of islands close to the Turkish coast, which includes the popular beach resorts on Kos and Rhodes.
Each island group has its own flavour and each island within a group has its own character. The Ionian, for example is characterised by lush greenery, the Cyclades are ‘typical’ Greek islands of whitewashed cube houses on windy, rocky outcrops; the Dodecanese, close to the Turkish mainland, are the hottest, particularly in the south.
Find out why Greek houses are often painted blue and white.
Have you visited any Greek islands? Which is your favourite?