Kefalonia island is the largest island in the Ionian Sea, with an area of 688,8 square kilometres and the sixth in size of all the Greek islands. It has a population of 27.000 inhabitants.
It lies opposite the Golf of Patras between Lefkada and Zakinthos islands. It is made up of four peninsulas Paliki, Erissos, Livathos and Atros. The biggest part of the island is mountainous, the higher of which is the mountain of Aenos up to 1628m, which is covered with fir trees of a unique variety that only grow in Kefalonia with whitish branches and sharp needles. The climate of the island is temperate and it is sunny for the most of the year.
The economy is based mainly on its agricultural production and on fishing. Kefalonia's capital is Argostoli that is the largest town of the island with a population of 7.500 inhabitants. According to Apollodorus of Athens, Kefalonia is believed to have taken its name from the handsome hero Cephalus, son of the God Hermes and the nymph Herse. Kefalonia Island is an island with many geological phenomena and treasures, such as caves and underground salt lakes, like the impressive cave of Drogarati with Stalactites and Stalagmites, that experts have estimated that to be about 150 million years old.
The cave and salt lake of Melissani with its rare beauty took its name from the nymph Melisanthi, whose name has been corrupted to Melissani, who loved God Pan and drowned in the lake when he rejected her. The water of the lake of Melissani empties into the lake of Karavomilos, another geological phenomenon. Both of those lakes are situated in the port village of Sami. Sami was one of the island's four ancient cities, that their inhabitants according to Homer participated in the Trojan War and 24 of Penelope's 180 suitors were from Sami. Also a part of the famous film "Captain Corelis Mandolin" was filmed in this port village. In the sea of the village of Fiskardo, another picturesque place of the island, is the home enviroment of the Mediterranean Seal Monacus-Monacus. Kefalonia Island has a rich cultural heritage that is mainly tied to literature and music. It is an island with beautiful landscapes and pure white sand beaches, with an area of 254km of coastline.
Kefalonia Island was one of the first Ionian Islands to be inhabited. Traces of human life are placed in the Palaeolithic Era (50.000 BC.)
There are also findings from the Neolithic Era (6000_2500 BC) From findings of the Mycenaean period, discovered mostly in the villages of Mazarakata, Metaxata and Lakkithra, we know that during the Mycenaean period Kefalonia island was flourishing and had connections with the neighbouring Ithaka and Lefkada islands and the far-off Cyclades. Because of the eruption of the volcano in Santorini though, this communication with the far of Cyclades was terminated in 1500BC.
In the beginning of the 6th century Kefalonia Island was used from the Corinthians as a centre for transit trade with Italy and Sicily. According to the historian Thucydides in the 5th century Kefalonia was splited into four, autonomous city-states. In 337 BC Philip King of Macedonians, father of Alexander the Great conquered Greece. The island of Kefalonia remained loyal to the Macedonians during the battle in Lamia.
In 323-322 B.C. but remained independent throughout this period. After the death of Alexander the Great Kefalonia entered into an alliance with the Aetolian League. In 187 B.C. Kefalonia was occupied by the Romans who turned the island into a base of operations from which their naval forces could patrol the area of Greece until 395 A.D. When Constantine Emperor of Byzantium reorganised the Roman Empire Kefalonia island became a part of the Eparchy of Achaea for many centuries. In 1057 the Norman Baron Robert Guiscard tried without success to seize the island and finally died. The island fell into the possession of the pirate Matteo Orsini in 1185 Orsini in order to be better terms with the Pope abolished the Orthodox diocese and chose a Latin bishop. In 1204 the Crusaders and the Venetians signed an agreement in Constantinople deviding up the Byzantine Empire. It was the fate of KeFalonia to be passed into Venetian hands. In the year of 1481 Kefalonia fell into Turkish hands. This period was one of the worst the island has ever known.
In the year of 1500 the Venetians recaptured the island and held it until 1779. The French Republicans occupied Kefalonia in 1779. After the French were defeated in 1798 the Russian-Turkish fleet landed in Argostoli and declared the Ionian Islands free from the French, but as a belonging to the Sublime Port under the name of "United Septinsular State". The treaty that was signed on the 6th of November in 1815, made the islands a British protectorate under the name "United States of the Ionian Islands". Finally in May the 21st 1864 Kefalonia Island and all the other Ionian islands were united with Greece.