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Samos Island

Samos (Greek Σάμος) is an island in southeastern Greece in the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Turkey. It is located between the island of Chios to the North and the Dodecanese Islands to the South. Products include tobacco, wine, honey, olive oil, and citrus fruit. The Muscat grape is a main crop used for wine production. With the neighbouring islands of Ikaria and Fourni, the island of Samos is administered as part of Samos prefecture (nomos). Its capital and main port is the city of Vathi, also called Samos; other ports are Karlovassi and Pythagoreion, formerly called Tigani. The nearest airport is Samos Airport.

The area of the island is 468 square kilometres, and it is forty-three kilometres long thirteen kilometres wide. The population is about 42,000, about 80% of the prefectural population. The highest point is the Kerketeus (1,433 metres).



In classical times the island was a centre of Ionian culture and luxury, known for its wines and its red pottery (called Samian ware by the Romans). Its most famous building, for a brief time, was the archaic Ionic Temple of Hera (the Heraion), built by the architects Rhoikos and Theodoros c. 540 BC, which stood opposite the cult altar of Hera in her sanctuary. It was a dipteral temple, that is with a portico of columns two deep, which surrounded it entirely (peripterally). It had a deep square-roofed pronaos in front of a closed cella. Cella and pronaos were divided into three equal aisles by two rows of columns that marched down the pronaos and through the temple. The result was that Hera was worshipped in a temple fitted within a stylized grove of columns, eight across and twenty-one deep. The columns stood on unusual bases that were horizontally fluted.

The Heraion of Samos was the first of the gigantic Ionic temples. Unfortunately it stood for only about a decade before it was destroyed, probably by an earthquake. One of the giant statues from the Heraion survives in the Samos Archaeological Museum.

In the 6th century BC Samos was ruled by the famous tyrant Polycrates.

During his reign, two working groups under the lead of the engineer Eupalinos dug a tunnel through Mount Kastro to build an aqueduct for supplying Tigani (the capital of Samos) with water, which was of utmost stragetic importance. It is not documented, which method Eupalinos employed to make the two groups meet in the middle of the mountain. With a length of 1,036 metres, the tunnel today is known as one of the masterpieces of ancient engineering.

Even so, the island followed the fate of the Ionian cities, being subjugated to the Persian Empire. During the Peloponnesian War (431404 BC), Samos took the side of Athens against Sparta, providing their port to the Athenian fleet.

Perhaps the most famous persons ever connected with classical Samos were Pythagoras and a slave who belonged to Iadmon, whose name was Aesop (famous for Aesop's Fables). In 1955 the town of Tigani was renamed Pythagorio to honour the famous mathematician. Other notable personalities include the philosopher Epicurus, who was born on the island. The astronomer Aristarchus, whom history credits with the first recorded heliocentric model of the solar system, lived on Samos. As did the great sculptor and inventor Theodorus. Herodotus (known for his book The Histories of Herodotus) lived in Samos for a time.

Samos was part of the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, then Ottoman Empire.


The Samians, lead by Lykourgos Logothetis, joined the Greek rising on May 8, 1821, when the Samians took Pythagorion Fortress.

In 1824 the Ottoman fleet was almost annihilated in the naval battle at Cape Fournia. Still, Samos was not included in the borders of the Kingdom of Greece, established in the London Protocol of 1830. After yet another Greek victory in the naval battle of Karlovasi, the island was granted autonomous status within the Ottoman Empire (1832/1834), guaranteed by Britain, France and Russia. A Turkish military force remained garrisoned on the island. The Turkish name of the principality was Sisam Emareti.

The island governor (Sisam Beyi), a Greek christian, was to be appointed by the High Porte; the island had a parliament of 4 members. Just as in the case of the Millet System, the task of the governor was to keep the Samians remaining loyal to the Ottoman Empire.

Ecclesiastically, the Orthodox Archdiocesis of Samos was placed under the Patriarch in Constantinople. Rebellions in 1849 and 1908 were suppressed. In 1855 the newly constructed city of Samos (Vathy) became administrative center, a function hitherto held by Hora (since 1675). In 1871, construction of the port of Karlovasi began.

From 1894 to 1900, the French overprinted French stamps 'VATHY' to be used on the island.

In 1907, Andreas Kopasis was appointed governor of the island. He was opposed to the Progressive Party which, under Themistoklis Sofoulis, advocated union with Greece. In May of 1908, he invited 200 Turkish soldiers to the island. Riots took place when they landed on May 12 and 80 persons were killed. In the end, Sofoulis was forced to leave the island while many of his supporters were jailed and 20 were sentenced to death. Kopasis was assassinated on March 22 (March 9 OS), 1912 by Stavros Baretis.

Later in 1912, Greek guerrilas, led by Themistoklis Sofoulis, landed on Samos. The Turkish garrison, in the context of the First Balkan War, withdrew, a provisorical government was established; the island was annexed into Greece (1913). In 1832 the island population numbered c. 60,000, In 1886 Samos had a population of 41,156 (Meyers), in 1912, 55,000.

On August 3 1989, a Shorts 330 of the Olympic Airways (now Olympic Airlines) crashed near Samos Airport; thirty-one passengers died.


Its climate is mainly Mediterranean.


Municipality YPES code Seat Postal code Area code
Agios Kirykos 4601 Agios Kirykos 833 00 22750-2
Evdilos 4603 Evdilos 833 02 22750-3
Fourni Korseon 4608 Fourni Korseon 833 01 22750-5
Karlovassi 4604 Karlovassi 832 00 22730-3
Marathokampos 4605 Marathokampos 831 02 22730-3
Pythagoreio 4606 Pythagoreio 831 03 22730-6 thru 9
Raches 4607 Christon Rachon 833 01 22750-4
Vathy 4602 Vathy/Samos 831-00 22730-2

See also: List of settlements in the Samos prefecture

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