Southwest of Macedonia and bounded on the north by Albania, Epirus also is the Greek portion of a larger territory, which extends into southern Albania. An extremist irredentist movement has sought recovery of "Northern Epirus" from Albanian control. Epirus is bounded on the south by the Gulf of Amvrakikos, site of the Battle of Actium where Octavian defeated Mark Antony to determine control of the Roman Empire Dominated by the main Pindus Range that runs north and south and reaches an altitude of 1,800 meters, Epirus has been isolated from the rest of Greece by the lack of natural passageways running east and west. Because there are no major river valleys or basins between its steep, constricted ridges, Epirus is also a poor agricultural region, suitable mainly as pasture. Some grains are grown in the northern plains. The central mass of the Pindus Range forms the border between Epirus and Thessaly, the region to the east. The main river of Epirus is the Arachthos, which flows southward out of the mountains and into the Gulf of Amvrakikos.
Through most of its history, Epirus either consisted of isolated villages (during the era of city-states elsewhere), or it was occupied by the Romans or the Turks. Periods of federation and self-governance occurred immediately after the death of Alexander the Great and in the thirteenth century. The populace of Epirus played an important role in the Greek War of Independence (1821- 32). The northern part of present-day Greek Epirus was ceded to Greece by the Ottoman Empire in 1881; southern Epirus became part of the kingdom of Greece in 1913. The region consists of four prefectures: Ioannina, Preveza, Arta and Thesprotia. The main city, Ioannina, is a regional agricultural and commercial center.