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Area:935 km²
Inhabitants:32,314 (1991)
Pop. density:35 inh./km²
ISO 3166-2:GR-23

Kefallinia, also known as Kefalonia or Cefalonia (Ancient Greek: Κεφαλλήνια ; Modern Greek: Κεφαλλονιά), is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece.

Location: 20,5 E or 20' 30 E, and 38.2 and 38.3 or 38' 12 and 38'18 N.

The Island is named after Cephalus, some think its an island with a head, because the island's name and Cephalus comes from the Greek word for "head".


Its capital of the prefecture is Argostoli. The population has almost reached 45,000. It used to be the fastest growing part of Greece with a growth rate of 35% to 40% in 10 years, reaching 30,000 in the 1990s. The size of the island is around 800 km² (300 sq miles), and the present population density is 55 people per km² (140 per sq mile). Argostoli is home to one-third of the island's habitants. Lixouri is the second major city. The two cities account for almost two-thirds of the prefecture's population.

In ancient times, before it was named Cephallonia, only around 100 to 300 people lived there. When Cephallonia was founded in ancient times, the population had trebled to around 500 - 1,000 people. The population steadily grew until the 1900s, when the population reached 10,000 in the mid-20th century, and over 20,000 in the 1970s.

It is covered by dense vegetation and includes plenty of natural beauty, including beaches, many of them inaccessible from land, and spectacular caves. Mirtos, the most famous of these beaches, is a major tourist attraction, and has ranked fifth worldwide for its scenic view.

Its tallest mountain is Mount Ainos or Ainos with an elevation of 1628m (almost the same elevation as Denver, Colorado in North America). To the west-northwest is the Paliki mountains where Lixouri is located.

The island is home to two main monasteries in the area. One that is Aghia Panagia in Markopoulo to the southeast, and the other near Argostoli on a small plain that is surrounded by mountains, and near Michata. This monastery has about 200 trees lined from NW to SE with a circle in the middle. This is mainly an entry to the monastery. This is also a road from Argostoli to Michata. There are other two roads in the area.

There are five harbours and ports in the prefecture, four main harbours on the island, Sami or Same, a major port with links to Patras and Ithaca. Poros, in the south, has ferry routes to Kyllini. Argostoli, in the west, is the largest port, carrying local boats around, and ferries to Zante and occasionally to Lixouri. Vasiliki, in the north, has links to Lefkas and Ithaca. There is room for around 100 small boats in Argostoli, with the port stretching 1 kilometre around the estuary. Lixouri is situated 4km across the bay from Argostoli, on the Lixori peninsular. There is a road connection to the rest of the island, however driving from Lixouri to Argostoli involves a 30 km detour.

There is one airport, Argostoli Airport, with a runway of around 1 km. Almost every scheduled flight is an Olympic plane, mainly to Athens, however there is an Ionian Island Hopper service 3 times a week calling at Kefalonia, Zante and Lefkas. The airport is about 10 km south of Argostoli. In summer the airport handles a lot of charter flights from all over Europe.

Kefallonia is located in the heart of an earthquake zone. Dozens of Minor tremors occur each year. In 1953 a massive Earthquake almost destroyed the island, with only Vasiliki in the north left untouched.


Almost every community in Kephallonia has an ending with -ata like Lourdata, Favata, Delaportata, etc. Argostoli, Lixouri, and non-ata ending names are an exception.

Off the North East coast is Ithaca, a island well known worldwide thanks to the Odyssey, an epic poem written by Homer. Odysseus was said by Homer to be the leader of the "Kefallinians", which is often offered as an explanation on why modern habitants of those two islands are so keen on travelling to other countries.

In summer many tourists visit Kefalonia, however as one of the largest islands in Greece, it is well equipped to handle them. Most tourists stay in or around Lassi, a serene resort a few kilometers from Argostoli.

A spectacular view of the Ionian Sea can be seen from west of Skála to north of Fiskárdo. Most of Eastern half of Paliki is an exception.

Forestry and Fishing

Forestry is very rare on the island, however production is one of the highest in Ionian, but fewer than Elia in the Peloponnese. Forest fires were common during the 1990s and the early 2000s, they are handled safely by the island's fire service.

Fishing is very common throughout the waters within and around the island. The harbors of Argostoli and Lixouri are the main fishing centres on the island. Overfishing can be a problem in Kefallinia, and the Ionian at large.


The primary source of agriculture is pasture and olives. The remainder is corn, and vegetables. Most of the vegetable production is on its plains covering less than 15% of the island. The majority of the island is rugged and mountainous, that is suitable only for goats. Less than a quarter of the land is arable.

The majority of Kefallinians/Cephallenians lived in rural areas before the 1970s. Today the urban population accounts for two-thirds of the prefecture, while the other third remain in rural towns and villages close to farmland.


In c.1861, Kefallinia and the southern half of the Ionian Islands fully become a part of the Greek state (Kingdom of Greece), which later became a republic.

Almost every house was destroyed in the 1953 earthquake, with only the North surviving. Damage was estimated in tens of millions of dollars, however the real damage to the economy occurred when residents left the island.

Kefalonia became famous in the late 1990's with The book "Captain Corelli's Mandolin", by English author Louis de Berniere. The love story, that is the theme of the book occurs among a series of events during the Second World War, and is based on historic facts. A film adaptation was released in 2000.

The strong Lefkada earthquake of August 14, 2003 - 50 Years to the week after the 1953 quake - also shook the entire island. Little damage was reported on Kefalonia and Ithaca.

Three months after the Lefkada earthquake. Another mid-November earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale cause minor damages to business, residential property, and other buildings within the Argostoli periphery. Damages were in the $1,000,000 range (300,000,000 drachmas).


Stone roads and sidewalks were once common in Argostoli, and Lixouri, Gravel roads replaced stone roads in the late 20th century, with the first paved road created in the 1960s on two one-way main streets in Argostoli. Other roads linking to Sami, to Poros, and to Lixouri, were build in the 1970s and the 1980s. In the 1990's the road network from East of Argostoli to Michata and the monastery. There is a now paved road, opened in 2002 with gravel, just east of Argostoli. There are around 2.5 km of one-way streets on the island, the main street is J. Metaxas Street.

Statistics, and Area

Here are the largest cities, villages and towns in order:

There are districts, which some people call them as counties, but they are not a county. Kefallinia, Paliki, and Ithaca.

See also: Prefectures of Greece, Greece