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Diapontian Islands Archipelago

The Diapontia Islands or Diapontian Islands (Diapontia nisia), also known as Othoni Islands (Nisoi Othonoi) are a Greek island complex in the Ionian sea bordering with the Adriatic sea. They are located some 6 km to the northwest of Corfu, and about 80 km away from Italian coasts. The main islands of the archipelago are OthoniEreikoussa and Mathraki. They are also the only inhabited islands. The complex includes also the islets and rocks of Diakopo, Diaplo, Karavi, Kastrino, Leipso, Ostrako, Plaka, Plateia and Tracheia. Sazan located in southern Albania, is considered to be part of the Diapontia islands. The largest island is Othoni, with an area of 10.8 km2 and the most populated is Ereikoussa with a population of 496 inhabitants according to 2011 census. The islands are the most west point in Greece and administratively belong to Corfu regional unit and Corfu. The islands today are a tranquil and serene place for holidays.



Diapontia islands were conquered alternatively by the Franks (11th century) and the Venetians (12th century), and often attacked by pirates of Barbary and Algeria. From the end of 1383 until 1386 the domination of Corfu brought by Charles III of Naples. In his letter he stated that on April 19, 1383 granted the usufruct of Othoni, Ereikoussa, Mathraki, Diapolo and Vido, the knight Theodore Skaliti as fief. In 1537, the Turkish fleet under the command of Greek origin pirate and admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa massacred the inhabitants of Othoni island after a long battle. In Stavros district at an altitude of 217 m. a white stone cross exists until today to commemorate that event.


The last settlers of Othoni came from Paxos and IoanninaParga and the region of Epirus. Dated after the Battle of Nafpaktos in 1571, when the Turkish fleet was destroyed and the islanders began to move more safely. After the last movement, the residents of Othoni island colonized the two other small islands, Ereikoussa and Mathraki. In 1815, the English conquered Othonoi and as is said, sent to the island sick soldiers to recover because of the good climate that prevailed. The Treaty signed on March 29, 1864 between the three powers (EnglandFranceRussia) and the Kingdom of Greece, the Ionian Islands -and Diapontia islands- passed definitively to Greek sovereignty on 21 May. On October 5, 1864, the Ionian Parliament realized the purpose of the convocation solemnly acting union with Greece as one and indivisible state under king, George I of Greece. From 1869 until 1912 Othoni, Ereikousa and Mathraki formed the municipality of Diapontion with Othoni as capital. In 1913, finding the island too unimportant to risk war with Italy, Greece evacuated Sazan.


Naval history

Diapontian islanders have a rich maritime history. Most men were involved in shipping from 1880-1990. It is significant that there is no Diapontian family without a sailor. Also, many Diapontians were senior crews in Hellenic Navy and Royal Hellenic Navy war ships. The main maritime occupations were sailors, boatswains, masters or engineers. There were also many ship owners that owned a large number of yachts and commercial steamships traveling to many Mediterranean ports. Today, there are plenty of fishing and speed boats owned by Diapontians on every island.




Othoni (Italian: Fanò or Othonoi) is the westernmost point of Greece and the largest of the Diapontia Islands. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality of Corfu with population 392 (2011).Othoni is divided into two regions, Ano Panta and Kato Panta. There are more than 20 settlements. Othoni is about 47 nautical miles from Cape Santa Maria di Leuca in Italy. The island is rich in green forests, filled with cypress and olive trees. On Akro Kastri is an active 19th century lighthouse which marks the approaches to Othonoi, the most northerly island of the Ionian archipelago. Othoni according to the legend was the island of nymph Calypso, who lived in a large cave. Odysseus fell in love and remained like a prisoner there for seven years. Homer called the island Ogygia.



Ereikoussa (Italian: Merlera) is the most populous island of Diapontia. It is located off the northwestern coast of the island of Corfu, and is almost equidistant from Corfu to the southeast, Mathraki to the southwest, and Othoni to the west. There is only one town on the island, also named Ereikoússa. Its population was 496 at the 2011 census and its land area is 3.65 square kilometres. The island is rich in green forests, filled with cypress, and olive trees. It has two beaches, Porto  and Braghini; the names are of Italian origin, and date back to the period of Venetian rule. Braghini is rarely visited because it is further away from the main part of the island.



Mathraki has an area of 3.532 km2. Population 329 (2011). Mathraki is a 45-minute boat ride off the coast of Corfu (4 NM from Cape Arilas). It has three restaurants that double as general stores, villas and "rooms to let". Mathraki is a quiet island that manages to stay clear of tourists except for the occasional hikers that brave the rocky coastline. The municipal unit includes the three nearby islets Diakopo, Diaplo and Tracheia.



Sazan (definite Albanian form: Sazani; Italian: Saseno; Latin: Saso; Ancient Greek: Sason) is an island inside the Mediterranean Sea in southern Albania. In 1864 the island was ceded to Greece with the rest of the Ionian Islands as part of Diapontia islands, but not occupied, coming under de facto Ottoman control. It was not until the First Balkan War in 1912 that Greece landed soldiers on the island and formally claimed it. After the end of the Second Balkan War in 1913, Italy and Austria-Hungary pressed Greece to evacuate the southern part of modern Albania. Finding the island too unimportant to risk war with Italy, Greece ignobly evacuated it.

Diapontian Islands flag

The proposed flag for the Diapontian Islands designed by vexillologist and vexillographer Stratis Andreadis

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