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The answer to the question how many Greek Islands are there depends on what is appropriate to deem as being an island. The truth is that there are so many Greek Islands and islets, over a thousand up to more than six thousand depending on everyone’s definition.
Approximately two thirds of the Greek territory is occupied by the sea. Unraveling the indented coastline of mainland Greece along with that of the islands its length is over than 15.000 km. It is the largest coastline than any other country in the Mediterranean and it is the eleventh coastline in global ranking. About half of this coastline belongs to the Greek Islands.
Within this sea scenery there are 6000 Greek Islands and islets interspersed, out of which 227 have residents while some of them which are not inhabited, are used by shepherds, fish farmers, fishermen and hunters. From the inhabited Greek Islands, just 53 have more than 1.000 residents and out of the remaining, 95 of them have less than 100 residents. In a general map of the Greek Islands and mainland Greece, are not usually shown how many Greek Islands are there because most of them are too tiny. In digital nautical map though, you can see even the smallest detail.
The cluster of land that has been imprinted at sea is so dense that makes navigation from a port or bay to the next sea shelter safe and relaxed. This was probably the reason, according to Greek mythology which is assisted by the findings, that man became navigator before 12.900 years starting from these seas before experiencing adventures at sea in the wider Mediterranean and beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar). In the era of the Trojan War, the inhabitants of the area were already skillful sailors as they were navigating much farther from the numerous Greek Islands and they had already experienced the routes in the northern seas. Even the resourceful Odysseus was lost in wandering not because of ignorance of sea routes and destinations or due to lack of seafarer’s competencies. The cause of his adventure in locations not impressed in the naval tradition of the era is solely the punishment he was imposed to by the god of the sea Poseidon. Sure enough this adventure teaches us down the centuries that sea, any sea, requires above all respect and ethos.
The calling of the sea through the wondrous Greek marine world has not let any generation of Greeks uninterested. The plentiful Greek Islands continue to challenge the Greeks to take to the seas. As a result there is a very strong maritime tradition until today, realized in a global aspect without being limited at the Greek seas.
So it is remarkable how many Greek Islands are there to meet the tastes of visitors either they seek cosmopolitan places of vibrant entertainment or they seek the absolute serenity of natural beauty or they look for anything in between.
At any rate, the best way to experience the amazing water world of the numerous Greek islands is through a bareboat or skippered yacht charter.