Well, that’s a tough question. It depends on what you define as an island. For the sake of avoiding debate, lets just call it any landmass bigger than a few square meters, surrounded by water. If that’s the case, then we’re talking somewhere in the vicinity of 6,000 islands or islets, all dotted about the Ionian and Aegean seas. So you can see, there’s a whole lot of Greece to be explored!
The total coastline of the country is around 16,000 kilomteres, and of that, 7,500 kilometers are taken up by the Greek Archipelago. The size of the islands varies, from the tiniest rocky outcrops, barely large enough for a few trees that the seagulls can perch on, to the huge landmass of Crete, which is over 8,000 square kilometres in size. Next down the ladder is Euboea, and at 3,670 square kilometres is less than half the magnitude.
Now, of these many thousands of islands only a handful have people living on them. Estimates of the number of inhabited islands range between 166 and 227. Once again, it depends on how you define things. Some places are only occupied by a single goat herder or only have residents in Summer. While others flourish throughout the year. When it comes to population, Crete once again tops the list, with over 600,000 people calling it home. Out of interest, two of the most popular holiday destinations have relatively few permanent residents, but just as many tourists on a regular basis – Santorini (12,500) and Mykonos (10,500).
The more research we do on Greece, the more interesting facts and figures pop up. It’s like going down the rabbit hole. Once you start searching for stats, you find yourself lost in wonderful details that makes you want to visit Greece even more!