Lesbos

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Our island Lesbos

Lesbos (/ˈlɛzbɒs/, US /ˈlɛzboʊs/; Greek: Λέσβος Lesvos,) sometimes referred to as Mytilene after its capital, is a Greek island located in the north-eastern Aegean Sea. It has an area of 1,632 square kilometres (630 sq mi) with 320 kilometres (199 miles) of coastline, making it the third largest Greek island. It is separated from Turkey by the narrow Strait of Mytilene and in late Palaeolithic/Mesolithic times was joined to the Anatolian mainland before the end of the last Ice Age.

Lesbos lies in the far north-east of the Aegean sea, facing the Turkish coast (Gulf of Edremit) from the north and east; at the narrowest point, the strait is about 5.5 km (3.4 mi) wide. The shape of the island is roughly triangular, but it is deeply intruded by the gulfs of Kalloni, with an entry on the southern coast, and of Gera, in the south-east.

The island is forested and mountainous with two large peaks, Mt. Lepetymnos at 968 m (3,176 ft) and Mt. Olympus at 967 m (3,173 ft), dominating its northern and central sections.

The island’s volcanic origin is manifested in several hot springs and the two gulfs.

Lesbos is verdant, aptly named Emerald Island, with a greater variety of flora than expected for the island’s size. Eleven million olive trees cover 40% of the island, together with other fruit trees. Forests of mediterranean pines, chestnut trees and some oaks occupy 20%, and the remainder is scrub, grassland or urban.

Climate

The island has a mild Mediterranean climate. The mean annual temperature is 18 °C (64 °F), and the mean annual rainfall is 750 mm (30 in). Its exceptional sunshine makes it one of the sunniest islands in the Aegean Sea. Snow and very low temperatures are rare.

The entire territory of Lesbos is “Lesvos Geopark” which is a member of the European Geoparks Network (2000-) and Global Geoparks Network (2004-) on account of its outstanding geological heritage, educational programmes and projects, and promotion of geotourism.

Ouzo, the traditional distilled Greek beverage, has its centre of production in Lesbos, with many different companies. Some of the brand names are Barbayanni, Mini, Giannatsi, Matis, Veto, Pitsiladi, Kefi Samara, Dimino, Psaropoula, and Smyrnio.

Greece’s third-largest island, after Crete and Evia, Lesvos is marked by long sweeps of rugged, desert-like western plains that give way to sandy beaches and salt marshes in the centre of the island. Further east are thickly forested mountains and dense olive groves.

The island’s port and capital,Mytilene town, is a lively place year round, filled with exemplary ouzeries and good accommodation, while the north-coast town of Molyvos (aka Mythimna) is an aesthetic treat, with old stone houses clustered on winding lanes overlooking the sea.

Along with hiking and cycling, Lesvos is a mecca for birdwatching (more than 279 species, ranging from raptors to waders, are often sighted). The island boasts therapeutic hot springs that gush with some of the warmest mineral waters in Europe.

Despite its undeniable tourist appeal, hard-working Lesvos makes its livelihood chiefly from agriculture.

Lesvos’ great cultural legacy stretches from the 7th-Century-BC musical composer Terpander to 20th-Century figures such as Nobel Prize–winning poet Odysseus Elytis and primitive painter Theophilos. The ancient philosophers Aristotle and Epicurus also led a philosophical academy here. Most famous, however, is Sappho, one of ancient Greece’s greatest poets. Her sensuous, passionate poetry has fuelled a modern-day following and draws lesbians from around the world to the village of Skala Eresou, where she was born (c 630 BC).

(Click here, for more pictures of Lesbos.)