Santorini is a small, circular archipelago
of volcanic islands
located in the southern Aegean Sea
, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast from Greece
's mainland. The largest island is known as Thēra
, forming the southernmost member of the Cyclades
group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km2
(28 sq mi) and a 2001 census population of 13,670. It is composed of the Municipality
(pop. 12,440) and the Community of Oía
(Οία, pop. 1,230, which includes 268 inhabitants resident on the offshore island of Therasia
, lying to the west). These have a total land area of 90.623 km2
(34.990 sq mi), which also includes the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni
, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana (all part of the Municipality of Thira).
Santorini is essentially what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion, destroying the earliest settlements on what was formerly a single island, and leading to the creation of the current geological caldera.
A giant central lagoon, more or less rectangular, and measuring about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), is surrounded by 300 m (980 ft) high steep cliffs on three sides. The island slopes downward from the cliffs to the surrounding Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon merges with the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. The water in the centre of the lagoon is nearly ...