Cephalonia, also known as Kefalonia, is immortalised in the novel and film Captain Corelli's Mandolin. It is the largest of the Ionian Islands and has an irregular shape about 48 km (30 miles) long and from 5 to 32 km (3 to 20 miles) wide. It is mountainous; the highest point, Mount Ainos, is 1,620 m (5,315 ft) above sea level and is the centre of a National Park. The chief towns are Argóstoli, which is the capital, Fiskardho, Melisani and Lixoúrion. The principal crops are currants, olives, grapes, citrus fruit, and cotton and the main industry is handicrafting. The Drogati caves near Sami are well worth a visit.
The limestone Ionian Island of Cephalonia was ruled by the Romans in 189 BC and the Norman kings of Sicily during medieval times. It then became a principality of the Morea and was ruled by Italian overlords from the mid-12th century until the late 15th century. The Turks, Venetians and British also controlled the island for a time, and Lord Byron spent a summer here in 1823. By 1864, the island officially became part of Greece. During the Second World War, it was first occupied by Italy and then thousands of Italian allies were detained here.
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