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Santorini (Greek: Σαντορίνη, pronounced [sandoˈrini]), classically Thera /ˈθɪrə/, and officially Thira (Greek: Θήρα [ˈθira]); is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast of Greece's mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km2 (28 sq mi) and a 2011 census population of 15,550. The municipality of Santorini comprises the inhabited islands of Santorini and Therasia and the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana. The total land area is 90.623 km2 (34.990 sq mi). Santorini is part of the Thira regional unit.
Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic explosion that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera. A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures 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 main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Thirasia the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. The depth of the caldera, at 400m, makes it possible for all but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay; there is also a newly built marina at Vlychada, on the southwestern coast. The island's principal port is Athinios. The capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon. The volcanic rocks present from the prior eruptions feature olivine and have a small presence of hornblende.
is the most active volcanic centre in the South Aegean Volcanic Arc,
though what remains today is chiefly a water-filled caldera.
The volcanic arc is approximately 500 km (310 mi) long and 20 to 40 km (12 to 25 mi) wide.
The region first became volcanically active around 3–4 million years ago, though volcanism on Thera began around 2 million years ago with the extrusion of dacitic lavas from vents around the Akrotiri.
The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of metres deep and may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km (68 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami. Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis
Santorini and Anafi are the only locations in Europe to feature a hot desert climate according to the Köppen climate classification system. Santorini generally experiences two seasons. April to October is the warm and dry season and the cold and rainy season lasts from November to March.The name of the island comes from the ancient Spartan "Theras" (12th century B.C.) who first colonized the island.
Theras came from the royal generation of Cadmus, the son of Aftesiona. His sister, Argea, was married to Aristodemus,who during the descent of the Dorians conquered Laconia - Peloponnese. Aristodemos was hit by lighting and died at Naupactos, leaving behind his very young twin sons Euresthenes and Prokles.
Theras became their custodian. Once the children became of age, they helped their uncle, who led the colonists on the island of Kallisti, in which he gave his name. Nowadays, the capitol of the island (with a little twist) still bears his name Thera -> Fira.
The name "Santorini", however, comes from the passing of the Frankish Crusaders who, during their passage to resupply,on the island of Thirassia, they erected a chapel in honour of Santa Irini (Saint Irene).
Nowadays there is strong evidence that Agia Irini at the base of the mountain of Mesa Vouno gave Santorini its name,and not the chapel of Santa Irini in Thirassia.Due to its unique ecology and climate, and especially its volcanic ash soil, Santorini is home to unique and prized produce. Santorini tomatoes are renowned; they are cherry tomatoes that are extremely tasty and sweet, and with an intensely red, staining colour. Santorini "fava" is a purée made of the hulled, then sun-dried, then boiled legume Lathyrus clymenum - not from the yellow split pea as in the rest of Greece.
The white eggplants of Santorini are very sweet, with very few seeds, and can be eaten raw. The katsoúni is a unique local variety of large cucumber which, if left unpicked when green, turn yellow and acquire a sweet taste almost indistinguishable from that of melonThe island also remains the home of a small, but flourishing, wine industry, based on the indigenous grape variety, Assyrtiko, with auxiliary cultivations of two otherAegean varietals, Athiri and Aidani.
The vines are extremely old and resistant to phylloxera (attributed by local winemakers to the well-drained volcanic soil and its (chemistry), so the vines needed no replacement during the great phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century.
In their adaptation to their habitat, such vines are planted far apart, as their principal source of moisture is dew, and they often are trained in the shape of low-spiralling baskets, with the grapes hanging inside to protect them from the winds