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In Greek, the island of Corfu is known as Kérkyra. Historically, it is a very interesting island, which, due to its strategic location, has been the subject of many battles. During the Second World War, much damage was inflicted by German bombers. During the winter, there is relatively much rainfall, which makes Corfu a very green island. In addition, it has beautiful sandy and pebble beaches, crystal clear water and picturesque villages. In the north of the island there is a high mountain, the Pandokrator (906 metres).
The island has a population of 115,000, a third of which lives in the city that bears the same name as the island. Part of the inhabitants are foreigners, especially British with a Greek husband or wife. There is even a group of Dutch people on Corfu, who have founded a Dutch school. The island's capital is located on the east coast.
Corfu is located in the Ionian Sea, off the west coast of the Greek mainland and partly of the Albanian coast. It is 62 kilometres long and at the most 28 kilometres wide. It is the most northerly of the Ionian islands, which also include Zakynthos and Kefalonia. Around Corfu, there are a number of smaller islands, often no bigger than some rocks.
Corfu has been a popular holiday destination for a very long time. Rich Italians and other Europeans already visited the island at the beginning of the last century, among them the German Emperor Wilhelm II. So it is not an island that only began to receive visitors after the emergence of mass tourism. Annually the island is visited by over a million foreigners. This means that tourism is an important source of income, one that provides a living to more than half of the working population.
Originally, the cultivation of olives was the island's maim economic activity. The island is filled with olive trees. Many people who during the summer work in tourism are active in the olive groves during the winter. Most of the olives are processed into olive oil. In addition, there are orange and lemon plantations, and of course many vineyards. Finally, fishing makes a (modest) contribution to the local economy.
The international airport of Corfu (Ioannis Kapodistrias) is located three kilometres to the south of the capital. There are domestic connections to Athens and Thessaloniki on the Greek mainland. During the summer there are many chartered flights.
Corfu city's bus station is located on the Platia y Theotoki, also known as San Rocco square. The blue buses are a kind of city buses that only service Corfu city and the immediate environment. Nearby, there is an other bus station, from where green buses depart for other destinations, like Sidari, Ipsos, Kavos and Palaiokastritsa.
The island has many ferry connections. The small, traditional ferries leave from the old harbour (Paleo Limani) to the island of Paxos and to Igoumenitsa on the mainland.
New ferries, among them fast hover craft (Flying Dolphins), leave from the new harbour (Nea Limani), to places on the Greek mainland and destinations in Italy (Venice, Ancona, Bari, Brindisi) and Albania (Sarande).
There are two main roads on the island, GR-24 (from Corfu city to Palaiokastritsa in the north-west) and GR-25 (from the capital to Lefkimi in the south-east). These roads are of a good quality. If someone wants to overtake you, you are supposed to drive as much to the right as possible. The person wanting to overtake you will indicate this by honking his horn and/or flashing his headlights.
In addition to the main roads, there are only small and sometimes dirt roads. Drive carefully, because small stones can damage the bottom of your rental car. In the villages and in the capital it can be very busy. For some villages there are traffic lights to prevent traffic from coming to a standstill. Sometimes, it takes quite a while before the next green light.
Except in Corfu city, parking is easy anywhere on the island. Sometimes you can even park your rental car on the beach!
As a typical tourist island, Corfu has plenty of hotels. Peak season is from April to October. In those months it is necessary to book your hotel room in advance. In the winter that isn't necessary as such, but we would still recommend it if you have a certain hotel in mind. Most of the holiday resorts and bungalow parks are located in the north-east of the island. The south-west, around Kavos, is youngster territory.