The island extends over a surface of 18km2. Ιt is the largest inhabited island of the Small Eastern Cyclades island group. It is located in the sea area among Naxos, Ios and Amorgos and is 12NM , 6NM and 19NM away from each one of them respectively.
Irakleia has two main settlements: Agios Georgios in the north, where the island’s one and only port is located, and the island’s capital, Panagia (or Pano Mera) that is located 4.5km more to the south, on the foot of Mountain Papas. There is another settlement called Agios Athanasios, on the eastern part of the island. The architectural style of this settlement is very interesting. However, it was gradually abandoned and many of its former houses have now been transformed into sheep farms by local farmers.
Papas is the highest mountain of Irakleia (418m). The view of the neighboring islands from its top is breathtaking.
The island’s ground consists of schist and mica rocks. Emery and iron ore deposits have been located underground, as well.
There are two asphalt roads. A main road that is 4.5km long and connects Agios Georgios, Livadi and Panagia and a secondary road, that is 2.3km long and connects Panagia with Tourkopigado.
Irakleia’s biodiversity is very interesting despite the island’s small size. Its location, south of the mountainous mass of Naxos, protects the island from the strong north winds and allows its scanty trees to grow tall. You will come across phoenicean junipers, wild olive trees, figs and carob trees among other flora species on the island. There are also cypresses, neriums and palm trees that were planted by the locals. Pistacias, thymes, genista acanthocaladas, savories and asphodels are the most common species of the island’s shrubland. Spiny chicories and sea daffodils grow on its shores while sea stock flowers and caper grow on its rocks. In spring, various wild flowers, such as crocus tournefortiis, anemones and papavers, flourish on the island, as well.
175 bird species have been recorded on the island. 26 of them are raptors, many of which are in danger of becoming extinct. The Griffon Vulture, Bonelli’s Eagle (called “marmatoudi” by the locals), Eleonora’s Falcon (called “varvakia” by the locals), the European Shag and Audouin’s Gull are some of the most notable ones. The existence of many eroded rocky vertical cliffs is the reason why so many birds take shelter on Irakleia. Numerous reptiles, such as the four-lined snake, the Javelin sand boa and the viperid (called “theriouli” by the locals), as well as the Erhard’s wall lizard, the Mediterranean house gecko and the Kotchy’s Gecko have found a home here.