The Island in general
Kos is the third largest island of the Dodecanese after Rhodes and Karpathos with an area of 290km2. It is also the second most-populated. It is located in the southeastern Aegean area between Kalymnos and Nisyros at a distance of only 4 nautical miles off the coast of Turkey and 200 nautical miles away from Piraeus.
The island is measuring only 45km in length and 11km in width at its widest part that shrink to just 2km at its narrowest. Its coastline stretches for 112km.
Kos is elongated in shape from east to west and mainly has lowlands. Its tallest mountain, Mount Dikaios with a peak at 846m above sea level is located at the southeastern part of the island.
From the prehistoric times, Kos was an important stopover for ships following the shipping route from the Black Sea all the way down the coast of Asia Minor to Syria and Egypt. This is why significant findings, ruins and monuments that prove that the island has been continuously inhabited for the past 6000 years have been found all over Kos.
The island was the place of birth of Hippocrates. The father of modern medicine was born on the island in 460 AD and founded his famous school there. The plane tree under which he gave his lectures still exists today and is considered to be the longest-living tree of its species in Europe.
The capital of the island is the town of Kos. There are seven more main settlements: Kefalos, Kardamena, Antimachia, Mastihari, Pyli, Zipari and Tigaki. These villages together with the town of Kos form a single municipality today after the recent changes in the structure of the Greek administrative divisions.
The ground of the island is a result of long-lasting geological changes caused by the volcanic activity of the Aegean Sea. The monumental volcanic eruption that happened 160,000 years ago in the sea area between the island of Nisyros and the Kefalos peninsula covered the whole island of Kos with a thick layer of volcanic ash. The fertile ground of the island that was famous since the antiquity is a result of the degradation of those volcanic materials.
Kos has a lot of streams, hot springs and forests. It also has cliffs, sand dunes and canyons that dry up every summer.
The island has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and dry summers that are, however, quite cool due to the etesians, the strong and dry north winds blowing every summer in the area.
The coastal cedar forest stretching from Theologos to Ellinika, the forest of Plaka that is filled with peacocks, the forest of Tsoukalaria, the walnut forest at the foot of Mount Dikaios, the sand dunes at the Aliki, Kohilari and Lagada beaches and the lakes at Psalidi and Pyli that support halophytic and semi-halophilous vegetation are considered landscapes of particular beauty.
Its 10 wetlands covering a total area of 1200 decares make Kos a significant assembly point for migratory birds (flamingos, storks, swans) and an important natural habitat for fish, invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians.
The island also has a large number of rabbits. Additionally, six species of lizards and nine species of snakes including the leopard snake (Elaphe Situla) have been observed living on the island. The turtle species Testudo graeca, Μauremys caspica and Caretta caretta have also been observed. The last one lays her eggs at the beaches of Agios Fokas, Alikes, Krikelo, Kamari and Limnionas.
Eagles and hawks build their nests on Mount Dikaios and the Mediterranean monk seal has been spotted swimming around its steep coastal endings. The butterfly Callimorpha quadripunctata, also known as the “butterfly of Rhodes”, has been observed flying over the island’s fields.