The seven islands in the Ionian sea are Corfu, Paxi (Antipaxi is included), Lefkada, Kefallonia, Zakynthos,Ithaka and Kythira (Antikythira is included). However, in reality the area of Eptanissa, meaning seven islands,consists of 123 islands and islets, out of which only 28 are inhabited. The rest of the islands are deserted or privately owned; for example the island of Scorpios, situated close to Lefkada, is owned by the descendants of millionaire Aristotle Onassis.
Given their strategic position at the Southeast end of the Adriatic sea, the Ionian islands have always been considered a natural gate towards the West. Furthermore, they used to be the outpost against all races of conquerors who attempted to invade the Greek state. Although inhabited ever since the Stone Age, the islands became famous during the Mycenean period, when the mythical Ulysses, king of Ithaka, roused all Hellenes to go to war against Troy. Later, in 431 BC the alliance of Corfu with Athens gave the opportunity for the outbreak of the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta.
The Ionian islands reached their peak of prosperity during the Venetian domination, after 1380 AD. It was during that era that a communication channel was established between those islands and the rest of the West. Therefore architecture, literature, music and the rest of the arts were developed. This was the start for the creation of a rich intellectual and cultural inheritance which is still vivid through numerous monuments. Later on, the islands were dominated by the French and the Russian-Turkish fleet, whose rule ended with the treaty for the establishment of the "Ionian State" in 1799. Unfortunately, this regime lasted only seven years, since afterwards those islands were taken under the "discreet auspices" of the English.
Despite the repeated domination that the Ionian islands had to endure by numerous conquerors, the Eptanisian spirit was always alert to the riots for the independence of the Greek nation. Furthermore, Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first governor of Greece after the liberation from the Turks, came from Corfu. The mild climate, the developed tourist infrastructure and the multiple ways of access have established Eptanissa as an ideal tourist destination with alternative choices all around the year. Nowadays the jewel of the Ionian sea is Corfu, the ancient island of Faeces, embellished with Venetian castles, palaces and villas which reveal the influence of the French and Italian noblemen of the Renaissance and Modern Europe until the 19th century.
The wooded island cluster of Paxi and Antipaxi is situated south, opposite Parga. It is a favourite sea meeting point for many celebrities of the international jet-set. Lefkada is closely related with the fame of Aristotle Onassis and the annual, international folklore festival that takes place on the island in August. Zakynthos, "the Flower of the East", is the birthplace of the poet Dionysios Solomos, creator of the national anthem. Zakynthos is also famous for its beautiful beaches. Kefallonia is mostly renowned for its excellent wine, its picturesque villages and its quiet sandy beaches. Finally, the island of Kythira (which strangely enough comes under the Eptanissa division) are situated in the Southeast point of the Peloponnese, therefore, their landscape is similar to the area of Mani.