The beautiful island of Folegandros
is the most southern island of the western Cyclades. It is a typical Cycladic island situated between Sikinos (at a distance of 3 nautical miles to the Northeast) and the island of Melos (some 15 nautical miles to the Northwest). In fact, it is an oblong rock, thrown in the blue sea, looking like sailing between Melos and Sikinos. Its extent is 32 square kilometers, with a maximum length of 13 kilometers, maximum width of 3,5 to 4 kilometers, and a coastal line of more than 40 kilometers. The island gets very narrow at the middle, where its width hardly reaches 1000 meters. Two bays at both sides, the bay of Vathy and the bay of Plaka, entering deeply in the land, divide the island in two equal parts. The major part of the island is mountainous; the highest top is Aghios Eleftherios, at an altitude of 4 55 meters.
Only a small part of the land is cultivated, mostly in terraces made by dry stone walls. Although agricultural production is not considerable, the products are of high quality and excellent taste. Folegandros produces tasty olive oil, famous wines, juicy figs and very nice honey, from the wild flowers and herbs of the arid land. Few residents are also occupied in stock-breeding, mainly of goats, and produce small amounts of tasty meat and gorgeous local cheese.
Folegandros is one of the final stops of migratory birds, which stop here in spring on their way from Africa to the cooler places of Europe, and in autumn, following the reverse route. The friends of birds and the bird watchers may see here several species of birds, some of them rare enough as “mavropetritis” and “aegeoglaros” as their local names are.
Being mountainous and rocky, Folegandros has several interesting schist stones, grayish marbles and various ores.
The island has a nice climate. Humidity is quite moderate, thanks to the dry northern winds, while heat never gets unsupportable, thanks to the sea. And in summer, the “meltemia” (the northern summer winds) make the atmosphere and the environment cool enough.
The pretty dry climate, in combination with the stony ground, makes a natural environment whose main feature is the scarcity of vegetation. Vegetation is also destroyed by the goats which graze at the open air, all around the island. However, in spring, when the climate is cooler and more humid, the visitor will see a great variety of low vegetation, mainly wild flowers, grass and herbs. In this period of the year the island is really magic, with its colors and the heady fragrances of the flowers in the air.
The eastern part of the island has been integrated to the network of protected areas “NATURA 2000”, whereas the whole island is an important biotope of the birds of Greece.
The whole island constitutes the Community of Folegandros, which belongs to the province of Thira (Santorini) of the Cyclades’ Prefecture. From 1912 to 1998 the island had two communities, that of Chora and the one of Ano Meria. In 1998, following the “Capodistrias” plan of the unification of small communities, the two communities were banded together to one. Nowadays, Folegandros has less than 700 permanent residents, most of them living in the three bigger settlements (Chora, Ano Meria and –much less – Karavostassi(s)).