Cephalonia or Kefalonia, is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece. The capital of Kefalonia is Argostoli. The size of the island is about 781 km2 and its present population is approximately 40.000people. The town of Argostoli has one-third of the island's inhabitants and Lixouri is the second major town.
The island was named after the mythical Cephalus, who helped Amphitryon of Mycenae in a war against the Taphians and Teleboans. He was rewarded with the island of Same, which thereafter came to be known as Cephallenia. The Homeric “Sami“ is even today the name of one of the largest towns and ports of the island, while the people who lived there and were led by Ulysses, where called the “Cephallenians”.During the Middle Ages, the island was the center of the Byzantine theme of Cephallenia. After 1185 it became part of the County palatine of Kephalonia and Zakynthos under the Kingdom of Naples until its last Count Leonardo III Tocco was defeated by the Ottomans in 1479. The Turkish rule lasted only until 1500, when it was captured by a Spanish-Venetian army, a rare Venetian success in theSecond Ottoman–Venetian War. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, the island was one of the largest exporters of currants in the world with Zakynthos, and owned a large shipping fleet, even commissioning ships from the Danzig shipyard. Its towns and villages were mostly built high on hilltops, to prevent attacks from raiding parties of pirates that sailed the Ionian Sea during the 1820s.
The treaty of Paris in 1815 recognized the United States of the Ionian Islands and Kefalonia become a British protectorate. Colonel Charles Philippe de Bosset became provisional governor between 1810 and 1814. During this period he was credited with achieving many public works, including the Drapano Bridge. Cephalonia along with the other islands was transferred to Greece in 1864 as a gesture of goodwill when the British-backed Prince William of Denmark became King George the First of the Hellenes.
In World War II, the island was occupied by Axis powers. Until late 1943, the occupying force was predominantly Italian - the33rd Infantry Division Acqui plus Navy personnel totaled 12,000 men - but about 2,000 troops from Germany were also present.(Remember Captain's Corelli Mandolin Movie).
In 1953 disaster caused huge destruction, with only regions in the north escaping the heaviest tremors and houses there remain intact.
Tourism to Kefalonia started in the early 19th century, also the Royal Family of Greece sent their children in the summer months to Lixouri. But the island for a long time was not discovered by mass tourism until the 1980s.Tourists from all over Greece, Europe and the world visit Cephalonia. It is a popular vacation destination for many Italians, due to its close proximity to Italy. As one of the largest islands in Greece, it is well-equipped to handle the influx of tourists during the summertime; it has something to offer everyone.