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(sā`mŏs, Gr. sä`môs), island (1991 pop. 33,032), c.181 sq mi (469 sq km), SE Greece, in the Aegean Sea; one of the Southern SporadesSporades
, islands, E and SE Greece, in the Aegean Sea. They have been grouped variously at different times. The Northern Sporades are generally understood to include Skiáthos, Skópelos, Alónnisos, Skíros, and some smaller islands off the coast of
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, near Turkey. Largely mountainous, it rises to c.4,725 ft (1,440 m) on Mt. Kerki. The main towns are Karlóvasi and Vathi, the capital of Sámos prefecture. The island has much fertile soil; grapes, tobacco, cotton, citrus fruits, and currants are grown, and wine is made. Sámos was inhabited in the Bronze Age, and about the 11th cent. B.C. it was colonized by Ionian Greeks. By the 6th cent. B.C., when it was ruled by the tyrant Polycrates, the island was a commercial and maritime power and a cultural center. The poet Anacreon, the sculptor Rhoecus, and (according to legend) the fabulist Aesop lived on Sámos; Pythagoras and Conon were born there. Sámos was conquered by the Persians toward the end of the 6th cent. B.C. but regained its independence after the battle of Mycale (479 B.C.). It joined the Delian League and was a loyal supporter of Athens during the Peloponnesian War. The island declined after 322 B.C., when it fell out of Athenian hands. In the Middle Ages, Sámos was held by a Genoese trading company from 1304 to 1329 and from 1346 to 1475, when it was captured by the Ottoman Empire. It was a semi-independent principality from 1832 until it passed to Greece in 1913.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. Part of the Southern Sporades, it is separated from Asia Minor by a narrow strait 2.4 km in width. The area of Samos is 476 sq km, and its highest peak, Mount Kerketeus, has an elevation of 1,434 m. The mountains are composed mainly of limestones and crystalline rocks. Bauxites are mined, and marble is quarried. Maquis and pine groves are found on the slopes. There is subtropical agriculture, and the island is a wine-making center. The principal port is Samos.

Samos was one of the centers of the Aegean culture. The earliest inhabitants of the island, the Leleges and the Carians, were pushed out by the Ionians in the beginning of the first millennium B.C. In the eighth century B.C. Samos became a polis with an economy based on trade and handicrafts. Its greatest prosperity was attained under the tyrant Polycrates in the second half of the sixth century B.C. Beginning with the third century B.C., Samos was successively part of Macedonia, Pergamum, the Roman Empire, and the Byzantine Empire; it subsequently came under the power of the Genoese, the Venetians, and, in the mid-16th century, the Turks. After the Balkan Wars of 1912–13, the island was annexed by Greece under the terms of the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1913.

Archaeological excavation has been intermittently conducted on Samos since 1880. The remains of the ancient polis of Samos include moles, the fortifications of the acropolis, and residential districts of not earlier than the fifth century B.C. The Temple of Hera stood nearby; remains still exist of altars and temples dating from the tenth to the sixth centuries B.C. The cities of Vathi and Tigani have museums, and a museum of Greek and Roman sculpture is located near the site of the Temple of Hera.


Töl le, R. Der antike Stadt Samos. Mainz, 1969.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a Greek island in the E Aegean Sea, off the SW coast of Turkey: a leading commercial centre of ancient Greece. Pop.: 33 809 (2001). Area: 492 sq. km (190 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005