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a group of Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, off the southwestern coast of the peninsula of Asia Minor. Area, 3,541 sq km. Population, 163,900 (1970). The principal islands are Rhodes, Samos, Ikaria, Cos, and Karpathos. Hills and low mountains predominate; the maximum elevation, 1,434 m, occurs at Mount Kerketeus on Samos. The islands have thickets of Mediterranean shrubs and forested areas with evergreen oak, pine, and cypress. Grains, grapes, and olives are cultivated; fishing is also of economic importance. The chief cities are Rhodes and Samos.