PhotoIkaria is 10 nautical miles south-west of Samos. It is one of the biggest islands of the eastern Aegean. It is 255 sq miles in area, 102 sq miles in coastline and has a population of about 7,000 inhabitants. Those who visit it, for the first time should be prepared for the sharp contrast of verdant slopes and barren steep rocks. The island is mountainous for the most part. It is traversed by Aetheras range, whose highest summit is 1,040 metres. Most of its villages are nestled in the plains near the coast, with only some of them on the mountains. In Ikaria, the island of contrasts, one comes upon slopes full of pine trees as far as the eye can reach. Small vineyards are cultivated by the locals, especially those who live in the plains. Ikaria has a tradition in the production of strong red wine. Many parts of the island are covered by large bushes, especially ravines, making the landscape lush with green. Unfortunately, the fires of 1973 destroyed the island's main lungs. Thousands of acres were burnt to the ground and the efforts of reforestation are going on until today. There are no rare species of fauna on the island. Besides pets, only small goat herds make their presence known, disturbing the serenity of the island with their bells. Ikaria's climate is considered to be mild. More poetically though, the island is referred to, as "Aeolus's Kingdom", since it is plagued by southern and south-eastern winds in winter and northern winds in summer. Its temperature is normal depending on the season, and there are not many rainfalls.