Santorini is the former remains of a single island volcano in the volcanic ring of islands called the South Aegean Volcanic Arc. The volcanic arc is about 310 miles long, with Santorini being the most active of the volcanos. It erupted during the Minoan period, close to 3,600 years ago. Due to its proximity to Crete, its eruption is believed to have triggered a tsunami that could have been the reason for the destruction of the Minoan civilization.
Post Minoan volcanic activity has still been recorded as recently as 1950. Eruptions on Nea Kameni, a small island that pushed up into the center of the caldera, are still occurring. The Atlantis myth has been linked to Santorini thanks to modern volcanic, seismic and geological information and has been the subject of several documentaries.
There have also been recent reports of strange odors and tremors during 2011 and 2012 which were investigated with satellite radar. The source of the tremors and gases was found to have been a magma chamber under the volcano. Molten rock swelled by 10 to 20 million cubic meters during the symptomatic period of time. The scientific community reported that it was the amount of molten rock equivalent to 20 years worth of normal volcanic activity.
The history on Santorini is similar to most of the other Greek islands, with it coming under Roman and Turkish control. During the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the name Santorini, an amalgamation of the words Saint and Irene, was given the island by a Muslim geographer in 1154 AD.
Santorini became part of the Kingdom of Greece in 1832 with the treaty of Constantinople. During WWII, the island was briefly occupied by Italian forces in 1941 and by the Germans in 1943. In 1944, British Commandos raided the Italians and Germans, killing most of the enemy forces.
The current island is a volcanic caldera, a rectangular lagoon, open to the Aegean Sea on one side and surrounded by steep cliffs on the three remaining sides. In fact, the cliffs are so steep, they plunge in some places close to 1000 feet into the sea. Santorini is part of the Cyclades islands in the southern Aegean Sea, about 120 miles south of mainland Greece.
The climate for Santorini is Mediterranean with warm dry summers and rainy winters. It is semi-arid so the bulk of the rainfall occurs in the winter, resulting in about 15 inches per year.
The temperatures range in the spring and summer around the mid 70s and 80s. In the fall and winter it is mild with temperatures in the mid 50s and 60s. The land is rocky with a rocky coastline, plunging into the sea in many areas.
There is an archaeological site, Akrotiri, with ruins from the Minoans which is a major tourist attraction for Santorini. The bulk of the economy for the island is fueled by summer tourism with people flocking to see sites like the Belltower of Virgin Mary Church, the donkey trail between Fira and Skala Port.
The red beaches and the Catholic quarter of Fira are picturesque and iconic images captured once in a lifetime for travelers to Santorini. For its native residents, this sun drenched lagoon island is just another day in paradise.