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Santorini (Greek: Σαντορίνη, pronounced [sandoˈrini]), classically Thera (English pronunciation /ˈθɪərə/), and officiallyThira (Greek: Θήρα [ˈθira]), is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast of Greece's mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of avolcanic caldera. It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km2 (28 sq mi) and a 2011 census population of 15,550. The municipality of Santorini includes the inhabited islands of Santorini and Therasia and the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana. The total land area is 90.623 km2 (34.990 sq mi). Santorini is part of the Thira regional unit.
Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera. A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), is surrounded by 300 m (980 ft) high, steep cliffs on three sides. The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. The depth of the caldera, at 400m, makes it impossible for any but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay; there is also a fisherman's harbour at Vlychada, on the southwestern coast. The island's principal port is Athinias. The capital,Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon. The volcanic rocks present from the prior eruptions featureolivine and have a small presence of hornblende.
It is the most active volcanic centre in the South Aegean Volcanic Arc, though what remains today is chiefly a water-filled caldera. The volcanic arc is approximately 500 km (310 mi) long and 20 to 40 km (12 to 25 mi) wide. The region first became volcanically active around 3–4 million years ago, though volcanism on Thera began around 2 million years ago with the extrusion of dacitic lavas from vents around the Akrotiri.
The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of metres deep and may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km (68 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami. Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis.
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Santorini Caldera
Santorini Caldera: The Santorini Caldera undoubtedly is one of the natural wonders on planet earth. The volcanic explosion that occurred here 3500 years ago forever changed the topography of the Mediterranean coast. The caldera of Santorini is actually a basin,four miles in diamater which scientists and archaeologists have linked with the myth of Atlantis. The landscape consist of steel rocks and cliffs that towers above almost touching the sky. It is more than a thousand feet above the sea level and extends underneath the sea for an additional thousand feet, thereby creating a perfect harbor. The caldera has an elevation, which varies between 150 to 350 meters. The distance from one end of the island (Cape Exomitis) to the other end (Cape Mavropetra) is 18 km. The island's breadth varies from 2 to 6 km. To the northernmost part of the Caldera is the town of Oia. This town is much preferred by the tourists and throbs with activity with plenty of bars, restaurants and hotels that are ideally positioned on rocky promontories which provide fabulous panoramic views to the Santorini Caldera. Oia can be reached by a road that meanders along the steep cliffs located to the eastern periphery of Santorini. At certain points this road is so narrow that it looks more like a ridge that can barely accommodate two lanes with no railing for protection. The capital city of Fira is ideally located to the eastern elevation of the Caldera. The town is well spread over several high cliffs some of which towers above reaching heights of 1,200 feet above sea level which makes for an awesome spectacle. Fira like Oia is replete with bars, restaurants and hotels that have been built in vantage locales with a view to provide the discerning tourists with amazing panoramic vistas of the Santorini caldera. The principal port of Santorini is just below the cliff and tourists who arrive at the port of Fira always have the option of embarking on a donkey ride that takes them to the summit from where the surrounding natural panorama is absolutely breathtaking to say the least. Today, the caldera of Santorini is one of the most important geological configurations on planet earth and rightfully, it has been the subject of higher research in the domain of Geology as well as Archaeology.