Astypalea is a Greek island with around 1,238 residents (2001 census). It belongs to the Dodecanese group of islands in the southeastern Aegean. The island is 18 km long, 13 km wide at the most. Along with numerous smaller uninhabited offshore islets forms the Municipality of Astypalea which forms part of the Kalymnos region.
The coast of Astypalea is rocky with many small pebbled beaches - it looks like a butterfly from above. The capital and the previous main harbour of the island is Astypalea or Chora, as it is called by the locals. A new harbour has been built in Agios Andreas on the mid island from where the connections now are west and east with Piraeus and the other islands of the Dodecanese. Flight connections with Athens go from the airport close to Maltezana.
According to Greek mythology, Astypalea was a woman who Poseidon abducted in the form of a winged fish-tailed leopard. The island was colonised by Megara, and its constitution and buildings are known from numerous inscriptions. Astypalea became Turkish in 1522, and the Ottomans kept it until 1912, with only two interruptions: from 1648 until 1668, during the War of Crete, it was occupied by Venice, and from 1821 to 1828 it joined the insurgents during the Greek War of Independence.
Occupied again by the Ottomans in 1828, on April 12, 1912, (during the War of Libya) a detachment of the Regia Marina landed on Astypalea, and it became the first island of the Dodecanese to be occupied by Italy. The island remained under Italian governance until World War II. In 1947, together with the rest of the Dodecanese islands, Astypalea joined Greece.