Ithaca or Ithaka (/ˈɪθəkə/; Greek: Ιθάκη, Ithakē [iˈθaci]) is a Greek island located in the Ionian Sea, off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and to the west of continental Greece.
Ithaca has an area of 120 square kilometres (46 sq mi) and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is the second-smallest of seven main Ionian Islands, after Paxi. Ithaka is a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. The capital, Vathy or Ithaki, has one of the world’s largest natural harbours.
Modern Ithaca is generally identified with Homer’s Ithaca, the home of Odysseus, whose delayed return to the island is one of the elements of the Odyssey’s plot.
The fact that classical Greek authors often used eponymous explanations to explain away names through folk etymology makes it more likely that Ithakos derives from Ithaca rather than vice versa.
Although the name Ithaca has remained unchanged since ancient times, written documents of different periods also refer to the city by other names, such as:
- Val di Compare (Valley of the Bestman), Piccola (Small) Cephallonia, Anticephallonia (Middle Ages till the beginning of the Venetian period)
- Ithaki nisos (Greek for island), Thrakoniso, Thakou, Thiakou (Byzantine period)
- Thiaki (before the Venetian period, also called so by the sailors and has remained the name used by the inhabitants)
- Teaki (Venetian period)
- Fiaki (Turkish period)