Sámos (sāˈmŏs, Gr. säˈmôs) [key], island (1991 pop. 33,032), c.181 sq mi (469 sq km), SE Greece, in the Aegean Sea; one of the Sporades, near Turkey. Largely mountainous, it rises to c.4,725 ft (1,440 m) on Mt. Kerki. The main towns are Karlóvasi and Vathi, the capital of Sámos prefecture. The island has much fertile soil; grapes, tobacco, cotton, citrus fruits, and currants are grown, and wine is made. Sámos was inhabited in the Bronze Age, and about the 11th cent. B.C. it was colonized by Ionian Greeks. By the 6th cent. B.C., when it was ruled by the tyrant Polycrates, the island was a commercial and maritime power and a cultural center. The poet Anacreon, the sculptor Rhoecus, and (according to legend) the fabulist Aesop lived on Sámos; Pythagoras and Conon were born there. Sámos was conquered by the Persians toward the end of the 6th cent. B.C. but regained its independence after the battle of Mycale (479 B.C.). It joined the Delian League and was a loyal supporter of Athens during the Peloponnesian War. The island declined after 322 B.C., when it fell out of Athenian hands. In the Middle Ages, Sámos was held by a Genoese trading company from 1304 to 1329 and from 1346 to 1475, when it was captured by the Ottoman Empire. It was a semi-independent principality from 1832 until it passed to Greece in 1913.
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