Greece Is Kastellorizo: Punching Above its Weight

Kastellorizo may be small, but it’s the size of its heart and the strength of its spirit that counts. Read the editorial from Greece Is Kastellorizo 2020.


The following editorial first appeared in the print issue Greece Is Kastellorizo 2020. To order this and other past issues of our magazine, please visit our eshop.

Kastellorizo ranks 89th among Greece’s islands in terms of area, and 65th in terms of population. Yet if there were an index measuring historical or symbolic weight per square meter, it would almost certainly rank first.

 

And if we were to add to its population the huge community of diaspora Kastellorizians – or Kazzies, as they’re known in Australia – who number around 80,000-100,000, visiting whenever they can and maintaining profound emotional connections with their ancestral land, we would be talking about Greece’s fifth most populous island.

History, however, is not written with “ifs”, and these numbers are just a small illustration of how special Kastellorizo is. Showcasing all of its distrinct qualities is what we have tried to do over the 140 pages of Greece Is Kastellorizo, a special collector’s edition created by Kathimerini, and Greece Is.

In this effort, we drew upon the invaluable assistance of experts, researchers and friends of the island – from places as near as Italy and as far-flung as Australia – who so generously shared their knowledge, rare photographs from their collections and, most importantly, their thoughts, memories and deeply personal stories.

Through our research, visits to the island and hours of conversation with locals and émigrés, we also came to realize that tiny Kastellorizo, which resembles an idyllic film setting (and indeed has been one), basically encapsulates Greece as a whole: with its historical and cultural continuity; the challenge of surviving on a rock in the middle of the sea; its triumphs and woes; the conquests and the emigrations of its people; its commercial prowess and cosmopolitanism; and, above all, the pride of all those who live in or hail from a place that has always “punched above its weight,” to borrow the phrase that Andrew Liveris, a renowned industrialist, chairman of the Hellenic Initiative and third-generation Kastellorizian, used in his interview.

It’s also true that Kastellorizo has many pressing needs, and that the Greek state needs to appreciate the island’s vital role within the nation and to translate this appreciation into tangible and sustained assistance. The government must furnish practical support in the form of infrastructure projects and through concerted endeavors to raise the profile of this most remote point of Greece.

We hope that this special issue of Greece Is will make its own small contribution to showcasing the natural beauty and the cultural importance of this dauntless “Rock” that continues to stand guard, as it always has, at Greece’s easternmost edge.



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