Chios (Greek: Χίος,is the fifth largest of the Greek islands, situated in the Aegean Sea, 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) off the Anatolia coast. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. The island has a port for merchant shipping. The island produces a unique mastic gum. Tourist attractions include its medieval villages, and the 11th century monastery of “Nea Moni”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located on the island.
Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within the Chios regional unit, which is part of the North Aegean region. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Chios (town).Locals refer to Chios town as "Chora" ("Χώρα" literally means land or country, but usually refers to the capital or a settlement at the highest point of a Greek island).
Chios island is crescent or kidney shaped, 50 kilometres (31 mi) long from north to south, 29 kilometres (18 mi) at its widest, and covers an area of 842 square kilometres (325 sq mi). The terrain is mountainous and arid, with a ridge of mountains running the length of the island. The largest of these mountains, "Pelineon" (1,297 metres (4,255 ft)) and "Epos" (1,188 metres (3,898 ft)), are situated in the north of the island. The center of the island is divided between east and west by a range of smaller peaks, known as "Provatas"
Midway up the east coast lie the main population centers, the main town of Chios, and the regions of Vrontados and Kambos. Chios Town, with a population of 32,400, is built around the island's main harbour and medieval castle. The current castle, with a perimeter of 1,400 metres (4,600 ft), was principally constructed during the time of Venetian and Ottoman rule, although remains have been found dating settlements there back to 2000 B.C. The town was substantially damaged by an earthquake in 1881, and only partially retains its original character.
North of Chios Town lies the large suburb of Vrontados (population 4,500), which claims to be the birthplace of Homer.[ The suburb lies in the Omiroupoli municipality, and its connection to the poet is supported by an archaeological site known traditionally as "Teacher's Rock".
Directly south of Chios Town lies the island's airport and the region of Kambos (Κάμπος, "plain"), a large fertile plain. Here there are stone mansions and walled orchards. At the southern edge of the Kambos plain lies the town of Thymiana.Thymiana is the sole source of a beige-burgundy two-tone sandstone used both in the local mansions and much of the town itself. Inland lie a number of villages rising up into the central mountains culminating with the village of Ayios Georgios Sykoussis, perched at the peak dividing east from west. Along the coast lies Karfas (Καρφάς), a sandy beach, which along with the nearby village of Ayia Ermioni (Άγια Ερμιόνη) is now the main tourist centre, with a number of large and small hotels
In the south of the island are the Mastichochoria,literally: Mastic Villages), the seven villages of Mesta (Μεστά), Pyrgi (Πυργί), Olυmpi (Ολύμποι), Kalamoti (Καλαμωτń), Vessa (Βέσσα), Lithi (Λιθί) and Elata (Ελάτα), which together have controlled the production of mastic gum in the area since the Roman period. The villages, built between the 14th and 16th centuries, have a carefully designed layout with fortified gates and narrow streets to protect against the frequent raids by marauding pirates. Between Chios Town and the Mastichochoria lie a large number of historic villages including Armolia (Αρμόλια), Myrmighi (Μυρμήγκι), and Kalimassia (Καλλιμασιά). Along the east coast are the fishing villages of Kataraktis (Καταρράκτης) and to the south Nenita (Νένητα).
The south coast has two populated areas; the bay of Komi and the ancient village of "Emporio", inhabited since 1800 BC, and the site of the black volcanic beach of "Mavra Volia", believed to have been created by the explosion of Santorini island in 1600 BC.
The west coast, between the deep natural harbour of Limenas at the south and the town of Vollisos in the north, forms a crescent shaped series of almost uninhabited rocky bays. The nearest population centres are the two hillside villages of Lithi and Sidirounta, while further inland lie the villages of Elata, Vessa, Agio Giorgi, Avgonyma and the deserted village of Anavatos.There is a system of stone beacons that were built at regular intervals to signal the approach of ships, and warning the islanders against invasions by pirates.
The north of the island contains two villages: Volissos on the west coast, and Kardamyla on the east. Further to the north, are three villages where cherries are grown—Amades, Viki and Kambia. In June Kambia holds an annual Cherry Festival—"Yiortí ton Kerrasión". Kambia holds several festivals during the summer months. Also located in the northern region is the island's tallest mountain, Mount Pelineon, at 1,297 metres (4,255 ft).
Spartounda and Fyta lie a few miles[clarification needed] from Kambia. In the village of Fyta stands a watchtower dating back to the late 16th century, the time of the Genoese occupation. Spartounda is the highest village of the island.
The village of Kourounia lies 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Volissos in the northwestern part of the island. Next to Kourounia is the village of Egrigoros.