It is a narrow and long island whose northern and southern parts are divided by mountainous spine rising over an altitude of 1200 meters. Despite its wild beauty, its traditional and unspoiled character and its magnificent secluded beaches, Karpathos has not yet been invaded by mass tourism and appears like a true paradise. The south of the island is where the capital is lying (Pigadia) and is the most modern part of it; this is due to the fact that, after World War II, many locals left because of the ravaged economy and moved mainly to the U.S. When their children returned to their native island, they invested a lot in the southern part, where they settled. The northern part has been left as it was and is where visitors will find the most traditional and unspoiled villages, which constitute a great part of the beauty and attractiveness of Karpathos.
The island was both in ancient and medieval times closely connected with Rhodes. Its current name is mentioned, with a slight shift of one letter, in Homer's Iliad as Karpathos. Besides, the island is mentioned by Virgil, Pliny the Elder and Strabo. Karpathians fought with Sparta in the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC and lost their independence to Rhodes in 400 BC. In 42 BC the island fell to Rome. After the division of the Roman Empire the island joined the Byzantine Empire. By 1304 Karpathos was given as fief by the Emperor to the Genoese corsairs Andrea and Lodovico Moresco, but in 1306 it fell under Andrea Cornaro, a member of the noble Venetian Cornaro family. The Cornaro controlled Karpathos until 1538, when it finally passed into the possession of the Ottoman Turks.