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The Ionian Sea is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, and by southwestern Albania, including Saranda and Himara, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and Lefkas to the east. The islands are collectively referred to as the Ionian Islands, and other islands include the Strophades, Sphagia, Schiza, Sapientza and Kythira. The sea is one of the most seismic areas in the world.
There are ferry routes between Patras and Igoumenitsa, Greece, and Brindisi and Ancona, Italy, that cross the east and north of the Ionian Sea, and from Piraeus westward.
The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Ionian Sea as follows:
''On the North.'' A line running from the mouth of the Butrinto River (39°44'N) in Albania, to Cape Karagol in Corfu (39°45'N), along the North Coast of Corfu to Cape Kephali (39°45'N) and from thence to Cape Santa Maria di Leuca in Italy.
''On the East.'' From the mouth of the Butrinto River in Albania down the coast of the mainland to Cape Matapan.
''On the South.'' A line from Cape Matapan to Cape Passero, the Southern point of Sicily.
''On the West.'' The East coast of Sicily and the Southeast coast of Italy to Cape Santa Maria di Leuca.
From south to north in the west, then north to south in the east:
*Syracuse, port, W
*Catania, port, W
*Taranto, port N
*Saranda, port and a beach, NE
*Parga, small port
*Fiskardo, small port
*Keri, no port
*Methoni, small port and a beach
Gulfs and straits
*Strait of Messina, W
*Gulf of Catania, W
*Gulf of Taranto, NW
*Ambracian Gulf, E
*Gulf of Patras, connecting the Gulf of Corinth, ESE
*Cyparissian Gulf, SE
*Messenian Gulf, SE
*Laconian Gulf, ESE
From north to south:
*Pinios River (Peloponnese)
*Gulf of Patras/Strait of Rio-Antirrio Watershed
**Glaucos/Glavkos River - Panachaicus mountains to south of Patras
**Louros River, north
***Kladeos or Cladeus River
**Larissos River - Nea Manolada
**Neda River — Elia-Messenia boundary/border
Origin and myth of the eponym of the Ionian Sea
The name ''Ionian'' comes from Greek . Its etymology is unknown. Ancient Greek writers, especially Aeschylus, linked it to the myth of Io, who was believed to have swum through the sea. There were also narratives about other eponymic legendary figures; according to one version, ''Ionius'' was a son of ''Adrias'' (eponymic for the Adriatic Sea); according to another, ''Ionius'' was a son of ''Dyrrhachus'', eponymic for the ancient Greek city of Dyrrhachium (modern Durrës in Albania). When Dyrrhachus was attacked by his own brothers, Heracles, who was passing through the area, came to his aid, but in the fight the hero killed his ally's son by mistake. The corpse was cast into the sea, which thereafter was called the Ionian Sea.