Coordinates: 34°50′N 24°5′E
Gavdos is the southernmost Greek island, located to the south of its much bigger neighbour, Crete, of which it is administratively a part, in the regional unit of Chania. It forms a community with surrounding islets and was part of the former Selino Province. It is the southernmost point of Europe as well.
The island is 26 nautical miles (48 km) south of Hora Sfakion and is roughly triangular in shape. Its highest point is Mount Vardia, 345m. The southeastern corner is a rocky peninsula with a natural arch carved by the elements, called Trypiti. A sculpture of an oversized chair sits on top of Trypiti.
There is an islet called Gavdopoula (“little Gavdos”) to the north west of Gavdos. Gavdos and Gavdopoula are covered with phrygana, low-lying shrubs. Both are important stops for migrating birds. Local birds include the Eurasian Scops owl and the European Shag. Gavdos also has a variety of other vegetation, such as maquis as well as forests of pines and junipers.
Gavdos has supported a permanent population since Neolithic times. Gavdos had approximately 8,000 inhabitants by 900 CE. During the Ottoman Empire’s reign on the island, which lasted from 1665 until 1895, Gavdos was known as Gondzo. During this period the population decreased considerably to only 500 by 1882.
Today there are only a small number of permanent residents of Gavdos and services for tourists are basic. As of 2001, the total population of Gavdos was measured as 98 people. In the summer the total people on the island can reach over 3,500, most of whom are campers. The harbour for ferries is Karave. The island’s capital is Kastri. The most southern populated village is Vatsiana, with a total permanent population of 23 people.
There are many abandoned terraces on Gavdos where farmers used to grow crops on the hillsides. There still is some agriculture on Gavdos. During the summer, the population of the island swells to a few thousand because of tourists, although there are few facilities for tourists. There is one year-round cafe in Carave (Karabe) on Gavdos and a modern non-functioning reproduction lighthouse tower which now serves as a cafe during the summer season; the complex also contains a museum on the history of the original lighthouse with several rooms of photos and antique equipment.