The Dodecanese are a group of 12 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, of which 26 are inhabited. They are situated off the southwest coast of Turkey, southward of the island of Samos and northeastward of the island of Crete; this island group generally defines the eastern limit of the Sea of Crete. They belong to the Southern Sporades island group. They have a rich history, and many of even the smallest inhabited islands boast dozens of Byzantine churches and medieval castles.
The most historically important and well-known is Rhodes (Rodos), which for millennia has been the island from which the region is controlled. Of the others, Kos and Patmos are historically more important; the remaining nine are Astipalea, Kalimnos, Karpathos, Kasos, Leros, Nisyros, Symi, Tilos and Kastelorizo (which actually lies in the eastern Mediterranean). Other islands in the chain include Agathonisi, Alimia, Arkoi, Chalki, Farmakonisi, Gyali, Kinaros, Levitha, Lipsi, Nimos, Pserimos, Saria, Syrna and Telendos.