A Nomarchy Of The Kingdom Of Greece, comprising the Ionian island of the same name and several smaller islands; area, 277 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 44,557. The island of Zante, 15 m. W. of the Morea and 10 m. S. of Cephalonia, is about 23 m. long and 12 m. broad, and is the third in extent but the first in productiveness of the Ionian isles. It consists mainly of a plain covered with vineyards of the small grapes which when dried are known in commerce as "Zante currants," of which 11,000,000 lbs. were exported in 1873. The production of olive oil in the same year amounted to 2,500 tons. Some good wine is made. The manufactures consist of white and blue cottonades, silk stuffs, handkerchiefs and scarfs, horsehair cloths, soap, bricks, tiles, etc.
The name of the island is said to be derived from the founder of the chief city, Zacynthus, an Arcadian chieftain. Thucydides relates that at a later period Zacynthus received a colony of Achaeans from the Peloponnesus. It was generally an ally of Athens until after the Peloponnesian war, when it seems to have fallen under the dominion of Sparta. It subsequently fell under the sway of Macedon, was occupied by the Romans during the second Punic war, and afterward shared the fate of the neighboring islands. (See Ionian Islands).
A City, capital of the nomarchy, on the S. E. coast of the island; pop. in 1870,17,516. It is the seat of a Greek archbishop and a Roman Catholic bishop, and has five churches, a theatre, an arsenal, and a citadel. The harbor is large, and the best in the group except that of Corfu. In a marsh about 12 m. S. are petroleum wells, known since the time of Herodotus. The chief exports are currants and olive oil. Exclusive of Austrian and Greek steamers, the arrivals of vessels in 1873 numbered 473, and the departures 457; total tonnage, 75,223.