Dodecanese (dōdĕkˌənēsˈ, –nēz, dōˌdĕk–) [key], Gr. Dhodhekánisos, island group (1991 pop. 163,476), c.1,035 sq mi (2,680 sq km), SE Greece, in the Aegean Sea, between Asia Minor and Crete, comprising the greater part of the group known as the Southern Sporades. Despite its name ("twelve islands"), it consists of about 20 islands and islets, of which the most important are Rhodes, Kós, Kárpathos, Kálimnos, Pátmos, Astipálaia, Kásos, Tilos, Sími, Léros, Nísiros, Khalki, and Kastellórizo. The city of Rhodes, on the largest of the islands, is the administrative seat. Agriculture, livestock raising, fruit growing, and sponge diving are the main occupations. Tourism is an important industry. Centers of ancient Greek culture, the Dodecanese were held by the Ottoman Turks from 1522 until 1912, when they were occupied by Italy during the Italo-Turkish War. The islands were captured by the Allies during World War II, and in 1947 they formally passed to Greece. However, Turkey claims some of the islands.
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