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Kalymnos, unlike many other Greek islands, is still not dependent on tourism, although this may not be the case for much longer as the economic crisis has left deep scars throughout Greece. Traditional sources of income are diminishing, so that the population is almost forced to rely on tourism. Apart from the income from sponge diving, many people of Kalymnos still find an income from fishing, especially catching swordfish and tuna.
Sponge diving and sponge processing were of great importance to the economy of Kalymnos until the 1960s. However, this economic dependence has diminished considerably in recent decades. Fierce competition, especially from the Caribbean, the rise of the synthetic sponge and a disease outbreak in 1987 and 1999 among the Mediterranean sponges meant that sponges were no longer the main source of income for the residents of Kalymnos. However, there are still some sponge factories on Kalymnos, where sponges are cleaned and processed. They are also still a popular souvenir for tourists. One week before the sponge fleet sets sail, the Ipogros is held, the Sponge Festival. Due to the impoverished harvest areas around Kalymnos, today's sponge fishermen mainly dive around Cyprus and along the coasts of North Africa. At the peak of sponge fishing, Kalymnos had a fleet of up to 350 ships with at least twelve divers on board.
Tarpon Springs in Florida is the place in the United States with the highest percentage of Greek-Americans. In 1905, the Greek immigrant John Cocoris introduced the technique of sponge diving to Tarpon Springs. He brought a number of sponge divers from the Dodecanese islands of Kalymnos, Symi and Halki to Tarpon Springs, and this eventually led to a sponge industry that turned over millions of Euros per year in the 1930s.
Ferries, hydrofoils and catamarans sail to and from Kalymnos from many Greek islands and from the Greek mainland, bringing tourists and other visitors to the island: Kos, Rhodes, Piraeus, Patmos, Samos, Leros, Lipsi, Astipalea.
Since August 2006, Kalymnos has its own airport, which can only be reached by a domestic flight from Athens. The harbour of Kalymnos Town is one of the most important harbours in Greece.
Apart from Kalymnos Town, Myrties, Armeos and Masouri have become busy tourist centres on the west coast of the island.
Along the coastal road from Arginonta to Emporeios are some fish farms. The village of Rina in the east has a small shipyard.
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country ProfilesLast updated April 2023
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