From the Encyclopedia Britannica, originally published 1911
CORFU (anc. and mod. Gr. Κέρκυρα or Κόρκυρα, Lat. Corcyra), an island of Greece, in the Ionian Sea, off the coast of Albania or Epirus, from which it is separated by a strait varying in breadth from less than 2 to about 15 m. The name Corfu is an Italian corruption of the Byzantine Κορυφώ, which is derived from the Greek Κορυφαί (crests). In shape it is not unlike the sickle (drepanē), to which it was compared by the ancients,—the hollow side, with the town and harbour of Corfu in the centre, being turned towards the Albanian coast. Its extreme length is about 40 m. and its greatest breadth about 20. The area is estimated at 227 sq. m., and the population in 1907 was 99,571, of whom 28,254 were in the town and suburbs of Corfu. Two high and well-defined ranges divide the island into three districts, of which the northern is mountainous, the central undulating and the southern low-lying. The most important of the two ranges is that of San Salvador, probably the ancient Istone, which stretches east and west from Cape St Angelo to Cape St Stefano, and attains its greatest elevation of 3300 ft. in the summit from which it takes its name. The second culminates in the mountain of Santi Deca, or Santa Decca, as it is called by misinterpretation of the Greek designation οἱ Ἄγιοι Δέκα, or the Ten Saints. The whole island, composed as it is of various limestone formations, presents great diversity of surface, and the prospects from the more elevated spots are magnificent.
Charm Of Corfu, originally published 1913
Greece - Corfu, originally published 1899
There are two ways of entering Greece. You may sail directly to the Piraeus, the port of Athens, and come at once under the spell of Propylaea and Parthenon. That is to enter by the front door. Or you may land at Corfu, and go from one to another of the Ionian Islands. That is to go through the back lane of Homeric tradition. When I went to Greece, I determined, if possible, to enter by the portal of the Odyssey, and to leave by the portal of the Iliad. If I had lived in the Orient, I should have reversed the programme; but, living in the Occident, it was easier to read the second story first. The centre of the Odyssey is Ithaca; the centre of the Iliad is Troy. In going from one to the other, my trip included nearly all the most important isles and shrines of Greece.
Hardly less important than Ithaca in the Odyssey, and more fascinating in charm of incident and beauty of description, is the land of the Pheacians, the ancient Scheria. The island and its inhabitants are invested with a certain mythical and superhuman character, and the poet gives full rein to his imagination in describing its marvellous fertility and beauty. It is the island which tradition, rightly or wrongly, has identified with the modern Corfu. As we entered the harbor it seemed as if we were sailing into mythic waters. But the captain sails by a modern chart.