Zakynthos is a tourist destination, with an international airport served by many charter flights from northern Europe.
The island's nickname is To fioro tou Levante (Italian: Il fiore di Levante, English: The flower of the East), given by the Venetians.
Zakynthos was inhabited from the Neolithic Age, as some archaeological excavations have proved.
The ancient Greek poet Homer mentioned the island in the Iliad and the Odyssey, stating that the first inhabitants of it were the son of King Dardanos of Troy called Zakynthos and his men.
In mythology the island was then conquered by King Arkesios of Kefalonia, and then by Odysseus from Ithaca.
Later on, a treaty was signed that made Zakynthos an independent democracy, the first established in Greece, that lasted more than 650 years.
During the Middle Ages, the island was part of the Byzantine theme of Cephallenia.
After 1185 it became part of the County palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos under the Kingdom of Naples until its last Count Leonardo III Tocco was defeated by the Ottomans in 1479.
The Turkish rule lasted only until 22 April 1484, when it was swapped with the Turks by Venetian secretary Giovanni Dario, negotiator of the treaty of Constantinople (1479), against neighboring Cephalonia and an annual tribute of 500 ducats.
From then on Zakynthos remained an overseas colony of the Venetian Republic until its very end in 1797, following the fate of the Ionian islands, completed by the capture of Cephalonia in 1500 and Lefkas in 1684 from the Turks.