Santorini, in Greece, captured from the Space Station, is one of the most famous tourist islands on Earth.

The islands in this photograph (taken from the International Space Station) are arranged in an oval shape. They are all that remains of what was once a large, circular volcano.

The largest island in the ring is the tourist mecca of Santorini (also known as Thira), while the other islands are Thirasia and Aspronisi. The three pieces are what remains after an enormous eruption destroyed most of a volcanic island. Water from the Aegean Sea rushed in to fill the void, forming the central, 12 kilometer-long (7.5 mile) lagoon.

The lagoon is surrounded by high, steep cliffs on three sides. Several towns occupy the top of these impressive, near-vertical cliffs (roughly 300 meters, or 1,000 feet), appearing as white stipple patterns from the traditional whitewash paint that is almost exclusively used on these islands.

Ships arrive at the bottom of the cliffs near the town of Fira. Tourists then climb a switchback road up the cliffs to the town—a classic Greek village on a cliff face looking out into the great lagoon.

source earthobservatory