Rhodes is for the most part a very fertile island, with a large variety of vegetation. There are oranges, lemons, olives, figs, pears, pistachio. Trees include myrtle, heath, laurel, and the flowering bush known commonly as ‘rock-rose’ (cistus is its scientific name) is very plentiful. In Greek, ‘rhodos’ is the older name for ‘rose’, and some attribute to the rock-rose the naming of this island, though this plant is not native, and the name may have been taken, alternatively, from the Greek word for pomegranate—rhodhi. There are also herbs such as marjoram, sage, lavender and styrax. Fauna include foxes, hares, badgers, martens, hedgehogs, patridges, vultures, jays, jackdaws, deer (reintroduced by the Italians), snakes, lizards and butterflies. The Phoenician word for snake is ‘erod’, presenting another possible explanation for the island’s name, as its snake population in ancient times was sizeable. The smaller snakes, however, are the poisonous ones, the large snakes being quite harmless. The lizard commonly known as the ‘Rhodes dragon’ is extremely large, reaching a length of 35.5cm.
Rhodes is famous for its warm climate and its number of days per year of sun (300), and is compared to the climate of eastern Sicily. It is a windy island (with many windmills) though the east side is more sheltered. The rainy season is from November to the end of March (similar to that of the Cyclades, though it often rains later in the latter group and also gets colder). Even more than with other popular islands, Rhodes is best visited before June and after August, as it visited by vast numbers of tourists during the summer months. Though tourism is concentrated in the upper third of the island, the sandy, sheltered beaches of the east coast have made it inevitable that development would encroach there as well, though between Faliraki and Lindos, you can still find uncrowded beaches
The remarkably preserved medieval city of Rhodes has a population of 60,000, out of the 98,000 on the island in total. It is the largest town in the Dodecanese as well as the largest capital. The new town surrounds the old walled one on three sides and was founded in the form of new suburbs during Ottoman times by Greek Orthodox Christians forbidden to live in the old town (and required to leave it by sundown or lose their heads). Since then, the suburbs (called 'marasia') have merged. The walled town, as one would expect, has become very commercialized, as well as the modern district of 'Neohori' to the west of Mandraki yacht harbor, which has a beach with all of the tourist paraphernalia one might also expect.