These islands are in the Dodecanese group, though they lie off by themselves far to the southwest of the other Dodecanisian islands, roughly midway between them and Crete.
Karpathos is the largest of the three, and is long and mountainous, with its highest peak, Mt. Kalilimni at 1215 meters, or 3985 feet, and tourism concentrated mostly in the far south and in one village of the far north (Olymbos, pronounced Elymbos by the natives).
All three islands are are very rugged and mostly composed of limestone, with little water, though there is Aleppo pine forest on Karpathos. Though not outstanding botanically, these islands have some endemics, and there are some species which are predominantly Asian.
Native flora numbers 900 species, with ten endemic to these three islands, and another 22 endemic to Karpathos and Crete.
On Karpathos, the richest areas for rare and endemic species are near Mt. Kalilimni and Mt. Kollas, in the center of the island, and include a relative of marjoram found nowhere else in the world; there are also two endemic bellflowers. Some forty species of orchids grown on Karpathos, some of which are also found in Crete and Rhodes. An important bird area is found on some 9000 hectares (22,230 acres) in the northern part of Karpathos and some islets, with breeding Eleonora's falcons, Andouin's gull, and Bonelli's eagle. Blue rock thrushes are abundant. Breeding seabirds are found on Kassos, as well as some 50 pairs of breeding Eleonora's falcons, with a large population of the same birds on unihabited islet (Saria) to the west of Karpathos, counted at 125 pairs.