Gavdos is the southernmost Greek island, located to the south of its much bigger neighbour, Crete, of which it is administratively a part, in the regional unit of Chania. It forms a community with surrounding islets and was part of the former Selino Province. It is the southernmost point of Europe.Gavdos has been known by a wide variety of names. For example, it appears in the biblical account of Paul's journey to Rome as "Cauda" (Καῦδα). The island was also referred to as "Cauda" by Roman geographer Pomponius Mela, and as "Gaudos" by Pliny. Ptolemy called Gavdos "Claudos". The Venetians called it "Gotzo", perhaps in imitation of the Maltese island "Gozo". From the 17th to the 19th centuries, the island was known as "Gondzo". A Turkish name of Godzo was "Bougadoz".
Kap Trypiti, the most southern point of Europe. The sculpture of the oversized chair can be seen.

 The island is 26 nautical miles (48 km) south of Hora Sfakion and is 33.025 km² in area. The island is roughly triangular in shape. Its highest point is Mount Vardia, 345m. The southeastern corner is a rocky peninsula with a natural arch carved by the elements, called Trypiti. A sculpture of an oversized chair sits on top of Trypiti. There is an islet called Gavdopoula ( "little Gavdos") to the north west of Gavdos. Gavdos and Gavdopoula are covered with phrygana (φρύγανα), low-lying shrubs. Both are important stops for migrating birds. Local birds include the Eurasian Scops owl and the European Shag. Gavdos also has a variety of other vegetation, such as maquis as well as forests of pines and junipers.
Potamos-beach on Gavdos with the island of Crete in the background.

There are only a small number of year-round residents of Gavdos and services for tourists are basic. As of 2001, the total population of Gavdos was measured as 98 people. In reality, fewer than 50 people live permanently on the island, and during the census period (2 days) 98 people were on the island. In the summer the total people on the island can reach over 3,500, most of whom are campers. The harbour for ferries is Karave (also rendered as Carave, and Karabe). The island's capital is Kastri. The most southern populated village is Vatsiana, with a total permanent population of 23 people.

 Gavdos has supported a permanent population since Neolithic times. However, the island currently has very few permanent residents. Gavdos has been identified as a possible site of the mythical Ogygia where Kalypso held Odysseus prisoner. Archaeological evidence showed that the Roman empire was active on the island. During this time the flora of the island was overexploited, this started a process of erosion which has continued to this very day.Gavdos had approximately 8,000 inhabitants by 900 CE. During the Ottoman Empire's reign on the island, which lasted from 1665 until 1895, Gavdos was known as Gondzo. During this period the population decreased considerably to only 500 by 1882. A reference to Saracens on the island survives: the beach Sarakiniko ("of the Saracens"). In the 1930s the island was used as a place of exile of communists; more than 250 people were exiled including leading figures of the Greek movement, such as Markos Vafiadis. During World War II, allied forces evacuated some forces to Gavdos following the German victory in the battle of Crete.

Later on, the general phase of urbanization that started in other parts of Greece in the 1960s, took place in the 1950s on Gavdos. During that period the islanders exchanged their land on Gavdos with ex-Turkish land on Crete, which had now become exchangeable via the state. Upon settling in Crete they created a community known as Gavdiotika, which is part of the town of Paleochora.