Extending imposingly on the northwestern side of the island of Samos, and surrounded by verdant villages abound in luxuriant vegatation and beaches with the clearest of waters, sits Karlovassi, the second largest city of the island. A distinct town, seperated in to the port area, the old town of Karlovassi, the middle town, the new and the bay area. This is why the inhabitants speak of their town in plural from Karovasia. Tne opinion for the origin of the name is that it derives from the Turkish words Karli-Ovasi that means snowy valley but since it almost never snows in Karlovasi this opinion does not have many supporters. Author Zafeiriou supports the idea that it was initially named Kariova meaning Ikarian Colony and this later evolved to Karlovasi and Nikos Dimitriou in his book Samian Folklore supports the idea that it derives from the surname Karlovas which is probably the correct interpretation. Karlovassi once was a significant commercial and industrial leather processing centre, with a large volume of exports and much weath.
The many mansions, the large and richly decorated churches and abandoned factories attest to its former prosperity. 3 km southeast of Karlovasi, next to the road that leads to Konteika is the monastery of Profitis Elias (Prophet Elias) on an altitude of 200 meters. Its construction began in 1739 by the monks Neophilos and Gregorios. West of Karlovasi is also the beach of Potami. There is a hot spring emerging and the chapel of Metamorphosi that dates back to the 11th century and is considered to be the oldest one surviving on the island. Today, the town still maintains the nobility of yesteryear in the fact that both the arts and letters are cultivated here: The Mathematical School of the University of the Aegean is ocated in a unique building in town.
An unusually planned town, it is divided into five sections: Old, New and Middle Karlovassi, the Bay and the Harbour.
Settlements belonging to the Municipality of Karlovasi are: Prophitis Elias with 91 residents, Potami with 12 Sakouleika with 25 and Sourides with 27 residents. The last two ones are quite old and are mentioned in the 1928 census, Potami is a quite new settlement.