History of the Ionian Islands
Islands is a chain of Greek islands with an estimated population of
200,000 citizens. The history of the Ionian Islands is a very long
and detailed one. The islands were settled by the Greeks as early as
1000BC and there is proof that the Greeks were populating the
islands no later than the 9th Century BC.
Rumored to be the home of Odysseus and Penelope, the Ionian Islands
are located off the coast of western Greece. There are seven
principle islands and many smaller islands. The seven principle
islands are Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zante and
Cerigo. All but Cerigo are located in the Ionian Sea. Cerigo is off
of Peloponnesus, which is located at the southern portion of the
Greek mainland. These islands are often referred to as the
Heptanesus or Seven Islands. There are discrepancies as to where the
name Ionian came from, but it is believed to be related to an
ancient settlement of Ionian colonist.
The Ionian Islands constantly were overtaken by different empires
during the 4th Century BC through the 15th Century AD. At different
points in time, the Macedonians, the Byzantines, the Venetians and
the French controlled the Ionian Islands. At several points during
this tenure, mainland Greece would be controlled under a different
empire than the Ionian Islands.
The most detailed history of the Ionian Islands began to emerge
after the 10th century AD, while the Ionian Islands were under the
rule of the Byzantine Empire. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Venice
took over control of the islands and maintained their rule of the
Ionian Islands until 1797 when the Treaty of Campo Formio was
signed, giving the control of the islands to the French. In 1799, a
fleet of Russian ships overtook the islands and claimed ownership
and ruled over the islands for eight years. Eventually Russia gave
the islands back to France through the Treaty of Tilsit. During the
early parts of the 19th century, the British Navy conquered the
French Navy, claiming that the Ionian Islands were now under British
protection. Eventually, in 1817, the British crown granted the
islands their own constitution, the first type of self governance
that the islands had ever experienced. By 1864, the British
government ceded control of the islands over to Greece, due to
popular demand from citizens of the islands. Since the Ionian
Islands were annexed to Greece, they have experienced a fairly calm
political history. The islands are exempt from direct taxation from
the mainland but do suffer a 202% tax on exported oil, a 6% tax on
exported wines and a 12% export duty on agricultural products and
articles for manufacturing.
During World War II, the German army occupied much of Greece, yet
the Ionian Islands (except for Cerigo) were ruled by the Italians.
Currently, all of the islands except for Cerigo are part of the
Greek islands called the Ionian Islands. Cerigo is considered part
of the Greece region Attiki.
Unfortunately the islands continue to experience a decrease
in population. This is mainly due to declining fisheries,
agricultural and industrial occupations.
Main towns of