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Old 04-30-2017, 07:07 AM   #29
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Population Movements and Demography in the Aegean (Modern Period)

Author(s) : Karachristos Ioannis (2/20/2006)
Translation : Dovletis Onoufrios (7/17/2006)
For citation: Karachristos Ioannis, "Population Movements and Demography in the Aegean (Modern Period)", 2006,
Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor
URL: <>

1) Population movements in the Aegean during later times were affected in a positive or negative way by a chain of factors that came up throughout this period.

To begin with, these are factors pertinent more or less to the forces of nature (e.g. epidemics, natural disasters). Certified poor nutrition combined with rather low standards of hygiene and little knowledge of medicine made populations more vulnerable to diseases. Especially in the Aegean, the fact that islands were on trade paths must also be counted in, because that means they were unprotected since they lacked relative seclusion in contrast with some rural regions. Therefore, the Aegean lied on the road epidemics followed on their way from the East to Western Europe. The following years are those when the Aegean islands were gravely plague-stricken: 1445, 1456-1457, 1522-1524, 1537, 1641, 1678-1679, 1687-1689, 1716, 1741, 1759-1760, 1781-1783, 1787-1789, 1812-1814 – and these are just a few of the more widespread epidemics on islands. The whole list of epidemics that struck –sometimes immensely– certain islands is much longer. Several natural disasters (mostly earthquakes, and Thera and Nisyros’s volcanic eruptions) also inflicted losses.

2) Colonizations

Already since the Frankish Rule period, rulers organized colonizations aiming to increase the population of the places where colonists settled, since achieving political and economical aims was otherwise impossible. Therefore, in 1413, people coming from Tinos and Mykonos colonized scarcely populated Astypalaia. Colonizations sometimes covered needs created by military rivalry. In 1450 and 1493, two groups from Chalki settled on Rhodes in order to overlook the sea area considering the Ottoman threat coming from the Asia Minor coasts opposite the island.

Compulsory movement of populations from several areas of the Ottoman Empire towards recently taken over Constantinople was the best-known example of a colonization organized by central power in order to increase the city’s population (sürgün). Populations from newly taken over Aegean islands (e.g. Thasos, Samothrace, Imbros, Limnos and Lesbos) were also moved towards the capital.

A series of measures aiming to increase population of some Aegean islands were adopted by the Ottoman administration though, which knew that growth of the islands’ sparse population was a necessary condition for its power to be stabilized. That is what happened on Rhodes when was taken over in 1522. The same happened after the battleship of Nafpaktos (1571), as the Ottoman systematically tried to re-colonize Samos, Agios Efstratios and Myconos and increase their population. At the same time, there was a gradual increase of the Northern Sporades and Psara population with others coming from Thessaly and Euboea.

The example of the Arvanites (Albanians that had lived in Greece for some centuries) is the last one of the colonization chapter. In 1402, Arvanites from Attica and Boeotia settled on Euboea after being invited by the island’s Venetian authorities. In 1418 Lord of Ios, Marco Crispo I, moved Arvanites from the Peloponnese to the island so that its up to then uninhabited part would be inhabited. In 1558, Ios was deserted again because of Muslim pirates’ incursions, and another colonization by Arvanites in 1575 was therefore launched again, this time by Ottoman rulers. Arvanites from Attica and the Peloponnese were used at the same time for the colonization of Kea and Kythnos, the Argosaronic gulf islands and finally Samos when the island was re-colonized.
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