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History of Kasos

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It is the most south island of Dodecanese complex, bearing an ancient history and many common features with the island of Crete, which is quite near.Phoenicians are considered to be the first inhabitants, while Homer includes Kasos in the list of islands which took part in the Trojan War. Despite its small size, the island had a great naval and commercial presence, also using its fleet to participate in the Revolution of 1821, fact which cost its complete destruction from the Turks in June 1824. Its later history is identical with one of the rest of Dodecanese islands, until the unification with the mainland in 1948. Many of Kasos’, as well as Karpathos’ inhabitants immigrated to America and Egypt, where they worked for the opening up of the Suez Canal in the middle of 19th century. The island extends over a surface of 66 km2, its coastline is 50 km long and it has 1,000 inhabitants. It can be reached by ferry via Piraeus, Crete (Siteia, Aghios Nikolaos), Rhodes, Halki and Karpathos islands or by airplane from Rhodes and Karpathos.

Kassos is first mentioned in Homer's Iliad where the Greeks go off to fight in Troy. The island has also been called Amphe, Achne and Astravi. The name Kassos comes, according to legend, from the island's first inhabitant, who was a Cretan prince. This indicates that the Minoans were amongst the first to settle on the island.
In the 8th century BC it was conquered by Rhodes, and 300 years later it became member of the Athenian League when war against the Persians united almost all of Greece.
During the Middle Ages Kassos belonged to the Venetians, but it was really a pirate nest. When the Turks ruled the island in the 18th century, it was reputed as a flourishing island with a strong commercial fleet. Ironically for the Turks, this helped greatly in the war of Independence that started in 1821, since the island contributed to the Greek side with a fleet of over 80 ships.
Sadly, this didn't help the island, since almost everyone died during the war: either as fighters, or when the Turks slaughtered the inhabitants. The Turkish rule here didn't end until 1921, when the Italians took over.
Kassos was finally freed in 1948. By then, the island was totally impoverished, and it is not until lately that the island has started to come alive.

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