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Information About Ionian & Kythira Islands History
The history of the Ionian Islands is lost in time. The first inhabitants of the Paleolithic era have left proof of their existence mainly in Kefallonia and Corfu. Contact with Greece and Southern Italy can be found in the Neolithic era and the first Greeks appear in the Bronze Age as evidenced by finds dating back to the Minoan civilization.
Homerâ€™s writings are the first witness to an Ionian culture. The graphic descriptions to be found in â€˜The Odysseyâ€™ have led many to believe that Othonoi, north west of Corfu, is the island of Calypso and that Corfu itself is the island of Feakon.
In ancient times, Corfu, and its colonies, was a powerful economical and maritime region. In 472 BC there was the first known civil war and in the 2nd Century the Ionian Islands find themselves ruled by Rome. As Roman power ceased the fate of the Ionian Islands passed into the Eastern empire and became prey to the Goths, Vandalon and even pirates. From the 11th Century until 1799 the Venetian and then French sovereignties were in power. In Levkada, from 1479 to 1684, the Ottoman Empire was in power. During this time many fortification works took place. In 1799 power exchanged hands, yet again. This time to the Rosotourkoys.
In 1800 the "Eptanisou State" was signed and this new, independent Greek state remained until 1807. Until 1814 Napoleon held the reins of power but from 1815 to 1865 the English took charge. It was during this period that the first Greek University, the Ionian Academy, was founded. In 1864 the Ionian Islands joined forces, with a now liberated Greece, in their world war struggles. In particular, during the 2nd World War, the islands paid a heavy price in both lives and property.
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