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Chios Prefecture
Νομός Χίου
Periphery North Aegean
Capital Chios
Population 53,817 (2005)Ranked 45th
Area 904 km² Ranked 48th
Population density 59.5/km²Ranked 20th
Number of municipalities 10
Postal codes 82x xx
Area codes 227x0
Licence plate code ΧΙ
ISO 3166-2 code GR-85

Chios (Greek: Χίος, alternative transliterations Khios and Hios, see also List of traditional Greek place names; Turkish: Sakız; Genoese: Scio) is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea 5 miles off the Turkish coasts.

The population is about 52,290 (census of 2001), with an area of 904 km². The island also has a considerable Diaspora in London and New York. The capital is also called Chios or Chora; it is a port and the island's chief town. The island is famous for its scenery and good climate. Its chief export is mastic but it also produces olives, figs, and wine. Its international fame is based on the size and quality of its shipping community.



Pre-historic Period

Archaeological research on Chios has found evidence that the island has been inhabited since at least the Neolithic, with cave dwellings at Hagios Galas and the settlement and accompanying necropolis of Emporeio being the primary sites of research for this period.

The lack of information on this period however, cannot be overstated and theories on the size and duration of these settlements have not been well established.

The British School excavated the site from 1952-1955 and most of our current information comes from these digs. The Greek Archaeological Service (G.A.S.) has been excavating periodically on Chios since 1970, though much of their work on the island remains unpublished.

The noticeable uniformity in the size of houses at Emporeio is what primarily drives scholar's theory that there may have been no serious social distinction during the Neolithic on the island, the inhabitants instead all benefiting from agricultural and livestock farming.<ref>Merouses, Nikos Chios. Physiko periballon & katoikese apo te neolithike epoche mechri to telos tes archaiothtas. (Chios. Natural Environment & Habitation from the Neolithic Age to the end of Antiquity) pg. 80. Papyros, 2002</ref>

It is also widely held by scholars that the island was not occupied by humans during the Middle Bronze Age (2300 - 1600), though researchers have suggested recently that the lack of evidence that exists during this period may only demonstrate the lack of excavations on Chios and the northern Aegean.<ref>Ibid. ch. 4</ref>

By at least the eleventh century BC the island was ruled by a kingdom/chiefdom, and the subsequent transition to aristocratic (or possibly tyrannic) rule occurred sometime over the next four centuries. Future excavations may reveal more information about this period.<ref>Ibid. ch. 5, sect. 1</ref>

Pre-Hellenic Period

The island had grown to an estimated population of over 120,000 by the fifth to fourth centuries BC (two to three times the estimated population in 2005), and based on the huge necropoli at the main city of Chios, the asty, it is thought the majority lived in that area.<ref>Ibid. ch. 5, sect. 3</ref>

Pherecydes, native to the Aegean, wrote that the island was occupied by the Leleges,<ref>Strabo 14.1.3</ref> aboriginal Greeks themselves reported to be subject to the Minoans on Crete.<ref>Herodotus 1.171</ref> They were eventually driven out by invading Ionians.

Hellenic Period

Chios was one of the twelve members of the Ionian League. It became the biggest exporter of Greek wine, which was noted for being of relative high quality. Chian amphoras, with a characteristic sphinx emblem and bunches of grape have been found in nearly every country that the ancient Greeks traded with from as far away as Gaul, Upper Egypt and Eastern Russia.<ref> Hugh Johnson, Vintage: The Story of Wine pg 41. Simon and Schuster 1989 </ref>

Roman Period

During the Third Macedonian War, thirty-five vessels allied to Rome, carrying about 1,000 Gaulish troops, as well as many Gaulish horses, were sent by Eumenes II to his brother Attalus.

Leaving from Elaea, they were headed to Phanae, planning to disembark from there to Macedonia. However, Perseus's naval commmander Antenor intercepted the fleet between Erythrae (on the Western coast of Turkey) and Chios.

According to Livy,<ref>Livy, 44.28</ref> they were caught completely off-guard by Antenor. Eumenes's officers at first thought the intercepting fleet was friendly Romans, but scattered upon realizing they were facing an attack by their Macedonian enemy, some choosing to abandon ship and swim to Erythrae. Others, crashing their ships into land on Chios, fled toward the city.

The Chians however closed their gates, startled at the calamity. And the Macedonains, who had docked closer to the city anyway, cut the rest of the fleet off outside the city gates, and on the road leading to the city. Of the 1,000 men; 800 were killed, 200 taken prisoner.

Other Periods

Chios was once occupied by the Persians, and has also been part of the Delian League and the Byzantine Empire, before passing through the possession of the Latin emperors of Constantinople, the Genoese, and the Ottoman Turks.

Modern Period

During the Turkish occupation, there was a massacre of the islanders after a rebellion in 1822, depicted by Eugène Delacroix in his famous artwork at The Louvre. Chios rejoined the rest of independent Greece after the First Balkan War (1912).

The Turkish massacre of 1822, which annihilated 5/6 of the 120,000 Greek inhabitants of the island, decimated the Mastichohoria, the mastic growing villages in the south of the island. It triggered enormous public outrage in Western Europe, as can be seen in the art of Delacroix, in the writing of Lord Byron and Victor Hugo.

Claims to fame

Nikiforos Lytras, "The blowing up of the Nasuh Ali Pasha's flagship by Kanaris", 143x109 cm. Averoff Gallery

The costumes and the scenery are entirely authentic. This and the works of Lord Byron did much to draw the attention of mainland Europe to the catastrophe that had taken place on Chios (1824, oil on canvas, 419 x 354 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris

  • Chios claims to be the birthplace of Homer, Hippocrates the mathematician, and Oenopides. Oenopion, a legendary king, is said to have brought winemaking to the island.
  • Chios is home to one of the biggest ship-owning fraternities in Greece, with such shipping families as Livanos, Chandris, Los, Lemos, Pachos, Pateras, Fafalios, Frangos, and Xylas hailing from the island.
  • Some claim Chios is Christopher Columbus's birthplace. Columbus said he was from the Republic of Genoa, but he never claimed he was from the city of Genoa itself. Chios was a Genoese possession at the time of Columbus birth, and 'Columbus' is a common surname on Chios. Furthermore Columbus appears to have known Chios very well, since he often made references to it in his journals [citation needed].
  • Chios is also the birthplace of some well known poets of modern times as Giorgos Dilvois, Nikos Gialouris, Dimitris Varos and Matheos Moundes.
  • The Korai Library, in Chios, is one of the most important in Greece, containing 95,000 volumes.
  • Chios Museum of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Art, Website
  • Chios Archaeological Museum, Website
  • The town of Vrontados is home to a unique Easter celebration, where competing teams of locals gather at the town's two (rival) churches to fire tens of thousands of homemade rockets at the other church's bell tower while the Easter service is going on inside the churches, in what has become known as rouketopolemos ("the Easter church war").
  • Chios is the birthplace of 19th century Ottoman grand vizier İbrahim Ethem Pasha who also had notable descendants (carrying the surname "Eldem" to this day), the most notable among these being the painter Osman Hamdi Bey.
  • Namık Kemal, one of the principal pillars of the foundation of modern Turkish literature, served as a sub-prefect (exiled in practical terms) in Chios
  • Metropolitan Maximos, from the Metroplois of Pittsburgh [2], was from the town of Kalimasia.

Chios in popular culture

  • The final level of the Monolith computer game No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way takes place on the island of Khios.
  • Vatakis family hales from Vivilli, Chios.


Its climate is mainly Mediterranean. Winters are rarely founded in higher elevations.


Municipality YPES code Seat (if different) Postal code Area code
Agios Minas 5401 Thymiana 821 00 22730-3
Amani 5402 Volissos 821 03 22740-2
Chios 5409 821 00 22710-2 through 4
Ionia 5403 Kallimasia 821 00 22710-5 through 6
Kampochora 5404 Chalkeio 821 00 22710-8
Kardamyla 5405 823 00 22720-2
Mastichochoria 5406 Pyrgi 821 02 22710-7
Oinousses 5407 821 03 22710-52
Omiroupoli 5408 Vrontados 822 00 22710-9
Psara 5410 821 04 22740-6
See also: List of settlements in the Chios prefecture



External links

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See also

Coordinates: 38°24′N 26°01′Ebg:Хиос cs:Chios de:Chios et:Chíos el:Χίος es:Quíos fr:Chios it:Chio he:כיוס nl:Chios (eiland) no:Khios pl:Chios pt:Ilha de Quíos ro:Chios ru:Хиос (остров) sr:Хиос fi:Khios sv:Chios tr:Sakız zh:希俄斯


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