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Kalymnos has about 29,000 inhabitants, 11,000 of whom live in the capital, Kalymnos Town (Greeks usually refer to it as Pothia). This makes Kalymnos Town, which was only founded in 1850, one of the largest towns in the Dodecanese in terms of population.
Kalymnos has been inhabited since prehistoric times and has had several occupiers over the years. The last occupants were the Italians, who left the island in 1948.
Kalymnos has traditionally had a matriarchal society, as the men spent long periods at sea during the year to 'harvest' sponges. Many houses and other properties are still in the name of the woman.
Kalymnos has been known, in fact since ancient times, for the sponge fishermen who brought prosperity to the island. But most people on Kalymnos didn't really get rich from it. Most of the money went into the pockets of a few and many sponge fishermen did not even survive their dangerous profession. In the period between 1886 and 1910 alone, approximately 10,000 sponge fishermen (including those from other islands, especially Simi and Hálki) died and tens of thousands were (seriously) injured as a result of the poor diving suits, which, among other things, caused the dreaded compression disease. Before this time, there was no diving equipment, but divers were sent into the depth weighted down with stones. Since around 1920, better equipment and new insights have made it much safer to dive for sponges.
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country ProfilesLast updated January 2024
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