The World of Info


Popular destinations GREECE



Prehistory and early history

The oldest human remains found on Samos date back to the Neolithic period (also called the Young or New Stone Age), which lasted from ca. 4000 to ca. 1700 BC. Around 3000 BC a number of tribes settled on Samos, the Pelasgians, the Karen and the Lelegians. Around 1500 BC the Minoans arrived on Samos from Crete, followed around 1400 BC by the Mycenaeans, from mainland Greece. During this time the cult of the goddess of fertility, Hera, also came into being.

Greek and Roman antiquity

In ancient times, Samos became a prosperous island through overseas trade. As a result, its culture and economy flourished, especially from 538 BC under the rule of the autocrat and tyrant Polycrates of Samos. During this period, many buildings were erected, but Polycrates was also known as a very warlike type.

In 522 BC Samos was conquered by the Persians, led by Alexander the Great, and this period lasted until in 479 BC Samos became a member of the Attic Sea League, an alliance of Greek cities and islands led by Athens. After the death of Alexander the Great, the balance of power on Samos changed constantly until, in 133 BC, the island became part of the Roman 'provinces' of Asia, which included the western part of Anatolia and the islands off the Turkish west coast.

Byzantium, Venice and Turkey

In 395 AD, the Roman Empire was divided and all of Greece, including Samos, came under the sphere of influence of the Eastern Roman Empire. Not long after, a long period of constant pirate raids followed. After the fourth crusade in 1204, the Venetians settled on Samos for the first time and this period lasted until the middle of the 15th century. In 1453, with the fall of Constantinople, the Byzantine Empire disintegrated and in 1475 the eastern Aegean islands came under Turkish rule. As a result, almost the entire population left the island, and only from 1562 did Greeks settle on the island again. From 1560 to 1834, Chóra was the capital of Samos. Under the Turks, the Samiots had a relatively large political autonomy; the Turks were mainly interested in the taxes levied on the island. Therefore, there were few Turks living on Samos and no mosques were ever built during that time.

Greek Freedom Fight and Greek-Turkish War

In 1821, the Greeks rose up against the Turkish occupiers and in 1830 they won their fight for freedom. However, Samos, with its rebel leader Lykourgos Logothetis, was not yet ready.

The major European countries opposed the accession of Samos to Greece and in 1834 Samos was granted partial autonomy as a principality. The first Prince of Samos was Stefan Bogoridi (1832-1850), with, among others, Princes Konstantinos Photiades (1874-1979) and Georgios Verovits (1895-1896), a Greek Orthodox Ottoman statesman who was also Governor-General of Crete for a time. Verovits' successors included Prince Georgios Georgiadis (Aug 1907 - Jan 1908) and Prince Andreas Kopasis (Jan 2008 - 22 March 1912). The last Prince of Samos was Grigorios Vegleris (22 March 1912 - October 1912).

In 1912 the last Turks left Samos and the island finally joined the Greek kingdom. In 1922, the Greeks made an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Constantinople and the Asia Minor coast. This triggered a huge migration of Turkish and Greek refugees. More than a million Greeks were forced to leave Asia Minor and more than half a million Turks fled Greece. Samos, situated between Greece and Turkey, was of course greatly affected by these huge flows of people.

World War II and post-dictatorship democracy

Samos was occupied by Mussolini's Italians at the beginning of the Second World War without much bloodshed. Only in the village of Kastanéa were a number of hostages killed on 30 August 1943. In November 1943, the towns of Vathí and Pythagório were bombed by the Germans.

Samos did not experience much of the Greek Civil War, which lasted from 1942 to 1949, nor did it experience much of the dictatorial period in Greece (1967-1973). In 1974, during the conflict with Turkey over Cyprus, one of the largest military bases in Greece was established on the eastern side of Samos, close to Turkey. On 3 August 1989 a Shorts 330 of Olympic Airways (now Olympic Airlines) crashed near Samos airport; 31 passengers died.

21th century

In July 2000, Samos was hit by days of huge forest fires, which eventually destroyed more than 30% of all forests. Especially the area around the villages of Pirgos and up to the top of the Karvounis suffered a lot from the fires. Although there is not much evidence of the fires anymore, it will take another 50-100 years for the forests to fully recover.

In 2011, the four municipalities on Samos were merged into one municipality.

At the end of August 2019, a wildfire caused hundreds of tourists to be evacuated to the town of Pythagorion, which was not threatened at the time.

See also the history page of Greece.



Schönrock, D. / Samos

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info