Ionian Islands ‘come home’ to Greece



Arena Holdings PTY


May 21 1864 — The Ionian Islands reunite with Greece after a roller-coaster history. The first inhabitants appeared during the Paleolithic Period. The islands were closely associated with Greece and South Italy in the Neolithic Period. The first Greeks are traced to the Bronze Age. From the 2nd century BC, the islands were under the Roman Empire and from the 11th century until 1797 under Venetian rule, with Lefkada under Ottoman occupation from 1476 until 1684. Napoléon conquered Venice in 1797 and the islands came under French rule. In 1798-99 a Russian-Ottoman fleet evicted the French, establishing the Septinsular Republic — the first time Greeks had even limited self-government since the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In the 1807 Treaty of Tilsit between France and Russia the islands were ceded to the French again. Between 1809 and 1814, the British defeated the French in the islands and the Treaty of Paris created the United States of the Ionian Islands under British protection on November 5 1815. Greece declared independence from the Ottoman Empire on March 25 1821. It was recognised on February 3 1830 and the islanders began to press for union with Greece. The British government acceded after King Otto was deposed in favour of George I in 1862. The British departed on May 2 1864. The islands became three provinces of the Kingdom of Greece and officially reunite with Greece on May 21. (Picture: Cape Drastis, Corfu.)