Chios is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. The island’s position between the Greek peninsula and the Turkish mainland made it a strategic possession for some of the world’s most infamous wars. Chios has been continuously occupied by people since the Neolithic period, with archaeological discoveries made regularly. Modern Chios emerged as a Greek island community that kept its old-world charm.
Modern Chios is a rural Island where the population is around 40,000 people. While today the island’s position matters little to its closest neighbor Turkey, in antiquity and through the early nineteenth century, Chios was conquered and reconquered over and over. The result is an impressive collection of ruins and structures that give the Island Medieval charm.
- Chios is best known for Mastic, a naturally occurring resin from a group of trees that grows on the island. When dried and then chewed, it becomes gum that releases natural flavors. The growth of the trees and harvesting of Mastic is an E.U.-protected industry run by the Chios Gum Mastic Growers Association.
- The Island is the birthplace of the Greek Navy.
- Ancient Greek poet Homer was reportedly born on Chios.
- Chios was owned by the Byzantine Empire for seven centuries but was driven east by the Fourth Crusade. The remaining Byzantine Temple is now a World Heritage site and an off-the-beaten-track tourist spot.
- In 1822, the War for Greek Independence saw invaders capture and imprison thousands of Greek women and children who were eventually massacred.
- Every Easter, the two rival churches on the island shoot rockets at the other’s bell tower.