Ιnousses is a cluster of nine islands located in the eastern Aegean Sea. The largest of those and the only one that is inhabited, is Ιnoussa Island, also known as Aignousa, which covers an area of 14 square kilometers. The other eight are: Virgin Mary (also known as Pasha’s Island), Gaidouronisi, Vatos, Pontikoniso, and the smaller, Archontoniso, Pateroniso, Pontikoudiko, Laimoudiko and Prasonisi.
Ιnousses, in total covers an area of 17.4 square kilometers and the permanent population barely exceeds the 1000 inhabitants. Administratively, Ιnousses is a part of the North Aegean Sea region; it belongs to the prefecture of Chios and geographically is located between Chios Island and the coast of Asia Minor peninsula, Erithrea. More specifically, Ιnoussa is just nine miles away from the town of Chios.
It is believed that the island has taken its name, Ιnousses, after the wine (in Greek the word is “oinos”) that used to be produced there and was already famous since antiquity. The island’s other name is Aignousa, a name given to it after the plant Agnus Castus (in ancient Greek its name was Aignos), a plant that you can find in every corner of the island. In Middle Ages, the Genoese called the inhabitants of Ιnousses “Spermandores”, while during the centuries many different names where used.
Opinions diverge on whether Ιnousses have been inhabited since the ancient times or not, due to the fact that there are no clear reports referring to that matter in the historical documents that have survived. Although, it is known that before the island was permanently inhabited, it was a pirates’ venue, mainly due to their geographical location as well as due to the fact that there can be found many small and sheltered inlets.
According to tradition, Ιnoussa was inhabited in the 17th century by shepherds who came to the island from a village of Chios called Kardamyla. Up to that time, the island was only occasionally inhabited. That was the time that the first references for the island make their appearance, from travelers who passed from Chios while they were following the sea route linking Istanbul to the Holy Land. In the 19th century, Greeks of Asia Minor were added to the island’s permanent residents due to the fact that Ιnoussa is just 4 miles away.
From the mid 19th century, residents of Ιnoussa have been engaged in shipping and as a result nowadays they have more than 500 ships in their possession. The fact that this small island is considered to be the richest in the whole world, can be justified if we take under consideration the fact that Ιnoussa is the birthplace and place of action of some of the wealthiest families, such as the Livanou, Lemou and Patera.
Inousses has a great seafaring tradition and has played a significant part in international maritime scene. The main occupation of its residents is fishing and several are as well engaged in agriculture and animal breading. Shipping, however, is the main source of income for all the residents of Ιnoussa.
The phrase “Island of the Seamanship” fits perfectly on this Aegean island, and the images that you will see while visiting it, will definitely confirm it. The Naval School, the Naval Museum and the Academy of Merchant Navy existing in the area, indicate the importance of the sea in the development of this place. Both its great naval tradition as well as the prospects of continuing it, are the main features of the society of Ιnoussa.
Inousses has a traditional atmosphere. The houses there, are characterized by a mixture of local and non-luxurious neoclassical style. On the south side, you will see green landscapes which if combined with the deep blue of the Aegean Sea, will definitely enchant you. The fact that there are no water springs has resulted in water coming from wells. Moreover, the unique natural wealth has made the entire complex of Ιnousses a part of the European project NATURA 2000; thus it is a protected area.
Wandering the streets of this small island you will have the opportunity to admire the beauty of the combination of two exceptional cultures, the one of the Aegean’s and the other of Asia Minor’s that they interact in a not so usual way.