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Crete from the 19th to the 20th century. Economy and society

On 1 December 1913 the official ceremony of the Union of Crete with Greece was held in Chania. The raising of the Greek flag on the Firkas Fortress was, for the Christian population, the moving conclusion of a long and painful struggle.

Political symbolism aside, however, Crete in 1913 had already come a long way from its Ottoman past. Ottoman authority had gradually been erased, as the island passed through various stages of self-government and furthered its administrative modernisation. From a financial point of view, there was widespread concern at the major problems that had afflicted the local economy for decades, and evident interest in the improvement of infrastructure on the island. Cretan society was strongly influenced by European trends, had acquired a unified and relatively reliable education system, and was now taking its first steps towards urbanisation.

This process continued after the Union with Greece and was affected by new military adventures (First World War and Asia Minor War) and the corresponding political developments. The most obvious consequence for Crete was the change in the makeup of the population. The compulsory departure of the Muslims of Crete and the establishment of Greek refugees altered the demographic and ethnological map of the island, irrevocably extinguishing the duality of religions that had been a feature of local society for many centuries.


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