As with neighbours Samos and Lesvos, geographic proximity to Turkey has brought Chios both great success and great tragedy. Under the Ottomans, Chios’ monopolistic production of mastic – the sultan’s favourite gum – brought Chians wealth and privilege. However, during the 1821–29 War of Independence, thousands of Chians were slaughtered by Ottoman troops.
In 1922, a military campaign launched from Chios to reclaim lands with Greek-majority populations in Asia Minor ended disastrously, as waves of refugees from Asia Minor (Anatolia) flooded Chios and neighbouring islands. The following year saw the ‘population exchange’, in which two million ethnic Greeks and Turks were forced to return to the homelands of their ancestors.