Folegandros and most of the Cycladic islands, due to their key geographical location, have been occupied by many different peoples and consequently cultures over the centuries. The first houses of the island, according to archeological findings, are placed in prehistoric times. Kares, Finikes and Dorians were some of the peoples who passed through the island while in the 5th century after the signing of the Second Athenian Alliance, Folegandros passed into the possession of Athens. The Macedonians left samples of their presence on the island, conquering the whole of Greece at that time, during the time of Alexander the Great and the Ptolemies. In Roman times, Folegandros was mainly used as a place of exile. It did not flourish in the hands of the Byzantine emperors. In 1204, Folegandros joined the Duchy of the Aegean and the founder of the Duchy, Markos Sanoudos, took care of the creation of the island's castle so that the inhabitants could be protected from pirate raids where until the 18th century they were most common in the Aegean region. The Ottomans in 1617, after a series of hostilities with the Franks, who had meanwhile occupied the islands from the Venetians, managed to annex Folegandros and the surrounding islands to the territories of their empire. In this domination there will be a cessation from 1770 to 1774 during the Russo-Turkish war where all the islands were occupied by the Russians. In 1830, Folegandros joined the newly formed Greek state, now free from occupiers. After the liberation and until the dawn of the 20th century, Folegandros was financially supported by immigrants from the island in Istanbul. In the 20th century, Folegandros was a place of exile. In 1919, during the reign of Venizelos, 5 leading SEKE leaders were exiled to the island, while other exiles of political opponents of the respective rulers followed, during Metaxas, during the Greek civil war and during the dictatorship of the 1967 colonels.


The real origin of the name of the island has not been clarified. According to legend, shepherds from western Greece inhabited the island and because they were in the majority of men they gave the island the name Polyandros. The Venetians, by naming this name, referred to the island as Polykandros. In other sources, the island appears under the name pheleckgundari, which is of Phoenician origin and means "stony land". A third version states that the island was named after its first inhabitant, the son of King Minos, Folegandros. The latter interpretation is justified by the effort of the locals to justify the name of their place and to lay the foundation for the history of their past.


The inhabitants of the island are mainly engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry but there are also a small number of fishermen. Each house consumes meat, dairy and vegetables of its own production. When there is a surplus, the locals sell fish and livestock products in the markets of Athens. There is also a portion of men who are exclusively engaged in construction work. In recent years, however, the increase in visitors to the island in the summer months has led many families to engage in tourism business.

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