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Leros (Municipality, Greece)


Last modified: 2014-11-15 by ivan sache
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Flag of Leros - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 8 November 2013

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Presentation of Leros

The municipality of Leros (7,917 inhabitants in 2011, 7,417 ha) is located in the Dodecanese.
The municipality was not modified with the 2011 local government reform.

Thucydides stressed the special importance of the bays and the harbours of Leros during the Peloponnesian War (431 BC 404 BC), where Leros supported the Athenians. After the end of the war Leros came under the sovereignty of the Spartans. The island had a famous sanctuary of the goddess Artemis.
It then followed the fate of the Dodecanese Islands during the years of Alexander the Great and his successors, the Roman years and the Byzantine period. During the 13th century, the island was occupied by the Genoese and then by the Venetians. In 1309, the Knights of St John seized and fortified Leros.
On 24 December 1522, following the siege of Rhodes, a treaty was signed between Sultan Suleiman and the Grand Master of the Knights, Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, and Leros passed into Ottoman hands. Ottomans ruled the island with brief interruptions during a period of four hundred years.
During the Ottoman rule, and along with the other islands, Leros enjoyed a privileged regime, with partial autonomy and self-government. During the Greek Revolution of 1821, the island was liberated and became an important base for the re-supplying of the Greek Navy. With the Treaty of London, on 3 February 1830, however, which determined the borders of the newly established Greek state, the freed islands of the Eastern Sporades including Leros were given over to the Ottoman Empire again.

In 1912, during the War against the Ottoman Empire, the Italians occupied all of the Dodecanese islands (except Kastellorizo). On 12 May 1912 the island was seized by the sailors of the Italian Navy.
From 1916 to 1918, the British used Leros as a naval base. The Treaty of Lausanne confirmed the Italian possession of Leros and the Dodecanese. The Italian Fascist regime actively attempted to italianize the Dodecanese. During the 31 years that the Italians remained in Leros, they set up a great plan to build and fortify the island, since its strategic position and its large natural harbours made it an ideal naval base. In the 1930s a new model town, Portolago, was built by the Italian authorities. It is one of the best examples of Italian Rationalist architecture.

During the Second World War, as a result of the excellent anchorage provided to warships by the many natural coves, the island was intensively bombed, first by the British Royal Air Force against italians, then by the Germans against the British forces. The island of Leros was finally captured by German troops in November 1943 and remained under German occupation until the end of the war.
After the Germans had evacuated the island, it came under British administration, until March 1948 when together with the other Dodecanese Islands, Leros was united with Greece. During the junta of the Colonels, the island was used as a place of internal exile for political dissenters, with old Italian barracks of the island used as a concentration camp.

Olivier Touzeau, 7 November 2013

Flag of Leros

The flag of Leros (Kokkonis website) is white with a blue border and a blue cross througout. In the center is the emblem of the municipality (image). The writing on the emblem reads "Municipality of Leros / The Island of Artemis".

Olivier Touzeau & Paeaskevis Renesis, 8 November 2013