From the stone tools found in Haliotata- Spilios position- and in Fournia peninsula in Fiscardo it has been concluded that Kefalonia has been inhabited since pre-historic times. Dr. G. Kavadias’ collection, which is exhibited at the Archeological Museum of Argostoli, proves that the first inhabitant of Kefalonia lived on the island before 50.000 B.C. A large number of findings and legends link the island to the prehistoric years.
Early Historic Years
“TETRAPOLIS” is how the historian Thucydides named the island. Kefalonia was divided into four City- States: Krani, Palli, Sami and Pronnoi. They were independent and autonomous Cities and their borders were determined by their natural ground formation. Etymologically and according to mythology the names of the City- States came from the names of the four sons of Kefalos. Their government was democratic. Many tombs in many different places of the island- Kokolata, Mazarakata, Razata, Tzannata, Kontogenada etc, - prove that Kefalonia was an important Mycenaean Center. In the Archeological Museum of Argostoli one can admire pre- Mycenaean, Mycenaean and Post- Mycenaean findings from these tombs. The Gods worshiped in Kefalonia show the connection of the island with mainland Greece. In Krani, Aenos, Pronnoi and Minies there are still remains of the temples dedicated to these Gods. Kefalonia was entirely conquered by the Romans in 188 B.C.
The Byzantine Years
During the early years of the Byzantine Era Kefalonia belonged to the Achaia province and later (9th- 11th century) there is evidence of the Kefalonian sector which aimed, due to its strategic position, to contribute to the defense of the vast Byzantine Empire.
From time to time the island suffered many and frequent raids. Robert Guiscard occupied the island temporarily as did Roger II of Cicely whose occupation finalized the secession of kefalonia from Byzantio.
The Frankish Rule
The great pirate Margaritonis essentially “opens” the postbyzantine era of the Frankish Rule. Sovereignty was taken over by the Orsini feudal in 1195 and was given to the house of Tocchi as a county in 1357. The short but tough Turkish occupation lasted 17 years and ended with the conquest of the Castle of St. George, the capital of the island, by the Venetians and the Spanish in 1500.
The Venetian, French and other conquerors.
The Venetian domination lasted 300 years. The French domination started in 1797 and brought about a new era of continuous political changes. Later the allied Russian and Turkish fleet foster the revolution against the French and in 1800- 1807 the “Eptanisos Politia” under the formal name “Politia ton Epta Enomenon Nison’ is created. The short French domination (1807- 1809) was halted by the British who stayed until 1864. All these successive revolutions and the appearance of the first socialist formations in our history, leading to the 21st of May 1864 when Kefalonia and Ithaca were re-united with Greece.
Contemporary Historical Events
From 1940 to 1943 Kefalonia was dominated by the Italians. In September 1943, during the Italian- German conflict, thousands of Italian soldiers from the Acqui division were slaughtered by the Germans. During the same period Argostoli and the settlements around were bombed by the German bombers resulting in many deaths and property destruction.
The short German domination was very trying for the population, as many resistance fighters were executed by the German occupation army only to be followed by the fierce civil war.
The earthquake of 1953 changed the island thoroughly and altered its course in history. Argostoli and most of the villages were totally ruined with a great number of injured and dead. In the years following the earthquake, migration and maritime employment emerged as the solution to unemployment. This resulted in a sharp decline in population and cultural, economic and social inertia.
The reversal comes about in the 80’s. In the 1981 census, the prefecture of Kefalonia rates first in population decline in Greece. Twenty years later, in the 2001 census, the island came first in population increase in Greece. Today it continues its dynamic development and is considered one of the most rapidly developing tourist areas in the whole country.