Demographic Information
The first decades after the Ottoman conquest were ones of hardship for those on the island. Losses suffered in the protracted Cretan War, the climate of uncertainty, economic recession, epidemics and waves of migration decimated the population. Although overall numbers increased throughout the 1700s, revolutions in the 19th century interrupted the upward trend thereafter. Quite apart from casualties suffered among the civilian population, in several cases the dominant feeling of insecurity induced large numbers of people to abandon Crete.

Interesting if not always reliable information on the town's population is to be gleaned from European travellers. Circa 1700, a Frenchman named J. Pitton de Tournefort notes that Megalo Kastro had 2 000 Muslims, 1 000 Jews, 800 Orthodox Greeks and 200 Armenians. A century later, in 1834, Englishman Robert Pashley put the town's population at 12 000, of whom 11 000 were Muslims. In the first reliable census, carried out in 1881, the population stood at 21 069 people, of whom 14 597 were Muslims, 6 361 Orthodox, 58 Catholics, 2 Protestants and 51 Jews.

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Drawing of Cretan women as seen by P. Tournefort, 1717
Ottoman Turks at prayer in a mosque in Chania, 1900 (N. Douras, Theophanis Kokkinakis Collection)
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