Production and Exports
Following the conquest of Chandax, the island was fully incorporated into the main body of the Ottoman imperial economy. The Ottomans implemented a new land ownership and tax regime, which often proved onerous for the Cretans. The economy became exclusively agricultural, based mainly on olive oil, sultanas, wool, almonds and wine. Activities such as trade, shipping and small industry went into decline. The mid-18th century did however see an upturn in commerce, with olive oil as the main export commodity. Ships, most of which were French, bore the fruits of the Cretan soil to harbours in Europe and the East. In addition, as the main raw material used in soap manufacture, olive oil contributed to the growth of the island's most important small industry.

As was only to be expected, the revolutionary movements that rocked the island in the 19th century had a knock-on effect on the economy. On the other hand, they often forced the Ottoman administration to implement reforms that had a positive impact.

Megalo Kastro never ceased to be an important trade hub. Goods from all over the Mediterranean were to be found in its markets, while local and foreign merchants saw to the export of Cretan produce. Though smaller than Chania in terms of overall shipping volume, the port was still a destination for ships coming from many Mediterranean seaports.



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A 19th century Greek merchant (Gennadius Library, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Athens)
BOL (bill of lading) for a consignment to be carried by steamship, 1881 (Evangelos Krasagakis Collection)
Jewish merchants in 16th century Constantinople. The man to the extreme left is holding coins in his left hand and scales in his right (Biblioteca nazionale centrale di Roma)
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