Comino, the smallest of the three Maltese islands, is covered in terraces and walls, which seems to indicate that at one time the entire island was heavily occupied and cultivated. As late as the 19th century I found notices that watermelons from Comino were well regarded.

However, currently, the island is unpopulated except for two hotels and a couple of tourist spots.

I know that various islands in the Mediterranean like Sardinia and the Balaerics suffered terrible massacres and raids by the Barbary pirates from 1400-1800. Was this the fate of Comino? Wiped out by Barbary pirates? Or was the depopulation a more modern phenomenon?

  • Perhaps it was the Turks around the time of the Great Siege of Malta in 1565? Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 22:09
  • According to the visitmalta website, the island "was inhabited in the Roman period, but did not have much significance until the Knights arrived. It then had a dual role: hunting grounds and a staging post in the defence of the Maltese Islands... Grandmasters went to great lengths to ensure that their game on Comino was protected: anyone found breaking the embargo on hunting could expect to serve three years rowing on a galley."
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 22:26
  • @SteveBird: Sort of like Coney Island before the Ferris Wheel.
    – Ricky
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 0:42
  • Check out this book "Malta, Gozo and Comino"- By Simon Gau.
    – trippt02
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


I know this question is very old but I thought it deserved an answer because the speculation is quite inaccurate.

Comino was inhabited up till very recently, probably up till the early 1990s. People just left because modern lifestyles require amenities that are not available there and commuting by boat just to go to work and send your kids to school is not very feasible.

Regarding the depopulation of Malta, it was the island of Gozo that suffered the depopulation, twice.

  • 5
    Welcome to History:SE. Your answer would be greatly improved by adding sources to support your assertions. Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 23:53

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