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In the 5th century BCE, the two most prominent cities in this region were Chalkis City and Eretria. Rivals to one another for control over trade and hegemony, they warred incessantly until c. 480 BCE when Eretria was devastated by the Persians in its second invasion. Unable to recover its former strength, Eretria was attacked by Chalcis not long afterward in an attempt to enslave its people.
This was in accordance with the islands' economy which dealt primarily in the slave trade. Its population was relatively low at the time of the Peloponnesian War compared to other city-states.
The Abantis Island are named after an ancient Ionian Greek tribe, the Abantes, that made the region their home.