Oinousses consists of nine neighbouring islets, covering in total a land area of 14 square kilometers.
The name “Oinousses” is said to originate from the word "oinos”, which is Greek for wine, as in ancient times the island was well known for its vineyards. The few springs and wells that are located around the main island permitted over the years the growing of vine crops, grain and vegetables, while the fertile soil favored rich vegetation.
Although the first references to the island can be traced in texts by ancient Greek writers, Oinoussian modern history starts around the mid-18th century, when residents of northeastern Chios began travelling with their flocks on the western part of Oinousses using small boats.
During the first decades of the 19th century, the island’s new inhabitants started turning to the maritime profession, which led to the gradual transformation of the agropastoral community into a naval one. Originally Oinoussians were employed onboard Chian sailing ships and from 1848 they started building their own vessels.
During the Crimean War, they transported supplies on behalf of the Turkish army earning money that permitted the building of larger sailing ships. Over the following decades, Oinoussian vessels carried goods from Greek ports to eastern and western Mediterranean ports, as well as ports in the Black Sea.
The island’s location, the family nature of shipping enterprises, solidarity among residents, as well as determination, helped Oinoussians to gradually form a meaningful sailing fleet, before entering in 1905 steam shipping with the acquisition of the vessel “Marietta Ralli”.
The Balkan Wars and the two World Wars were a major blow to Oinoussian shipping, which managed to grow again thanks to the acquisition of 14 Liberty-type ships after the end of World War II. During the second half of the 20th century, Oinoussian shipowners built in European and Asian shipyards high specification vessels of nearly all types and sizes, placing this small Aegean island on the global maritime map.