Socotra History (SOCOTRA ISLAND)

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    Socotra History:
    Socotra appears as Dioskouridou ("of the Dioscurides") in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, a 1st century A.D. Greek navigation aid. In the notes to his translation of the Periplus, G.W.B. Huntingford remarks that the name Socotra is not Greek in origin, but derives from the Sanskrit dvipa sukhadhara ("island of bliss"). A local tradition holds that the inhabitants were converted to Christianity by Thomas in AD 52. In the 10th century the Arab geographer Al-Hamdani stated that in his time most of the inhabitants were Christians. An early Portuguese report on the island of Socotra was provided for Dom Manuel I, King of Portugal in 1505 by Diego Fernandes Pereira. In 1527 Martin Alfonso de Melo remarked that there were many Christians on Socotra. In 1541 Portuguese Admiral Dom Joao de Castro stated that, "the Socotrans revere the Gospel. They say that they were introduced to it by the blessed apostle St. Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552) is one of the most important early Roman Catholic missionaries to the Far East. In 1488-1489 Ibn Magdid commented that Socotra was a Christian island ruled over by a Woman. Al-Masudi, the famous Arabic geographer, wrote an account of the island. 1507, Portugal landed an occupying force at the than capital of Suq, to "liberate" the assumed friendly Christians from arabic islamic rule. The islands passed under the control of the Mahra sultans in 1511. In 1800 the fanatical and puritanical south Arabian tribe, the Wahabees, attacked Socotra, destroyed tombs, churches, and graveyards on the coast around Hadibo. Later in 1886 it became a British protectorate, along with the remainder of the Mahra State of Qishn and Socotra. For the British it was an important strategic stop-over. The P&O ship 'Aden' sank after being wrecked on a reef near Socotra, in 1897, with the loss of 78 lives. In 1967 the Mahra sultanate was abolished. Upon its independence, with the independence of South Yemen from the British in 1969, the islands came under the southern government of the Democratic Republic of Yemen, and then after unification with the north in 1990, the island came under the governance of the new Republic of Yemen.