The first inhabitants of Karpathos were of Minoan origin. At that time, the island was named Porfyria because of its production of porfyra, the red garment kings prefered to wear. In the 5th century B.C., the island reached its peak of prosperity. During that period it was inhabited by Dorians.

During Byzantine period, it was conquered by pirates, and a slave market was established. In 1224, the emperor Vatatzis liberated the island, but later was conquered by Genoans. In 1538, the murderous turkish pirate, Barbarossa conquered the island and turned most of the islanders to musulmans.

Karpathos participated in the war of independence of 1821, but remained under ottoman rule untils 1912, when Italians conquered the island. Finally Karpathos became part of the Grek state in 1948.