A group of seven islands in the Ionian Sea off the west coast of Greece, the largest of which is Corfu.
In 1809 the British attacked and gradually occupied the islands until finally Corfu fell in 1814. The island group was handed over to Britain in 1815 by the Treaty of Paris.Britain gave the islands a new constitution and they were created a Protectorate. They were entitled 'The United States of Ionia'. During this period the area also included the seaport and district of Parga on the Epirus coast, which was handed back to Greece in 1819. A British packet service ran from Malta and the British introduced a number of handstamps including the crowned circle types 'Paid at Zante', 'Paid at Cephalonia' and 'Paid at Corfu' from 1844 onwards. A British garrison was maintained in the group and soldiers' letters are known from this period.
The First Ionian Islands stamps were issued on 15 June 1859 depicting Queen Victoria but with lettering in Greek. During this period there were no Greek adhesives available but stamps of Austrian Italy and Austrian Levant were freely used and Austrian Lloyd steamers were used for the transport of mail. Greek stamps have been used since that time except for two short periods in 1921 and 1941 when overprinted Italian stamps were used.Philatelists enjoy interesting postal history with stamp collectors being particularly interested in the postmarks of the foreign post offices on the stamps of various countries.