It has frequently been said that the lagoon population was originally composed of refugees from the mainland seeking asylum from the incursions of Huns,, Goths and Lombards; but it is more probable that, long before the date of the earliest barbarian inroad, the lagoon islands already had a population of fisherfolk.
But it is nearly certain that long before Attila and his Huns swept down upon the Venetian plain the little islands of the lagoon already had a population of poor but hardy fisherfolk living in quasi-independence, thanks to their poverty and their inaccessible site.
The fisherfolk use many kinds of nets, which they manufacture themselves.
The inhabitants, among whom are many Turks and Bulgarians, are mostly fisherfolk.
It is said to have been attacked and devastated by the Javanese in 1252, and at the time when it passed by treaty to the East India Company in 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles persuading the sultan and tumenggong of Johor to cede it to him, it was wholly uninhabited save by a few fisherfolk living along its shores.