The Peloponnese or Peloponnesus (Greek: Πελοπόννησος "Pelopónnisos"; see also
List of Greek place names) is a large peninsulaand region in southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth. The peninsula is divided among three distinct peripheries of modern Greece: most of the Peloponnese and parts of the West Greeceand Atticaperipheries.
Corinthia(except municipalities of Agioi Theodoroiand most of Loutraki-Perachora, which lie east of the Corinth Canal)
*Piraeus (only the municipalities of
Methana, Troizina, and part of Poros)
The Peloponnese covers an area of some 21,549 km² (8,320 square miles) and constitutes the southernmost part of mainland Greece. While technically it may be considered an island since the construction of the
Corinth Canalin 1893 - like other peninsulas that have been separated from their mainland by man-made bodies of waters - it is rarely, if ever, referred to as an "island". It has two land connections with the rest of Greece, a natural one at the Isthmus of Corinthand an artificial one in the shape of the Rio-Antirio bridge(completed 2004).
The peninsula has a mountainous interior and deeply indented coasts, with Mount
Taygetusits highest point. It possesses four south-pointing peninsulas, Messenia, the Mani Peninsula, Cape Malea(also known as Epidaurus Limera), and the Argolid in the far northeast of the Peloponnese.
Two groups of islands lie off the Peloponnesan coast: the
Argo-Saronic Islandsto the east and the Ionian Islandsto the west. The island of Kythira, off the Epidaurus Limera peninsula to the south of the Peloponnese, is considered to be part of the Ionian Islands.
The peninsula has been inhabited since
prehistorictimes. Its modern name derives from ancient Greek mythology, specifically the legend of the hero Pelopswho was said to have conquered the entire region. The name "Peloponnesos" means "Island of Pelops". During the Middle Ages, the peninsula was known as the " Morea". [In Turkish it is still known as [http://tr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mora_Yar%C4%B1madas%C4%B1 Mora] .] According to folk etymology, this is because the Crusaders found it densely planted with mulberrytrees (Greek: "moreai") used by the flourishing silkindustry.
Mainland Greece's (and Europe's) first major civilization, the Aegean (or Mycenaean) civilization, dominated the Peloponnese in the
Bronze Agefrom the stronghold at Mycenaein the north-east of the peninsula. During classical antiquity, the Peloponnese was at the heart of the affairs of ancient Greece, possessed some of its most powerful city-states and saw some of its bloodiest battles. It was the site of the cities of Sparta, Corinth, Argosand Megalopolis, and was the homeland of the Peloponnesian League. The peninsula was involved in the Persian Warsand was the scene of the Peloponnesian Warof 431 BC-404 BC. It fell to the expanding Roman Republicin 146 BC and became the province of Achaea.
The Peloponnese was subsequently ruled by the
Byzantine Empire(but some areas were under Slavic rule between 618-805), until the Fourth Crusadein 1204, when it was lost to the Venetians and Franks. The Franks founded the Principality of Achaeain the northern half of the peninsula in 1205, while the Venetians occupied a number of ports around the coast such as Monemvasia(Benefşe for Ottomans), Pylosand Koroni, which they retained into the 15th century. The Byzantines regained control of the southeastern part of the peninsula, centred at the fortified hill town of Mystrasnear Sparta. From there, the Greek Despotate of Moreastaged a revival from the mid-13th century through to the mid-15th century, until the Ottoman Turksoverran the Peloponnese between 1458–1460. The Venetians occupied the peninsula between 1685–1715, after the successful Morean War(1684-1699) but Ottoman control was reestablished in 1715. Morea was a sanjak of Rumelia Province and her center was Gördes between 1458–1687. Morea was divided to 4 provinces: Romania (Centre: Anaboli), Laconia (Centre: Malvazya), Mezonia (Centre: Navarin) and Akhaia (Centre: Balyabarda) during Venetian rule. Ototman established Province of Morea in 1715. The province divided to sanjaks of Gördes, Mizistre, Ayamavra, Karliili(Centre was Preveze and bounded to the province between 1715–1717 and 1800-1821), İnebahtı, Balyabarda and Manya. Centre of the Province at first Gördes, after Lontari and Anaboli, at last Trabliçe. Throughout the 18th century, Ottoman authority remained relatively solid and opposed only by rebellions in the Mani Peninsula, the southernmost part of the Peloponnese, and the activities of the bands of the klephts. The Russian-instigated Orlov Revoltof 1770 temporarily threatened Ottoman rule, but was quickly and brutally subdued.
The Peloponnesians played a major role in the
Greek War of Independence– the war actually began in the Peloponnese, when rebels took control of Kalamataon March 23, 1821. The decisive naval Battle of Navarinowas fought off Pylos on the west coast of the Peloponnese, and the city of Napoli di Romania or Nafplion or Mora Yenişehri on the east coast became the seat of independent Greece's first parliament.
During the 19th and 20th century, the region became a relatively poor backwater and a significant part of its population emigrated to the larger cities of Greece, especially
Athens, and other countries such as the United Statesand Australia. It was badly affected by the Second World Warand Greek Civil War, experiencing some of the worst atrocities committed in Greece during those conflicts. Living standards have improved dramatically throughout Greece since then, especially after the country's accession to the European Unionin 1981. The rural Peloponnese is renowned for being amongst the most traditionalist and conservative regions of Greece and is a stronghold of the right-wing New Democracy party, while the larger urban centres like Kalamataand especially Patra are bastions of the centre-left Panhellenic Socialist Movement.
2007 forest fires
In late August 2007, large parts of Peloponnese suffered from wildfires, which caused severe damage in villages, forests and the death of more than 60 people. The impact of the fires to the environment and economy of the region are still unknown. It is thought to be the largest environmental disaster in modern Greek history.clear
The principal modern cities of the Peloponnese are (2001 census):
* Tripoli (28,976 inhabitants)
* Pyrgos (24,765 inhabitants)
* Sparta (16,473 inhabitants)
The Peloponnese possesses many important archaeological sites dating from the Bronze Age through to the Middle Ages. Among the most notable are:
Bassae(ancient town and the temple of Epikourios Apollo)
Epidaurus(ancient religious and healing centre)
Mistra(ancient town near Sparta)
Mycenae(fortress-town of the Aegean civilization
* Olympia (site of the
Pylos, (the palace of Nestor)
Tegea(ancient religious centre)
Tiryns(ancient fortified settlement)
Geography of Greece
Prefectures of Greece
* [http://www.peloponnisos.gr/ Official Regional Government Website]
* [http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/43988/story.htm Greek Fire Survivors Mourn Amid Devastation in Peloponnese] .
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