Ilia ( - Ileía) is
a prefecture in the western
Peloponnese and in the western part of Greece.
prefecture is part of the periphery
of West Greece
. It covers the area of ancient
. Its capital is Pyrgos.
The northernmost point of Ilia prefecture is 38° 06′N, the
westernmost is 22° 12′E, the southernmost is 37° 18′N,
and the easternmost is 21° 54′E. The length from north to
south is 100 km (60 miles), and from east-to-west is around
55 km (35 miles). Two tiny peninsulas are part of the
not completely congruent with ancient Elis:
Lampeia belonged to ancient Arcadia, and
Kalogria is now part
longest river is the Alfeios.
rivers are the Erymanthos, Pineios and Neda.
Pineios and Neda flow into the Ionian Sea in Ilia.
Less than 1% of the prefecture is
open water, most of it found in artificial reservoirs and dams, in
the north and east. The Pineios Dam
supplies water for Northern Ilia. The water is not safe for
drinking, because it contains some contaminants
. A second, smaller reservoir in the river
Alfeios near Olympia and Krestena supplies water to Pyrgos.
The eastern part of the prefecture is forested, with mostly pine
trees in the south. There are forest preserves in Foloi and the
mountain ranges of Eastern Ilia.
In the north is the
forest which has pine trees.
ranges include Movri (around 400
m/1,700 ft), Divri (around 1500 m), Minthe (around 1100 m), and more.
About 1/3 of the land is fertile, the rest is mountainous and not
suitable for crops. Swamplands used to cover 1-1.5% of the
region, especially in the Samiko area.
Most of them have been drained for agricultural purposes; only
10 km² has been kept and is now protected.
the ancient ruins of Elis, Epitalion and Olympia, known for the ancient Olympic games which started
in 776 BC.
A museum is founded with statues that relate with
the history of Olympia. Another museum is in Elis, but the size is
very small. Monasteries are scattered around the region.
Ilia has a mediterranean
, with hot, sunny summers. Temperatures over 40 °C have
been recorded. The mountainous interior is colder and snow covers
the mountains in winter. Ilia is more humid than eastern
Ilia is located in a seismically
zone, and there are several earthquakes
each year. Some of the most significant earthquake to have hit the
Rainy weather in 2002-2003 caused destruction of villages by
mudslides, and some bridges and roads were also cut off.
February 2008, frost devastated many crops in Manolada, Nea Manolada and
In August 2007, enormous forest
took place which led to tens of deaths and a massive
environmental and economical disaster. The final toll for the
prefecture was: 45 dead, 100,000 affected by the fire, 3,500 left
homeless by the fire, 25,000 dead animals, 8,500 hectares of burned
forests, 2,300 hectares of burned farmland. The archeological
site of Olympia was seriously threatened, but not
Before 2006, Ilia was divided into two provinces
Ilia Province contained Hollow or Lowland Ilia and the northern
part of Pisatis
. It was the smallest,
but most populous of the two provinces. The seat was Pyrgos.
Olympia Province contained most of Pisatis
and Triphylia. Its seat was Andritsaina, in the mountains, Krestena and Zacharo were the
largest towns in the province.
the second most populous prefecture of the Peloponnese, after
- 1991: 174,021, density: 65 inh./km²
- 2001: 192,340, density: 71.74/km²
- 2005: 198,765, density: 75.9/km²
Between 70% to 75% of the population live
on fertile lands away from the mountains.
The population of ancient Ilia (from 1000-1 BC) was in the range of
5,000 to 10,000 and reached 10,000 or 20,000 by 1 BC. The history
of the population of Ilia had suffered sharp population declines
during invasion from northern and Eastern Europe, plagues, a couple
of wars, and poor economy. Most of the population growth above 1%
occurred in the 1800s and well into the 1900s. The biggest decline
to its population was probably when invaders from Northern Europe
dominate Ilia and some wars as well. The population surpassed the
100,000 mark around the quarter of the 20th century and more than
150,000 in the late-20th century. Pyrgos became the largest city
having the population over the 10,000 mark in the mid-20th century,
and above 20,000 in the late-1980s. The population in the northwest
is growing while the population is declining in the southeast and
The urban population is about higher than 60% and has surpassed
population in the latter part of the 20th century, and rising to
70% and 80% of the population. Over the last 4,000 years, the
majority of the population lived in rural areas.
The primary source of agriculture is corn, tomatoes, potatoes,
green peppers, livestock, watermelon, melon and some vegetables.
There are 3 major operating tomato factories in Savalia (Kyknos
), Gastouni (Pelargos
), and north of Andravida (Asteris
). The most fertile land in Peloponnese is
the plain that covers the northern part of Ilia and the adjacent
part of Achaea.
Textiles used to be dominant in business from antiquity until the
Middle Ages. In the 1950s, agriculture was the dominant
occupation, except in the towns Amaliada and Pyrgos.
Currently, one third of jobs in Elis is in the agricultural sector.
the new farmers are of Pakistani origin.
Squid, and all types of fish are common in the waters of Ilia.
is mainly done in the southeastern Ionian Sea and in the Bay of
Most of the production is sent into Patras, some
into Athens, some elsewhere in the world (with small production)
and some into the local markets of Ilia from Kyllini and Katakolo.
Overfishing is a problem north of Lechaina.
classical antiquity, Elis was an independent state, centred on the town Elis
and the sanctuary at Olympia, where the Ancient
Olympic Games were held between 776 BC and 394 AD.
146 BC, Elis was part of the province Achaea
within the Roman Empire
. In the Migration Period
(3rd - 4th century AD)
Vandals and Visigoths rampaged through the region. After the
breakup of the Roman Empire, Elis fell under the Byzantine Empire
In the aftermath of the Fourth
, crusaders from Western Europe (traditionally referred
to as Franks
in southeastern Europe)
established the principality of
in territory of the defeated Byzantine Empire, including
Elis. They built castles like Chlemoutsi.
The principality lasted from 1204 until
1460, when it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman Empire ruled most of Greece until the Greek War of Independence
Republic controlled a few coastal towns in the 1490s, early
16th century and from 1681 until 1715.
Battlegrounds of the
Greek War of Independence in Ilia include Chlemoutsi, Gastouni,
Lala, Lampeia, Pyrgos and Andritsaina.
As a part of independent Greece, Ilia experienced an economic and
agricultural upswing in the first decennia after the war of
independence. Houses were built, and Pyrgos became a regional
centre. Like most of the Peloponnese, the area was unaffected during World War I. As a result of the
War , Greek refugees from Asia Minor settled into a.o. the area around
World War II
struck parts of Ilia,
houses were damaged, leaving people homeless, and afterwards the
Greek Civil War
destruction and economic decline. The return to democracy
after the Greek military junta
, and Greece joining the European Communities
in 1981 stimulated
economic development and improvement of infrastructure.
Ilia has 200 km of highways
no limited access freeways in the prefecture yet, but a freeway
(A9) is being built between Patras and
Kyparissia, planned opening 2012.
The principal highways
The total length of railway tracks in Ilia is around 140 km.
a railway line from Patras to Kalamata via Pyrgos, and a branch line from Pyrgos to
Both lines are user for passenger services,
and there are tens of train stations scattered around Ilia.
of Kyllini in the northwest is the busiest port in Ilia, with car
ferries to the islands of Zakynthos and Corfu.
Other ports or harbors are small in size and fit only smaller
a military airport near Andravida, north of Pyrgos.
There are no public
airports in the area. The nearest airport
on land is in Kalamata.
Telephones became more common after the 1960s when the Hellenic
Telecommunication Organization (ΟΤΕ
hundreds of kilometres of phone lines in the region. Now nearly
every household has a telephone. The ΟΤΕ built tens of towers to
connect more lines for the internet, telephones, and cell phones to
increase the service. Lines began around the mid-20th century to
enable more people to communicate by phones in the whole of Greece.
There are also several communication towers throughout the
(Olympiaki Radiophonio Teleorassi meaning the Olympic
Broadcasting Television) serves the whole of Elia in local
programming to the area. ORT is also a Polis affiliate along with
Music All Day. The logo includes the
five Olympic rings.
There are several local radio stations, for instance RSA (Radio Station of Amalias
Amalias and Eleftheri
from Krestena. There are hundreds of
transmitter towers scattered over Elia.
- Panagiotis Adraktas (b.
September 28, 1948
in Kardamas), a New Democracy politician
- Hristodoulos Aholos or
Anagnostopoulos, revolutionary leader
- Avgerinos family:
- Dionyssios N. Bokos, writer of Myrsini,
Nihta Pepromenou, etc.
- Andreas Bratis, writer of To Vartholomo (The
- Christopoulos family:
- Christos Daralexis,
- Themistoklis Daralexis,
- Vyronas Davos, a writer, historian
and a poet, he published works on Ilia during the Frankish,
Ottoman, Venetian periods, the Greek War of Independence and the
- Dionyssis Diakos, revolutionary
- Ioannis Diakos, revolutionary
- Takis Doxas, writer
- Epeus, ancient mythological legend
- Ioannis Giannopoulos,
- Kostis Gontikas (b. 1934),
- Dimitrios Gontikas,
(1888-1967) a politician and former president of the Greek parliament
- Aristeidis Griboutis,
- Miltiadis Iatridis,
- Nikos Kahtitsis, writer
- Antonios Kalogeropoulos,
a revolutionary leader from Myrsini (then Souleimanaga)
- Simon Karas, music historian
- Andreas Karkavitsas
- Kostas Kazakos, actor
- Dimitrios Kioussopoulos,
former Prime Minister of
- Dionyssos Kokkinos,
- Dimitrios Korkolis,
politician and mayor of Pyrgos
- Krestenitis family:
- Christos Laskaris, poet
- Liourdis family:
Nikoloutsopoulos, a revolutionary leader from Myrsini (then
- Alexandros Panagoulis
Papandreou, an unrelated historian
Papasimakopoulos, revolutionary leader
- Ioannis Pesmazoglou
- Takis Sinopoulos, poet
- Sisinis family:
- Georgios Sisinis, a Greek
- Christos Stefanopoulos,
- Theodoridis family:
- Konstantinos Varouxis,
journalist, Patris writer
- Leonidas Varouxis, journalist,
- Alexis Vilaetis, a 19th century
politician who was elected in 1868
- Charalambos Vilaetis, a
Greek revolutionary leader
- Lysandros Vilaetis, a chief
of Pyrgos and a politician
- Nikolaos Vilaetis
- Panagis Vourloumis
- For the kings of Elis (now Ilia), see section
- I Ileia Dia Meson ton Aionon (Ilia In The Middle
Of The Age) Georgios Papandreou
- Ston Pyrgo kai stin Ileia tou 1821-1930 (Στον
Πύργο και στην Ηλεία του 1821-1930 = In Pyrgos And In Ilia
(1821-1930) Vyronas Davos
- Ilia Before The Revolution of 1821 (η Ηλεία πρίν
την επανάσταση του 1821 = I Ileia prin tin epanastasi tou
1821) Vyronas Davos 1997
- The Life Of The Inhabitants Of Ilia During The Turkish
Rule (η ζωή των κατοίκων της Ηλείας κατα την
τουρκοκρατία = I zoi ton katoikon tis Ileias kata ton
tourkokratia) Vyronas Davos 1997
- Toponmia tis Ileias (Τοπονύμια της Ηλείας =
Toponym of Elis) Vyronas Davos