Peloponnesians - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. As in the past, the economy of the Peloponnesos is largely agricultural and pastoral. There has been some industrialization around the city of Patras, but most Peloponnesian cities have prospered more from agriculture than manufacturing. Until World War II the majority of agriculture was at subsistence level, but in the past three or four decades there has been a shift to more specialized commercial production of grapes, olives, citrus and other fruits, and cereal grains. Pastoralism is still a very significant economic activity in the region, and the Peloponnesos contributes far more than its share of meat and animal products to the national economy. Traditionally much of the herding in the Peloponnesos was transhumant, with shepherds from the highlands descending during the winter months to coastal and other lowland areas. Today transhumance has all but disappeared, and most shepherds remain in one place year-round. Sheep and goats are herded on a fairly large scale and there are also some cattle and pig farms. Other components of the economy include small manufacturing, fishing, the merchant marine, and tourism, this last enterprise being seasonal but a substantial factor in the region's economy nonetheless.

Industrial Arts. Largely in decline, industrial arts are mostly debased mass-production enterprises aimed at the tourist trade.

Trade. The economy is largely a cash economy, fully integrated into the Greek national economy and increasingly Internationalized through Greece's membership in the European Community. There are still regional markets and fairs, but they play only a minor role in the overall economy.

Division of Labor. The traditional division of labor whereby women are associated with the house and domestic work while men work outside the home is breaking down in the modern Peloponnesos. Perhaps 30 to 40 percent of all women in the region now have employment outside the home, and rural women have always worked in the fields and orchards alongside the men. Nevertheless, women continue to shoulder the burden of domestic chores, as men rarely contribute in this area.

Land Tenure. Greece has a long tradition of small private land holdings, particularly in the Peloponnesos. There have been few large estates since Greek independence and the expulsion of the Ottoman Turks more than 150 years ago, and even the church has not been a significant landowner in Modern times despite the substantial holdings of a few monasteries. A major problem in the past was extensive fragmentation of land because of inheritance laws and dowry practices. With massive out-migration from villages in recent years there has been some consolidation of holdings, and land sales are far more common than in the past. Much poor and marginal land, once cultivated out of necessity, now lies fallow.


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