Society and Economy
MAGNESIA covers an area of 2,636 square kilometres and, in the 2001 census, had a population of 206,995.
Light manufacturing and industry
It was in the 1880s that the first industrial activity commenced in the area, concentrating largely on manufacturing of metal goods, processing of agricultural produce, weaving and tanning. By the time of the First World War Volos was already an important industrial and commercial city.
After a period of crisis and readjustment to new conditions, a new phase of development began for local industry in the 1960s, heralding a prosperity which has lasted to the present day. There are thousands of businesses in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, creating ideal conditions for broad-based synergy and rapid growth for all sorts of new investment initiatives.
The two highly organized Industrial Zones, the Light Manufacturing Zones, the Thessaly Technological Park, the natural gas network – these are all spearheading the activities of the industrial and light-manufacturing sector in Magnesia.
Magnesia’s geographical position and its comprehensive transport links are among its key advantages.
The efficiently run ports of Volos, Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonnisos, as well as the smaller harbours along the coastline of the prefecture, have all the necessary infrastructure to provide moorings for cruise ships, conventional passenger boats, hydrofoils and speedboats. Thousands of passengers and substantial loads of cargo are embarked and disembarked each year.
The Nea Anchialos Airport (for charter flights) and the Skiathos Airport (for scheduled flights) link Magnesia by air with many cities in Greece and abroad. There are heliports on Skopelos and Alonnisos.
The national highway axis linking Patra to Evzoni via Athens and Thessaloniki provides direct access from the prefecture to the Egnatia Highway and the rest of the trans-European network and Pan-European transport corridors.
Work in progress on the local road system across the prefecture, and the Igumenitsa-Volos road currently under construction – part of the trans-European road transport network – will help to promote the region’s role as a European gateway to the East.
There is also an excellent rail link between Volos, Athens and Thessaloniki.
Since ancient times man has had his roots in the soil, an intimate relationship understood and respected in the region of Magnesia.
Land-improvement projects across the prefecture are giving a new boost to agriculture in the region, alongside the supply of ample electric power for all our farmers’ needs, an extensive system of country roads, an irrigation and water supply network, special programmes to support farmers, training schemes, an emphasis on organic farming and – finally – the regeneration of Lake Karla.
The main products of the region are cereals, cotton, olives, grapes and orchard fruit.
The prefecture of Magnesia offers excellent opportunities for quality education and training, at all levels of the educational system: Higher education: this is the seat of the University of Thessaly, with faculties of technology and the humanities; Technical Schools; Primary and secondary schools, as well as many private institutes of education.
With its lavish natural setting, unique diversity and wealth of cultural traditions, the region is a favorite destination with both Greek and foreign visitors.
On Pilion and the northern Sporades there are comprehensive infrastructures and services for tourism, such as air links, heliports, a full network of maritime connections, organized marinas for mooring leisure craft, primary and secondary health care services, efficient hotels and other forms of accommodation, contemporary sports facilities, alternative tourist activities, a wide variety of cultural events – all the amenities a tourist needs to feel sure of enjoying a safe and agreeable holiday.
The local people and their work
One of the world’s first earthly paradises.
The islanders were quick to see the income to be made from the sea and from tourism. The state-of-the-art hotels offer high-quality tourist services and attract thousands of holidaymakers each year.
Much of the island is under cultivation, with the main products including olives, walnuts and grapes.
This is a fertile island with abundant fresh water and large areas under cultivation. Products of the island include olives, plums, chestnuts, figs, pears, cherries, lemons, oranges – all helping the local economy to thrive.
In recent decades scholars studying the island history have identified a large number of craftsmen and folk artists whose presence has left its mark on the island’s identity and is intimately linked with its history.
But tourism of course is the main industry now, and the most important source of employment for the local people.
Alonnisos has always been an island rich in wildlife. Tourism is now the main industry, but many islanders still farm and fish.
In Palia (‘Old’) Alonnisos, after a period in which the fields lay uncultivated, agricultural production is now beginning to return. The abandoned fields are being planted once more.The old terraces of the island, once alive with vines, are now filling again with olive and fruit trees, and the traditional, dry-stone walls are now rising again between the fields. The seas around the island are regarded as some of the richest waters in Greece in stocks of fish, and not a few families earn their living from fishing. The fishermen of Alonnisos have organized themselves into a cooperative and distribute and market their own catch, providing an example to the whole of Greece.
The life of the people of Pilion, as depicted in the work of the folk artist Theofilos, has retained many of the traditional features which have made the popular culture of this area so distinctive.
The fruit of Pilion is justly famous – with apples, pears, cherries, peaches and chestnuts renowned for their quality, as indeed are all the fruit grown in the region.
The visitor will also want to sample the famous preserved fruit made from the superb local produce.
Intoxicated by the scent of the gardenias the visitor can make his way down to the beaches along the Aegean coast, with their blue-green waters, and the peaceful shores of the Pagasitic Gulf.
Magnesia, Volos Achilleio
The modern city was built after the year 1830 on the south-eastern shore by the old castle. Its first residents were merchants and craftsmen from Pilion and migrants from other parts of Greece. An important role in the development of the region was played by the thousands of refugees welcomed to the city from the shores of Asia Minor.
The port did much to spur on the growth of the city as it evolved into an important commercial and manufacturing city, and a lively centre of cultural activity.
Volos – its port the third largest in Greece – is now enjoying dynamic growth and is one of the country’s most appealing cities, a place with which the visitor often falls in love at first sight.
Velestino – Almyros – Nea Anchialos – Pteleos – Sourpi
Velestino, famous as the birthplace of the national hero Rigas Velestinlis, is the most imposing of the villages of the Thessalian plain. Most of the local people are engaged in farming or livestock breeding. The main products of this fertile area are wheat, barley and beets. Sheep and goats graze the fertile fields and hillsides.
The broader area comprising Almyros, Pteleos and Sourpi is still essentially an agricultural region, but has seen substantial growth in tourism in recent years.
Best known among the region’s products are its olives and superb olive oil, its processed tomatoes, cotton and the famous wines of the Nea Anchialos region. There is also considerable light industry engaged in the processing of agricultural produce.