Longanikos (Greek: Λογκανίκος, also transliterated as Logkanikos) is a traditional Greek village, located in Laconia, in the ancient and historical Peloponnese area of southern Greece. It is also referred to sometimes in English as "Logganiko(s)" or "Longanico(s)". It is about 30 kilometers north of Sparta, the capital city of Lakonia, and is also very close to the cities of Kalamata, Tripolis and Megalopolis. It rests on the northeastern slope of Mount Taigetos. The current population of Longanikos is about 702 inhabitants according to government population statistics. This figure may include the population of the surrounding smaller villages like Vergadeika, Kiparrissi, Foundeika, and Aghios Konstantinos. Because of the small size of this village, residents of this town often identify themselves as Spartans to other Greeks or foreigners. For those who are familiar with this area, a resident or person from Longanikos is referred to as a "Longanikiotes" (masc) or "Longanikiotissa" (fem).
The village is administered as part of the Pellana region of the Laconia (aka Lakonia) prefecture. The Pellana region's administrative central office is located in the village of Kastania (aka "Kastorion", "Kastori") which is about 15 miles south of Longanikos. [Note: Diaspora Greeks looking for documents related to any legal, property, or citizenship issues for themselves or their family should look here first for information and guidance. However, in 2011 some of the administrative functions, formerly processed in the Kastori prefectural office, were migrated to municipal offices in Sparta. One should inquire as to the exact location for the services you are trying to obtain]
Picture overlooking the fertile Evrotas valley from Logganikos
The village changed location and name many times since the earliest record of its existence in Mycenaean times. The area of Longanikos has been identified with the ancient village of Velamini (Velmini), documented in ancient writings by Pausanias over 1800 years ago. The current name has been documented in writings as far back as Stefano Magno in 1453. It is believed that this area has been inhabited since Neolithic times, and much later served as a front-line military outpost for the powerful Spartan city-state.
As a result of its geographical position between the 3 prefectures of Messinia, Arcadia and Laconia and because of the morphology of the ground where Taigetos and Parnonas converge without connecting, thereby creating the Laconian valley of Eurotas, Logganikos has served as a key transit point for the movement of people and armies in the Peloponese. It had also served as a military staging area and rampart for the state of Sparta.
Today the village of Longanikos also includes the settlements of Vergadeika, Kiparissi, Giakoumeika and Foundeika. It is nestled along the green slopes and fir-covered mountain range of Mt. Taigetos and one can find stone houses, natural springs and fountains and forest roads that lead to the highest points of the mountain (Koutouni, Limna). Nearby one can also find some fountains that feed the Eurotas valley and the historical monasteries of Rekitsa and Ampelaki, close to the Arcadian border.
Most of industry in this area centers around olive cultivation, resulting in the production of olive oil as the main cash crop. The extra virgin olive oil that is produced is of the highest standards and quality and is sought out by olive oil importers globally. Most of the olive oil that is harvested is purchased by large Italian premium olive-oil labels who are known to repackage the local olive oil and brand it as an Italian product.
The younger people are also shifting away from an agriculture-based economy as their primary souce of income. As more and more residents drive, they have expanded their job opportunities to commuting to nearby larger cities such as Sparta or Megalopolis where they take public sector or private service and manufacturing jobs.
During the turn of the 20th century and also during the 1960s and 1970s, there was a huge outflow of residents to other major Greek cities, including Athens and Sparta, and also externally to the United States, Canada, Germany, South Africa, and Australia.
A high concentration of emigrants who went to the USA settled in the suburbs of Boston MA, primarily the towns of Lynn and Lowell, Massachusetts in the 60's and onwards, which historically have been gateway cities in Massachusetts for various immigrant groups from all over the world. In the beginning of the 20th century, Ipswich was also a gateway city. One of the most famous people with ties to Longanikos was Harry Agganis, also known as the "Golden Greek".
This global diaspora of Longanikos emigrants still maintain strong ties with the village and during summer months the population swells with diaspora residents who have returned for summer holidays. In addition to its central location between Sparta and Tripoli, it is also only a 2.5 hour drive from central Athens and within driving distance of many famous sites, including Olympia, Monemvasia, Caves of Dirrou, Githeo, Kalamata, Corinth, the Argolid (Epidavros, Nafplion), amongst others.
Forest Fires 2007
During the devastating forest fires of 2007, the village was spared any damage. However, the fires came as close as five miles away from the northern direction and also there was extensive devastation on the opposite side of the mountain.
Impact of Greek Economic Crisis
It is believed that the village will see a net influx of residents as a result of the enormous economic displacement that is impacting the Greek nation as a result of the debt crisis which began in 2008. The simple, low-cost lifestyle afforded by the small town environment will undoubtedly attract many who are seeking a respite from the economic calamity impacting the larger cities.
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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