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Zacharo (Greek: Ζαχάρω) is a town and municipality in southwestern Greece. Administratively, it belongs to the Elis peripheral unit, in the Periphery of West Greece.


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Zacharo is situated on the Ionian Sea coast, in the area of the Gulf of Kyparissia. The town is crossed by the highway named GR-9/E55, that links Patras with Kalamata. Distance from Athens is 280 km (old: 320 km SW), and Zacharo lies 32 km SE of Pyrgos, about 17 km S of Krestena, 24 km SW of Olympia, about 30 km north of Kyparissia and 90 km NW of Kalamata. The town is famous for its lengthy sandy beach, the adjacent Kaiafas Lake and also the Thermal Springs of Kaiafas.

Municipality

The municipality Zacharo was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 2 former municipalities, that became municipal units:[1]

Figaleia
Zacharo


Subdivisions

Division of the municipality of Zacharo with population 12190 in the year 2001

Zacharo

Logaki

Logaki is a small village of the district Taxiarches between Kato Taxiarches and Tholo (Tholon). Near the village in a place called Paliokaravo (old ship). There in 12 March 1769 a cargo of weapons from a russian ship was unloaded for the military leaders Georgios Grigoriadis and Anastasis Christos from Nea Figaleia who participated in the Orlov revolution.

Smerna

Smerna is a village at an altitude 650 m. During the Greek war of independence it was burned down by Ibrahim in 7 September 1825. It was captured again by Greek forces of Dimitrios Plapoutas 1 Oktober 1825.

The community has a school, a kindergarten, a lyceum, a gymnasium, churches, a post office, a police station, a court, a health center, banks and a railway station. Athletic facilities include a football stadium, a basketball court and a community gym which is open to the public free of charge. The town is also the home of a football team, Olympiacos Zacharos, which bears the town's name. It was established in 1928 and has been active ever since, participating every year in the local football championship. In the town center, there is a plateia (square) with Platanus trees. The Patron saint of Zacharo is Saint Spyridon, and the central church of the city bears his name. The Saint's feast day is on December 12 and it is a holiday for the town.

Population statistics and Demographics
Year Town population Municipality population
1981 2,812 -
1991 4,318 11,041
2001 6,739 12,910

The economic growth that has taken place during the last decades was accompanied by a steady increase of the population.

History

The history of Zacharo begins in the middle of the 19th century. At the time of the Greek War of Independence, the area of Zacharo, was sparsely populated. However, in the decades that followed, populations from the villages of the surrounding mountains started to migrate to the area. The town allegedly took its name from an inn that used to be there and accommodate travellers who were looking for a shelter to spend the night. That inn belonged to a woman named Zacharoula, from whom Zacharo took its name. In 1881 Zacharo was officially proclaimed a community.

Economy
The beach of Zacharo is one of the longest in Greece.

The economy of Zacharo relies on tourism as well as on agriculture. The town and the surrounding vicinity is a tourist hotspot, especially in summer. The geography of the area provides a combination of scenery that is unique in the European continent. It includes the lengthy Zacharo beach, the Kaiafas Lake, the Thermal Springs of Kaiafas and the adjacent Lapithas mountain. The agricultural sector is also a major source of income for the local economy. It is based on the cultivation of olive trees, for the production of olive oil. The variety of olive tree which prevails in the area is the Koroneiki, which is one of the most distinguished in Greece. The olive oil produced is of extra-virgin quality and is mostly exported to the international market.
The Zacharo tomato is a unique tomato cultivar, famed for its sweetness. When ripe, it is loaded with sugars (mainly fructose and inulin) to the extent that the sugar crystals are visible to the naked eye. Cultivation of the Zacharo tomato is all but extinct, as the cultivar does not grow well in greenhouses, has a short season, and its extreme fleshiness makes the fruit heavy and liable to squeezing and decay when packed.

Climate

Zacharo enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate. The proximity to the sea is a key factor which influences the climatic parameters. Thus, winters are mild and rainy, while summers are sunny and hot.

Nearest places

Ancient Olympia
Pyrgos, Elis
Ancient Sami
Temple of Apollo Epicurius


2007 forest fires

In late August 2007, a big wildfire burned out of control in the vicinity of Zacharo, causing over 40 deaths, as well as extensive property damage. Zacharo was one of the worst-hit areas in Greece.

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