In recent years, significant property οwnership changes have taken place in many areas of Mani. The increase in the number of visitors to the area, particularly Europeans, has led to a general recognition of its special geographical and climatic characteristics. These visitors have a greater economic potential, and when they get acquainted with the area, some of them end up purchasing land for residential, and also often for business purposes. They usually purchase old houses with the particular architectural characteristics of our region or plots of land with a view of the open sea and the Taygetus mountain range. The construction of new houses and hotel developments increase year by year. Irrefutable proof of these trends is the great increase in the number of informal brokers who act as links between the demand for purchase and the availability of buildings and plots for sale…
This trend is leading to the strengthening of the finances of many of our fellow countrymen who own land. This support is important since many of the houses sold are not inhabited because the owners have moved to urban or semi-urban centres; also the land that is in greater demand due to the views it offers is in most cases barren and uncultivated. This strengthening of the financial resources of many of our compatriots enables them to meet many of their family needs that have been left unattended for a long time, to promote investment in the region or elsewhere, to finance their children’s studies or career choices and to provide them with all kinds of other options.
It is certain that, as changes of property ownership increase, the demographics of Mani are diversifying to a considerable extent. The new residents, who have settled in Mani seasonally or permanently, bring to the area elements of their own culture and habits. It is not a bad thing for locals to take on many of these elements, especially those coming from people of a higher level of culture. On the other hand, these new residents also adopt elements from our own culture, i.e., those characteristics that have long distinguished the Maniots. The transmission of the Greek language and the transfer of elements from the Maniot cultural background are of utmost importance. A coordinated and well-organised promotion of these elements and the formation of channels for their transfer by our local representatives, through well-planned programs promoted in individual regions, could contribute to a balanced exchange of cultural characteristics.
A few decades ago, the resale of Maniot land to outsiders was considered a mortal sin and a cause of public disapproval. Soon, however, the influx of money softened the opposition, and the new changes in demographics proceeded in a peaceful manner. In fact, history has witnessed many situations, in many eras, which led to the diversification of local human resources. This diversification resulted mainly in the preservation of the basic characteristics of Mani and the integration, over a few generations, of the new inhabitants into the local way of life. I will give examples of some of these phases that enriched the first Doric settlements with new human resources, as they have been recorded in history:
(a) the Roman rule left remnants of language and customs, as evidenced by the stone remains of statues and monuments
(b) the Byzantine period that followed was accompanied by significant movements of military and administrative personnel from Asia Minor, who brought their own customs to the area
(c) the numerous settlements of Slavic tribes in the mountainous area of the Taygetus initially, which over the centuries have moved over almost the entire geographical area, have left a strong genetic imprint, as can be seen from relevant biological research
(d) the peaceful settlement of Albanian tribes in the 15th century, which in turn were linguistically assimilated within a short period of time, contributed significantly, among other things, to the formation of the strong fighting ability of the inhabitants of our region and
(e) the effects on the language and habits of the local people have also been influenced by their contact with the conquerors of the Peloponnese at various times: the Franks in the 13th century, the Ottomans for about four centuries and the Venetians for thirty years in between.
The conclusions drawn from the brief analysis above are clear. Modern Mani needs to further strengthen the strong cultural and biological backgrounds of its population in order to integrate harmoniously the new inhabitants, who in turn can contribute to the upgrading of the area’s human resources. This, however, requires integrated long-term planning and people with the ability to implement it…
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