Elis (Modern Greek: Ηλεία - Ileía) is a prefecture in the Western Peloponnesus and in Western portion of Greece. The prefecture is part of the periphery of West Greece. It covers the area of ancient Elis, and was formerly a department. Its capital is Pyrgos.
The population of ancient Elis (from 1000 BC) was in the range of 5,000 to 10,000 reaching 10,000 or 20,000 by 1 BC. It surpassed the 100,000 mark around the first quarter of the 20th century and the 150,000 mark in the late-20th century. Pyrgos became the largest city ( over the 10,000) in the mid-20th century, and above 20,000 in the late 1980s.
The population in the northwest of the prefecture is growing while the population is declining in the southeast and east.
In spring, temperatures in May can climb to around 20 to 25 °C. Temperatures in the summer can soar over 30 °C (86 °F).
The northernmost point is 38.1° or 38° 06′ N, the westernmost is around 22.2° E or 22° 12′ E, the southernmost is 37.3° N or 37° 18′ N, and the easternmost is 21.9° E or 21° 54′ E. The length from north to south (Directly is 100 km (60 miles), and from east-to-west is around 55 km (35 miles). Its coast line includes 120 km of sandy beaches.
The longest river is the Alpheus River (Greek: Πόταμος Αλφειόυ Alfeios). Other rivers are Erymanthus (Ερύμανθος Erymanthos) by the boundary of Elia-Arcadia, Peneus (Πόταμος Πηνειός Pineios) of the west runs down into the southern part of Vartholomio. The Neda (Νέδα) river is the boundary of Messenia and Elis.
Forests are found in the east. Pine trees are mostly founded in places from Neda River up to Peneus River. About half of the area are covered with forest. There are forest preserves in Pholoe (Φολόη Foloi, Pholoi, modern Greek or Pholoe, ancient and modern Greek.), and the mountain ranges of Eastern Elis. Another forests in the northern part is the Strofylia forests which has pine trees.
Tree-planting is very rare. The rate of forestation is slightly decreasing, mainly by fires and road networks. But larger forests, not linked by any roads, are protected.
The port of Kyllini in the northwest is the busiest port in Elis. It ferries cars to and fro the islands of Zante and Corfu with 2 ferry lines. Other ports in the prefecture are small in size and can only accomodate smaller boats.
Elis is located in the heart of the earthquake zone and the faultline. Every year dozens of minor earthquakes and aftershocks can be felt.
Here lies the ancient ruins of Elis (Ancient Greek Ηλίς Elis, Modern Greek Ηλίδα Ilida), Epitalium (Επιτάλιον, Επιτάλιο (modern Greek spelling Epitalion) and Olympia, and once held the ancient Olympic games which started in 776 BC. A museum is found with statues that relate with the history of Olympia. Another smaller museum is in Elis.
Elis has a military airport in Andravida, located slightly north of Pyrgos, 3 km north of the center of Andravida. There are no international or local airports in the area. There are military bases in Elis, like the one in Kyllini.
Monasteries are scattered throughout the region. The nearest from Amalias is Agia Frangavilli about 5 km SE of Amalias and N or Pyrgos via GR-9.
The primary agricultural products of the region are corn, tomatoes, potatoes, green peppers, watermelons and melons.
There are 3 major operating tomato factories in Savalia, Gastouni, and north of Andravida. The most fertile land is a plain that covers the northern part of the prefecture.
Tourism flourishes in the summer season in hotels in the Kyllini area and its thermal springs next to the Ionian Sea.
Another tourist attraction is Olympia, along with its ancient ruins.
- 1991: 174,021, density: 65 inh./km²
- 2001: 192,340, density: 71.74/km²
- Andreas Karkavitsas, writer
- Ioannis Paraskevopoulos, banker, Prime Minister of Greece
- Dimitrios Kiousopoulos, jurist, Prime Minister of Greece
- Stephanos Stephanopoulos, jurist, Prime Minister of Greece
- Spyros Skouras, Greek-American film executive
- Nikos Beloyiannis, communist official
- Miltiades Iatridis, World War II hero
- Mary Linda, singer
- Giorgos Karagounis, football player
Total highways are exactly 200 km, with 25 km being old national roads. Almost 95% to 99% of the roads were surfaced in the 1950s.
The principal highways include:
- E55 (GR Highway 9). Its length is 110 km (68 miles), while bypassing Pyrgos. The highway runs through the entire western coast of the Peloponnese, with a few exceptions, Kyllini and Katakolon coasts.
- GR Highway 74, the Pyrgos-Tripolis Road which last around 500 to 60 kilometers in Elia linking up to the small one-lane narrow tracherous bridge Construction is under way for a by-pass and a 2-lane bridge will also be built over the riverbanks of Erymanthus. This is the only road connects outside Elia, being running from W to E parts of the Peloponnese.
- GR Highway 76, part of which is funded locally and not being GR Highway 76 though. The Elia portion of Pyrgos-Andritsaina-Megalopolis road is 60 km long This road runs almost entirely being the Peloponnesian highway running from NW (Kyllini) to SE (Monemvasia).
- GR Highway 33, about 30 km (20 miles) with curves for Patras-Tripolis Highway in Elia.
- ORT (Olympiaki Radiophonio Teleorassi meaning the Olympic Broadcasting Television) serves the whole of Elia in local programming to the area. ORT is also a Polis affiliate along with Music All Day.
Elis has two provinces:
- Elis province contains Lowland Elis and the northern part of Pisatis. Though smaller, it has the most people. The seat is Pyrgos.
- Olympia province containing most of Pisatis or Pisa and Triphylia. Its seat is Andritsaina, Krestena and Zacharo are the largest towns in the district.