• Greek Places

    by  • 31 March, 2008 • General • 3 Comments

    Greece is currently subdivided into 13 Regions (‘Περιφέρειες’), 54 Prefectures (‘Νομαρχίες’) and 1034 Municipalities (‘Δήμοι’). This was the result of a major administrative reorganization in 1996, called the “Kapodistrias” plan. Initially some, but not all, Prefectures were further subdivided into Provinces (‘Επαρχίες’), but the latter were abolished after a couple of years. Municipalities were comprised of previously independent municipalities or larger villages, grouped with the surrounding villages, settlements and whatnots that had more than a couple of houses and a name to collectively refer to them.

    I have been busy for a couple of months now to map all these places and collect information about the old villages that are now merged into the new municipalities, especially the “whatnots” that have all but disappeared from official documents but the names of which are still used intensively by the local population. By the way, on the off-chance that somebody with more connections than I reads this, I have 2 questions:

    • Do you know of any official documents (in Greek is okay) which either lays out the administrative reorganization before the current one and which might contain names and information about those “whatnots”, or can point me to any other document or website that contains an inventory of these old place names?
    • Could you come up with a good translation of the following nomenclature in this context, I would be very grateful: “κοινότητα”, “οικοσμός”, “συνοικία” and “συνοικοσμός”? I have some idea of how they can be translated independently, but they have a relation to each other, some hierarchical connection which escapes me. Any translation that makes me understand the connection will do, be it English, German, French or Dutch.

    Thank you.

    Anyway, it looks like I’m in for a new round of mapping because a new reorganization is looming, called the “Kapodistrias II” plan. When this will be implemented Greece will have 5 Regions, 15 Prefectures and 400 Municipalities. The new Prefectures will have a far higher level of autonomy than is currently the case, which I think is “a Good Thing” and long overdue. They will have an elected Prefect and Council, while the current Prefectures will each get a Vice-Prefect who answers to the Prefect. The municipalities will in many cases be just a mapping of the old Provinces into Super-Municipalities. Of the current 1034 Municipalities, 166 (Athens and Thessaloniki amongst them) will remain in place, which leaves 868 current Municipalities to be merged into 234 new ones. Nobody knows yet when all this is going to happen, but some sources hint at between 2010 and 2014.

    Some gratuitous tidbits:

    • There are 13272 places (towns, villages, hamlets) that I have identified at the lowest level, i.e. not including the Regions, Prefectures and Municipalities. Sometimes (often) the name of a Municipality is the same as it’s major town or village;
    • Of those place names, 7334 are officially in singular form, and 1988 are in plural. Example “αι Αθήναι” (feminine plural). That doesn’t add up to 13272, I know, see the last bullet;
    • 3159 names are feminine singular, 2602 neuter singular and 1573 masculine singular;
    • The Greek state still uses ‘καθαρεύουσα’ (a purist alternative to modern Greek, closely resembling classic Greek) for place names, hence the official name for Athens above. No Greek will use that form, but rather the ‘δημοτική’ (popular) version “η Αθήνα”, which is feminine singular;
    • Yes, knowing the number and gender of a place name is important in Greek;
    • Many villages share the same name, sometimes you find 2 similar village names in 1 Municipality. The most frequently used name for a place is Ágios Giórgos with 89 occurrences, followed by Ágios Nikólaos with 64;

    I bet you didn’t know that…

    3 Responses to Greek Places

    1. Kat
      1 April, 2008 at 23:25

      I knew some, I didn’t know some. In any case, that post made my head spin! P.S. I thought about you a few days ago when they announced public sector employees had to pay back their bonuses received for computer literary…oh, and we had an earthquake the same day. :)

    2. Paul
      3 April, 2008 at 1:31
    3. luc
      3 April, 2008 at 12:27

      @Kat: “made my head spin” – sorry for heaping this onto your already tried mind. I read about your misfortunes. Hope you’re recovering well. I’m sure glad we picked Iraklio over Athens! B.t.w. I like the new look of your site and look forward to the bigger metamorphosis (and every step between now and then).

      @Paul: maps are forthcoming! Not so artistic, but maps it will be. As soon as I sort out the different spelling variations of close to 20 thousand names. In Greek. And then in Greeklish. And finally in English. Unless the summer strikes first, of course. One has to keep a eye on ones priorities 😉

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