Florina

Florina

Flórina (Φλώρινα, local Slavic: Лерин, Lerin; known also by several alternative names) is a town in mountainous northwestern Macedonia, Greece and its motto is, 'Where Greece begins'. It is also the Metropolitan seat for the region. It lies in the central part of Florina Prefecture, of which it is the capital. Florina belongs to the periphery of West Macedonia. The town's population is 16,771 people (2001 census). It is in a wooded valley about 13 km south of the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Geography

It is the gateway to the Prespa Lakes and, until the modernisation of the road system, of the old town of Kastoria. Its border location find it in proximity to Korçë, Albania and south of Bitola, FYR Macedonia, west of Edessa, northwest of Kozani, and northeast of Ioannina and Kastoria. The nearest airport is situated to the east. The mountains of Verno is to the southwest and Varnous to the northwest.

Winters bring heavy snow fall and prolonged temperature below-freezing. During the hot summer months it becomes a busy market town.

Even though it enjoys the first rail line build in the southern Ottoman provinces late 19 century, its rail system remains undeveloped. Today, Florina is linked by rail (single track standard gauge) to Thessaloniki and Bitola, and to Kozani (meter gauge) where it was intended to continue south and link up with the terminal in Kalambaka, in Thessaly but this did not proceed due to the 1930s financial crisis.

Florina is passed by GR-2 (Lake Prespa - Edessa) and GR-3/E65 (Kozani - Florina - Niki - Bitola). The historic Via Egnatia is situated to the east. The new GR-3 superhighway will run east of Florina.

Name

The city's original Byzantine name, Χλέρινον (Chlérinon, "full of green vegetation"), derives from the Greek word χλωρός (chlōrós, "fresh" or "green vegetation"). The name was sometimes Latinized as Florinon (from the Latin flora, "vegetation") in the later Byzantine period, and in early Ottoman documents the forms Chlerina and Florina are both used, with the latter becoming standard after the 17th century. Another theory is that the modern Greek name derives from φλωρός (florós), the Macedonian dialectal form of χλωρός. The South Slavic name for the city, Лерин (Lerin), is a borrowing of the Byzantine Greek name, with the loss of the initial [x] characteristic of the local dialect (cf. Slavic Macedonian leb "bread" vs. Serbian hleb).

History

The town is first mentioned in 1334, when the Serbian king Stefan Dušan established a certain Sphrantzes Palaeologus as commander of the fortress of Chlerenon. By 1385, the place had fallen to the Ottomans. By no means a large or important town, an Ottoman defter for the year 1481 records 243 households.

The demographic composition of the area the 19th and early 20th centuries is unclear as many factors contributed to the ethnic orientation of the people; out of these religion was particularly important thus giving rise to a proselytism struggle between the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Bulgarian Exarchate (established in 1870). In 1886, 78.4% of the Christian population of the Florina kaza (province) - a part of the Manastır vilayet - was aligned with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and 21.6% with the Bulgarian Exarchate, however by 1900 the Patriarchatists had dropped to 50.9% and Exarchatists had risen to 49.1%. The actual Greek-speaking element in this area was concentrated in urban centres where it participated in the religious, administrative, social, and educational sectors of life, this presenting to the outside world a "Greek-like" picture of the area.

In the late 19th century, it became a centre of Slavic agitation for independence from the Ottoman Empire, but in 1912 it became part of Greece following the First Balkan War. The town was again in the firing line during World War I, during which it was occupied by Bulgaria, and during the Axis Occupation in World War II, when the town became a centre of Slavic separatism.

For part of the Greek Civil War Florina was under communist control. The Slavic-Macedonian National Liberation Front, later simply the National Liberation Front or NOF, had a significant presence in the area: by 1946, seven Slav Macedonian partisan units were operating in the Florina area, and NOF had a regional committee based in Florina. When the NOF merged with the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE), many Slav Macedonians in the region enlisted as volunteers in the DSE. When the Communists withdrew from Florina in 1949, thousands of people were evacuated or fled to Yugoslavia and the Eastern Bloc.

Economy

Florina is a market town with an economy dominated by agriculture, forestry, summer and winter tourism, cross-border trading and the sale of local produce (especially grain, grapes, and vegetables). It also has textile mills and is known for locally manufactured leather handicrafts. Its university changed in 2002 from being a branch of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, to a part of the University of Western Macedonia. After 2004, four departments that previously belonged to the Aristotle University, reinforced its potential.

Durinig the 1950s and 1960s, the area lost much of its population to emigration, both to Athens and Thessaloniki as well as US, Canada, Australia and Germany. Following Greece's EU membership and the economic upturn, many from Germany returned.

Landmarks

Communications

Radio

Villages and Subdivisions

Notable persons

Historical population

Year Population Change Municipal population Change Density
1981 12,573 - - - -
1991 12,355 -218/-1,73% 14,873 - 98.76/km²
2003 - - 14,318 - 95.07/km²

References

  • The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2004
  • Encyclopædia Britannica, 2005
  • The Penguin Encyclopedia of Places, 1999
  • Rough Guide to Greece, Mark Ellingham et al, 2000

Notes

  • Kravari, Vassiliki Ville et villages de Macedoine occidentale. Paris: Editions P. Lethielleux.

External links

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