Farm. – Livestock breeding has much greater importance. A recent statistic (1929) indicates the presence of 176,600 horses, 147,800 mules, 380,700 donkeys, 700,000 vaccines, 6 million sheep, 4.2 million goats and 276,000 pigs. Rather widespread is the breeding of bees. However, among all the livestock, horses, mules and donkeys are the object of limited breeding: horses represent the fruit of the breeds that some Turkish feudatories had introduced into the plains of Thessaly; the mule is very scarce, the donkey is much more frequent. Pigs abound in certain regions, especially in the mountains of Epirus and Acarnania, that is, where the oak forests are more extensive. The cows do not seem abundant either, which more than anything else are raised for work and not for milk. But the livestock of which Greece is really rich is sheep (sheep and goats), the subject of a typically transhumant form of pastoralism. The mountains of Arcadia and the whole mountainous region of Pindus constitute the two large areas of summer pastures, from where they then fall to the bottom in the first cold weather: from the mountains of Arcadia to the Ionian plains of the Peloponnese, from Pindus to all basins of northern and middle Greece. And this typical transhumant pastoralism has very few relations with agriculture: the residents who exercise it are almost exclusively shepherds. from the mountains of Arcadia to the Ionian plains of the Peloponnese, from the Pindus to all the basins of northern and middle Greece. And this typical transhumant pastoralism has very few relations with agriculture: the residents who exercise it are almost exclusively shepherds. from the mountains of Arcadia to the Ionian plains of the Peloponnese, from the Pindus to all the basins of northern and middle Greece. And this typical transhumant pastoralism has very few relations with agriculture: the residents who exercise it are almost exclusively shepherds.
Moreover, the products of sheep farming are scarce and very imperfect: very little butter, and enough cheese, but this, due to its quality, does not allow for a very limited export to Western countries; the Aromuni make a special cheese, called kaskabáli, our “horse cheese”. But more than anything else, the products of sheep farming are used for internal exchanges.
Mines. – The most important mining district is that of Laurio, at the southern end of Attica, where the deposits, already cultivated in ancient times and then abandoned at the beginning of our era, were again brought to light shortly after the middle of the century passed by an Italian, GB Serpieri, from whom the exploitation had such an impulse as to provoke the formation of numerous industrial companies. And there is mined for iron ore, often rich in manganese and zinc, and silver lead. The emery is dug on the island of Naxos almost at ground level and with very primitive methods by the residents themselves who have a kind of right: excavation is a monopoly of the state. Iron abounds on the island of Serifos and southern Euboea; magnesite in the Peloponnese; iron and manganese minerals are in the Chalkidiki Peninsula, chromite especially near Bodená on the edge of Campania; copper, among other things, in Argolis. Almost all of these deposits were known in antiquity; on the contrary, many of them were exploited and today they are abandoned. In fact, in Greece often the convenience of rational exploitation is lacking, not only due to the difficulty of communications, but also due to the scarcity of water and the almost absolute lack of coal. In fact, there is very little coal and of bad quality, especially in Euboea; some of the volcanic islands give sulfur and pumice, but in small quantities; in the Peloponnese gypsum is extracted, used in the wine industry, and clay is excavated almost everywhere for building material and household objects. Even today, the statuary marble of Pentelicus and Paros retains its ancient fame, such as the veined ones of Imetto and the cipollino of Eubea, and the cold marble of Sciro, and the black and green and blue of Tino. However, despite the great diffusion that useful materials present in the territory of Greece, it can be said that they supply a rather limited industry.
Industry. – In general, all industries are scarce in Greece, except for domestic ones, for which the great mass of the farming and shepherding people supply themselves for their own family needs. However, in the last few decades a large industry has also arisen, especially financed by foreign capitalists, such as mining which, however, produces almost exclusively for internal consumption, often failing to satisfy the demand and therefore not preventing the importation from abroad of products that it produces itself. Even for large industry there are the obstacles of difficult communications and the lack of coal, so that it tends to be located in some main centers, such as Athens, Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Cavala, close to the sea.
In recent times, weaving mills of wool, cotton, silk, hat, machine, paper, soap factories, canning and pasta factories, refineries for oils and spirits, mechanical mills, large furnaces. Many of these industries rely on raw materials imported from abroad. Some find favorable conditions: thus the manufacture of spirits supplies itself with national raw material and precisely with dried grapes which the state considers as a percentage of that exported and which it then sells at low prices to refineries.
Fishing. – The last form of activity to exploit natural resources is that of fishing, but it cannot be said that the population, despite the abundance of fish in the seas, is dedicated to it with real intensity. There is no shortage of fish in the mainland waters: eels abundant in some lake basins, and trout also abundant in the rivers of the mountainous region of Pindus; and both are locally fished giving rise to a small internal trade. The sea is rich in sardines and bonito, sole and mullet and, locally, tuna. Fishing is practiced especially in front of the mouths of the major rivers of Acarnania and Aetolia and of the western Peloponnese, but little on the rest of the coasts, so much so that the Italian paranze are pushed into the sea of Greece. And among the Greek fishermen themselves it can be seen that fishing is carried out by certain peoples and not by others: above all by the Albanians of Argolis and of the nearby islands. But they only turn their activity to a small extent to the collection of fish, so much so that fresh fish is a very rare food for the coastal populations themselves, and it can be said unknown to those of the interior; rather they dedicate themselves to that of sponges, of which a considerable quantity is exported.
Commerce. – From these various forms of economic activity the Greek export trade is fueled. Above all it is agriculture that sends its products abroad, while the import is given by artifacts of all kinds. In 1929 the products and relative import and export values were as follows (in thousands of dramas):
The main countries of origin and destination of the products are (1929):
Trade with Italy is quite active. In 1929 the import reached 739.232 million dramas, the export 1.277.981. The main products of exchange were:
But, despite the unfortunate conditions of forestry and the not very advanced conditions of agriculture, cattle breeding and mining, external trade has made considerable progress. We are now a long way from those 18 million that represented the overall trade of Greece after the wars of its independence. From 18 million in 1833 to 73 in 1858, and then to 196 in 1874 and 254 in 1887; but from this year the increase appears to be much smaller, so much so that up to 1911 the 300 million mark was not reached. After the World War, largely due to the addition of the new territories, the Greek commercial movement received a considerable boost, as can be seen from the following table, even if the depreciated value of the currency is taken into account (the value is given in thousands of dramas):
Therefore Greece, a country naturally not rich since it existed as a state, has always bought much more from abroad than it has sold abroad: hence a permanent economic deficit.