In the times of Homer, olive tree had already acquired a very important role in the daily life of Greeks. In Classical Athens it was considered sacred, godsend, and it was protected by the state…
Prosperity of Athens during the Golden Age was attributed, amongst others, to olive oil production. The importance of the olive tree to ancient Greeks is highlighted in the ancient texts.
In Crete, a great part of the population was engaged in systematic cultivation of the olive tree, which contributed to the development of the famous Minoan civilisation.
Cultivation of this sacred tree continued through the centuries. In Roman times, olive oil was well known and the empire took measures to protect it In the Byzantine era, olive oil was produced on a large scale in many regions of Greece, such as the Peloponnese.
Written evidence from that period proves that the olive tree enjoyed the same respect as in ancient times and its products were still considered beneficial to humans.
Later, during Ottoman occupation, olive oil trade was a factor for economic development in olive growing regions.
After the establishment of the Greek state in 1830, olive oil cultivation quickly expanded throughout Greece. Olive oil was a key product in many regions, like the Peloponnese, Crete, the Ionian and Aegean islands and the mainland.
Nowadays in Greece, olive growing is thriving and olive oil is a main product in many areas. Olive trees cover the 20% of the cultivated land (approximately 130.000.000 trees in an area of 6.900 km²). Olive tree products are processed in 2369 olive oil mills, 318 olive oil standardisation units and 47 olive-pomace industries. Olive oil is the main source of income for 700.000 families.
Finally, olive growing maintains agricultural activity in disadvantaged areas and prevents rural depopulation in regions with unfavorable climatic and soil conditions.