Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Greece holds the third place in World oil production after Spain and Italy, with more than 140 million trees, which produce around 400,000 tons of oil annually, from which 75-85% are extra virgin oil. This figure makes Greece the first country in the world in production of extra virgin olive oil. Second is Italy, with 40-45% of annual production and Spain third with 25-30%.

Olives are grown mainly in mainland Greece. The Peloponnese has approximately 65% of annual production. Olives are also in Crete, the Ionian and Aegean islands.

The olive tree is a species of a small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin, which are widespread in Greece. Its fruit also called olive produces the olive oil.

The word derives from Latin “oliva” which in turn comes from the Greek ελαία (elaia) ultimately from Mycenaean Greek e-ra-wa (“elaiva”), attested in Linear B syllabic script.

The olive tree was the symbol of the goddess Athena.

The olive is known since antiquity. It was cultivated in Ancient Greece and both olives and olive oil were important commercial products. The olive tree is known since ancient times and probably originated from the Eastern Mediterranean. The Greeks were the first people who cultivated the olive tree in the European Mediterranean region. It was transferred to either Greek settlers or Phoenician merchants. The olive tree grows in temperate climates without extreme temperatures (with an average annual temperature of 16oC) and moisture, so it is widespread in the Mediterranean area.

Olives have grown in Greece for more than four thousand years. The cultivation was known to the Semites, the Egyptians and Armenians but the Greeks were the first who were involved in such a large extent. Between the 7th and 3rd century B.C., ancient philosophers, doctors, historians explored the healing properties of olive oil and Aristotle regarded olive cultivation as a science.

The tree was protected by legislative decrees of that era. The first such law belongs to Solon (639-559 B.C.) and expressly forbade the cutting of more than two trees per year in each olive grove.

The olive tree is a blessed tree which grows in rocky and barren area of the Mediterranean. It produces its fruit under adverse conditions of drought, strong winds and high temperatures while its longevity and productivity, wrote the history of Mediterranean people.

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