North Aegean Region of Greece
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North Aegean

Leading producer of speciality F&B products

Northeastern Aegean island chain with tourism and agricultural potential

Located off the coast of Asia Minor, the five major islands of the North Aegean offer strong potential in tourism, F&B products, and renewable energy.

The islands of the North Aegean are known for their unique food and beverage offerings that include wines, spirits and mastiha produced since ancient times. Tourism is also a major source of income particularly on the islands of Lesbos, Samos, and Chios.

Situated off the coast of Asia Minor, the islands represent an international border between the European Union and Turkey. In recent years, they have been a major arrival point for refugees from the Middle East, which has strained local resources. The island of Limnos, facing the Dardanelles, is home to many Greek military installations.

However, tourism continues to develop on the islands. International travel and tour operators are investing in new accommodations and facilities, particularly on the islands of Chios and Samos.

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Key Facts
North Aegean

Leading agricultural producer of unique F&B products like local wines, mastiha, and ouzo

Growing tourism economy with investment in accommodation, marinas, and other infrastructure

Recent inflows of refugees from the Middle East has weighed on local resources

Tourism

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Infrastructure and Logistics

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Agri-Food

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Regional Opportunities

Tourism

Infrastructure and Logistics

Agri-Food

According to SETE, the North Aegean islands draw just 1% of visitors and tourism receipts.

The islands of Samos and Chios have been drawing investment interest from international travel and tour operators and have seen a revival in their tourism sectors following a downturn as a result of the region’s recent migrant crisis. On the island of Chios, the Greek government is redeveloping the island’s flagship marina and the state-owned Xenia hotel. However, the sector has lagged behind tourism development in other island regions of Greece, representing significant untapped potential.

Learn more about Tourism in Greece

Airports on Samos and Lesvos are being extended and upgraded.

As part of a 40-year concession to upgrade Greece’s 14 regional airports, German airport operator Fraport has redeveloped and extended the airports of Samos and Lesvos, a move that will enhance the islands’ tourism economy. Recent data from the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), shows that international airlines have increased routes and capacity to the North Aegean islands in the past year, albeit the tourism sector’s struggles derived from migrant inflows. The Greek government is also privatising the state-owned marina on Chios that will help enhance the island’s reputation as a yachting destination.

Learn more about Infrastructure and Logistics in Greece

North Aegean is known for wines, spirits, and local food products.

Since antiquity, the wines of Limnos, Samos, and Chios have been exported around the Mediterranean with recent archaeological finds off Cyprus confirming their popularity in Roman times. Lesvos is well-regarded for distilling the best Greek ouzo. On Chios, the island’s unique mastiha production was once an imperial monopoly in the Ottoman Empire and more recently has been blended into new F&B products, from spirits to ice cream, as the island’s producers expand into new markets.

Learn more about Agri-Food in Greece

North Aegean
In Numbers

The North Aegean region has been developing its tourism infrastructure to boost jobs and incomes.

  • €2,549 million

    GDP in 2018, in current prices

  • €11,800

    Per capita GDP in 2018, in current prices

  • 1%

    Percentage of visitors out of Greece’s total in 2018

  • 2

    recently privatised and redeveloped airports

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North Aegean Demographics

The North Aegean is Greece’s smallest region by population.

The North Aegean is Greece’s second least populated region with just over 220,000 permanent residents. More than half live on the islands of Lesvos and Chios, Greece’s fifth and sixth most populated islands, respectively. The islands have traditionally had a strong rural character. Relative to other Greek islands, the islands of the North Aegean are more fertile, with more abundant water resources, and a fairly flat terrain that favours agricultural production.

  • 221,098

    Population (2018)

  • 2.06%

    Share of Greek population (2019)

  • 24.5%

    Tertiary Educational Attainment of population aged between 25-64 (2018)

  • 56.9/km2

    Population Density (2018)

Sources: Eurostat, Hellenic Statistical Authority, European Commission, Regional Governments, SETE, Enterprise Greece, and HWEA

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