Halkidiki (Halkidice) is a peninsula of distinctive shape located roughly in the center of Macedonia.Geographically it is separated from the rest of Macedonia by an imaginary line throygh Cape Karabournou, Mt. Chortiatis, the hills south of the Langada and Volvi Lakes and the hills south of the Redina Pass. The main peninsula terminates in three smaller ones: Kassandra, Sithonia and Mount Athos (better known among Greeks as Aghion Oros - the Holy Mountain).    The geomorphology of Halkidiki is interesting. It is a sloping geological table, rising from the west to the east. Thus in Kalamaria (west coast) and Kassandra we find most of the plains which are also the most fertile areas, in the center Mt. Chortiatis (1201 m.), Mt. Cholomon (1165 m.) and Itamos (in Sithonia, 811 m.) and at the eastern end the magnificent  massif of Mt. Athos (2033 m.).    The three peninsulas which jut into the Aegean Sea make Halkidiki the prefecture with the longest stretch of coastline in mainland Greece. The coastline of halkidiki is estimated to be more than 500 km., comprising every type of landscape. One finds long sandy beaches in Kalamaria, Nikiti, Toroni and Ierissos; alternating rocks and trees in Sithonia; picturesque small bays in Vourvourou; and impressive rocks at the Capes of Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos. Halkidiki does not have any rivers, and this is one of the reasons why the sea surrounding it, is one of the clearest in greece.    The prefecture of Halkidiki occupies the greatest part of the peninsula, the northwest section is part of the prefecture of Thessaloniki, and the peninsula of Mount Athos is an indepedent administrative district. The prefecture of Halkidiki covers an area of 2,886 and has a population of about 80,000 which is divided among 5 towns and 69 villages. The capital of the prefecture is Polygyros, with a population of 4,000.                                                                                   

                   The chief occupations of the people of Halkidiki are farming (products: olives,vegetables, nuts,grapes,     
 wines); beekeeping (one of the biggest centers in Greece); fishing; forestry (lumber and resin extraction); metal mining; tourism and to a small extent poultry and cattleraising. The chief products of Halkidiki are the following:  
· wines: Porto Carras,"Aghioritiko" by Tsantalis(made from Mount Athos grapes) and the traditional wines of Aghios Nicholaos in Sithonia. 
· honey: The greatest percentage is produced in Nikiti. Part of it is disposed of locally following canning in Polygyros but most of the production is exported. 
· olives and oil: Produced mainly in the southern and western areas of Halkidiki. 
· wood products: Mainly in northern Halkidiki(Arnea, Paliochori, Megali Panaghia etc.) 
     Halkidiki’s main contribution to the Greek economy is its metal mines and tourism. There are three major mining centers : Stratoni (ferro silicon, galena, sphalerite, etc.), Gerakini (granulite) and Vadvos(granulite). There are also smaller mines for copper, chromium, manganese, gold and silver. 
     Tourist development  started in Halkidiki in about 1960, when the first tourist installations were established by the National Tourist Organisation (EOT): the Xenia hotels in Paliouri (Kassandra) and in Ouranoupolis (Ouranoupolis), near the border of Mt.Athos. The big boom, however. Took place during the period 1968-1975 when big tourist complexes were built in Kassandra  and Sithonia and the beauty of halkidiki was introduced to the tourist markets of Europe and America. Since then, tourism has continually increased, because the area has all the beauty of the Aegean islands, plus the advantage of access by road. 
     The roads of halkidiki are among the best in Northern Greece. Main roads are asphalt-paved and the road system is comprehensive (thessaloniki-Moudania, Kassandra circuit, Sithonia circuit, peripheral north Halkidiki-Stavros-Thessaloniki). The Pirgadikia-megali Panaghia and Stratoni-Olympias-Stavros sections are in the last stages of completion    . 



    Many of its distinctive features were known in ancient timew and many tried to find explanations for them. The ancient name of kassandra was Phlegra, that is, Place of Fire. It was believed to be the land of the Giants and the battle ground for the fight between the gods and the Giants, when the latter tried to drive the Gods from Mount Olympos. According to one legend, Enceladus, one of the Giants, was crushed  by a rock which the Gods threw at him. Thus the "earthquake" Giant is today buried in Kassandra , but, not having been killed, from time to time tries to free himself from th weight that is crushing him and his struggles result in earthquakes. All these myths are, of course, not unconnected with the geological phenomena which are evident in Kassandra: subsidence in the center of the peninsula, and steam from the hot sulfur springs af aghia Paraskevi. 
      At the other end of halkidiki, Mt athos was named after the giant athos who, during the famous battlea, threw the mountain at the Gods, as if it were a small stone. Sithonia received its name from Sithon, son of Poseidon. His wife was Mendeis and his daughter was Pallini. (Mende was the name of one of the ancient cities in kassandra, while Pallini is chronologically the second name of the Kassandra peninsula).  


 Following the recent excavations in the cave of Petralona it has been estimated that the history of Halkidiki goes back 700,000 years. According to the paleontologists who studied the findings from the cave, the earliest known controlled fire was lit here, about 700,000 years ago. The scull found here during the excavations is estimated to be 250,000 years old and has given science a new type of man. 
     Many prehistoric settlements have been discovered along the coastline as well as on the island plains. These settlements show that in 4,000 B.C. Halkidiki was already a rich, densely populated area where art flourished and objects of art decorated the people’s everyday life. 
     Written records refer to the colonisation of Halkidiki as far back as the Trojan War. The systematic colonisation of Halkidiki by the people of Southern Greece seems to have started in the 8th century B.C. Colonists came mainly from Chalkis and Eretria in Euboea. 
     The earliest historical record we have of Halkidiki comes from Herodotus. In his writings about the Persian Wars, the father of history repeatedly mentions Halkidiki and gives historical and topographical details. He describes the destruction of Mardonius’ fleet by a terrible storm at Athos and the digging of the canal by Xerxes at the isthmus of the peninsula. Herodotus mentions all the coastal cities of Halkidiki where Xerxes imposed military draft and gives important information about the Persian siege of Potidaea and the slaughter of the Olynthians by the Persian general Artabazus. 
     Following the Persian Wars (middle of 5th cent. B.C.) most of the cities of Halkidiki became members of the Athenian League. During the Peloponnesian War, for which Potidaea was one of the reasons, Halkidiki was for many years a battleground for the Athenians and Lacedaemonians. As a result many of the cities of Halkidiki were destroyed and the Halkideans realised that the only way to survive was to unite forces. 
     In 168 B.C. Halkidiki, along with the rest of Macedonia, was conquered by the Romans. During the years  that followed, Roman and Italian merchants and craftsmen settled in its cities. 
In the 6th cent. A.D. Halkidiki was again devastaded, this time by the Huns. For the period of 6th-9th cent. A.D. we have no information about Halkidiki. During the 9th-15th centuries, Halkidiki was mainly an agricultural and cattle raising area. From the monuments and settlements of  medieval Halkidiki only a few ruins remain and the most important of them are as follows: Castles, Towers, Monasteries. 
     At the beginning of the 16th century a mint was in operation at Sidirocaussia (present Sragira) for a short period. This was probably also the time when the towers were built that still surround the bath today. In 1821 Halkidiki played an important role in the Greek Revolution. The struggle started on May 17 in Polygyros and immediately spread to the entire peninsula. A merchant from Serres who was also a member of the "Filiki Eteria", Emmanuel Papas, was named the leader of the revolution in Northern Greece. Using Mt. Athos as his stronghold, he organised fighting groups which were successful at first but were later defeated by the Turks and withdrew to the peninsula of Kassandra. 
     At the beginning of our century, Halkdiki was one of the strongholds of the Macedonian struggle, also used as a resting place by the fighters. Guns and ammunition were unloaded here and forwarded to the rebels. Many people from Halkidiki joined the rebel forces of Pavlos Melas and the other Macedonian fighters. Thus, in early October 1912, almost 20 days earlier than Thessaloniki, Halkidiki was once again free. 
     After 1922, the history of  Halkidiki entered a new phase. Thousands of refugees from Asia Minor, Thrace (Thraki) and Bulgaria settled on its land. Today, almost 75 years after its third colonisation (the first in the 8th and 7th cent. B.C., the second during the Roman years and the third in 1922), Halkidiki is undergoing a unique economic development with the prospect of becoming one of the model tourist centres of Europe.