Nikarians are people with a rich history. People that has endured many hardships, are very industrious and energetic. Although there was great influence from the East, Ionia, but also from the broader Aegean region, Nikarians managed to keep intact most local characteristics. Typically, in thinking and behavior or the way they did some things. Jovial, optimistic, peculiar, hospitable, different, lovely people!Ikarians are unique people and you must know them from close!
Ikarians are running at 100! They forget to die! So, the phenomenon of longevity is noted in Ikaria. In recent years, more and more people bring up the longevity of Ikarians. International scientists, have turned their strong interest to learn, what it is that manages to make Ikarians not only centenarians, but also to have very good physical condition and health even at a hundred years old! There are many reports of international networks and Media worldwide, over the life of the inhabitants of this small Greek island. An important distinction is made for the island and the recording of the Blue Zones, a name given in 5 regions of the world ( Ikaria, Sardinia, Okinawa of Japan, Nicoya of Costa Rica and Loma Linda of California, USA), whose inhabitants surpass the life expectancy and reach over the age of 90 years. According to studies, the average life expectancy in Greece is 79.78 years and the percentage of people 80 years and older, is less than 5%. Globally people aged 80 years and older, reach about 1% of the population. In North America and Europe, they represent 3% of the population, while in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean 0.9% in Africa and less than 0.4% of the population.
But, which is the major factors, that give Ikarians longevity? Researches have shown, that there are many factors that lead to this longevity :
- good physical condition, due to daily exercise for manual work and rural life. The daily walk of people, which is combined with the mountainous topography of the island 's ,enhances good physical condition.
- the midday rest, even with a short nap , have proven that protects and improves heart function.
- the Mediterranean diet, combined with the natural products produced and consumed on the island, such as vegetables, fruits, various vegetables, fish, olive oil, local honey and of course the famous red wine. Surveys conducted, also showed that a significant factor in the longevity of Ikarians has played the consumption of Greek coffee and tea, as key antioxidants for the body.
- the minimal use of drugs .
- the active sexual activity, even of old people.
- the emotional attachment and strong family and social ties between Ikarian people .
- and of course the relaxed pace of peoplein their daily lives, without anxiety and stress, full of optimism.
In Ikaria, people live long! You must come to the island to learn all the secrets of longevity and live like an Ikarian!
For reasons of survival and quality of life, particularly the old time, the inhabitants of the island were doing many jobs, such as agriculture and animal husbandry. Some people followed the profession of cobbler and the tailor and other professions. As well as woodcarving, quilting and charcoaling. A Very important profession, was and still is the beekeeping, as Ikaria has a significant production of honey, such as thyme honey, or honey from reiki or heather (bush type called by the locals ‘anamma’). Most people, were certainly dealing with the sea, sailors or fishers. But those who would not or could not bear the sea, especially in the winter, turned to agriculture and animal husbandry.
Almost all residents, had gardens or farmland around their house, to which they put vegetables or even flowers that beautify their home and yard. The reason why they had farmland near the house, was practical. On the one hand there is no need for commuting use of goods, but also is the ease of watering these fields. Remote fields were mainly large fields containing olive trees and vineyards. There were also fields which contained only wild vegetation and residents used this wild vegetation, as food for their animals.
Those engaged to fishing in the past or today, had usually small boats and fishing boats and were fishing in the rich waters around than the Icarian Sea. Most of those knew also about shipbuilding . It was very important to them, to use a good wood, from what tree it was , and the way you cut it, so that it would last in the sea.
The sailors, who constituted the largest proportion of professionals, were the first people who left from Ikaria at various merchant ships, in Greece or abroad.
Very important work, both in antiquity and in modern times, is the cultivation of vines, from which wine is produced, the most famous product of Ikaria over the centuries, but also other products such as tsipouro and ouzo.
Other occupations that existed on the island during the past, was sewing and textiles for women. These were necessary, because of the inability to import various products, from the surrounding areas, even from the biggest cities.
Today, many residents work in public services, while many now work in touristic facilities.
Immigration, has always played an important role in the lives of Ikarians. It began from the '50s and later, when a great immigration wave began from Greece. The migrations were held more in Athens and less to other parts of Greece, but mainly to the foreign countries outside and especially to America, Australia, Canada, and Egypt. Most Ikarians were sailors, so they visited many countries, where they ended up moving permanently there. Reasons for migrations were mostly, because people wanted to find a better job and a better life, people who became sailors and finally in later years and even today young people who studied abroad and moved permanently there. Greek communities created later, especially in America, where was created different Associations of Overseas Ikarians.
Ikarians are a quiet and crummy people, with a long history over the centuries. Active people, who managed to give value to this small but valiant island, to put its own distinct identity and rich inheritance to younger generations. Ikarians are famous for their hospitality! They always share, even if they don;t have many things. Many years ago, when the transportation was not developed and moving from one village to another was difficult, or from one island to another,the inhabitants of each village opened their homes to all visitors, without exception and offered them, apart from food and drink, a bed to sleep and to rest before continuing their journey. This unique hospitality and service, occurs even today, in all forms of everyday life and makes every visitor, to feel like one with the Ikarians!