Pelopomesis (Gr. " the island of Pelops," so called by the Greeks because King Pelops was supposed to have settled a colony there), a peninsula forming the southern division of Greece; area, 8,288 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 645,-389. It lies between lat. 36° 23' and 38° 20' K, and Ion. 21° 5' and 23° 33'E., and is about 140 m. in length and nearly the same in extreme breadth. The ancient Greeks compared its shape to that of the leaf of a vine or a plane tree, and the Italians gave it its modern name Morea, from moro a mulberry tree. The coast is much indented, on the south by the gulfs of Kolokythia and Kalamata (the Laconian anjl Messenian gulfs of the ancients), and on the east by the gulf of Nauplia or Argolis. It is connected with central Greece by the isthmus of Corinth, which is 5 m. wide at the narrowest part, and separates the gulf of Lepanto (or the Corinthian) from that of iEgina (the Sa-ronic). The surface of the peninsula is generally mountainous. In the centre a long and lofty ridge bent into a circular form encloses an elevated basin, the famous vale of Arcadia, the largest of the ancient states.
Five other ranges, running from the different sides of the central one to the five prominent points on the coast of the peninsula, enclose plains or valleys which were formerly the seats of five states: Achaia in the north, Argolis in the east, La-conia and Messenia in the south, and Elis in the west. The mean height of the mountains is about 1,200 ft., but on the W. side they attain a height of from 3,000 to 4,500 ft. Mt. Cyllene, on the 1ST. side of Arcadia, is 7,788 ft. high; and Mt. Taygetus, the ridge which stretches southward from Arcadia to Cape Matapan (anc. Tcenarum), is at the highest point 7,904 ft. above the sea. The principal rivers are the Alpheus, which rises in Arcadia and flows W. through Elis into the Ionian sea; and the Eurotas, which rises in N. Laconia and flows southward into the Laconian gulf. The climate is mild and the soil fruitful. The chief productions are corn, wine, oil, and fruits, honey, figs, silk, cotton, and the small raisins called currants, which are the principal article of export.
At present the peninsula is divided into five nomarchies or provinces, viz.: Argo-lis and Corinth, the capital of which is Nau-plia; Achaia and Elis, capital Patras; Arcadia, capital Tripolitza; Messenia, capital Kalamata; and Laconia, capital Sparta. Its ancient population has been computed at 2,000,000, which is probably an exaggeration, though it was certainly much more populous and -flourishing than at present. It contains many ruins of famous ancient cities, among which those of Sparta, Mycenae, and Mantinea are the most interesting. - About 80 years after the fall of Troy, according to Greek traditions, the Peloponnesus was conquered by the Dorians, led by the descendants of Hercules, who claimed possession of the country by ancestral right. This event is known in history as the return of the Heraclidae. The Dorians established several states, one of which, Sparta or Laconia, became under the institutions of Lycur-gus the most powerful in Greece. A combination of the Peloponnesian states against Athens in the latter part of the 5th century B. C. gave rise to the great contest known as the Peloponnesian war.
In the decline of Greece, in the 3d century B. C. a temporary importance was given to the Peloponnesus by the Achaean league, to which a political organization was given by Aratus in 251, and which played a dominant part in the affairs of Greece till the conquest of the country by the Romans in 146. On the division of the Roman empire the Peloponnesus became subject to the emperor of Constantinople; and after the capture of that capital by the crusaders in 1204 it became the spoil of various princes and the seat of petty principalities. The Turks conquered it in the latter part of the 15th century, and subsequently waged wars for its possession against the Venetians, who obtained it by the peace of Carlovitz in 1699, but lost it in 1715. During the Greek war of independence, which began in 1821, it was the theatre of many interesting events. (See Greece, and the articles on the ancient and modern divisions of the peninsula).