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The river Acheloos

The river Acheloos, also known as "Aspropotamos" (meaning "the white river"), is one of the longest rivers in Greece. The river begins its route from Epirus, from the south slopes of the mountain "Peristeri" (south of the Pindus range), and crosses the lowlands of Agrinio until it spills into the gulf of Patras and the Ionian Sea. The flow of the river crosses a distance of 200km before reaching the sea. It is the second river in length in Greece. The river basin covers and area of 5.572 km2, the average annual rainfall level is 1.620 mm, and the average annual rainfall volume is 8.860 x 106 m3; finally, its average annual stream flow is estimated to 7.800 x 106 m3 of water. The river provides valuable water supply to about 370.000 hectares of agricultural area. 

The river flow is fed by streams and other rivers, such as the river "Aspros", "Xeroplatania", "Vakariotis", "Platanias", ect. Furthermore, it is fed by the waters of the lakes "Trichonida" and "Lysimachia" through the canal of "Dimikos".

The river flow of Acheloos has been significantly altered by the construction of 4 hydroelectric dams and by the drainage systems for the water supply of various regions, including the regions of "Mesochora" and "Sykia".

For the ancient Greeks, the river Acheloos was the father of all flowing waters; the river-god that offered water with generosity and caused awe to our ancestors. In antiquity, Acheloos was worshipped as a god, especially by the Aitolians and the Akarnanians that lived in the land of Paracheloitida. In ancient Akarnania special races were organized to honor the god Acheloos. The river god Acheloos was worshipped up to the 6th century B.C and he was usually represented as an anthropomorphic bull or a dragon to emphasize his power. According to mythology, Acheloos was the most important river god, son of the Ocean and Tithys and father of the nymphs and sirens, as well as of all flowing waters and springs. In homer's Iliad, it is referred that only Zeus was more powerful than Acheloos. Finally, the battle between Hercules and Acheloos for the eyes of Daniira, the daughter of the King of Akarnia, Oineas, is one of the popular subjects in ancient art and mythology. 

There are several theories around the origin of the name "Acheloos". The most dominant argues that the name "Acheloos" derives from the Sanskrit "ach" (water) and the epithet "loon" (greater). In medieval times, the river was named "Aspropotamos" (white river) or Aspros (white) due to the foam it extracted during the spring, when the snow melts, or due to the white rocks that adorn its shores.