This chapter discusses the population of the region known in antiquity as Aitolia in the southwestern Balkan peninsula, which has always been marginal to the Greek world. The Aitolians of the historical era present a nearly classic example of an underdeveloped mountain people; their structural relationships with the more complex polities and cultures of neighboring lowlands and coastal regions mirror those of other populations in similar circumstances. By the late fourth century, contacts with the larger Greek world had progressively increased, transforming the Aitolian political community in the process. In place of the old ethnos, which had been loosely organized around clans and tribes, an association emerged based on urban or proto-urban settlements. Yet the Aiotolians ultimately surpassed their antecedents in one important regard: their willingness to offer membership to communities that were not Aitolian.
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