Tsakonians (Greek: Τσάκωνες; Tsákones) are a native Greek population group, speakers of the Tsakonian dialect, or more broadly, inhabitants of Tsakonia in the eastern Peloponnese and followers of certain Tsakonian cultural traditions, such as the Tsakonian dance.
The term Tsakonas or Tzakonas first emerges in the writings of Byzantine chroniclers who derive the ethnonym from a corruption of Lakonas, a Laconian/Lacedaemonian (Spartan) — a reference to the Doric roots of the Tsakonian language and the people's relatively late conversion to Christianity and practice of pagan Hellenic customs.
According to the Byzantine historian George Pachymeres, some Tsakonians were resettled by the Byzantine emperor Michael VII Ducas in Propontis. They lived in the villages of Vatka and Havoutsi, where the Gösen River (Aesepus) empties into the sea. However, based on the preservation of features common to both Propontis and the Peloponnesian dialects, Prof. Thanasis Costakis thinks that the date of settlement must have been several centuries later.
Tsakonians in later time were known for their masonry skills; many were also shepherds. A common practice was for a small crew of men under a mastora to leave their village after the feast of Saint Demetrius and to return at Easter. They would travel as far as Attica doing repairs and white-washing houses. The Tsakonian village of Kastanitsa was known for its chestnuts and derives its name from the Greek word for the nut.
- Costakis, Thanasis P. Σύντομη Γραμματική της Τσακωνικής Διαλέκτου [Brief Grammar of the Tsakonian Dialect]. Athens: Institut Français d'Athènes, 1951, p. 13.