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Greeks in Crete continued to stage regular revolts, and in 1897, the Greek gover

nment under Theodoros Deligiannis, bowing to popular pressure, declared war on t

he Ottomans. In the ensuing Greco-Turkish War of 1897 the badly trained and equi
pped Greek army was defeated by the Ottomans. Through the intervention of the Gr
eat Powers however, Greece lost only a little territory along the border to Turk
ey, while Crete was established as an autonomous state under Prince George of Gr
20th century to present
See also: Balkan Wars, National Schism, Asia Minor Campaign, 4th of August Regim
e, Axis occupation of Greece, Greek Civil War and Greek military junta of 196774
King Constantine I with PM Eleftherios Venizelos (seated, with back to camera) i
n 1913, during the Balkan Wars.
German soldiers raising the Reichskriegsflagge over the Acropolis of Athens. It
would be taken down in one of the first acts of the Greek Resistance.
At the end of the Balkan Wars, the extent of Greece's territory and population h
ad increased. In the following years, the struggle between King Constantine I a
nd charismatic Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos over the country's foreign p
olicy on the eve of World War I dominated the country's political scene, and div
ided the country into two opposing groups. During parts of the First World War,
Greece had two governments; a royalist pro-German government in Athens and a Ve
nizelist pro-Britain one in Thessaloniki. The two governments were united in 19
17, when Greece officially entered the war on the side of the Triple Entente.
In the aftermath of the First World War, Greece attempted further expansion into
Asia Minor, a region with a large Greek population at the time, but was defeate
d in the Greco-Turkish War of 19191922, which resulted in a massive population ex
change between the two countries under the Treaty of Lausanne.[71] According to
various sources,[72] several hundred thousand Pontic Greeks died during this pe
riod, in what has sometimes been referred to as the Pontic Greek Genocide.[73]
The following era was marked by instability, overshadowed by the massive task of
incorporating 1.5 million Greek refugees from Turkey into Greek society. The Gr
eek population in Istanbul dropped from 300,000 in 1900 to around 3,000 in 2001.
Following the catastrophic events in Asia Minor, the monarchy was abolished via
a referendum in 1924 and the Second Hellenic Republic was declared. Premier Geo
rgios Kondylis took power in 1935 and effectively abolished the republic by brin
ging back the monarchy via a referendum in 1935. A coup d'etat followed in 1936
and installed Ioannis Metaxas as the head of a dictatorial regime known as the
4th of August Regime. Although a dictatorship, Greece remained on good terms wi
th Britain and was not allied with the Axis.
On 28 October 1940 Fascist Italy demanded the surrender of Greece, but the Greek
administration refused and in the following Greco-Italian War, Greece repelled
Italian forces into Albania, giving the Allies their first victory over Axis for
ces on land. The country would eventually fall to urgently dispatched German fo
rces during the Battle of Greece. The German occupiers nevertheless met serious
challenges from the Greek Resistance. Over 100,000 civilians died of starvatio
n during the winter of 19411942, and the great majority of Greek Jews were deport
ed and murdered in Nazi concentration camps.[75]
After liberation, Greece experienced a polarising civil war between communist an
d anticommunist forces, which led to economic devastation and severe social tens
ions between rightists and largely communist leftists for the next thirty years.
[76] The next twenty years were characterized by marginalisation of the left in
the political and social spheres but also by rapid economic growth, propelled i
n part by the Marshall Plan.
King Constantine II's dismissal of George Papandreou's centrist government in Ju
ly 1965 prompted a prolonged period of political turbulence which culminated in
a coup d'etat on 21 April 1967 by the Regime of the Colonels. The brutal suppre
ssion of the Athens Polytechnic uprising on 17 November 1973 sent shockwaves thr
ough the regime, and a counter-coup established Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannidis as
dictator. On 20 July 1974, as Turkey invaded the island of Cyprus, the regime
The former prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis was invited back from Paris wh
ere he had lived in self-exile since 1963, marking the beginning of the Metapoli
tefsi era. The first multiparty elections since 1964 were held on the first ann
iversary of the Polytechnic uprising. A democratic and republican constitution
was promulgated on 11 June 1975 following a referendum which chose to not restor
e the monarchy.
Signing at Zappeion of the documents for the accession of Greece to the European
Communities in 1979.
Meanwhile, Andreas Papandreou founded the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK)
in response to Karamanlis's conservative New Democracy party, with the two poli
tical formations alternating in government ever since. Greece rejoined NATO in
Greece became the tenth member of the European Communities (subsequently subsume
d by the European Union) on 1 January 1981, ushering in a period of sustained gr
owth. Widespread investments in industrial enterprises and heavy infrastructure
, as well as funds from the European Union and growing revenues from tourism, sh
ipping and a fast-growing service sector raised the country's standard of living
to unprecedented levels. Traditionally strained relations with neighbouring Tu
rkey improved when successive earthquakes hit both nations in 1999, leading to t
he lifting of the Greek veto against Turkey's bid for EU membership. The countr
y adopted the euro in 2001 and successfully hosted the 2004 Summer Olympic Games
in Athens.
More recently, Greece has suffered greatly from the late-2000s recession and has
been central to the related European sovereign debt crisis. The Greek governme
nt debt crisis, subsequent economic crisis and resultant protests have roiled do
mestic politics and have regularly threatened European and global financial mark
ets since the crisis began in 2010.
Geography and climate
Main article: Geography of Greece
000 Greqia harta.PNG
Flag of Albania.svgAlbaniaFlag of Macedonia.svgRep. MacedoniaFlag of
gBulgariaFlag of Turkey.svgTurkeyFlag of Greece.svgGreeceATHENSThessalonikiKaval
iaThraceEpirusThessalyEuboeaCentral GreecePeloponneseMt. OlympusLefkadaKefalonia
KosRhodesKarpathosKassosKythiraGavdosAegeanSeaSea of CreteMyrtoanSeaIonianSeaMed
Greece consists of a mountainous, peninsular mainland jutting out into the sea a
t the southern end of the Balkans, ending at the Peloponnese peninsula (separate
d from the mainland by the canal of the Isthmus of Corinth). Due to its highly
indented coastline and numerous islands, Greece has the 11th longest coastline i
n the world with 13,676 km (8,498 mi);[78] its land boundary is 1,160 km (721 mi
). The country lies approximately between latitudes 34 and 42 N, and longitudes 1
9 and 30 E.
Greece features a vast number of islands, between 1,200 and 6,000, depending on
the definition,[79] 227 of which are inhabited. Crete is the largest and most p
opulous island; Euboea, separated from the mainland by the 60m-wide Euripus Stra
it, is the second largest, followed by Rhodes and Lesbos.
The Greek islands are traditionally grouped into the following clusters: The Arg
o-Saronic Islands in the Saronic gulf near Athens, the Cyclades, a large but den
se collection occupying the central part of the Aegean Sea, the North Aegean isl
ands, a loose grouping off the west coast of Turkey, the Dodecanese, another loo
se collection in the southeast between Crete and Turkey, the Sporades, a small t
ight group off the coast of northeast Euboea, and the Ionian Islands, located to
the west of the mainland in the Ionian Sea.
Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains or hills, making the country one
of the most mountainous in Europe. Mount Olympus, the mythical abode of the Gre
ek Gods, culminates at Mytikas peak 2,917 m (9,570 ft), the highest in the count
ry. Western Greece contains a number of lakes and wetlands and is dominated by
the Pindus mountain range. The Pindus, a continuation of the Dinaric Alps, reac
hes a maximum elevation of 2,637 m (8,652 ft) at Mt. Smolikas (the second-highes
t in Greece) and historically has been a significant barrier to east-west travel
Topographical map of Greece.
The Pindus range continues through the central Peloponnese, crosses the islands
of Kythera and Antikythera and finds its way into southwestern Aegean, in the is
land of Crete where it eventually ends. The islands of the Aegean are peaks of
underwater mountains that once constituted an extension of the mainland. Pindus
is characterized by its high, steep peaks, often dissected by numerous canyons
and a variety of other karstic landscapes. The spectacular Vikos Gorge, part of
the Vikos-Aoos National Park in the Pindus range, is listed by the Guinness boo
k of World Records as the deepest gorge in the world.[80] Another notable forma
tion are the Meteora rock pillars, atop which have been built medieval Greek Ort
hodox monasteries.
Navagio (shipwreck) bay, Zakynthos
A view of the Mount Olympus
Northeastern Greece features another high-altitude mountain range, the Rhodope r
ange, spreading across the region of East Macedonia and Thrace; this area is cov
ered with vast, thick, ancient forests, including the famous Dadia forest in the
Evros regional unit, in the far northeast of the country.
Extensive plains are primarily located in the regions of Thessaly, Central Maced
onia and Thrace. They constitute key economic regions as they are among the few
arable places in the country. Rare marine species such as the pinniped seals a
nd the loggerhead sea turtle live in the seas surrounding mainland Greece, while
its dense forests are home to the endangered brown bear, the lynx, the roe deer
and the wild goat.
The climate of Greece is primarily Mediterranean, featuring mild, wet winters an
d hot, dry summers. This climate occurs at all coastal locations, including Ath
ens, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, Crete, the Peloponnese, the Ionian Islands an
d parts of the Central Continental Greece region. The Pindus mountain range str
ongly affects the climate of the country, as areas to the west of the range are
considerably wetter on average (due to greater exposure to south-westerly system
s bringing in moisture) than the areas lying to the east of the range (due to a
rain shadow effect).
The mountainous areas of Northwestern Greece (parts of Epirus, Central Greece, T
hessaly, Western Macedonia) as well as in the mountainous central parts of Pelop
onnese including parts of the regional units of Achaea, Arcadia and Laconia feat
ure an Alpine climate with heavy snowfalls. The inland parts of northern Greece
, in Central Macedonia and East Macedonia and Thrace feature a temperate climate
with cold, damp winters and hot, dry summers with frequent thunderstorms. Snow
falls occur every year in the mountains and northern areas, and brief snowfalls
are not unknown even in low-lying southern areas, such as Athens.
Phytogeographically, Greece belongs to the Boreal Kingdom and is shared between
the East Mediterranean province of the Mediterranean Region and the Illyrian pro
vince of the Circumboreal Region. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature a
nd the European Environment Agency, the territory of Greece can be subdivided in
to six ecoregions: the Illyrian deciduous forests, Pindus Mountains mixed forest
s, Balkan mixed forests, Rhodope montane mixed forests, Aegean and Western Turke
y sclerophyllous and mixed forests and Crete Mediterranean forests.
Main article: Politics of Greece
The Hellenic Parliament in central Athens.
Maximos Mansion, the official seat of the Prime Minister of Greece.
Greece is a parliamentary republic.[81] The nominal head of state is the Presid
ent of the Republic, who is elected by the Parliament for a five-year term.[81]
The current Constitution was drawn up and adopted by the Fifth Revisionary Parl
iament of the Hellenes and entered into force in 1975 after the fall of the mili
tary junta of 19671974. It has been revised three times since, in 1986, 2001 and
2008. The Constitution, which consists of 120 articles, provides for a separati
on of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and grants exte
nsive specific guarantees (further reinforced in 2001) of civil liberties and so
cial rights.[82][83] Women's suffrage was guaranteed with an amendment to the 1
952 Constitution.
According to the Constitution, executive power is exercised by the President of
the Republic and the Government.[81] From the Constitutional amendment of 1986 t
he President's duties were curtailed to a significant extent, and they are now l
argely ceremonial; most political power thus lies in the hands of the Prime Mini
ster.[84] The position of Prime Minister, Greece's head of government, belongs t
o the current leader of the political party that can obtain a vote of confidence
by the Parliament. The President of the Republic formally appoints the Prime Mi
nister and, on his recommendation, appoints and dismisses the other members of t
he Cabinet.[81]
Count Ioannis Kapodistrias (17761831), first head of state, governor of independe
nt Greece and founder of the modern Greek state.
Legislative powers are exercised by a 300-member elective unicameral Parliament.
[81] Statutes passed by the Parliament are promulgated by the President of the
Republic.[81] Parliamentary elections are held every four years, but the Presid
ent of the Republic is obliged to dissolve the Parliament earlier on the proposa
l of the Cabinet, in view of dealing with a national issue of exceptional import
ance.[81] The President is also obliged to dissolve the Parliament earlier, if
the opposition manages to pass a motion of no confidence.[81]
Political parties
Ambox current red.svg
This article is outdated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or
newly available information. (September 2013)
Main articles: Political parties of Greece and List of political parties in Gree
Karolos Papoulias, President of the Hellenic Republic since 2005.
Since the restoration of democracy, the Greek two-party system has been dominate
d by the liberal-conservative New Democracy (ND) and the social-democratic Panhe
llenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).[b] Other significant parties include the Com
munist Party of Greece (KKE), the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) the Pop
ular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and the Popular Association Golden Dawn.
In 2010, two new parties split off from ND and SYRIZA, the centrist-liberal Demo
cratic Alliance (DS) and the moderate leftist Democratic Left (DA). George Papa
ndreou, president of PASOK, won the parliamentary elections of October 2009 with
a majority in the Parliament of 160 out of 300 seats. A new government was swo
rn in on 20 June 2011, and received a marginal vote of confidence on 22 June, wi
th 155 votes for, 143 against, and two MPs absent.[85]
Since the beginning of the government-debt crisis in 2009, the two major parties
, New Democracy and PASOK, have seen a sharp decline in the share of votes in po
lls conducted, with recent polls showing support from 34% to 48% for the two maj
or parties.[86][87][88][89][90] Polls show support for PASOK ranging from 8%[90]
to 18%,[86] while New Democracy is in the 18% to 30% range.[86][88]
In November 2011, the two major parties joined the smaller Popular Orthodox Rall
y in a grand coalition, pledging their parliamentary support for a government of
national unity headed by former European Central Bank vice-president Lucas Papa
demos.[91] Panos Kammenos voted against this government and he split off from ND
forming Independent Greeks.
The coalition government led the country to the parliamentary elections of May 2
012. The power of the traditional Greek political parties, PASOK and New Democra
cy, declined from 43% to 13% and from 33% to 18%, respectively, due to their sup
port on the politics of Mnimonio and the austerity measures. The leftist party o
f SYRIZA became the second major party, with an increase from 4% to 16%. No part
y could form a sustainable government, which led to the parliamentary elections
of June 2012. The result of the second elections was the formation of a coalitio
n government composed of New Democracy (29%), PASOK (12%) and Democratic Left (6
%) parties.
Law and Justice
Main articles: Judicial system of Greece and Law enforcement in Greece
The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature and comprises
three Supreme Courts: the Court of Cassation ( ), the Council of State (
also composed of civil courts, which judge civil and penal cases and administrat
ive courts, which judge disputes between the citizens and the Greek administrati
ve authorities.
The Hellenic Police (Greek: ) is the national police force of Greece. It is
with its responsibilities ranging from road traffic control to counter-terrorism
. It was established in 1984 under Law 1481/1-10-1984 (Government Gazette 152 A)
as the result of the fusion of the Gendarmerie (, Chorofylaki) and the Cities Polic
n) forces.[92]
Foreign relations
Main article: Foreign relations of Greece
Representation through:[93] embassy embassy in another country
general consulate liaison office no representation Greece
Greece's foreign policy is conducted through the Ministry for Foreign Affairs an
d its head, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The current minister is Evangelos
Venizelos of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement(PA.SO.K.) party. According to th
e official website, the main aims of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs are to rep
resent Greece before other states and international organizations;[94] safeguard
ing the interests of the Greek state and of its citizens abroad;[94] the promoti
on of Greek culture;[94] the fostering of closer relations with the Greek diaspo
ra;[94] and the promotion of international cooperation.[94] Additionally, Greece
has developed a regional policy to help promote peace and stability in the Balk
ans, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.[95]
The Ministry identifies three issues as of particular importance to the Greek st
ate: Turkish claims over what the Ministry defines as Greek sovereignty over the
Aegean Sea and corresponding airspace;[96] the legitimacy of the Turkish Republ
ic of Northern Cyprus on the island of Cyprus;[96] and the Macedonia naming disp
ute[96] with the small Balkan country which shares a name with Greece's largest
and second-most-populous region, also called Macedonia.
Greece is a member of numerous international organizations, including the Counci
l of Europe, the European Union, the Union for the Mediterranean and the United
Nations, of which it is a founding member.
Main article: Military of Greece
Branches of the Hellenic Armed Forces
Hellenic Army - LEO2A6HEL - 7231.jpg
Hellenic Army
Leopard 2A6 HEL HS Psara F454.jpg
Hellenic Navy
MEKO-200 HN HAF F-16D Falcon.jpg
Hellenic Air Force
F-16 Fighting Falcon
The Hellenic Armed Forces are overseen by the Hellenic National Defense General
Staff (Greek: ) and consists of three branches:
Hellenic Army
Hellenic Navy
Hellenic Air Force
The civilian authority for the Greek military is the Ministry of National Defenc
e. Furthermore, Greece maintains the Hellenic Coast Guard for law enforcement in
the sea and for search and rescue.
Greece has universal compulsory military service for males, while females (who m
ay serve in the military) are exempted from conscription. As of 2009, Greece has
mandatory military service of nine months for male citizens between the ages of
19 and 45. However, as the armed forces had been gearing towards a complete pr
ofessional army system, the government had promised that the mandatory military
service would be cut or even abolished completely.
Greek males between the age of 18 and 60 who live in strategically sensitive are
as may be required to serve part-time in the National Guard. Service in the Gua
rd is paid. As a member of NATO, the Greek military participates in exercises a
nd deployments under the auspices of the alliance.
Greece spends over 7 billion USD every year on its military, or 2.3% of GDP, ran
ked 24th in the world.
Administrative divisions
Main article: Administrative divisions of Greece
Since the Kallikratis programme reform entered into effect on 1 January 2011, Gr
eece has consisted of thirteen regions subdivided into a total of 325 municipali
ties. The 54 old prefectures and prefecture-level administrations have been larg
ely retained as sub-units of the regions. Seven decentralized administrations gr
oup one to three regions for administrative purposes on a regional basis. There
is also one autonomous area, Mount Athos (Greek: Agio Oros, "Holy Mountain"), wh
ich borders the region of Central Macedonia.
Peripheries of Greece numbered.svg
No. Region Capital Area (km) Area (sq. mi.) Population[97] GDP (bn)
1 Attica Athens 3,808 1,470 3,812,330 103.334
2 Central Greece Lamia 15,549 6,004 546,870 12.530
3 Central Macedonia Thessaloniki 18,811 7,263 1,874,590 3
4 Crete Heraklion 8,259 3,189 621,340 12.854
5 East Macedonia and Thrace Komotini 14,157 5,466 606,170 9
6 Epirus Ioannina 9,203 3,553 336,650 5.827
7 Ionian Islands Corfu 2,307 891 206,470 4.464
8 North Aegean Mytilene 3,836 1,481 197,810 3.579
9 Peloponnese Tripoli 15,490 5,981 581,980 11.230
10 South Aegean Ermoupoli 5,286 2,041 308,610 7.816
11 Thessaly Larissa 14,037 5,420 730,730 12.905
12 West Greece Patras 11,350 4,382 680,190 12.122
13 West Macedonia Kozani 9,451 3,649 282,120 5.564
No. Autonomous state Capital Area (km) Area (sq. mi.) Populati
on[97] GDP (bn)[98]
(14) Mount Athos Karyes 390 151 1,830 N/A
Main articles: Economy of Greece and List of Greek subdivisions by GDP
The main building of the Bank of Greece in Athens.
Thessaloniki,the capital of Macedonia, important financial and industrial center
of Northern Greece.
Greece is part of the EU single market and the Schengen Area.
The economy of Greece is the 34th or 42nd largest in the world at $299[99] or $3
04[100] billion by nominal gross domestic product or purchasing power parity (PP
P) respectively, according to World Bank statistics for the year 2011. Addition
ally, Greece is the 15th largest economy in the 27-member European Union.[101] I
n terms of per capita income, Greece is ranked 29th or 33rd in the world at $27,
875 and $27,624 for nominal GDP and PPP respectively.
Greece is a developed country with high standards of living. Its economy mainly
comprises the service sector (85.0%) and industry (12.0%), while agriculture ma
kes up 3.0% of the national economic output.[102] Important Greek industries in
clude tourism (with 14.9 million[103] international tourists in 2009, it is rank
ed as the 7th most visited country in the European Union[103] and 16th in the wo
rld[103] by the United Nations World Tourism Organization) and merchant shipping
(at 16.2%[104] of the world's total capacity, the Greek merchant marine is the
largest in the world[104]), while the country is also a considerable agricultura
l producer (including fisheries) within the union.
With an economy larger than all the Balkan economies combined, Greece is the lar
gest economy in the Balkans,[23][24][25] and an important regional investor.[23]
[24] Greece is the number-two foreign investor of capital in Albania, the numbe
r-three foreign investor in Bulgaria, at the top-three foreign investors in Roma
nia and Serbia and the most important trading partner and largest foreign invest
or of the Republic of Macedonia. Greek banks open a new branch somewhere in the
Balkans on an almost weekly basis.[105][106][107] The Greek telecommunications
company OTE has become a strong investor in Yugoslavia and other Balkan countrie
The Greek economy is classified as advanced[108][109][110][111] and high-income.
[112] Greece was a founding member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operatio
n and Development (OECD) and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperat
ion (BSEC). In 1979 the accession of the country in the European Communities an
d the single market was signed, and the process was completed in 1982. In Janua
ry 2001 Greece adopted the Euro as its currency, replacing the Greek drachma at
an exchange rate of 340.75 drachma to the Euro.[113] Greece is also a member of
the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, and is ranked
24th on the KOF Globalization Index for 2013.
Eurozone entry
See also: Greek Financial Audit, 2004
Greece has been part of the eurozone since 2001.
Greece was accepted into the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union b
y the European Council on 19 June 2000, based on a number of criteria (inflation
rate, budget deficit, public debt, long-term interest rates, exchange rate) usi
ng 1999 as the reference year. After an audit commissioned by the incoming New D
emocracy government in 2004, Eurostat revealed that the statistics for the budge
t deficit had been under-reported.[114]
Most of the differences in the revised budget deficit numbers were due to a temp
orary change of accounting practices by the new government, i.e., recording expe
nses when military material was ordered rather than received.[115] However, it w
as the retroactive application of ESA95 methodology (applied since 2000) by Euro
stat, that finally raised the reference year (1999) budget deficit to 3.38% of G
DP, thus exceeding the 3% limit. This led to claims that Greece (similar claims
have been made about other European countries like Italy[116][117][118]) had no
t actually met all five accession criteria, and the common perception that Greec
e entered the Eurozone through "falsified" deficit numbers.
In the 2005 OECD report for Greece,[119] it was clearly stated that the impact of
new accounting rules on the fiscal figures for the years 1997 to 1999 ranged fr
om 0.7 to 1 percentage point of GDP; this retroactive change of methodology was
responsible for the revised deficit exceeding 3% in 1999, the year of [Greece's]
EMU membership qualification. The above led the Greek minister of finance to cl
arify that the 1999 budget deficit was below the prescribed 3% limit when calcul
ated with the ESA79 methodology in force at the time of Greece's application, an
d thus the criteria had been met.[120]
The original accounting practice for military expenses was later restored in lin
e with Eurostat recommendations, theoretically lowering even the ESA95-calculate
d 1999 Greek budget deficit to below 3% (an official Eurostat calculation is sti
ll pending for 1999).
A frequent error is the confusion of the discussion regarding Greeces Eurozone en
try with the controversy regarding usage of derivatives deals with US banks by Gr
eece and other Eurozone countries to artificially reduce their reported budget d
eficits. A currency swap arranged with Goldman Sachs allowed Greece to hide $1 bi
llion of debt; however, this affected deficit values after 2001 (when Greece had
already been admitted into the Eurozone) and is not related to Greeces Eurozone
Forensic accountants found that data submitted by Greece to Eurostat had a stati
stical distribution indicative of manipulation.[122][123]
Debt crisis (2010)
See also: Greek government-debt crisis
Greek public debt 19992010 compared with Eurozone average
By the end of 2009, as a result of a combination of international and local fact
ors the Greek economy faced its most-severe crisis since the restoration of demo
cracy in 1974 as the Greek government revised its deficit from an estimated 6% t
o 12.7% of gross domestic product (GDP).[124][125]
In early 2010, it was revealed that through the assistance of Goldman Sachs, JPM
organ Chase and numerous other banks, financial products were developed which en
abled the governments of Greece, Italy and many other European countries to hide
their borrowing.[126][127] Dozens of similar agreements were concluded across
Europe whereby banks supplied cash in advance in exchange for future payments by
the governments involved; in turn, the liabilities of the involved countries we
re "kept off the books".[127][128][129][130][131][132] According to Der Spiegel
credits given to European governments were disguised as "swaps" and consequentl
y did not get registered as debt. As Eurostat at the time ignored statistics in
volving financial derivatives, a German derivatives dealer had commented to Der
Spiegel that "The Maastricht rules can be circumvented quite legally through swa
ps," and "In previous years, Italy used a similar trick to mask its true debt wi
th the help of a different US bank."[132] These conditions had enabled Greek as
well as many other European governments to spend beyond their means, while meet
ing the deficit targets of the European Union.[127][133] In May 2010, the Greek
government deficit was again revised and estimated to be 13.6%[134] which was t
he second highest in the world relative to GDP with Iceland in first place at 15
.7% and the United Kingdom third with 12.6%.[135] Public debt was forecast, acc
ording to some estimates, to hit 120% of GDP during 2010.[136]
As a consequence, there was a crisis in international confidence in Greece's abi
lity to repay its sovereign debt. To avert such a default, in May 2010 the othe
r Eurozone countries, and the IMF, agreed to a rescue package which involved giv
ing Greece an immediate 45 billion in loans, with more funds to follow, totaling 1
10 billion.[137][138] To secure the funding, Greece was required to adopt harsh
austerity measures to bring its deficit under control.[139]
On 15 November 2010 the EU's statistics body Eurostat revised the public finance
and debt figure for Greece following an excessive deficit procedure methodologi
cal mission in Athens, and put Greece's 2009 government deficit at 15.4% of GDP
and public debt at 126.8% of GDP making it the biggest deficit (as a percentage
of GDP) among the EU member nations.[140]
In 2011 it became apparent that the bail-out would be insufficient and a second
bail-out amounting to 130 billion ($173 billion) was agreed in 2012, subject to s
trict conditions, including financial reforms and further austerity measures.[14
1] As part of the deal, there was to be a 53% reduction in the Greek debt burde
n to private creditors and any profits made by eurozone central banks on their h
oldings of Greek debt are to be repatriated back to Greece.[141] A team of moni
tors will be based in Athens to ensure agreed reforms are put into place and thr
ee months worth of debt repayments are to be held in a special account.[141] Gre
ece achieved a primary government budget surplus in 2013. In April 2014, Greece
returned to the global bond market as it successfully sold 3 billion worth of fiv
e-year government bonds at a yield of 4.95%.According to the IMF, Greece will ha
ve real GDP growth of 0.6% in 2014 after 5 years of decline.
Main article: Energy in Greece
Solar insolation in Greece
Energy production in Greece is dominated by the state owned Public Power Corpora
tion (known mostly by its acronym , or in English DEI). In 2009 DEI supplied for 85
.6% of all energy demand in Greece,[142] while the number fell to 77.3% in 2010.
[142] Almost half (48%) of DEI's power output is generated using lignite, a drop
from the 51.6% in 2009.[142]
12% of Greece's electricity comes from Hydroelectric power plants[143] and anoth
er 20% from natural gas.[143] Between 2009 and 2010, independent companies' ener
gy production increased by 56%,[142] from 2,709 Gigawatt hour in 2009 to 4,232 G
Wh in 2010.[142]
In 2012 renewable energy accounted for 13.8% of the country's total energy consu
mption,[144] a rise from the 10.6% it accounted for in 2011,[144] a figure almos
t equal to the EU average of 14.1% in 2012.[144] 10% of the country's renewable
energy comes from solar power,[145] while most comes from biomass and waste recy
cling.[145] In line with the European Commission's Directive on Renewable Energy
, Greece aims to get 18% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.[146] In 2
013,according to the independent power transmission operator in Greece( ) more than 2
0% of the electricity in Greece has been produced from renewable energy sources
and hydroelectric powerplants. This percentage in April reached 42%. Greece curr
ently does not have any nuclear power plants in operation, however in 2009 the A
cademy of Athens suggested that research in the possibility of Greek nuclear pow
er plants begin.[147]
Main article: Agriculture in Greece
Sun-drying of Zante currant on Zakynthos
In 2010, Greece was the European Union's largest producer of cotton (183,800 ton
s) and pistachios (8,000 tons)[148] and ranked second in the production of rice
(229,500 tons)[148] and olives (147,500 tons),[149] third in the production of f
igs (11,000 tons) and [149] almonds (44,000 tons),[149] tomatoes (1,400,000 tons
) [149] and watermelons (578,400 tons)[149] and fourth in the production of toba
cco (22,000 tons).[148] Agriculture contributes 3.8% of the country's GDP and em
ploys 12.4% of the country's labor force.
Greece is a major beneficiary of the Common Agricultural Policy of the European
Union. As a result of the country's entry to the European Community, much of its
agricultural infrastructure has been upgraded and agricultural output increased
. Between 2000 and 2007 organic farming in Greece increased by 885%, the highest
change percentage in the EU.
Maritime industry
Main articles: Greek shipping and List of ports in Greece
See also: Economy of Greece Maritime industry
Greece controls 16.2% of the world's total merchant fleet, making it the largest
in the world. Greece is ranked in the top 5 for all kinds of ships, including
first for tankers and bulk carriers.
The shipping industry is a key element of Greek economic activity dating back to
ancient times.[150] Today, shipping is one of the country's most important ind
ustries. It accounts for 4.5% of GDP, employs about 160,000 people (4% of the w
orkforce), and represents 1/3 of the country's trade deficit.[151]
During the 1960s, the size of the Greek fleet nearly doubled, primarily through
the investment undertaken by the shipping magnates, Aristotle Onassis and Stavro
s Niarchos.[152] The basis of the modern Greek maritime industry was formed aft
er World War II when Greek shipping businessmen were able to amass surplus ships
sold to them by the U.S. government through the Ship Sales Act of the 1940s.[15
According to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report in 2011
, the Greek merchant navy is the largest in the world at 16.2% of the world's to
tal capacity,[104] up from 15.96% in 2010.[153] This is a drop from the equival
ent number in 2006, which was 18.2%.[154] The total tonnage of the country's mer
chant fleet is 202 million dwt, ranked 1st in the world.[104]
In terms of total number of ships, the Greek Merchant Navy stands at 4th worldwi
de, with 3,150 ships (741 of which are registered in Greece whereas the rest 2,4
09 in other ports).[153] In terms of ship categories, Greece ranks first in bot
h tankers and dry bulk carriers, fourth in the number of containers, and fifth i
n other ships.[155] However, today's fleet roster is smaller than an all-time h
igh of 5,000 ships in the late 1970s.[150] Additionally, the total number of sh
ips flying a Greek flag (includes non-Greek fleets) is 1,517, or 5.3% of the wor
ld's dwt (ranked 5th).[153]
Main article: Tourism in Greece
Panoramic view of parts of old Corfu City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as seen
from Palaio Frourio. The Bay of Garitsa is to the left and the port of Corfu is
just visible on the top right of the picture. Spianada is in the foreground.
Panorama of Santorini.
An important percentage of Greece's national income comes from tourism. Tourism
funds 16% of the gross domestic products which also includes the Tourism Counci
l and the London-Based World Travel.[156] According to Eurostat statistics, Gre
ece welcomed over 19.5 million tourists in 2009,[157] which is an increase from
the 17.7 million tourists it welcomed in 2007.[158]
The vast majority of visitors in Greece in 2007 came from the European continent
, numbering 12.7 million,[159] while the most visitors from a single nationality
were those from the United Kingdom, (2.6 million), followed closely by those fr
om Germany (2.3 million).[159] In 2010, the most visited region of Greece was t
hat of Central Macedonia, with 18% of the country's total tourist flow (amountin
g to 3.6 million tourists), followed by Attica with 2.6 million and the Peloponn
ese with 1.8 million.[157] Northern Greece is the country's most-visited geogra
phical region, with 6.5 million tourists, while Central Greece is second with 6.
3 million.[157]
In 2010, Lonely Planet ranked Greece's northern and second-largest city of Thess
aloniki as the world's fifth-best party town worldwide, comparable to other citi
es such as Dubai and Montreal.[160] In 2011, Santorini was voted as "The World'
s Best Island" in Travel + Leisure.[161] Its neighboring island Mykonos, came i
n fifth in the European category.[161]
Main article: Transport in Greece
The Rio-Antirio bridge (Charilaos Trikoupis) connects mainland Greece to the Pel
Since the 1980s, the road and rail network of Greece has been significantly mode
rnized. Important works include the A2 (Egnatia Odos) motorway, that connects n
orthwestern Greece (Igoumenitsa) with northern and northeastern Greece (Kipoi);
and the RioAntirrio bridge, the longest suspension cable bridge in Europe (2,250
m (7,382 ft) long), connecting the Peloponnese from Rio (7 km (4 mi) from Patras
) with Antirrio in Central Greece.
Important projects that are currently underway include, the conversion of the GR
-8A, connecting Athens with Patras and further towards Pyrgos in the western Pel
oponnese, into a modernised motorway throughout its length (scheduled to be comp
leted by 2014); upgrading unfinished sections of motorway on the A1, connecting
Athens to Thessaloniki; and the construction of the Thessaloniki Metro.
The Athens Metropolitan Area in particular is served by some of the most modern
and efficient transport infrastructure in Europe, such as the Athens Internation
al Airport, the privately run Attiki Odos motorway network and the expanded Athe
ns Metro system.
Most of the Greek islands and many main cities of Greece are connected by air ma
inly from the two major Greek airlines, Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines. Mariti
me connections have been improved with modern high-speed craft, including hydrof
oils and catamarans.
Railway connections play a somewhat lesser role in Greece than in many other Eur
opean countries, but they too have also been expanded, with new suburban/commute
r rail connections, serviced by Proastiakos around Athens, towards its airport,
Kiato and Chalkida; around Thessaloniki, towards the cities of Larissa and Edess
a; and around Patras. A modern intercity rail connection between Athens and The
ssaloniki has also been established, while an upgrade to double lines in many pa
rts of the 2,500 km (1,600 mi) network is underway. International railway lines
connect Greek cities with the rest of Europe, the Balkans and Turkey, although
as of 2011 they have been suspended, due to the financial crisis.
Main article: Telecommunications in Greece
OTE headquarters in Athens.
Modern digital information and communication networks reach all areas. There ar
e over 35,000 km (21,748 mi) of fiber optics and an extensive open-wire network.
Broadband internet availability is widespread in Greece: there were a total of
2,252,653 broadband connections as of early 2011, translating to 20% broadband
penetration.[162] According to 2012 ELSTAT data, 53,6% of the households used th
e internet regularly and of which 94,8% of them had broadband connection[163]
Internet cafes that provide net access, office applications and multiplayer gami
ng are also a common sight in the country, while mobile internet on 3G cellphone
networks and Wi-Fi connections can be found almost everywhere.[164] 3G mobile i
nternet usage has been on a sharp increase in recent years, with a 340% increase
between August 2011 and August 2012.[165] The United Nations International Tele
communication Union ranks Greece among the top 30 countries with a highly develo
ped information and communications infrastructure.[166]
Science and technology
Thessaloniki Science Center and Technology Museum.
The General Secretariat for Research and Technology of the Ministry of Developme
nt is responsible for designing, implementing and supervising national research
and technological policy. In 2003, public spending on research and development (
R&D) was 456.37 million euros (12.6% increase from 2002). Total R&D spending (bo
th public and private) as a percentage of GDP had increased considerably since t
he beginning of the past decade, from 0.38% in 1989, to 0.65% in 2001. R&D spend
ing in Greece remained lower than the EU average of 1.93%, but, according to Res
earch DC, based on OECD and Eurostat data, between 1990 and 1998, total R&D expe
nditure in Greece enjoyed the third-highest increase in Europe, after Finland an
d Ireland. Because of its strategic location, qualified workforce and political
and economic stability, many multinational companies such as Ericsson, Siemens,
Motorola and Coca-Cola have their regional research and development headquarters
in Greece.
Greece's technology parks with incubator facilities include the Science and Tech
nology Park of Crete (Heraklion), the Thessaloniki Technology Park, the Lavrio T
echnology Park and the Patras Science Park, the Science and Technology Park of E
pirus (Ioannina). Greece has been a member of the European Space Agency (ESA) s
ince 2005.[167] Cooperation between ESA and the Hellenic National Space Committ
ee began in the early 1990s. In 1994 Greece and ESA signed their first cooperat
ion agreement. Having formally applied for full membership in 2003, Greece beca
me the ESA's sixteenth member on 16 March 2005. As member of the ESA, Greece pa
rticipates in the agency's telecommunication and technology activities, and the
Global Monitoring for Environment and Security Initiative.
As of 2007, Greece had the eighth highest percentage of tertiary enrollment in t
he world (with the percentages for female students being higher than for male) w
hile Greeks of the Diaspora are equally active in the field of education. Hundre
ds of thousands of Greek students attend western universities every year while t
he faculty lists of leading Western universities contain a striking number of Gr
eek names.[168] Notable Greek scientists of modern times include Dimitrios Galan
os, Georgios Papanikolaou (inventor of the Pap test), Nicholas Negroponte, Const
antin Caratheodory, Manolis Andronikos, Michael Dertouzos, John Argyris, Panagio
tis Kondylis, John Iliopoulos (2007 Dirac Prize for his contributions on the phy
sics of the charm quark, a major contribution to the birth of the Standard Model
, the modern theory of Elementary Particles), Joseph Sifakis (2007 Turing Award,
the "Nobel Prize" of Computer Science), Christos Papadimitriou (2002 Knuth Priz
e, 2012 Godel Prize), Mihalis Yannakakis (2005 Knuth Prize) and Dimitri Nanopoul
Main articles: Demographics of Greece and Greeks
Hermoupolis, on the island of Syros, is the capital of the Cyclades.
According to the official statistical body of Greece, the Hellenic Statistical A
uthority (ELSTAT), the country's total population in 2011 was 10,815,197.[169] T
he 2011 census recorded 9,903,268 Greek citizens (91,56%), 480,824 Albanian citi
zens (4,44%), 75,915 Bulgarian citizens (0,7%), 46,523 Romanian citizenship (0,4
3%), 34,177 Pakistani citizens (0,32%), 27,400 Georgian citizens (0,25%) and 247
,090 people had other or unidentified citizenship (2,3%).[1] 189,000 people of t
he total population of Albanian citizens were reported as ethnic Greeks from Nor
thern Epirus in 2008.[170] The birth rate in 2003 stood at 9.5 per 1,000 inhabit
ants, significantly lower than the rate of 14.5 per 1,000 in 1981. At the same t
ime, the mortality rate increased slightly from 8.9 per 1,000 inhabitants in 198
1 to 9.6 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2003.
Greek society has changed rapidly over the last several decades. Its declining f
ertility rate has led to an increase in the median age, which coincides with the
overall aging of Europe. In 2001, 16.71 percent of the population were 65 years
old and older, 68.12 percent between the ages of 15 and 64 years old, and 15.18
percent were 14 years old and younger.[171] Marriage rates began declining from
almost 71 per 1,000 inhabitants in 1981 until 2002, only to increase slightly i
n 2003 to 61 per 1,000 and then fall again to 51 in 2004.[171] Moreover, divorce
rates have seen an increase from 191.2 per 1,000 marriages in 1991 to 239.5 per
1,000 marriages in 2004.[171] As a result of these trends, the average Greek fa
mily is smaller and older than in previous generations.
See also: List of cities in Greece
Almost two-thirds of the Greek people live in urban areas. Greece's largest and
most influential metropolitan centres are those of Athens and Thessaloniki, with
metropolitan populations of approximately 4 million and 1 million inhabitants r
espectively. Other prominent cities with urban populations above 100,000 inhabit
ants include those of Patras, Heraklion, Larissa, Volos, Rhodes, Ioannina, Chani
a and Chalcis.[172]
The table below lists the largest cities in Greece, by population contained in t
heir respective contiguous built up urban areas; which are either made up of man
y municipalities, evident in the cases of Athens and Thessaloniki, or are contai
ned within a larger single municipality, case evident in most of the smaller cit
ies of the country. The results come from the preliminary figures of the populat
ion census that took place in Greece in May 2011.
v t e Largest cities or towns of Greece
Hellenic Statistical Authority 2011 census[97]
Rank Name Region Pop. Rank Name Region Pop.
Thessaloniki 1 Athens Attica 3,074,160 11 Agrinio West Gre
ece 93,930 Patras
2 Thessaloniki C. Macedonia 790,824 12 Katerini C. Maced
onia 86,170
3 Patras West Greece 214,580 13 Trikala Thessaly 80,900
4 Heraklion Crete 173,450 14 Serres C. Macedonia 76,240
5 Larissa Thessaly 163,380 15 Lamia Central Greece 74,720
6 Volos Thessaly 144,420 16 Alexandroupoli E. Macedonia/Thr
ace 72,750
7 Rhodes South Aegean 118,623 17 Kozani W. Macedonia 70,420
8 Ioannina Epirus 111,740 18 Kavala E. Macedonia/Thrace
9 Chania Crete 108,310 19 Kalamata Peloponnese 70,130
10 Chalcis Central Greece 102,420 20 Veria C. Macedonia 66,630
Main articles: Greek Diaspora and Immigration to Greece
A map of the top fifty countries with the largest Greek diaspora communities.
Throughout the 20th century, millions of Greeks migrated to the United States, U
nited Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Germany, creating a thriving Greek diaspor
a. Net migration started to show positive numbers from the 1970s, but until the
beginning of the 1990s, the main influx was that of returning Greek migrants.[17
A study from the Mediterranean Migration Observatory maintains that the 2001 cen
sus recorded 762,191 persons residing in Greece without Greek citizenship, const
ituting around 7% of total population. Of the non-citizen residents, 48,560 were
EU or European Free Trade Association nationals and 17,426 were Cypriots with p
rivileged status. The majority come from Eastern European countries: Albania (56
%), Bulgaria (5%) and Romania (3%), while migrants from the former Soviet Union
(Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, etc.) comprise 10% of the total.[173]
The greatest cluster of non-EU immigrant population are the larger urban centers
, especially the Municipality of Athens, with 132,000 immigrants comprising 17%
of the local population, and then Thessaloniki, with 27,000 immigrants reaching
7% of the local population. There is also a considerable number of co-ethnics th
at came from the Greek communities of Albania and the former Soviet Union.[170]
Greece, together with Italy and Spain, faces a large influx of illegal immigrant
s trying to enter the EU. Illegal immigrants entering Greece mostly do so from
the border with Turkey at the Evros River. In 2012, the majority of illegal immi
grants entering Greece came from Afghanistan, followed by Pakistanis and Banglad
eshis.[174] Since 2012, extensive day-to-day police operations (called "Xenios Z
eus") take place in Athens and other major Greek cities for the detention of ill
egal immigrants. So far more than 15,000 illegal immigrants have been detained a
nd thousands have been checked for their country residence status.
Main article: Religion in Greece
Monasteries of Meteora, Thessaly
Stavronikita monastery, a Greek Orthodox monastery in Athos peninsula, Northern
Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, Patmos
The Greek Constitution recognizes the Orthodox Christian faith as the "prevailin
g" faith of the country, while guaranteeing freedom of religious belief for all.
[81] The Greek government does not keep statistics on religious groups and censu
ses do not ask for religious affiliation. According to the U.S. State Department
, an estimated 97% of Greek citizens identify themselves as Orthodox Christians,
belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church.[175]
In a Eurostat Eurobarometer 2010 poll, 79% of Greek citizens responded that they
"believe there is a God".[176] According to other sources, 15.8% of Greeks desc
ribe themselves as "very religious", which is the highest among all European cou
ntries. The survey also found that just 3.5% never attend a church, compared to
4.9% in Poland and 59.1% in the Czech Republic.[177]
Estimates of the recognized Greek Muslim minority, which is mostly located in Th
race, range from 98,000 to 140,000,[175][178] (about 1%) while the immigrant Mus
lim community numbers between 200,000 and 300,000. Albanian immigrants to Greece
are usually associated with the Muslim religion, although most are secular in o
rientation.[179] Following the 19191922 Greco-Turkish War and the 1923 Treaty of
Lausanne, Greece and Turkey agreed to a population transfer based on cultural a
nd religious identity. About 500,000 Muslims from Greece, predominantly Turks,
but also other Muslims, were exchanged with approximately 1,500,000 Greeks from
Asia Minor (now Turkey).[180]
Greece religiosity (2001)[181][c]
Religiosity in Greece (2010)[176]
Belief in God
Belief in spirit or life force
No belief
Judaism has existed in Greece for more than 2,000 years. Sephardi Jews used to
have a large presence in the city of Thessaloniki (by 1900, some 80,000, or more
than half of the population, were Jews),[182] but nowadays the Greek-Jewish com
munity who survived German occupation and the Holocaust, during World War II, is
estimated to number around 5,500 people.[175][178]
Greek citizens who are Roman Catholic are estimated to be at around 50,000[175][
178] with the Roman Catholic immigrant community in the country approximately 20
0,000.[175] Old Calendarists account for 500,000 followers.[178] Protestants,
including Greek Evangelical Church and Free Evangelical Churches, stand at about
30,000.[175][178] Assemblies of God, International Church of the Foursquare Gos
pel and other Pentecostal churches of the Greek Synod of Apostolic Church have 1
2,000 members.[183] Independent Free Apostolic Church of Pentecost is the bigges
t Protestant denomination in Greece with 120 churches.[184] There are not offici
al statistics about Free Apostolic Church of Pentecost, but the Orthodox Church
estimates the followers as 20,000.[185] The Jehovah's Witnesses report having 2
8,859 active members.[175][178][186]
Hellenic Polytheistic Reconstructionism has also been reportedly practiced by th
ousands of Greeks.
Main articles: Greek language, Languages of Greece and Minorities in Greece
Distribution of major modern Greek dialect areas.
Regions with a traditional presence of languages other than Greek. Today, Greek
is the dominant language throughout the country.[187][188][189][190][191][192]
The first textual evidence of the Greek language dates back to 15th century BC a
nd the Linear B script which is associated with the Mycenaean Civilization. Gre
ek was a widely spoken lingua franca in the Mediterranean world and beyond durin
g Classical Antiquity, and would eventually become the official parlance of the
Byzantine Empire.
During the 19th and 20th centuries there was a major dispute known as the Greek
language question, on whether the official language of Greece should be the arch
aic Katharevousa, created in the 19th century and used as the state and scholarl
y language, or the Dimotiki, the form of the Greek language which evolved natura
lly from Byzantine Greek and was the language of the people. The dispute was fi
nally resolved in 1976, when Dimotiki was made the only official variation of th
e Greek language, and Katharevousa fell to disuse.
Greece is today relatively homogeneous in linguistic terms, with a large majorit
y of the native population using Greek as their first or only language. Among t
he Greek-speaking population, speakers of the distinctive Pontic dialect came to
Greece from Asia Minor after the Greek genocide and constitute a sizable group.
The Muslim minority in Thrace, which amounts to approximately 0.95% of the total
population, consists of speakers of Turkish, Bulgarian (Pomaks)[192] and Romani
. Romani is also spoken by Christian Roma in other parts of the country. Furth
er minority languages have traditionally been spoken by regional population grou
ps in various parts of the country. Their use has decreased radically in the co
urse of the 20th century through assimilation with the Greek-speaking majority.
Today they are only maintained by the older generations and are on the verge of
extinction. This goes for the Arvanites, an Albanian-speaking group mostly loc
ated in the rural areas around the capital Athens, and for the Aromanians and Mo
glenites, also known as Vlachs, whose language is closely related to Romanian an
d who used to live scattered across several areas of mountainous central Greece.
Members of these groups ethnically identify as Greeks[193] and are today all a
t least bilingual in Greek.
Near the northern Greek borders there are also some Slavicspeaking groups, locall
y known as Slavomacedonian-speaking, most of whose members identify ethnically a
s Greeks. Their dialects can be linguistically classified as forms of either Mac
edonian Slavic or Bulgarian.[194][195] It is estimated that after the populatio
n exchanges of 1923, Macedonia had 200,000 to 400,000 Slavic speakers.[74] The
Jewish community in Greece traditionally spoke Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), today mai
ntained only by a few thousand speakers.
Main article: Education in Greece
The Ionian Academy in Corfu, the first academic institution of modern Greece.
The Academy of Athens is Greece's national academy and the highest research esta
blishment in the country.
Compulsory education in Greece comprises primary schools ( , Dimotiko Scholeio)
ery schools ( , Paidikos Stathmos) are popular but not compulsory. Kindergarte
compulsory for any child above 4 years of age. Children start primary school ag
ed 6 and remain there for six years. Attendance at gymnasia starts at age 12 an
d lasts for three years.
Greece's post-compulsory secondary education consists of two school types: unifi
ed upper secondary schools ( , Genik Lykei) and technicalvocational educational
ucation also includes vocational training institutes ( , "I
education. As they can accept both Gymnasio (lower secondary school) and Lykeio
(upper secondary school) graduates, these institutes are not classified as offe
ring a particular level of education.
According to the Framework Law (3549/2007), Public higher education "Highest Edu
cational Institutions" ( , Anotata Ekpaideytika Idrymata, "") c
sector (Universities, Polytechnics, Fine Arts Schools, the Open University) and
the Technological sector (Technological Education Institutions (TEI) and the Sc
hool of Pedagogic and Technological Education). There are also State Non-Univer
sity Tertiary Institutes offering vocationally oriented courses of shorter durat
ion (2 to 3 years) which operate under the authority of other Ministries. Stude
nts are admitted to these Institutes according to their performance at national
level examinations taking place after completion of the third grade of Lykeio.
Additionally, students over twenty-two years old may be admitted to the Hellenic
Open University through a form of lottery. The Capodistrian University of Athe
ns is the oldest university in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Greek education system also provides special kindergartens, primary and seco
ndary schools for people with special needs or difficulties in learning. Specia
list gymnasia and high schools offering musical, theological and physical educat
ion also exist.
Main article: Health care in Greece
Athens Eye Hospital
Greece has universal health care. In a 2000 World Health Organization report, i
ts health care system ranked 14th in overall performance of 191 countries survey
ed.[196] In a 2013 Save the Children report, Greece was ranked the 19th best co
untry (out of 176 countries surveyed) for the state of mothers and newborn babie
s.[197] In 2010, there were 138 hospitals with 31,000 beds in the country, but o
n 1 July 2011, the Ministry for Health and Social Solidarity announced its plans
to decrease the number to 77 hospitals with 36,035 beds, as a necessary reform
to reduce expenses and further enhance healthcare standards.[198][disputed discu
ss] Greece's healthcare expenditures as a percentage of GDP were 9.6% in 2007 ac
cording to a 2011 OECD report, just above the OECD average of 9.5%.[199] The cou
ntry has the largest number of doctors-to-population ratio of any OECD country.[
Life expectancy in Greece is 80.3 years, above the OECD average of 79.5,[199] an
d among the highest in the world. The island of Icaria has the highest percenta
ge of 90-year-olds in the world; approximately 33% of the islanders make it to 9
0 (and beyond).[200] Blue Zones author Dan Buettner wrote an article in The New
York Times about the longevity of Icarians under the title "The Island Where Pe
ople Forget to Die".[201] The 2011 OECD report showed that Greece had the large
st percentage of adult daily smokers of any of the 34 OECD members.[199] The co
untry's obesity rate is 18.1%, which is above the OECD average of 15.1%, but con
siderably lower than the American rate of 27.7%.[199] In 2008, Greece had the h
ighest rate of perceived good health in the OECD, at 98.5%.[202] Infant mortalit
y is one of the lowest in the developed world, with a rate of 3.1 deaths per 1,0
00 live births.[199]
Main articles: Culture of Greece and List of Greeks
Traditional Greek taverna, integral part of Greek culture and cuisine.
The culture of Greece has evolved over thousands of years, beginning in Mycenaea
n Greece and continuing most notably into Classical Greece, through the influenc
e of the Roman Empire and its Greek Eastern continuation, the Eastern Roman or B
yzantine Empire. Other cultures and nations, such as the Latin and Frankish stat
es, the Ottoman Empire, the Venetian Republic, the Genoese Republic, and the Bri
tish Empire have also left their influence on modern Greek culture, although his
torians credit the Greek War of Independence with revitalising Greece and giving
birth to a single, cohesive entity of its multi-faceted culture.
In ancient times, Greece was the birthplace of Western culture.[203] Modern demo
cracies owe a debt to Greek beliefs in government by the people, trial by jury,
and equality under the law. The ancient Greeks pioneered in many fields that rel
y on systematic thought, including biology, geometry, history,[204] philosophy,
and physics. They introduced such important literary forms as epic and lyric poe
try, history, tragedy, and comedy. In their pursuit of order and proportion, the
Greeks created an ideal of beauty that strongly influenced Western art.[205]
See also: Theatre of ancient Greece and Modern Greek theatre
The ancient theatre of Epidaurus continues to be used for staging performances,
including ancient Greek plays.
Nobile Teatro di San Giacomo di Corfu, the first theatre and opera house of mode
rn Greece and the place where the first Greek opera, Spyridon Xyndas' "The Parli
amentary Candidate" based on an exclusively Greek libretto was performed.
Theatre was born in Greece. The city-state of Classical Athens, which became a s
ignificant cultural, political, and military power during this period, was its c
entre, where it was institutionalised as part of a festival called the Dionysia,
which honoured the god Dionysus. Tragedy (late 6th century BC), comedy (486 BC)
, and the satyr play were the three dramatic genres to emerge there.
During the Byzantine period, the theatrical art was heavily declined. According
to Marios Ploritis, the only form survived was the folk theatre (Mimos and Panto
mimos), despite the hostility of the official state.[206] Later, during the Otto
man period, the main theatrical folk art was the Karagiozis. The renaissance whi
ch led to the modern Greek theatre, took place in the Venetian Crete. Significal
dramatists include Vitsentzos Kornaros and Georgios Chortatzis.
The modern Greek theatre was born after the Greek independence, in the early 19t
h century, and initially was influenced by the Heptanesean theatre and melodrama
, such as the Italian opera. The Nobile Teatro di San Giacomo di Corfu was the f
irst theatre and opera house of modern Greece and the place where the first Gree
k opera, Spyridon Xyndas' The Parliamentary Candidate (based on an exclusively G
reek libretto) was performed. During the late 19th and early 20th century, the A
thenian theatre scene was dominated by revues, musical comedies, operettas and n
octurnes and notable playwrights included Spyridon Samaras, Dionysios Lavrangas,
Theophrastos Sakellaridis and others.
The National Theatre of Greece was founded in 1880. Notable playwrights of the m
odern Greek theatre include Gregorios Xenopoulos, Nikos Kazantzakis, Pantelis Ho
rn, Alekos Sakellarios and Iakovos Kambanelis, while notable actors include Cybe
le Andrianou, Marika Kotopouli, Aimilios Veakis, Orestis Makris, Katina Paxinou,
Manos Katrakis and Dimitris Horn. Significant directors include Dimitris Rontir
is, Alexis Minotis and Karolos Koun.
Main articles: Ancient Greek philosophy and Modern Greek Enlightenment
Statue of Socrates in front of the Academy of Athens.
Most western philosophical traditions began in Ancient Greece in the 6th century
BC. The first philosophers are called "Presocratics," which designates that th
ey came before Socrates, whose contributions mark a turning point in western tho
ught. The Presocratics were from the western or the eastern colonies of Greece
and only fragments of their original writings survive, in some cases merely a si
ngle sentence.
A new period of philosophy started with Socrates. Like the Sophists, he rejecte
d entirely the physical speculations in which his predecessors had indulged, and
made the thoughts and opinions of people his starting-point. Aspects of Socrat
es were first united from Plato, who also combined with them many of the princip
les established by earlier philosophers, and developed the whole of this materia
l into the unity of a comprehensive system.
Aristotle of Stagira, the most important disciple of Plato, shared with his teac
her the title of the greatest philosopher of antiquity. But while Plato had sou
ght to elucidate and explain things from the supra-sensual standpoint of the for
ms, his pupil preferred to start from the facts given us by experience. Except
from these three most significant Greek philosophers other known schools of Gree
k philosophy from other founders during ancient times were Stoicism, epicureanis
m, Skepticism and Neoplatonism.[207]
Byzantine philosophy refers to the distinctive philosophical ideas of the philos
ophers and scholars of the Byzantine Empire, especially between the 8th and 15th
centuries. It was characterised by a Christian world-view, but one which could
draw ideas directly from the Greek texts of Plato, Aristotle, and the Neoplatoni
In modern period, Diafotismos (Greek: , "enlightenment", "illumination") was the Gr
ession of the Age of Enlightenment and its philosophical and political ideas. So
me notable representatives were Adamantios Korais, Rigas Feraios and Theophilos
Main articles: Greek Literature and Modern Greek literature
Adamantios Korais, humanist scholar credited with laying the foundations of Mode
rn Greek literature and a major figure in the Greek Enlightenment.
Giorgos Seferis, Nobel Prize in Literature (1963).
Greek literature can be divided into three main categories: Ancient, Byzantine a
nd modern Greek literature.
At the beginning of Greek literature stand the two monumental works of Homer: th
e Iliad and the Odyssey. Though dates of composition vary, these works were fix
ed around 800 BC or after. In the classical period many of the genres of wester
n literature became more prominent. Lyrical poetry, odes, pastorals, elegies, e
pigrams; dramatic presentations of comedy and tragedy; historiography, rhetorica
l treatises, philosophical dialectics, and philosophical treatises all arose in
this period. The two major lyrical poets were Sappho and Pindar. The Classical
era also saw the dawn of drama.
Of the hundreds of tragedies written and performed during the classical age, onl
y a limited number of plays by three authors have survived: those of Aeschylus,
Sophocles, and Euripides. The surviving plays by Aristophanes are also a treasu
re trove of comic presentation, while Herodotus and Thucydides are two of the mo
st influential historians in this period. The greatest prose achievement of the
4th century was in philosophy with the works of the three great philosophers.
Byzantine literature refers to literature of the Byzantine Empire written in Att
icizing, Medieval and early Modern Greek, and it is the expression of the intell
ectual life of the Byzantine Greeks during the Christian Middle Ages.
Modern Greek literature refers to literature written in common Modern Greek, eme
rging from late Byzantine times in the 11th century. The Cretan Renaissance poe
m Erotokritos is undoubtedly the masterpiece of this period of Greek literature.
It is a verse romance written around 1600 by Vitsentzos Kornaros (15531613). L
ater, during the period of Greek enlightenment (Diafotismos), writers such as Ad
amantios Korais and Rigas Feraios prepared with their works the Greek Revolution
Leading literary figures of modern Greece include Dionysios Solomos, Andreas Kal
vos, Angelos Sikelianos, Emmanuel Rhoides, Kostis Palamas, Penelope Delta, Yanni
s Ritsos, Alexandros Papadiamantis, Nikos Kazantzakis, Andreas Embeirikos, Kosta
s Karyotakis, Gregorios Xenopoulos, Constantine P. Cavafy, and Demetrius Vikelas
. Two Greek authors have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature: George Sef
eris in 1963 and Odysseas Elytis in 1979.
Main article: Greek cinema
Greek director Theodoros Angelopoulos.
Cinema first appeared in Greece in 1896 but the first actual cine-theatre was op
ened in 1907. In 1914 the Asty Films Company was founded and the production of l
ong films began. Golfo (), a well known traditional love story, is considered the firs
t Greek feature film, although there were several minor productions such as news
casts before this. In 1931 Orestis Laskos directed Daphnis and Chloe ( ), contai
st nude scene in the history of European cinema; it was also the first Greek mov
ie which was played abroad. In 1944 Katina Paxinou was honoured with the Best Su
pporting Actress Academy Award for For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The 1950s and early 1960s are considered by many to be a golden age of Greek cin
ema. Directors and actors of this era were recognized as important historical f
igures in Greece and some gained international acclaim: Irene Papas, Melina Merc
ouri, Mihalis Kakogiannis, Alekos Sakellarios, Nikos Tsiforos, Iakovos Kambaneli
s, Katina Paxinou, Nikos Koundouros, Ellie Lambeti, and others. More than sixty
films per year were made, with the majority having film noir elements. Notable
films were (1955 directed by Giorgos Tzavellas), (1951, directed by
os (1956 directed by Nikos Koundouros), Stella (1955 directed by Cacoyannis and
written by Kampanellis).
Cacoyannis also directed Zorba the Greek with Anthony Quinn which received Best
Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film nominations. Finos Film also co
ntributed to this period with movies such as , , Madalena,
ries of notable and appreciated movies. His film Eternity and a Day won the Pal
me d'Or and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.
There were also internationally renowned filmmakers in the Greek diaspora, such
as the Greek-French Costa-Gavras and the Greek-Americans John Cassavetes and Eli
a Kazan.
Main article: Greek cuisine
Classic Greek salad
Greek cuisine is characteristic of the healthy Mediterranean diet, which is epit
omized by dishes of Crete.[208] Greek cuisine incorporates fresh ingredients int
o a variety of local dishes such as moussaka, stifado, Greek salad, fasolada, sp
anakopita and souvlaki. Some dishes can be traced back to ancient Greece like s
kordalia (a thick puree of walnuts, almonds, crushed garlic and olive oil), lent
il soup, retsina (white or rose wine sealed with pine resin) and pasteli (candy
bar with sesame seeds baked with honey). Throughout Greece people often enjoy e
ating from small dishes such as meze with various dips such as tzatziki, grilled
octopus and small fish, feta cheese, dolmades (rice, currants and pine kernels
wrapped in vine leaves), various pulses, olives and cheese. Olive oil is added t
o almost every dish.
Sweet desserts such as galaktoboureko, and drinks such as ouzo, metaxa and a var
iety of wines including retsina. Greek cuisine differs widely from different pa
rts of the mainland and from island to island. It uses some flavorings more ofte
n than other Mediterranean cuisines: oregano, mint, garlic, onion, dill and bay
laurel leaves. Other common herbs and spices include basil, thyme and fennel see
d. Many Greek recipes, especially in the northern parts of the country, use "swe
et" spices in combination with meat, for example cinnamon and cloves in stews.
Music and dances
Main article: Music of Greece
Cretan dancers of traditional music.
Rebetes in Karaiskaki, Piraeus (1933). Left Markos Vamvakaris with bouzouki, mid
dle Giorgos Batis with guitar.
Greek vocal music extends far back into ancient times where mixed-gender choruse
s performed for entertainment, celebration and spiritual reasons. Instruments du
ring that period included the double-reed aulos and the plucked string instrumen
t, the lyre, especially the special kind called a kithara. Music played an impor
tant role in the education system during ancient times. Boys were taught music
from the age of six. Later influences from the Roman Empire, Middle East, and th
e Byzantine Empire also had effect on Greek music.
While the new technique of polyphony was developing in the West, the Eastern Ort
hodox Church resisted any type of change. Therefore, Byzantine music remained m
onophonic and without any form of instrumental accompaniment. As a result, and d
espite certain attempts by certain Greek chanters (such as Manouel Gazis, Ioanni
s Plousiadinos or the Cypriot Ieronimos o Tragoudistis), Byzantine music was dep
rived of elements of which in the West encouraged an unimpeded development of ar
t. However, this method which kept music away from polyphony, along with centur
ies of continuous culture, enabled monophonic music to develop to the greatest h
eights of perfection. Byzantium presented the monophonic Byzantine chant; a melo
dic treasury of inestimable value for its rhythmical variety and expressive powe
Along with the Byzantine (Church) chant and music, the Greek people also cultiva
ted the Greek folk song which is divided into two cycles, the akritic and klepht
ic. The akritic was created between the 9th and 10th centuries and expressed the
life and struggles of the akrites (frontier guards) of the Byzantine empire, th
e most well known being the stories associated with Digenes Akritas. The klephti
c cycle came into being between the late Byzantine period and the start of the G
reek War of Independence. The klephtic cycle, together with historical songs, pa
raloghes (narrative song or ballad), love songs, mantinades, wedding songs, song
s of exile and dirges express the life of the Greeks. There is a unity between t
he Greek people's struggles for freedom, their joys and sorrow and attitudes tow
ards love and death.
The Heptanesean kantadhes ( 'serenades'; sing.: ) became the forerunners of the
ng, influencing its development to a considerable degree. For the first part of
the next century, several Greek composers continued to borrow elements from the
Heptanesean style. The most successful songs during the period 18701930 were the
so-called Athenian serenades, and the songs performed on stage ( 'theat
operettas and nocturnes that were dominating Athens' theater scene.
Rebetiko, initially a music associated with the lower classes, later (and especi
ally after the population exchange between Greece and Turkey) reached greater ge
neral acceptance as the rough edges of its overt subcultural character were soft
ened and polished, sometimes to the point of unrecognizability. It was the base
of the later laiko (song of the people). The leading performers of the genre inc
lude Apostolos Kaldaras, Grigoris Bithikotsis, Stelios Kazantzidis, George Dalar
as, Haris Alexiou and Glykeria.
Regarding the classical music, it was through the Ionian islands (which were und
er western rule and influence) that all the major advances of the western Europe
an classical music were introduced to mainland Greeks. The region is notable for
the birth of the first School of modern Greek classical music (Heptanesean or I
onian School, Greek: ), established in 1815. Prominent representatives of thi
kolaos Mantzaros, Spyridon Xyndas, Spyridon Samaras and Pavlos Carrer. Manolis K
alomiris is considered the founder of the Greek National School of Music.
In the 20th century, Greek composers have had a significant impact on the develo
pment of avant garde and modern classical music, with figures such as Iannis Xen
akis, Nikos Skalkottas, and Dimitri Mitropoulos achieving international prominen
ce. At the same time, composers and musicians such as Mikis Theodorakis, Manos H
atzidakis, Eleni Karaindrou, Vangelis and Demis Roussos garnered an internationa
l following for their music, which include famous film scores such as Zorba the
Greek, Serpico, Never on Sunday, America America, Eternity and a Day, Chariots o
f Fire, among others. Greek American composers known for their film scores inclu
de Yanni and Basil Poledouris. Notable Greek opera singers and classical musicia
ns of the 20th and 21st century include Maria Callas, Nana Mouskouri, Mario Fran
goulis, Leonidas Kavakos, Dimitris Sgouros and others.
Main article: Sports in Greece
Spiridon Louis entering the Panathenaic Stadium at the end of the marathon; 1896
Summer Olympics.
Greece is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, first recorded in 776 BC. The an
cient Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, which was essentially rebuilt in 1895, host
ed the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. It had also hosted Olympic Games in
1870 and 1875 (see Evangelis Zappas). The Panathenaic stadium also hosted the G
ames in 1906 and was used to host events at the 2004 Summer Olympics.
The Greek national football team, ranked 14th in the world in 2012,[209] won the
UEFA Euro 2004 in one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport and bec
ame one of only nine national teams to have won the European Championship in foo
tball.[210] The Greek Super League is the highest professional football league
in the country comprising eighteen teams. The most successful are Olympiacos, P
anathinaikos and AEK Athens.
The Greek national basketball team has a decades-long tradition of excellence in
the sport, being considered among the world's top basketball powers. As of 2012
, it ranked 4th in the world and 2nd in Europe.[211] They have won the European
Championship twice in 1987 and 2005,[212] and have reached the final four in tw
o of the last four FIBA World Championships, taking the second place in the worl
d in 2006 FIBA World Championship, after a spectacular 10195 win against Team USA
in the tournament's semifinal. The domestic top basketball league, A1 Ethniki,
is composed of fourteen teams. The most successful Greek teams are Olympiacos,
Panathinaikos, Aris Thessaloniki and AEK Athens. Greek basketball teams are th
e most successful in European basketball the last 25 years, having won 9 Eurolea
gues since the establishment of the modern era Euroleague Final Four format in 1
988 (no other nation has won more than four Euroleague championships in this per
After the 2005 European Championship triumph of the Greek national basketball te
am, Greece became the reigning European Champion in both football and basketball
Water polo and volleyball are also practiced widely in Greece while cricket and
handball are relatively popular in Corfu and Veria respectively.
Main article: Greek mythology
Zeus was the King of the ancient Greek dodekatheon.
The numerous gods of the ancient Greek religion as well as the mythical heroes a
nd events of the ancient Greek epics (The Odyssey and The Iliad) and other piece
s of art and literature from the time make up what is nowadays colloquially refe
rred to as Greek mythology. Apart from serving a religious function, the mytholo
gy of the ancient Greek world also served a cosmological role as it was meant to
try to explain how the world was formed and operated.
The principal gods of the ancient Greek religion were the Dodekatheon, or the Tw
elve Gods, who lived on the top of Mount Olympus. The most important of all anci
ent Greek gods was Zeus, the king of the gods, who was married to Hera, who was
also Zeus's sister. The other Greek gods that made up the Twelve Olympians were
Demeter, Hades, Ares, Poseidon, Athena, Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, He
phaestus and Hermes. Apart from these twelve gods, Greeks also had a variety of
other mystical beliefs, such as nymphs and other magical creatures.
Public holidays and festivals
Main article: Public holidays in Greece
Procession of the epitaphios, Holy Saturday
According to Greek Law every Sunday of the year is a public holiday. In addition
, there are four obligatory, official public holidays: March 25 (Greek Independe
nce Day), Easter Monday, August 15 (Assumption or Dormition of the Holy Virgin)
and December 25 (Christmas). Two more days, May 1 (Labour Day) and October 28 (O
hi Day), are regulated by law as optional but it is customary for employees to b
e given the day off. There are, however, more public holidays celebrated in Gree
ce than are announced by the Ministry of Labour each year as either obligatory o
r optional. The list of these non-fixed National Holidays rarely changes and has
not changed in recent decades, giving a total of eleven National Holidays each
In addition to the National Holidays, there Public Holidays that are not celebra
ted nationwide, but only by a specific professional group or a local community.
For example many municipalities have a "Patron Saint", also called "Name Day", o
r a "Liberation Day", and at this day is customary for schools to have a day off
Notable festivals include Patras Carnival, Athens Festival and various local win
e festivals. The city of Thessaloniki is also home of a number of festivals and
events. The Thessaloniki International Film Festival is one of the most importan
t film festivals in Southern Europe,[213]
See also
Greek mythology
Index of Greece-related articles
International rankings of Greece
Outline of Greece
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