Greece | Wikipedia audio article

Greece | Wikipedia audio article


Greece (Greek: Ελλάδα, Elláda Greek
pronunciation: [eˈlaða]), officially the Hellenic Republic (Greek: Ελληνική
Δημοκρατία, Ellinikí Dimokratía Greek pronunciation: [eliniˈci ðimokraˈti.a]),
historically also known as Hellas (Ancient Greek: Ἑλλάς, Hellás Greek pronunciation:
[heˈlas]), is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of
approximately 11 million as of 2016. Athens is the nation’s capital and largest city,
followed by Thessaloniki. Greece is located at the crossroads of Europe,
Asia, and Africa. Situated on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula, it shares land
borders with Albania to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the
north, and Turkey to the northeast. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the
Ionian Sea to the west, the Cretan Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece
has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the
world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a large number of islands, of which 227 are
inhabited. Eighty percent of Greece is mountainous, with Mount Olympus being the highest peak
at 2,918 metres (9,573 ft). The country consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central
Greece, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, the Aegean Islands (including the Dodecanese
and Cyclades), Thrace, Crete, and the Ionian Islands.
Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilisation, being the birthplace of democracy,
Western philosophy, Western literature, historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical
principles, and Western drama, as well as the Olympic Games. From the eighth century
BC, the Greeks were organised into various independent city-states, known as poleis (singular
polis), which spanned the entire Mediterranean region and the Black Sea. Philip of Macedon
united most of the Greek mainland in the fourth century BC, with his son Alexander the Great
rapidly conquering much of the ancient world, spreading Greek culture and science from the
eastern Mediterranean to India. Greece was annexed by Rome in the second century BC,
becoming an integral part of the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire, wherein
Greek language and culture were dominant. Rooted in the first century A.D., the Greek
Orthodox Church helped shape modern Greek identity and transmitted Greek traditions
to the wider Orthodox World. Falling under Ottoman dominion in the mid-15th century,
the modern nation state of Greece emerged in 1830 following a war of independence. Greece’s
rich historical legacy is reflected by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The sovereign state of Greece is a unitary parliamentary republic and developed country
with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life, and a very high standard
of living. A founding member of the United Nations, Greece was the tenth member to join
the European Communities (precursor to the European Union) and has been part of the Eurozone
since 2001. It is also a member of numerous other international institutions, including
the Council of Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO),
the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the Organisation internationale
de la Francophonie (OIF). Greece’s unique cultural heritage, large tourism industry,
prominent shipping sector and geostrategic importance classify it as a middle power.
It is the largest economy in the Balkans, where it is an important regional investor.==Etymology==The
names for the nation of Greece and the Greek people differ from the names used in other
languages, locations and cultures. The Greek name of the country is Hellas () or Ellada
(Greek: Ελλάς or Ελλάδα; in polytonic: Ἑλλάς (Greek pronunciation: [eˈlas],
Ancient Greek: [heˈlas]) or Ἑλλάδα Elláda Greek pronunciation: [eˈlaða]),
and its official name is the Hellenic Republic (Greek: Ελληνική Δημοκρατία
Ellinikí Dimokratía Greek pronunciation: [eliniˈci ðimokraˈti.a]). In English, however,
the country is usually called Greece, which comes from Latin Graecia (as used by the Romans)
and literally means ‘the land of the Greeks’.==History=====
Prehistory and early history===The earliest evidence of the presence of human
ancestors in the southern Balkans, dated to 270,000 BC, is to be found in the Petralona
cave, in the Greek province of Macedonia. All three stages of the stone age (Paleolithic,
Mesolithic, and Neolithic) are represented in Greece, for example in the Franchthi Cave.
Neolithic settlements in Greece, dating from the 7th millennium BC, are the oldest in Europe
by several centuries, as Greece lies on the route via which farming spread from the Near
East to Europe. Greece is home to the first advanced civilizations
in Europe and is considered the birthplace of Western civilisation, beginning with the
Cycladic civilization on the islands of the Aegean Sea at around 3200 BC, the Minoan civilization
in Crete (2700–1500 BC), and then the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland (1900–1100
BC). These civilizations possessed writing, the Minoans writing in an undeciphered script
known as Linear A, and the Mycenaeans in Linear B, an early form of Greek. The Mycenaeans
gradually absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC, during a time of
regional upheaval known as the Bronze Age collapse. This ushered in a period known as
the Greek Dark Ages, from which written records are absent. Though the unearthed Linear B
texts are too fragmentary for the reconstruction of the political landscape and can’t support
the existence of a larger state contemporary Hittite and Egyptian records suggest the presence
of a single state under a “Great King” based in mainland Greece.===Classical period===The end of the Dark Ages is traditionally
dated to 776 BC, the year of the first Olympic Games. The Iliad and the Odyssey, the foundational
texts of Western literature, are believed to have been composed by Homer in the 7th
or 8th centuries BC. With the end of the Dark Ages, there emerged various kingdoms and city-states
across the Greek peninsula, which spread to the shores of the Black Sea, Southern Italy
(“Magna Graecia”) and Asia Minor. These states and their colonies reached great levels of
prosperity that resulted in an unprecedented cultural boom, that of classical Greece, expressed
in architecture, drama, science, mathematics and philosophy. In 508 BC, Cleisthenes instituted
the world’s first democratic system of government in Athens. By 500 BC, the Persian Empire controlled the
Greek city states in Asia Minor and Macedonia. Attempts by some of the Greek city-states
of Asia Minor to overthrow Persian rule failed, and Persia invaded the states of mainland
Greece in 492 BC, but was forced to withdraw after a defeat at the Battle of Marathon in
490 BC. In response, the Greek city-states formed the Hellenic League in 481 BC, led
by Sparta, which was the first historically recorded union of Greek States since the mythical
union of the Trojan War. A second invasion by the Persians followed in 480 BC. Following
decisive Greek victories in 480 and 479 BC at Salamis, Plataea, and Mycale, the Persians
were forced to withdraw for a second time, marking their eventual withdrawal from all
of their European territories. Led by Athens and Sparta, the Greek victories in the Greco-Persian
Wars are considered a pivotal moment in world history, as the 50 years of peace that followed
are known as the Golden Age of Athens, the seminal period of ancient Greek development
that laid many of the foundations of Western civilization. Lack of political unity within Greece resulted
in frequent conflict between Greek states. The most devastating intra-Greek war was the
Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC), won by Sparta and marking the demise of the Athenian Empire
as the leading power in ancient Greece. Both Athens and Sparta were later overshadowed
by Thebes and eventually Macedon, with the latter uniting most of the city-states of
the Greek hinterland in the League of Corinth (also known as the Hellenic League or Greek
League) under the control of Phillip II. Despite this development, the Greek world remained
largely fragmented and would not be united under a single power until the Roman years.
Sparta did not join the League and actively fought against it, raising an army led by
Agis III to secure the city-states of Crete for Persia. Following the assassination of Phillip II,
his son Alexander III (“The Great”) assumed the leadership of the League of Corinth and
launched an invasion of the Persian Empire with the combined forces of the League in
334 BC. Undefeated in battle, Alexander had conquered the Persian Empire in its entirety
by 330 BC. By the time of his death in 323 BC, he had created one of the largest empires
in history, stretching from Greece to India. His empire split into several kingdoms upon
his death, the most famous of which were the Seleucid Empire, Ptolemaic Egypt, the Greco-Bactrian
Kingdom, and the Indo-Greek Kingdom. Many Greeks migrated to Alexandria, Antioch, Seleucia,
and the many other new Hellenistic cities in Asia and Africa. Although the political
unity of Alexander’s empire could not be maintained, it resulted in the Hellenistic civilization
and spread the Greek language and Greek culture in the territories conquered by Alexander.
Greek science, technology, and mathematics are generally considered to have reached their
peak during the Hellenistic period.===Hellenistic and Roman periods (323 BC
– 4th century AD)===After a period of confusion following Alexander’s
death, the Antigonid dynasty, descended from one of Alexander’s generals, established its
control over Macedon and most of the Greek city-states by 276 BC. From about 200 BC the
Roman Republic became increasingly involved in Greek affairs and engaged in a series of
wars with Macedon. Macedon’s defeat at the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC signalled the end
of Antigonid power in Greece. In 146 BC, Macedonia was annexed as a province by Rome, and the
rest of Greece became a Roman protectorate.The process was completed in 27 BC when the Roman
Emperor Augustus annexed the rest of Greece and constituted it as the senatorial province
of Achaea. Despite their military superiority, the Romans admired and became heavily influenced
by the achievements of Greek culture, hence Horace’s famous statement: Graecia capta ferum
victorem cepit (“Greece, although captured, took its wild conqueror captive”). The epics
of Homer inspired the Aeneid of Virgil, and authors such as Seneca the younger wrote using
Greek styles. Roman heroes such as Scipio Africanus, tended to study philosophy and
regarded Greek culture and science as an example to be followed. Similarly, most Roman emperors
maintained an admiration for things Greek in nature. The Roman Emperor Nero visited
Greece in AD 66, and performed at the Ancient Olympic Games, despite the rules against non-Greek
participation. Hadrian was also particularly fond of the Greeks. Before becoming emperor,
he served as an eponymous archon of Athens. Greek-speaking communities of the Hellenised
East were instrumental in the spread of early Christianity in the 2nd and 3rd centuries,
and Christianity’s early leaders and writers (notably St Paul) were mostly Greek-speaking,
though generally not from Greece itself. The New Testament was written in Greek, and some
of its sections (Corinthians, Thessalonians, Philippians, Revelation of St. John of Patmos)
attest to the importance of churches in Greece in early Christianity. Nevertheless, much
of Greece clung tenaciously to paganism, and ancient Greek religious practices were still
in vogue in the late 4th century AD, when they were outlawed by the Roman emperor Theodosius
I in 391–392. The last recorded Olympic games were held in 393, and many temples were
destroyed or damaged in the century that followed. In Athens and rural areas, paganism is attested
well into the sixth century AD and even later. The closure of the Neoplatonic Academy of
Athens by the Emperor Justinian in 529 is considered by many to mark the end of antiquity,
although there is evidence that the Academy continued its activities for some time after
that. Some remote areas such as the southeastern Peloponnese remained pagan until well into
the 10th century AD.===Medieval period (4th century – 1453)
===The
Roman Empire in the east, following the fall of the Empire in the west in the 5th century,
is conventionally known as the Byzantine Empire (but was simply called “Roman Empire” in its
own time) and lasted until 1453. With its capital in Constantinople, its language and
literary culture was Greek and its religion was predominantly Eastern Orthodox Christian. From the 4th century, the Empire’s Balkan
territories, including Greece, suffered from the dislocation of barbarian invasions.{ The
raids and devastation of the Goths and Huns in the 4th and 5th centuries and the Slavic
invasion of Greece in the 7th century resulted in a dramatic collapse in imperial authority
in the Greek peninsula. Following the Slavic invasion, the imperial government retained
formal control of only the islands and coastal areas, particularly the densely populated
walled cities such as Athens, Corinth and Thessalonica, while some mountainous areas
in the interior held out on their own and continued to recognize imperial authority.
Outside of these areas, a limited amount of Slavic settlement is generally thought to
have occurred, although on a much smaller scale than previously thought. However, the
view that Greece in late antiquity underwent a crisis of decline, fragmentation and depopulation
is now considered outdated, as Greek cities show a high degree of institutional continuity
and prosperity between the 4th and 6th centuries AD (and possibly later as well). In the early
6th century, Greece had approximately 80 cities according to the Synecdemus chronicle, and
the period from the 4th to the 7th century AD is considered one of high prosperity not
just in Greece but in the entire Eastern Mediterranean.Until the 8th century almost all of modern Greece
was under the under the jurisdiction of the Holy See of Rome according to the system of
Pentarchy. Byzantine Emperor Leo III moved the border of the Patriarchate of Constantinople
westward and northward in the 8th century.The Byzantine recovery of lost provinces began
toward the end of the 8th century and most of the Greek peninsula came under imperial
control again, in stages, during the 9th century. This process was facilitated by a large influx
of Greeks from Sicily and Asia Minor to the Greek peninsula, while at the same time many
Slavs were captured and re-settled in Asia Minor and the few that remained were assimilated.
During the 11th and 12th centuries the return of stability resulted in the Greek peninsula
benefiting from strong economic growth – much stronger than that of the Anatolian territories
of the Empire. During that time, the Greek Orthodox Church was also instrumental in the
spread of Greek ideas to the wider Orthodox world. Following the Fourth Crusade and the fall
of Constantinople to the “Latins” in 1204 mainland Greece was split between the Greek
Despotate of Epirus (a Byzantine successor state) and French rule (known as the Frankokratia),
while some islands came under Venetian rule. The re-establishment of the Byzantine imperial
capital in Constantinople in 1261 was accompanied by the empire’s recovery of much of the Greek
peninsula, although the Frankish Principality of Achaea in the Peloponnese and the rival
Greek Despotate of Epirus in the north both remained important regional powers into the
14th century, while the islands remained largely under Genoese and Venetian control. During
the Paleologi dynasty (1261–1453) a new era of Greek patriotism emerged accompanied
by a turning back to ancient Greece.As such prominent personalities at the time also proposed
changing the imperial title to “Emperor of the Hellenes”, and, in late fourteenth century,
the emperor was frequently referred to as the “Emperor of the Hellenes”. Similarly,
in several international treaties of that time the Byzantine emperor is styled as “Imperator
Graecorum”.In the 14th century, much of the Greek peninsula was lost by the Byzantine
Empire at first to the Serbs and then to the Ottomans. By the beginning of the 15th century,
the Ottoman advance meant that Byzantine territory in Greece was limited mainly to its then-largest
city, Thessaloniki, and the Peloponnese (Despotate of the Morea). After the fall of Constantinople
to the Ottomans in 1453, the Morea was one of the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire
to hold out against the Ottomans. However, this, too, fell to the Ottomans in 1460, completing
the Ottoman conquest of mainland Greece. With the Turkish conquest, many Byzantine Greek
scholars, who up until then were largely responsible for preserving Classical Greek knowledge,
fled to the West, taking with them a large body of literature and thereby significantly
contributing to the Renaissance.===Early modern period: Venetian possessions
and Ottoman rule (15th century – 1821)===While most of mainland Greece and the Aegean
islands was under Ottoman control by the end of the 15th century, Cyprus and Crete remained
Venetian territory and did not fall to the Ottomans until 1571 and 1670 respectively.
The only part of the Greek-speaking world that escaped long-term Ottoman rule was the
Ionian Islands, which remained Venetian until their capture by the First French Republic
in 1797, then passed to the United Kingdom in 1809 until their unification with Greece
in 1864.While some Greeks in the Ionian Islands and Constantinople lived in prosperity, and
Greeks of Constantinople (Phanariotes) achieved positions of power within the Ottoman administration,
much of the population of mainland Greece suffered the economic consequences of the
Ottoman conquest. Heavy taxes were enforced, and in later years the Ottoman Empire enacted
a policy of creation of hereditary estates, effectively turning the rural Greek populations
into serfs.The Greek Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
were considered by the Ottoman governments as the ruling authorities of the entire Orthodox
Christian population of the Ottoman Empire, whether ethnically Greek or not. Although
the Ottoman state did not force non-Muslims to convert to Islam, Christians faced several
types of discrimination intended to highlight their inferior status in the Ottoman Empire.
Discrimination against Christians, particularly when combined with harsh treatment by local
Ottoman authorities, led to conversions to Islam, if only superficially. In the 19th
century, many “crypto-Christians” returned to their old religious allegiance. The nature of Ottoman administration of Greece
varied, though it was invariably arbitrary and often harsh. Some cities had governors
appointed by the Sultan, while others (like Athens) were self-governed municipalities.
Mountainous regions in the interior and many islands remained effectively autonomous from
the central Ottoman state for many centuries.When military conflicts broke out between the Ottoman
Empire and other states, Greeks usually took up arms against the Ottomans, with few exceptions.
Prior to the Greek Revolution of 1821, there had been a number of wars which saw Greeks
fight against the Ottomans, such as the Greek participation in the Battle of Lepanto in
1571, the Epirus peasants’ revolts of 1600–1601 (led by the Orthodox bishop Dionysios Skylosophos),
the Morean War of 1684–1699, and the Russian-instigated Orlov Revolt in 1770, which aimed at breaking
up the Ottoman Empire in favor of Russian interests. These uprisings were put down by
the Ottomans with great bloodshed. On the other side, many Greeks were conscripted as
Ottoman citizens to serve in the Ottoman army (and especially the Ottoman navy), while also
the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, responsible for the Orthodox, remained in
general loyal to the empire. The 16th and 17th centuries are regarded as
something of a “dark age” in Greek history, with the prospect of overthrowing Ottoman
rule appearing remote with only the Ionian islands remaining free of Turkish domination.
Corfu withstood three major sieges in 1537, 1571 and 1716 all of which resulted in the
repulsion of the Ottomans. However, in the 18th century, due to their mastery of shipping
and commerce, a wealthy and dispersed Greek merchant class arose. These merchants came
to dominate trade within the Ottoman Empire, establishing communities throughout the Mediterranean,
the Balkans, and Western Europe. Though the Ottoman conquest had cut Greece off from significant
European intellectual movements such as the Reformation and the Enlightenment, these ideas
together with the ideals of the French Revolution and romantic nationalism began to penetrate
the Greek world via the mercantile diaspora. In the late 18th century, Rigas Feraios, the
first revolutionary to envision an independent Greek state, published a series of documents
relating to Greek independence, including but not limited to a national anthem and the
first detailed map of Greece, in Vienna, and was murdered by Ottoman agents in 1798.===Modern period=======
Greek War of Independence (1821–1832)====In the late eighteenth century, an increase
in secular learning during the Modern Greek Enlightenment led to the revival among Greeks
of the diaspora of the notion of a Greek nation tracing its existence to ancient Greece, distinct
from the other Orthodox peoples, and having a right to political autonomy. One of the
organizations formed in this intellectual milieu was the Filiki Eteria, a secret organization
formed by merchants in Odessa in 1814. Appropriating a long-standing tradition of Orthodox messianic
prophecy aspiring to the resurrection of the eastern Roman empire and creating the impression
they had the backing of Tsarist Russia, they managed amidst a crisis of Ottoman trade,
from 1815 onwards, to engage traditional strata of the Greek Orthodox world in their liberal
nationalist cause. The Filiki Eteria planned to launch revolution in the Peloponnese, the
Danubian Principalities and Constantinople. The first of these revolts began on 6 March
1821 in the Danubian Principalities under the leadership of Alexandros Ypsilantis, but
it was soon put down by the Ottomans. The events in the north spurred the Greeks of
the Peloponnese into action and on 17 March 1821 the Maniots declared war on the Ottomans.By
the end of the month, the Peloponnese was in open revolt against the Ottomans and by
October 1821 the Greeks under Theodoros Kolokotronis had captured Tripolitsa. The Peloponnesian
revolt was quickly followed by revolts in Crete, Macedonia and Central Greece, which
would soon be suppressed. Meanwhile, the makeshift Greek navy was achieving success against the
Ottoman navy in the Aegean Sea and prevented Ottoman reinforcements from arriving by sea.
In 1822 and 1824 the Turks and Egyptians ravaged the islands, including Chios and Psara, committing
wholesale massacres of the population. This had the effect of galvanizing public opinion
in western Europe in favor of the Greek rebels.Tensions soon developed among different Greek factions,
leading to two consecutive civil wars. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Sultan negotiated with Mehmet
Ali of Egypt, who agreed to send his son Ibrahim Pasha to Greece with an army to suppress the
revolt in return for territorial gain. Ibrahim landed in the Peloponnese in February 1825
and had immediate success: by the end of 1825, most of the Peloponnese was under Egyptian
control, and the city of Missolonghi—put under siege by the Turks since April 1825—fell
in April 1826. Although Ibrahim was defeated in Mani, he had succeeded in suppressing most
of the revolt in the Peloponnese and Athens had been retaken.
After years of negotiation, three great powers, France, Russian Empire, and the United Kingdom,
decided to intervene in the conflict and each nation sent a navy to Greece. Following news
that combined Ottoman–Egyptian fleets were going to attack the Greek island of Hydra,
the allied fleet intercepted the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet at Navarino. A week-long standoff ended
with the Battle of Navarino which resulted in the destruction of the Ottoman–Egyptian
fleet. A French expeditionary force was dispatched to supervise the evacuation of the Egyptian
army from the Peloponnese, while the Greeks proceeded to the captured part of Central
Greece by 1828. As a result of years of negotiation, the nascent Greek state was finally recognised
under the London Protocol in 1830.====Early kingdom====In 1827, Ioannis Kapodistrias, from Corfu,
was chosen by the Third National Assembly at Troezen as the first governor of the First
Hellenic Republic. Kapodistrias established a series of state, economic and military institutions.
Soon tensions appeared between him and local interests. Following his assassination in
1831 and the subsequent London conference a year later, the Great Powers of Britain,
France and Russia installed Bavarian Prince Otto von Wittelsbach as monarch. Otto’s reign
was despotic, and in its first 11 years of independence Greece was ruled by a Bavarian
oligarchy led by Joseph Ludwig von Armansperg as Prime Minister and, later, by Otto himself,
who held the title of both King and Premier. Throughout this period Greece remained under
the influence of its three protecting Great Powers, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom,
as well as Bavaria. In 1843 an uprising forced the king to grant a constitution and a representative
assembly. Despite the absolutism of Otto’s reign, the
early years proved instrumental in creating institutions which are still the bedrock of
Greek administration and education. Important steps were taken in the creation of the education
system, maritime and postal communications, effective civil administration and, most importantly,
the legal code. Historical revisionism took the form of de-Byzantinification and de-Ottomanisation,
in favour of promoting the country’s Ancient Greek heritage. In this spirit, the national
capital was moved from Nafplio, where it had been since 1829, to Athens, which was at the
time a village. Religious reform also took place, and the Church of Greece was established
as Greece’s national church, although Otto remained a Catholic. 25 March, the day of
Annunciation, was chosen as the anniversary of the Greek War of Independence in order
to reinforce the link between Greek identity and Orthodoxy. Pavlos Karolidis called the
Bavarian efforts to create a modern state in Greece as “not only appropriate for the
peoples’ needs, but also based on excellent administrative principles of the era”.Otto
was deposed in the 23 October 1862 Revolution. Multiple causes led to his deposition and
exile, including the Bavarian-dominated government, heavy taxation, and a failed attempt to annex
Crete from the Ottoman Empire. The catalyst for the revolt was Otto’s dismissal of Konstantinos
Kanaris from the Premiership. A year later, he was replaced by Prince Wilhelm (William)
of Denmark, who took the name George I and brought with him the Ionian Islands as a coronation
gift from Britain. A new Constitution in 1864 changed Greece’s form of government from constitutional
monarchy to the more democratic crowned republic. In 1875 the concept of parliamentary majority
as a requirement for the formation of a government was introduced by Charilaos Trikoupis, curbing
the power of the monarchy to appoint minority governments of its preference. Corruption, coupled with Trikoupis’ increased
spending to fund infrastructure projects like the Corinth Canal, overtaxed the weak Greek
economy and forced the declaration of public insolvency in 1893. Greece also accepted the
imposition of an International Financial Control authority to pay off the country’s debtors.
Another political issue in 19th-century Greece was uniquely Greek: the language question.
The Greek people spoke a form of Greek called Demotic. Many of the educated elite saw this
as a peasant dialect and were determined to restore the glories of Ancient Greek.
Government documents and newspapers were consequently published in Katharevousa (purified) Greek,
a form which few ordinary Greeks could read. Liberals favoured recognising Demotic as the
national language, but conservatives and the Orthodox Church resisted all such efforts,
to the extent that, when the New Testament was translated into Demotic in 1901, riots
erupted in Athens and the government fell (the Evangeliaka). This issue would continue
to plague Greek politics until the 1970s. All Greeks were united, however, in their
determination to liberate the Greek-speaking provinces of the Ottoman Empire, regardless
of the dialect they spoke. Especially in Crete, a prolonged revolt in 1866–1869 had raised
nationalist fervour. When war broke out between Russia and the Ottomans in 1877, Greek popular
sentiment rallied to Russia’s side, but Greece was too poor, and too concerned about British
intervention, to officially enter the war. Nevertheless, in 1881, Thessaly and small
parts of Epirus were ceded to Greece as part of the Treaty of Berlin, while frustrating
Greek hopes of receiving Crete. Greeks in Crete continued to stage regular
revolts, and in 1897, the Greek government under Theodoros Deligiannis, bowing to popular
pressure, declared war on the Ottomans. In the ensuing Greco-Turkish War of 1897, the
badly trained and equipped Greek army was defeated by the Ottomans. Through the intervention
of the Great Powers, however, Greece lost only a little territory along the border to
Turkey, while Crete was established as an autonomous state under Prince George of Greece.
With state coffers empty, fiscal policy came under International Financial Control. In
the next decade, Greek efforts were focused on the Macedonian Struggle, a state-sponsored
guerilla campaign against pro-Bulgarian rebel gangs in Ottoman-ruled Macedonia, which ended
inconclusively with the Young Turk Revolution in 1908.====Expansion, disaster, and reconstruction
====Amidst general dissatisfaction with the state
of the nation, a group of military officers organised a coup in August 1909 and shortly
thereafter called to power Cretan politician Eleftherios Venizelos. After winning two elections
and becoming Prime Minister, Venizelos initiated wide-ranging fiscal, social, and constitutional
reforms, reorganised the military, made Greece a member of the Balkan League, and led the
country through the Balkan Wars. By 1913, Greece’s territory and population had almost
doubled, annexing Crete, Epirus, and Macedonia. In the following years, the struggle between
King Constantine I and charismatic Venizelos over the country’s foreign policy on the eve
of First World War dominated the country’s political scene, and divided the country into
two opposing groups. During parts of the WW1, Greece had two governments: A royalist pro-German
one in Athens and a Venizelist pro-Entente one in Thessaloniki. The two governments were
united in 1917, when Greece officially entered the war on the side of the Entente.
In the aftermath of World War I, Greece attempted further expansion into Asia Minor, a region
with a large native Greek population at the time, but was defeated in the Greco-Turkish
War of 1919–1922, contributing to a massive flight of Asia Minor Greeks. These events
overlapped, with both happening during the Greek genocide (1914–1922), a period during
which, according to various sources, Ottoman and Turkish officials contributed to the death
of several hundred thousand Asia Minor Greeks, along with similar numbers of Assyrians and
a rather larger number of Armenians. The resultant Greek exodus from Asia Minor was made permanent,
and expanded, in an official Population exchange between Greece and Turkey. The exchange was
part of the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne which ended the war.The following era was
marked by instability, as over 1.5 million propertyless Greek refugees from Turkey had
to be integrated into Greek society. Cappadocian Greeks, Pontian Greeks, and non-Greek followers
of Greek Orthodoxy were all subject to the exchange as well. Some of the refugees could
not speak the language, and were from what had been unfamiliar environments to mainland
Greeks, such as in the case of the Cappadocians and non-Greeks. The refugees also made a dramatic
post-war population boost, as the number of refugees was more than a quarter of Greece’s
prior population.Following the catastrophic events in Asia Minor, the monarchy was abolished
via a referendum in 1924 and the Second Hellenic Republic was declared. In 1935, a royalist
general-turned-politician Georgios Kondylis took power after a coup d’état and abolished
the republic, holding a rigged referendum, after which King George II returned to Greece
and was restored to the throne.====Dictatorship, World War II, and reconstruction
====An agreement between Prime Minister Ioannis
Metaxas and the head of state George II followed in 1936, which installed Metaxas as the head
of a dictatorial regime known as the 4th of August Regime, inaugurating a period of authoritarian
rule that would last, with short breaks, until 1974. Although a dictatorship, Greece remained
on good terms with 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 forces on land. The Greek struggle and victory against the Italians received exuberant
praise at the time. Most prominent is the quote attributed to Winston Churchill: “Hence
we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but we will say that heroes fight like Greeks.”
French general Charles de Gaulle was among those who praised the fierceness of the Greek
resistance. In an official notice released to coincide with the Greek national celebration
of the Day of Independence, De Gaulle expressed his admiration for the Greek resistance:In
the name of the captured yet still alive French people, France wants to send her greetings
to the Greek people who are fighting for their freedom. The 25 March 1941 finds Greece in
the peak of their heroic struggle and in the top of their glory. Since the Battle of Salamis,
Greece had not achieved the greatness and the glory which today holds. The country would
eventually fall to urgently dispatched German forces during the Battle of Greece, despite
the fierce Greek resistance, particularly in the Battle of the Metaxas Line. Adolf Hitler
himself recognised the bravery and the courage of the Greek army, stating in his address
to the Reichstag on 11 December 1941, that: “Historical justice obliges me to state that
of the enemies who took up positions against us, the Greek soldier particularly fought
with the highest courage. He capitulated only when further resistance had become impossible
and useless.”The Nazis proceeded to administer Athens and Thessaloniki, while other regions
of the country were given to Nazi Germany’s partners, Fascist Italy and Bulgaria. The
occupation brought about terrible hardships for the Greek civilian population. Over 100,000
civilians died of starvation during the winter of 1941–1942, tens of thousands more died
because of reprisals by Nazis and collaborators, the country’s economy was ruined, and the
great majority of Greek Jews were deported and murdered in Nazi concentration camps.
The Greek Resistance, one of the most effective resistance movements in Europe, fought vehemently
against the Nazis and their collaborators. The German occupiers committed numerous atrocities,
mass executions, and wholesale slaughter of civilians and destruction of towns and villages
in reprisals. In the course of the concerted anti-guerilla campaign, hundreds of villages
were systematically torched and almost 1,000,000 Greeks left homeless. In total, the Germans
executed some 21,000 Greeks, the Bulgarians 40,000, and the Italians 9,000.Following liberation
and the Allied victory over the Axis, Greece annexed the Dodecanese Islands from Italy
and regained Western Thrace from Bulgaria. The country almost immediately descended into
a bloody civil war between communist forces and the anti-communist Greek government, which
lasted until 1949 with the latter’s victory. The conflict, considered one of the earliest
struggles of the Cold War, resulted in further economic devastation, mass population displacement
and severe political polarisation for the next thirty years.Although the post-war decades
were characterised by social strife and widespread marginalisation of the left in political and
social spheres, Greece nonetheless experienced rapid economic growth and recovery, propelled
in part by the U.S.-administered Marshall Plan. In 1952, Greece joined NATO, reinforcing
its membership in the Western Bloc of the Cold War.====Military regime (1967–74)====
King Constantine II’s dismissal of George Papandreou’s centrist government in July 1965
prompted a prolonged period of political turbulence, which culminated in a coup d’état on 21 April
1967 by the Regime of the Colonels. Under the junta, civil rights were suspended, political
repression was intensified, and human rights abuses, including state-sanctioned torture,
were rampant. Economic growth remained rapid before plateauing in 1972. The brutal suppression
of the Athens Polytechnic uprising on 17 November 1973 is claimed to have sent shockwaves through
the regime, and a counter-coup overthrew Georgios Papadopoulos to establish brigadier Dimitrios
Ioannidis as leader. On 20 July 1974, Turkey invaded the island of Cyprus in response to
a Greek-backed Cypriot coup, triggering a political crisis that led to the regime’s
collapse.====Third Hellenic Republic====The former prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis
was invited back from Paris where he had lived in self-exile since 1963, marking the beginning
of the Metapolitefsi era. The first multiparty elections since 1964 were held on the first
anniversary of the Polytechnic uprising. A democratic and republican constitution was
promulgated on 11 June 1975 following a referendum which chose to not restore the monarchy.
Meanwhile, Andreas Papandreou, George Papandreou’s son, founded the Panhellenic Socialist Movement
(PASOK) in response to Karamanlis’s conservative New Democracy party, with the two political
formations dominating in government over the next four decades. Greece rejoined NATO in
1980. Greece became the tenth member of the European Communities (subsequently subsumed
by the European Union) on 1 January 1981, ushering in a period of sustained growth.
Widespread investments in industrial enterprises and heavy infrastructure, as well as funds
from the European Union and growing revenues from tourism, shipping, and a fast-growing
service sector raised the country’s standard of living to unprecedented levels. Traditionally
strained relations with neighbouring Turkey improved when successive earthquakes hit both
nations in 1999, leading to the lifting of the Greek veto against Turkey’s bid for EU
membership. The country 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. Due to the adoption of the euro, when Greece experienced financial crisis,
it could no longer devalue its currency to regain competitiveness. Youth unemployment
was especially high during the 2000s. The Greek government-debt crisis, and subsequent
austerity policies, have resulted in protests.==Geography and climate==Located in Southern Europe, Greece is a transcontinental
country that consists of a mountainous, peninsular mainland jutting out into the sea at the southern
end of the Balkans, ending at the Peloponnese peninsula (separated from the mainland by
the canal of the Isthmus of Corinth) and strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia,
and Africa. Due to its highly indented coastline and numerous islands, Greece has the 11th
longest coastline in the world with 13,676 km (8,498 mi); its land boundary is 1,160
km (721 mi). The country lies approximately between latitudes 34° and 42° N, and longitudes
19° and 30° E, with the extreme points being: North: Ormenio village
South: Gavdos island East: Strongyli (Kastelorizo, Megisti) island
West: Othonoi islandEighty 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 Greek
Gods, culminates at Mytikas peak 2,918 metres (9,573 ft), the highest in the country. 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, reaches a maximum elevation of 2,637
m (8,652 ft) at Mt. Smolikas (the second-highest in Greece) and historically has been a significant
barrier to east-west travel. The Pindus range continues through the central
Peloponnese, crosses the islands of Kythera and Antikythera and finds its way into southwestern
Aegean, in the island 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 characterised
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 book of World Records as the deepest gorge
in the world. Another notable formation are the Meteora rock pillars, atop which have
been built medieval Greek Orthodox monasteries. Northeastern Greece features another high-altitude
mountain range, the Rhodope range, spreading across the region of East Macedonia and Thrace;
this area is covered 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 Macedonia
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 and the loggerhead sea turtle
live in the seas surrounding mainland Greece, while its dense forests are home to the endangered
brown bear, the Eurasian lynx, the roe deer and the wild goat.===Islands===Greece features a vast number of islands,
between 1,200 and 6,000, depending on the definition, 227 of which are inhabited. Crete
is the largest and most populous island; Euboea, separated from the mainland by the 60m-wide
Euripus Strait, is the second largest, followed by Lesbos and Rhodes.
The Greek islands are traditionally grouped into the following clusters: the Argo-Saronic
Islands in the Saronic gulf near Athens, the Cyclades, a large but dense collection occupying
the central part of the Aegean Sea, the North Aegean islands, a loose grouping off the west
coast of Turkey, the Dodecanese, another loose collection in the southeast between Crete
and Turkey, the Sporades, a small tight group off the coast of northeast Euboea, and the
Ionian Islands, located to the west of the mainland in the Ionian Sea.===Climate===The climate of Greece is primarily Mediterranean,
featuring mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. This climate occurs at all coastal locations,
including Athens, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, Crete, the Peloponnese, the Ionian Islands
and parts of the Central Continental Greece region. The Pindus mountain range strongly
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 systems 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, Thessaly,
Western Macedonia) as well as in the mountainous central parts of Peloponnese – including
parts of the regional units of Achaea, Arcadia and Laconia – feature 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. Snowfalls occur every year in the mountains and northern
areas, and brief snowfalls are not unknown even in low-lying southern areas, such as
Athens.===Ecology===
Phytogeographically, Greece belongs to the Boreal Kingdom and is shared between the East
Mediterranean province of the Mediterranean Region and the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal
Region. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature and the European Environment Agency,
the territory of Greece can be subdivided into six ecoregions: the Illyrian deciduous
forests, Pindus Mountains mixed forests, Balkan mixed forests, Rhodope montane mixed forests,
Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests and Crete Mediterranean forests.==Politics==Greece is a unitary parliamentary republic.
The nominal head of state is the President of the Republic, who is elected by the Parliament
for a five-year term. The current Constitution was drawn up and adopted by the Fifth Revisionary
Parliament of the Hellenes and entered into force in 1975 after the fall of the military
junta of 1967–1974. It has been revised three times since, in 1986, 2001 and 2008.
The Constitution, which consists of 120 articles, provides for a separation of powers into executive,
legislative, and judicial branches, and grants extensive specific guarantees (further reinforced
in 2001) of civil liberties and social rights. Women’s suffrage was guaranteed with an amendment
to the 1952 Constitution. According to the Constitution, executive power
is exercised by the President of the Republic and the Government. From the Constitutional
amendment of 1986 the President’s duties were curtailed to a significant extent, and they
are now largely ceremonial; most political power thus lies in the hands of the Prime
Minister. The position of Prime Minister, Greece’s head of government, belongs to 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 Minister and, on his recommendation,
appoints and dismisses the other members of the Cabinet.Legislative powers are exercised
by a 300-member elective unicameral Parliament. Statutes passed by the Parliament are promulgated
by the President of the Republic. Parliamentary elections are held every four years, but the
President of the Republic is obliged to dissolve the Parliament earlier on the proposal of
the Cabinet, in view of dealing with a national issue of exceptional importance. The President
is also obliged to dissolve the Parliament earlier, if the opposition manages to pass
a motion of no confidence.According to a 2016 report by the OECD, Greeks display a moderate
level of civic participation compared to most other developed countries; voter turnout was
64 percent during recent elections, lower than the OECD average of 69 percent.===Political parties===Since the restoration of democracy, the Greek
party system was dominated by the liberal-conservative New Democracy (ND) and the social-democratic
Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). Other significant parties include the Communist
Party of Greece (KKE), the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) the Popular Orthodox
Rally (LAOS) and the Popular Association – Golden Dawn.
PASOK and ND largely alternated in power until the outbreak of the government-debt crisis
in 2009. Since then, the two major parties, New Democracy and PASOK, have seen a sharp
decline in popularity. In November 2011, the two major parties joined the smaller Popular
Orthodox Rally in a grand coalition, pledging their parliamentary support for a government
of national unity headed by former European Central Bank vice-president Lucas Papademos.
Panos Kammenos voted against this government and he split off from ND forming the right-wing
populist Independent Greeks. The coalition government led the country to
the parliamentary elections of May 2012. The power of the traditional Greek political parties,
PASOK and New Democracy, declined from 43% to 13% and from 33% to 18%, respectively,
due to their support for austerity measures. The leftist party Syriza became the second
major party, with an increase from 4% to 16%. No party 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 coalition government composed of New Democracy (29%), PASOK (12%)
and Democratic Left (6%) parties. Syriza has since overtaken PASOK as the main
party of the centre-left . Alexis Tsipras led Syriza to victory in the general election
held on 25 January 2015, falling short of an outright majority in Parliament by just
two seats. The following morning, Tsipras reached an agreement with Independent Greeks
party to form a coalition, and he was sworn in as Prime Minister of Greece. Tsipras called
snap elections in August 2015, resigning from his post, which led to a month-long caretaker
administration headed by judge Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou, Greece’s first female prime minister. In the
September 2015 general election, Tsipras led Syriza to another victory, winning 145 out
of 300 seats and re-forming the coalition with the Independent Greeks.===Foreign relations===Greece’s foreign policy is conducted through
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its head, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The current
minister is Nikos Kotzias. According to the official website, the main aims of the Ministry
for Foreign Affairs are to represent Greece before other states and international organizations;
safeguarding the interests of the Greek state and of its citizens abroad; the promotion
of Greek culture; the fostering of closer relations with the Greek diaspora; and the
promotion of international cooperation. Additionally, due to its political and geographical proximity
to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Greece is a country of significant geostrategic
importance and is considered to be a middle power and has developed a regional policy
to help promote peace and stability in the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and the Middle
East.The Ministry identifies three issues of particular importance to the Greek state:
Turkish challenges to Greek sovereignty rights in the Aegean Sea and corresponding airspace;
the Cyprus dispute; and the Macedonia naming dispute 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 Council of Europe,
the European Union, the Union for the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the
Organisation internationale de la francophonie and the United Nations, of which it is a founding
member.===Law and justice===The Judiciary is independent of the executive
and the legislature and comprises three Supreme Courts: the Court of Cassation (Άρειος
Πάγος), the Council of State (Συμβούλιο της Επικρατείας) and the Court
of Auditors (Ελεγκτικό Συνέδριο). The Judiciary system is also composed of civil
courts, which judge civil and penal cases and administrative courts, which judge disputes
between the citizens and the Greek administrative authorities.
The Hellenic Police (Greek: Ελληνική Αστυνομία) is the national police
force of Greece. It is a very large agency 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 (Χωροφυλακή,
Chorofylaki) and the Cities Police (Αστυνομία Πόλεων, Astynomia Poleon) forces.===Military===The Hellenic Armed Forces are overseen by
the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (Greek: Γενικό Επιτελείο Εθνικής
Άμυνας – ΓΕΕΘΑ), with civilian authority vested in the Ministry of National
Defence. It consists of three branches: Hellenic Army (Ellinikos Stratos, ES)
Hellenic Navy (Elliniko Polemiko Navtiko, EPN)
Hellenic Air Force (Elliniki Polemiki Aeroporia, EPA)Moreover, Greece maintains the Hellenic
Coast Guard for law enforcement at sea, search and rescue, and port operations. Though it
can support the navy during wartime, it resides under the authority of the Ministry of Shipping.
Greek military personnel total 367,450, of whom 142,950 are active and 220,500 are reserve.
Greece ranks 15th in the world in the number of citizens serving in the armed forces, due
largely to compulsory military service for males between the ages of 19 and 45 (females
are exempted from conscription but may otherwise serve in the military). Mandatory military
service is nine months for the Army and one year for the Navy and Air Force. Additionally,
Greek males between the ages of 18 and 60 who live in strategically sensitive areas
may be required to serve part-time in the National Guard. However, as the military has
sought to become a completely professional force, the government has promised to reduce
mandatory military service or abolish it completely. As a member of NATO, the Greek military participates
in exercises and deployments under the auspices of the alliance, although its involvement
in NATO missions is minimal. Greece spends over 7 billion USD annually on its military,
or 2.3 percent of GDP, the 24th-highest in the world in absolute terms, the seventh-highest
on a per capita basis, and the second-highest in NATO after the United States. Moreover,
Greece is one of only five NATO countries to meet or surpass the minimum defence spending
target of 2 percent of GDP.===Administrative divisions===Since the Kallikratis programme reform entered
into effect on 1 January 2011, Greece has consisted of thirteen regions subdivided into
a total of 325 municipalities. The 54 old prefectures and prefecture-level administrations
have been largely retained as sub-units of the regions. Seven decentralised administrations
group one to three regions for administrative purposes on a regional basis. There is also
one autonomous area, Mount Athos (Greek: Agio Oros, “Holy Mountain”), which borders the
region of Central Macedonia.==Economy=====
Introduction===According to World Bank statistics for the
year 2013, the economy of Greece is the 43rd largest by nominal gross domestic product
at $242 billion and 52nd largest by purchasing power parity (PPP) at $284 billion. Additionally,
Greece is the 15th largest economy in the 27-member European Union. In terms of per
capita income, Greece is ranked 38th or 40th in the world at $21,910 and $25,705 for nominal
GDP and PPP respectively. The Greek economy is classified as advanced and high-income.Greece
is a developed country with a high standard of living and a high ranking in the Human
Development Index. Its economy mainly comprises the service sector (85.0%) and industry (12.0%),
while agriculture makes up 3.0% of the national economic output. Important Greek industries
include tourism (with 14.9 million international tourists in 2009, it is ranked as the 7th
most visited country in the European Union and 16th in the world by the United Nations
World Tourism Organization) and merchant shipping (at 16.2% of the world’s total capacity, the
Greek merchant marine is the largest in the world), while the country is also a considerable
agricultural producer (including fisheries) within the union.
Greek unemployment stood at 21.7% in April 2017. The youth unemployment rate (42.3% in
March 2018) is extremely high compared to EU standards.With an economy larger than all
the other Balkan economies combined, Greece is the largest economy in the Balkans, and
an important regional investor. Greece is the number-two foreign investor of capital
in Albania, the number-three foreign investor in Bulgaria, at the top-three of foreign investors
in Romania and Serbia and the most important trading partner and largest foreign investor
of the Republic of Macedonia. Greek banks open a new branch somewhere in the Balkans
on an almost weekly basis. The Greek telecommunications company OTE has become a strong investor in
Yugoslavia and other Balkan countries.Greece was a founding member of the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Organization of the Black Sea
Economic Cooperation (BSEC). In 1979 the accession of the country in the European Communities
and the single market was signed, and the process was completed in 1982. Greece was
accepted into the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union on 19 June 2000, and
in January 2001 adopted the Euro as its currency, replacing the Greek drachma at an exchange
rate of 340.75 drachma to the Euro. 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.===Debt crisis (2010–2018)===By late 2009, as a result of a combination
of international and local factors, the Greek economy (which had fared well for much of
the 20th century, with high growth rates and low public debt) faced its most-severe crisis
since the restoration of democracy in 1974 when the Greek government revised its deficit
from an estimated 6% to 12.7% of GDP. In the years before the crisis Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan
Chase, and numerous other banks had developed financial products which enabled the governments
of Greece, Italy, and many other European countries to hide their borrowing. 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 were “kept off the books”. These conditions had enabled Greece as well
as other European governments to spend beyond their means, while meeting the deficit targets
set out in the Maastricht Treaty.In May 2010, the Greece’s deficit was again revised and
estimated to be 13.6% which was the second highest in the world relative to GDP, with
Iceland in first place at 15.7% and the United Kingdom in third with 12.6%. Public debt was
forecast, according to some estimates, to hit 120% of GDP in the same year, causing
a crisis of confidence in Greece’s ability pay back loans.
To avert a sovereign default, Greece, the other Eurozone members, and the International
Monetary Fund agreed on a rescue package which involved giving Greece an immediate €45
billion in loans, with additional funds to follow, totaling €110 billion. To secure
the funding, Greece was required to adopt harsh austerity measures to bring its deficit
under control. A second bail-out amounting to €130 billion ($173 billion) was agreed
in 2012, subject to strict conditions, including financial reforms and further austerity measures.
A debt haircut was also agreed as part of the deal. Greece achieved a primary government
budget surplus in 2013, while in April 2014, it returned to the global bond market. Greece
returned to growth after six years of economic decline in the second quarter of 2014, and
was the Eurozone’s fastest-growing economy in the third quarter. A third bailout was
agreed in July 2015, after a confrontation with the newly-elected government of Alexis
Tsipras. Greece officially exited the bailout programmes on 20 August 2018.There was a 25%
drop in Greece’s GDP, connected with the bailout programmes. This had a critical effect: the
Debt-to-GDP ratio, the key factor defining the severity of the crisis, would jump from
its 2009 level of 127% to about 170%, solely due to the shrinking economy. In a 2013 report,
the IMF admitted that it had underestimated the effects of so extensive tax hikes and
budget cuts on the country’s GDP and issued an informal apology. The Greek programmes
imposed a very rapid improvement in structural primary balance (at least two times faster
than for other Eurozone bailed-out countries ). The policies have been blamed for worsening
the crisis, while Greece’s President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, stressed the creditors’ share
in responsibility for the depth of the crisis. Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, asserted
that errors in the design of the first two programmes which lead to a loss of 25% of
the Greek economy due to the harsh imposition of excessive austerity.===Agriculture===In 2010, Greece was the European Union’s largest
producer of cotton (183,800 tons) and pistachios (8,000 tons) and ranked second in the production
of rice (229,500 tons) and olives (147,500 tons), third in the production of figs (11,000
tons), almonds (44,000 tons), tomatoes (1,400,000 tons), and watermelons (578,400 tons) and
fourth in the production of tobacco (22,000 tons). Agriculture contributes 3.8% of the
country’s GDP and employs 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.===Energy===Electricity production in Greece is dominated
by the state-owned Public Power Corporation (known mostly by its acronym ΔΕΗ, or in
English DEI). In 2009 DEI supplied for 85.6% of all electric energy demand in Greece, while
the number fell to 77.3% in 2010. Almost half (48%) of DEI’s power output is generated using
lignite, a drop from the 51.6% in 2009.Twelve percent of Greece’s electricity comes from
hydroelectric power plants and another 20% from natural gas. Between 2009 and 2010, independent
companies’ energy production increased by 56%, from 2,709 Gigawatt hour in 2009 to 4,232
GWh in 2010.In 2012, renewable energy accounted for 13.8% of the country’s total energy consumption,
a rise from the 10.6% it accounted for in 2011, a figure almost equal to the EU average
of 14.1% in 2012. 10% of the country’s renewable energy comes from solar power, while most
comes from biomass and waste recycling. In line with the European Commission’s Directive
on Renewable Energy, Greece aims to get 18% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.In
2013, according to the independent power transmission operator in Greece (ΑΔΜΗΕ) more than
20% of the electricity in Greece has been produced from renewable energy sources and
hydroelectric powerplants. This percentage in April reached 42%. Greece currently does
not have any nuclear power plants in operation; however, in 2009 the Academy of Athens suggested
that research in the possibility of Greek nuclear power plants begin.===Maritime industry===The shipping industry has been a key element
of Greek economic activity since ancient times. Shipping remains one of the country’s most
important industries, accounting for 4.5 percent of GDP, employing about 160,000 people (4
percent of the workforce), and representing a third of the trade deficit.According to
a 2011 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the Greek Merchant
Navy is the largest in the world at 16.2 percent of total global capacity, up from 15.96 percent
in 2010 but below the peak of 18.2 percent in 2006. The country’s merchant fleet ranks
first in total tonnage (202 million dwt), fourth in total number of ships (at 3,150),
first in both tankers and dry bulk carriers, fourth in the number of containers, and fifth
in other ships. However, today’s fleet roster is smaller than an all-time high of 5,000
ships in the late 1970s. Additionally, the total number of ships flying a Greek flag
(includes non-Greek fleets) is 1,517, or 5.3 percent of the world’s dwt (ranked fifth globally).During
the 1960s, the size of the Greek fleet nearly doubled, primarily through the investment
undertaken by the shipping magnates, Aristotle Onassis and Stavros Niarchos. The basis of
the modern Greek maritime industry was formed after 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.Greece has a significant shipbuilding and ship maintenance industry.
The six shipyards around the port of Piraeus are among the largest in Europe. In recent
years, Greece has also become a leader in the construction and maintenance of luxury
yachts.===Tourism===Tourism has been a key element of the economic
activity in the country and one of the country’s most important sectors, contributing 18% of
the gross domestic product. Greece welcomed over 28 million visitors in 2016, which is
an increase from the 26.5 million tourists it welcomed in 2015 and the 19.5 million in
2009, and the 17.7 million tourists in 2007, making Greece one of the most visited countries
in Europe in the recent years. The vast majority of visitors in Greece in
2007 came from the European continent, numbering 12.7 million, while the most visitors from
a single nationality were those from the United Kingdom, (2.6 million), followed closely by
those from Germany (2.3 million). In 2010, the most visited region of Greece was that
of Central Macedonia, with 18% of the country’s total tourist flow (amounting to 3.6 million
tourists), followed by Attica with 2.6 million and the Peloponnese with 1.8 million. Northern
Greece is the country’s most-visited geographical region, with 6.5 million tourists, while Central
Greece is second with 6.3 million.In 2010, Lonely Planet ranked Greece’s northern and
second-largest city of Thessaloniki as the world’s fifth-best party town worldwide, comparable
to other cities such as Dubai and Montreal. In 2011, Santorini was voted as “The World’s
Best Island” in Travel + Leisure. Its neighboring island Mykonos, came in fifth in the European
category. There are 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece, and Greece is ranked 16th
in the world in terms of total sites. 14 further sites are on the tentative list, awaiting
nomination.===Transport===Since the 1980s, the road and rail network
of Greece has been significantly modernised. Important works include the A2 (Egnatia Odos)
motorway, that connects northwestern Greece (Igoumenitsa) with northern Greece (Thessaloniki)
and northeastern Greece (Kipoi); the Rio–Antirrio bridge, the longest suspension cable bridge
in Europe (2,250 m (7,382 ft) long), connecting the Peloponnese (Rio, 7 km (4 mi) from Patras)
with Aetolia-Akarnania (Antirrio) in western Greece.
Also completed are the A5 (Ionia Odos) motorway that connects northwestern Greece (Ioannina)
with western Greece (Antirrio); the last sections of the A1 motorway, connecting Athens to Thessaloniki
and Evzonoi in northern Greece; as well as the A8 motorway (part of the Olympia Odos)
in Peloponnese, connecting Athens to Patras. The remaining section of Olympia Odos, connecting
Patras with Pyrgos, is under planning. Other important projects that are currently
underway, include 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 International Airport, the privately
run A6 (Attiki Odos) motorway network and the expanded Athens Metro system.
Most of the Greek islands and many main cities of Greece are connected by air mainly from
the two major Greek airlines, Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines. Maritime connections
have been improved with modern high-speed craft, including hydrofoils and catamarans.
Railway connections play a somewhat lesser role in Greece than in many other European
countries, but they too have also been expanded, with new suburban/commuter rail connections,
serviced by Proastiakos around Athens, towards its airport, Kiato and Chalkida; around Thessaloniki,
towards the cities of Larissa and Edessa; and around Patras. A modern intercity rail
connection between Athens and Thessaloniki has also been established, while an upgrade
to double lines in many parts 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.===Telecommunications===Modern digital information and communication
networks reach all areas. There are 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.
According to 2017 data, around 82% of the general population used the internet regularly.Internet
cafés that provide net access, office applications and multiplayer gaming are also a common sight
in the country, while mobile internet on 3G and 4G- LTE cellphone networks and Wi-Fi connections
can be found almost everywhere. 3G/4G mobile internet usage has been on a sharp increase
in recent years. Based on 2016 data 70% of Greek internet users have access via 3G/4G
mobile. The United Nations International Telecommunication Union ranks Greece among the top 30 countries
with a highly developed information and communications infrastructure.===Science and technology===The General Secretariat for Research and Technology
of the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness 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, a 12.6% increase from 2002. Total R&D spending
(both public and private) as a percentage of GDP has more than doubled since 1989, from
0.38 percent to 0.83 percent as of 2014.Although R&D spending in Greece remains lower than
the EU average of 1.93 percent, between 1990 and 1998, total R&D expenditure in Greece
enjoyed the third-highest increase in Europe, after Finland and Ireland. Because of its
strategic location, qualified workforce, and political and economic stability, many multinational
companies such as Ericsson, Siemens, Motorola, Coca-Cola, and Tesla have their regional research
and development headquarters in Greece. Greece has several major technology parks
with incubator facilities and has been a member of the European Space Agency (ESA) since 2005.
Cooperation between ESA and the Hellenic National Space Committee began in the early 1990s.
In 1994, Greece and ESA signed their first cooperation agreement. Having formally applied
for full membership in 2003, Greece became the ESA’s sixteenth member on 16 March 2005.
Greece participates in the ESA’s telecommunication and technology activities, and the Global
Monitoring for Environment and Security Initiative. The National Centre of Scientific Research
“Demokritos” was founded in 1959. The original objective of the center was the advancement
of nuclear research and technology. Today, its activities cover several fields of science
and engineering. Greece has one of the highest rates of tertiary
enrollment in the world, while Greeks are well represented in academia worldwide; many
leading Western universities employ a disproportionately high number of Greek faculty.Notable Greek
scientists of modern times include Georgios Papanikolaou (inventor of the Pap test), mathematician
Constantin Carathéodory (known for the Carathéodory theorems and Carathéodory conjecture), astronomer
E. M. Antoniadi, archaeologists Ioannis Svoronos, Valerios Stais, Spyridon Marinatos, Manolis
Andronikos (discovered the tomb of Philip II of Macedon in Vergina), Indologist Dimitrios
Galanos, botanist Theodoros G. Orphanides, such as Michael Dertouzos, Nicholas Negroponte,
John Argyris, John Iliopoulos (2007 Dirac Prize for his contributions on the physics
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 Prize, 2012 Gödel Prize), Mihalis Yannakakis
(2005 Knuth Prize) and physicist Dimitri Nanopoulos.==Demographics==According to the official statistical body
of Greece, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), the country’s total population in
2011 was 10,816,286. The birth rate in 2003 stood at 9.5 per 1,000 inhabitants, significantly
lower than the rate of 14.5 per 1,000 in 1981. At the same time, the mortality rate increased
slightly from 8.9 per 1,000 inhabitants in 1981 to 9.6 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2003.
Estimates from 2016 show the birth rate decreasing further still to 8.5 per 1,000 and mortality
climbing to 11.2 per 1,000.Greek society has changed rapidly over the last several decades,
coinciding with the wider European trend of declining fertility and rapid aging. The fertility
rate of 1.41 is below replacement levels and is one of the lowest in the world, subsequently
leading to an increase in the median age to 44.2 years, the seventh-highest in the world.
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. By
2016, the proportion of the population age 65 and older rose to 20.68 percent, while
those age 14 and younger declined to slightly below 14 percent.
Marriage rates began declining from almost 71 per 1,000 inhabitants in 1981 until 2002,
only to increase slightly in 2003 to 61 per 1,000 and then fall again to 51 in 2004. 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. As a result of these trends, the average Greek household is smaller and
older than in previous generations.===Cities===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, which is commonly referred to in Greek as the “συμπρωτεύουσα”
(lit. “co-capital”), with metropolitan populations of approximately 4 million and 1 million inhabitants
respectively. Other prominent cities with urban populations above 100,000 inhabitants
include those of Patras, Heraklion, Larissa, Volos, Rhodes, Ioannina, Agrinio, Chania,
and Chalcis.The table below lists the largest cities in Greece, by population contained
in their respective contiguous built up urban areas, which are either made up of many municipalities,
evident in the cases of Athens and Thessaloniki, or are contained within a larger single municipality,
case evident in most of the smaller cities of the country. The results come from the
preliminary figures of the population census that took place in Greece in May 2011.===Religion===The Greek Constitution recognizes Eastern
Orthodoxy as the “prevailing” faith of the country, while guaranteeing freedom of religious
belief for all. The Greek government does not keep statistics on religious groups and
censuses do not ask for religious affiliation. According to the U.S. State Department, an
estimated 97% of Greek citizens identify themselves as Eastern Orthodox, belonging to the Greek
Orthodox Church, which uses the Byzantine rite and the Greek language, the original
language of the New Testament. The administration of the Greek territory is shared between the
Church of Greece and the Patriarchate of Constantinople. In a Eurostat – Eurobarometer 2010 poll,
79% of Greek citizens responded that they “believe there is a God”. According to other
sources, 15.8% of Greeks describe themselves as “very religious”, which is the highest
among all European countries. 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. Estimates of the recognised Greek Muslim minority,
which is mostly located in Thrace, range around 100,000, (about 1% of the population). Some
of the Albanian immigrants to Greece come from a nominally Muslim background, although
most are secular in orientation. Following the 1919–1922 Greco-Turkish War and the
1923 Treaty of Lausanne, Greece and Turkey agreed to a population transfer based on cultural
and religious identity. About 500,000 Muslims from Greece, predominantly those defined as
Turks, but also Greek Muslims like the Vallahades of western Macedonia, were exchanged with
approximately 1,500,000 Greeks from Turkey. However, many refugees who settled in former
Ottoman Muslim villages in Central Macedonia and were defined as Christian Orthodox Caucasus
Greeks arrived from the former Russian Transcaucasus province of Kars Oblast after it had been
retroceded to Turkey but in the few years before the official population exchange.Judaism
has been present in Greece for more than 2,000 years.
The ancient community of Greek Jews are called Romaniotes, while the Sephardi Jews were once
a prominent community in the city of Thessaloniki, numbering some 80,000, or more than half of
the population, by 1900. However, after the German occupation of Greece and the Holocaust
during World War II, is estimated to number around 5,500 people. The Roman Catholic community is estimated
to be around 250,000 of which 50,000 are Greek citizens. Their community is nominally separate
from the smaller Greek Byzantine Catholic Church, which recognizes the primacy of the
Pope but maintains the liturgy of the Byzantine Rite. Old Calendarists account for 500,000
followers. Protestants, including the Greek Evangelical Church and Free Evangelical Churches,
stand at about 30,000. Other Christian minorities, such as Assemblies of God, International Church
of the Foursquare Gospel and various Pentecostal churches of the Greek Synod of Apostolic Church
total about 12,000 members. The independent Free Apostolic Church of Pentecost is the
biggest Protestant denomination in Greece with 120 churches. There are no official statistics
about Free Apostolic Church of Pentecost, but the Orthodox Church estimates the followers
as 20,000. The Jehovah’s Witnesses report having 28,874 active members.In recent years
there has been a small-scale revival of the ancient Greek religion, with estimates of
2,000 active practitioners and an additional 100,000 “sympathisers”.===Languages===The first textual evidence of the Greek language
dates back to 15th century BC and the Linear B script which is associated with the Mycenaean
Civilization. Greek was a widely spoken lingua franca in the Mediterranean world and beyond
during 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 archaic Katharevousa, created in the 19th century and used as the
state and scholarly language, or the Dimotiki, the form of the Greek language which evolved
naturally from Byzantine Greek and was the language of the people. The dispute was finally
resolved in 1976, when Dimotiki was made the only official variation of the Greek language,
and Katharevousa fell to disuse. Greece is today relatively homogeneous in
linguistic terms, with a large majority of the native population using Greek as their
first or only language. Among the 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 Cappadocian dialect came to Greece due to the genocide as well, but is endangered
and is barely spoken now. Indigenous Greek dialects include the archaic Greek spoken
by the Sarakatsani, traditionally transhument mountain shepherds of Greek Macedonia and
other parts of Northern Greece. The Tsakonian language, a distinct Greek language deriving
from Doric Greek instead of Koine Greek, is still spoken in some villages in the southeastern
Peloponnese. The Muslim minority in Thrace, which amounts
to approximately 0.95% of the total population, consists of speakers of Turkish, Bulgarian
(Pomaks) and Romani. Romani is also spoken by Christian Roma in other parts of the country.
Further minority languages have traditionally been spoken by regional population groups
in various parts of the country. Their use has decreased radically in the course 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 located in the rural areas around
the capital Athens, and for the Aromanians and Moglenites, also known as Vlachs, whose
language is closely related to Romanian and who used to live scattered across several
areas of mountainous central Greece. Members of these groups ethnically identify as Greeks
and are today all at least bilingual in Greek. Near the northern Greek borders there are
also some Slavic–speaking groups, locally known as Slavomacedonian-speaking, most of
whose members identify ethnically as Greeks. It is estimated that after the population
exchanges of 1923, Macedonia had 200,000 to 400,000 Slavic speakers. The Jewish community
in Greece traditionally spoke Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), today maintained only by a few thousand speakers.
Other notable minority languages include Armenian, Georgian, and the Greco-Turkic dialect spoken
by the Urums, a community of Caucasus Greeks from the Tsalka region of central Georgia
and ethnic Greeks from southeastern Ukraine who arrived in mainly Northern Greece as economic
migrants in the 1990s.===Migration===Throughout the 20th century, millions of Greeks
migrated to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Germany, creating a
large Greek diaspora. 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
or of Pontic Greeks and others from Russia, Georgia, Turkey the Czech Republic, and elsewhere
in the former Soviet Bloc.A study from the Mediterranean Migration Observatory maintains
that the 2001 census recorded 762,191 persons residing in Greece without Greek citizenship,
constituting 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 privileged 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. Some of the immigrants from Albania are from the Greek minority in
Albania centred on the region of Northern Epirus. In addition the total Albanian national
population which includes temporary migrants and undocumented persons is around 600,000.The
2011 census recorded 9,903,268 Greek citizens (91,56%), 480,824 Albanian citizens (4,44%),
75,915 Bulgarian citizens (0,7%), 46,523 Romanian citizenship (0,43%), 34,177 Pakistani citizens
(0,32%), 27,400 Georgian citizens (0,25%) and 247,090 people had other or unidentified
citizenship (2,3%). 189,000 people of the total population of Albanian citizens were
reported in 2008 as ethnic Greeks from Southern Albania, in the historical region of Northern
Epirus.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 that came from the Greek communities of Albania
and the former Soviet Union.Greece, together with Italy and Spain, is a major entry point
for illegal immigrants trying to enter the EU. Illegal immigrants entering Greece mostly
do so from the border with Turkey at the Evros River and the islands of the eastern Aegean
across from Turkey (mainly Lesbos, Chios, Kos, and Samos). In 2012, the majority of
illegal immigrants entering Greece came from Afghanistan, followed by Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.
In 2015, arrivals of refugees by sea had increased dramatically mainly due to the ongoing Syrian
civil war. There were 856,723 arrivals by sea in Greece, an almost fivefold increase
to the same period of 2014, of which the Syrians represent almost 45%. The majority of refugees
and migrants use Greece as a transit country, while their intended destinations are northern
European Nations such as Austria, Germany and Sweden.===Education===Greeks have a long tradition of valuing and
investing in paideia (education), which was upheld as one of the highest societal values
in the Greek and Hellenistic world. The first European institution described as a university
was founded in fifth-century Constantinople and continued operating in various incarnations
until the city’s fall to the Ottomans in 1453. The University of Constantinople was Christian
Europe’s first secular institution of higher learning, and by some measures was the world’s
first university.Compulsory education in Greece comprises primary schools (Δημοτικό
Σχολείο, Dimotikó Scholeio) and gymnasium (Γυμνάσιο). Nursery schools (Παιδικός
σταθμός, Paidikós Stathmós) are popular but not compulsory. Kindergartens (Νηπιαγωγείο,
Nipiagogeío) are now compulsory for any child above four years of age. Children start primary
school aged six and remain there for six years. Attendance at gymnasia starts at age 12 and
lasts for three years. Greece’s post-compulsory secondary education
consists of two school types: unified upper secondary schools (Γενικό Λύκειο,
Genikό Lykeiό) and technical–vocational educational schools (Τεχνικά και
Επαγγελματικά Εκπαιδευτήρια, “TEE”). Post-compulsory secondary education
also includes vocational training institutes (Ινστιτούτα Επαγγελματικής
Κατάρτισης, “IEK”) which provide a formal but unclassified level of education.
As they can accept both Gymnasio (lower secondary school) and Lykeio (upper secondary school)
graduates, these institutes are not classified as offering a particular level of education.
According to the Framework Law (3549/2007), Public higher education “Highest Educational
Institutions” (Ανώτατα Εκπαιδευτικά Ιδρύματα, Anótata Ekpaideytiká Idrýmata,
“ΑΕΙ”) consists of two parallel sectors:the University sector (Universities, Polytechnics,
Fine Arts Schools, the Open University) and the Technological sector (Technological Education
Institutions (TEI) and the School of Pedagogic and Technological Education). There are also
State Non-University Tertiary Institutes offering vocationally oriented courses of shorter duration
(2 to 3 years) which operate under the authority of other Ministries. Students 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 Athens is the oldest university in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Greek education system also provides special kindergartens, primary, and secondary schools
for people with special needs or difficulties in learning. There are also specialist gymnasia
and high schools offering musical, theological, and physical education.
Seventy-two percent of Greek adults aged 25–64 have completed upper secondary education,
which is slightly less than the OECD average of 74 percent. The average Greek pupil scored
458 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s 2015 Programme for International
Student Assessment (PISA). This score is lower than the OECD average of 486. On average,
girls outperformed boys by 15 points, much more than the average OECD gap of two points.===Healthcare system===Greece has universal health care. In a 2000
World Health Organization report, its health care system ranked 14th in overall performance
of 191 countries surveyed. In a 2013 Save the Children report, Greece was ranked the
19th best country (out of 176 countries surveyed) for the state of mothers and newborn babies.
In 2010, there were 138 hospitals with 31,000 beds in the country, but on 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. Greece’s healthcare expenditures as a percentage of GDP were 9.6%
in 2007 according to a 2011 OECD report, just above the OECD average of 9.5%. The country
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, and among the highest in the world.
The island of Icaria has the highest percentage of 90-year-olds in the world; approximately
33% of the islanders make it to 90 (and beyond). Blue Zones author Dan Buettner wrote an article
in The New York Times about the longevity of Icarians under the title “The Island Where
People Forget to Die”.The 2011 OECD report showed that Greece had the largest percentage
of adult daily smokers of any of the 34 OECD members. The country’s obesity rate is 18.1%,
which is above the OECD average of 15.1%, but considerably lower than the American rate
of 27.7%. In 2008, Greece had the highest rate of perceived good health in the OECD,
at 98.5%. Infant mortality, with a rate of 3.6 deaths per 1,000 live births, was below
the 2007 OECD average of 4.9.==Culture==The culture of Greece has evolved over thousands
of years, beginning in Mycenaean Greece and continuing most notably into Classical Greece,
through the influence of the Roman Empire and its Greek Eastern continuation, the Eastern
Roman or Byzantine Empire. Other cultures and nations, such as the Latin and Frankish
states, the Ottoman Empire, the Venetian Republic, the Genoese Republic, and the British Empire
have also left their influence on modern Greek culture, although historians 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. Modern democracies 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 rely on systematic thought, including biology, geometry, history, philosophy, physics
and mathematics. They introduced such important literary forms as epic and lyric poetry, history,
tragedy, and comedy. In their pursuit of order and proportion, the Greeks created an ideal
of beauty that strongly influenced Western art.===Visual arts===Artistic production in Greece began in the
prehistoric pre-Greek Cycladic and the Minoan civilizations, both of which were influenced
by local traditions and the art of ancient Egypt.There were several interconnected traditions
of painting in ancient Greece. Due to their technical differences, they underwent somewhat
differentiated developments. Not all painting techniques are equally well represented in
the archaeological record. The most respected form of art, according to authors like Pliny
or Pausanias, were individual, mobile paintings on wooden boards, technically described as
panel paintings. Also, the tradition of wall painting in Greece goes back at least to the
Minoan and Mycenaean Bronze Age, with the lavish fresco decoration of sites like Knossos,
Tiryns and Mycenae. Much of the figural or architectural sculpture of ancient Greece
was painted colourfully. This aspect of Greek stonework is described as polychrome. Ancient Greek sculpture was composed almost
entirely of marble or bronze; with cast bronze becoming the favoured medium for major works
by the early 5th century. Both marble and bronze are easy to form and very durable.
Chryselephantine sculptures, used for temple cult images and luxury works, used gold, most
often in leaf form and ivory for all or parts (faces and hands) of the figure, and probably
gems and other materials, but were much less common, and only fragments have survived.
By the early 19th century, the systematic excavation of ancient Greek sites had brought
forth a plethora of sculptures with traces of notably multicolored surfaces. It was not
until published findings by German archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann in the late 20th century,
that the painting of ancient Greek sculptures became an established fact.The art production
continued also during the Byzantine era. The most salient feature of this new aesthetic
was its “abstract,” or anti-naturalistic character. If classical art was marked by
the attempt to create representations that mimicked reality as closely as possible, Byzantine
art seems to have abandoned this attempt in favor of a more symbolic approach. The Byzantine
painting concentrated mainly on icons and hagiographies. The Macedonian art (Byzantine)
was the artistic expression of Macedonian Renaissance, a label sometimes used to describe
the period of the Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire (867–1056), especially
the 10th century, which some scholars have seen as a time of increased interest in classical
scholarship and the assimilation of classical motifs into Christian artwork. Post Byzantine art schools include the Cretan
School and Heptanese School. The first artistic movement in the Greek Kingdom can be considered
the Greek academic art of the 19th century (Munich School). Notable modern Greek painters
include Nikolaos Gyzis, Georgios Jakobides, Theodoros Vryzakis, Nikiforos Lytras, Konstantinos
Volanakis, Nikos Engonopoulos and Yannis Tsarouchis, while some notable sculptors are Pavlos Prosalentis,
Ioannis Kossos, Leonidas Drosis, Georgios Bonanos and Yannoulis Chalepas.===Architecture===The architecture of ancient Greece was produced
by the ancient Greeks (Hellenes), whose culture flourished on the Greek mainland, the Aegean
Islands and their colonies, for a period from about 900 BC until the 1st century AD, with
the earliest remaining architectural works dating from around 600 BC. The formal vocabulary
of ancient Greek architecture, in particular the division of architectural style into three
defined orders: the Doric Order, the Ionic Order and the Corinthian Order, was to have
profound effect on Western architecture of later periods.
Byzantine architecture is the architecture promoted by the Byzantine Empire, also known
as the Eastern Roman Empire, which dominated Greece and the Greek speaking world during
the Middle Ages. The empire endured for more than a millennium, dramatically influencing
Medieval architecture throughout Europe and the Near East, and becoming the primary progenitor
of the Renaissance and Ottoman architectural traditions that followed its collapse. After the Greek Independence, the modern Greek
architects tried to combine traditional Greek and Byzantine elements and motives with the
western European movements and styles. Patras was the first city of the modern Greek state
to develop a city plan. In January 1829, Stamatis Voulgaris, a Greek engineer of the French
army, presented the plan of the new city to the Governor Kapodistrias, who approved it.
Voulgaris applied the orthogonal rule in the urban complex of Patras.Two special genres
can be considered the Cycladic architecture, featuring white-coloured houses, in the Cyclades
and the Epirotic architecture in the region of Epirus.After the establishment of the Greek
Kingdom, the architecture of Athens and other cities was mostly influenced by the Neoclassical
architecture. For Athens, the first King of Greece, Otto of Greece, commissioned the architects
Stamatios Kleanthis and Eduard Schaubert to design a modern city plan fit for the capital
of a state. As for Thessaloniki, after the fire of 1917, the government ordered for a
new city plan under the supervision of Ernest Hébrard. Other modern Greek architects include
Anastasios Metaxas, Panagis Kalkos, Ernst Ziller, Dimitris Pikionis and Georges Candilis.===Theatre===Theatre in its western form was born in Greece.
The city-state of Classical Athens, which became a significant cultural, political,
and military power during this period, was its centre, 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 Pantomimos), despite the hostility of the official state. Later, during
the Ottoman period, the main theatrical folk art was the Karagiozis. The renaissance which
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 19th century, and initially was influenced by the Heptanesean
theatre and melodrama, such as the Italian opera. The Nobile Teatro di San Giacomo di
Corfù was the first theatre and opera house of modern Greece and the place where the first
Greek opera, Spyridon Xyndas’ The Parliamentary Candidate (based on an exclusively Greek libretto)
was performed. During the late 19th and early 20th century, the Athenian theatre scene was
dominated by revues, musical comedies, operettas and nocturnes and notable playwrights included
Spyridon Samaras, Dionysios Lavrangas, Theophrastos Sakellaridis and others.
The National Theatre of Greece was opened in 1900 as Royal Theatre. Notable playwrights
of the modern Greek theatre include Gregorios Xenopoulos, Nikos Kazantzakis, Pantelis Horn,
Alekos Sakellarios and Iakovos Kambanelis, while notable actors include Cybele Andrianou,
Marika Kotopouli, Aimilios Veakis, Orestis Makris, Katina Paxinou, Manos Katrakis and
Dimitris Horn. Significant directors include Dimitris Rontiris, Alexis Minotis and Karolos
Koun.===Literature===Greek literature can be divided into three
main categories: Ancient, Byzantine and modern Greek literature.Athens is considered the
birthplace of Western literature. At the beginning of Greek literature stand the two monumental
works of Homer: the Iliad and the Odyssey. Though dates of composition vary, these works
were fixed around 800 BC or after. In the classical period many of the genres of western
literature became more prominent. Lyrical poetry, odes, pastorals, elegies, epigrams;
dramatic presentations of comedy and tragedy; historiography, rhetorical 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, only a limited number
of plays by three authors have survived: those of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The
surviving plays by Aristophanes are also a treasure trove of comic presentation, while
Herodotus and Thucydides are two of the most 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 Atticizing, Medieval and early Modern Greek, and it is
the expression of the intellectual life of the Byzantine Greeks during the Christian
Middle Ages. Although popular Byzantine literature and early Modern Greek literature both began
in the 11th century, the two are indistinguishable. Modern Greek literature refers to literature
written in common Modern Greek, emerging from late Byzantine times in the 11th century.
The Cretan Renaissance poem Erotokritos is undoubtedly the masterpiece of this period
of Greek literature. It is a verse romance written around 1600 by Vitsentzos Kornaros
(1553–1613). Later, during the period of Greek enlightenment (Diafotismos), writers
such as Adamantios Korais and Rigas Feraios prepared with their works the Greek Revolution
(1821–1830). Leading figures of modern Greek literature
include Dionysios Solomos, Andreas Kalvos, Angelos Sikelianos, Emmanuel Rhoides, Demetrius
Vikelas, Kostis Palamas, Penelope Delta, Yannis Ritsos, Alexandros Papadiamantis, Nikos Kazantzakis,
Andreas Embeirikos, Kostas Karyotakis, Gregorios Xenopoulos, Constantine P. Cavafy, Nikos Kavvadias,
Kostas Varnalis and Kiki Dimoula. Two Greek authors have been awarded the Nobel Prize
in Literature: George Seferis in 1963 and Odysseas Elytis in 1979.===Philosophy===Most western philosophical traditions began
in Ancient Greece in the 6th century BC. The first philosophers are called “Presocratics,”
which designates that they came before Socrates, whose contributions mark a turning point in
western thought. 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 single sentence.
A new period of philosophy started with Socrates. Like the Sophists, he rejected entirely the
physical speculations in which his predecessors had indulged, and made the thoughts and opinions
of people his starting-point. Aspects of Socrates were first united from Plato, who also combined
with them many of the principles established by earlier philosophers, and developed the
whole of this material into the unity of a comprehensive system.
Aristotle of Stagira, the most important disciple of Plato, shared with his teacher the title
of the greatest philosopher of antiquity. But while Plato had sought to elucidate and
explain things from the supra-sensual standpoint of the forms, his pupil preferred to start
from the facts given us by experience. Except from these three most significant Greek philosophers
other known schools of Greek philosophy from other founders during ancient times were Stoicism,
Epicureanism, Skepticism and Neoplatonism.Byzantine philosophy refers to the distinctive philosophical
ideas of the philosophers 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 Neoplatonists.
On the eve of the Fall of Constantinople, Gemistus Pletho tried to restore the use of
the term “Hellene” and advocated the return to the Olympian Gods of the ancient world.
After 1453 a number of Greek Byzantine scholars who fled to western Europe contributed to
the Renaissance. In modern period, Diafotismos (Greek: Διαφωτισμός,
“enlightenment”, “illumination”) was the Greek expression of the Age of Enlightenment and
its philosophical and political ideas. Some notable representatives were Adamantios Korais,
Rigas Feraios and Theophilos Kairis. Other modern era Greek philosophers or political
scientists include Cornelius Castoriadis, Nicos Poulantzas and Christos Yannaras.===Music and dances===Greek vocal music extends far back into ancient
times where mixed-gender choruses performed for entertainment, celebration and spiritual
reasons. Instruments during that period included the double-reed aulos and the plucked string
instrument, the lyre, especially the special kind called a kithara. Music played an important
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 the Byzantine Empire also
had effect on Greek music. While the new technique of polyphony was developing
in the West, the Eastern Orthodox Church resisted any type of change. Therefore, Byzantine music
remained monophonic and without any form of instrumental accompaniment. As a result, and
despite certain attempts by certain Greek chanters (such as Manouel Gazis, Ioannis Plousiadinos
or the Cypriot Ieronimos o Tragoudistis), Byzantine music was deprived of elements of
which in the West encouraged an unimpeded development of art. However, this method which
kept music away from polyphony, along with centuries of continuous culture, enabled monophonic
music to develop to the greatest heights of perfection. Byzantium presented the monophonic
Byzantine chant; a melodic treasury of inestimable value for its rhythmical variety and expressive
power. Along with the Byzantine (Church) chant and
music, the Greek people also cultivated the Greek folk song (Demotiko) which is divided
into two cycles, the akritic and klephtic. 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, the most well known being the stories associated with Digenes
Akritas. The klephtic cycle came into being between the late Byzantine period and the
start of the Greek War of Independence. The klephtic cycle, together with historical songs,
paraloghes (narrative song or ballad), love songs, mantinades, wedding songs, songs of
exile and dirges express the life of the Greeks. There is a unity between the Greek people’s
struggles for freedom, their joys and sorrow and attitudes towards love and death. The Heptanesean kantádhes (καντάδες
‘serenades’; sing.: καντάδα) became the forerunners of the Greek modern urban
popular song, 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 1870–1930 were the so-called Athenian
serenades, and the songs performed on stage (επιθεωρησιακά τραγούδια
‘theatrical revue songs’) in revue, operettas and nocturnes that were dominating Athens’
theater scene. Rebetiko, initially a music associated with
the lower classes, later (and especially after the population exchange between Greece and
Turkey) reached greater general acceptance as the rough edges of its overt subcultural
character were softened and polished, sometimes to the point of unrecognizability. It was
the base of the later laïkó (song of the people). The leading performers of the genre
include Vassilis Tsitsanis, Grigoris Bithikotsis, Stelios Kazantzidis, George Dalaras, Haris
Alexiou and Glykeria. Regarding the classical music, it was through
the Ionian islands (which were under western rule and influence) that all the major advances
of the western European 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 Ionian School, Greek: Επτανησιακή Σχολή), established in 1815. Prominent
representatives of this genre include Nikolaos Mantzaros, Spyridon Xyndas, Spyridon Samaras
and Pavlos Carrer. Manolis Kalomiris is considered the founder of the Greek National School of
Music. In the 20th century, Greek composers have
had a significant impact on the development of avant garde and modern classical music,
with figures such as Iannis Xenakis, Nikos Skalkottas, and Dimitri Mitropoulos achieving
international prominence. At the same time, composers and musicians such as Mikis Theodorakis,
Manos Hatzidakis, Eleni Karaindrou, Vangelis and Demis Roussos garnered an international
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 of Fire, Blade Runner,
among others. Greek American composers known for their film scores include also Yanni and
Basil Poledouris. Notable Greek opera singers and classical musicians of the 20th and 21st
century include Maria Callas, Nana Mouskouri, Mario Frangoulis, Leonidas Kavakos, Dimitris
Sgouros and others. During the dictatorship of the Colonels, the
music of Mikis Theodorakis was banned by the junta and the composer was jailed, internally
exiled, and put in a concentration camp, before finally being allowed to leave Greece due
to international reaction to his detention. Released during the junta years, Anthrope
Agapa, ti Fotia Stamata (Make Love, Stop the Gunfire), by the pop group Poll is considered
the first anti-war protest song in the history of Greek rock. The song was echoing the hippie
slogan Make love, not war and was inspired directly by the Vietnam War, becoming a “smash
hit” in Greece.Greece participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 35 times after its
debut at the 1974 Contest. In 2005, Greece won with the song “My Number One”, performed
by Greek-Swedish singer Elena Paparizou. The song received 230 points with 10 sets of 12
points from Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Albania, Cyprus, Serbia
& Montenegro, Sweden and Germany and also became a smash hit in different countries
and especially in Greece. The 51st Eurovision Song Contest was held in Athens at the Olympic
Indoor Hall of the Athens Olympic Sports Complex in Maroussi, with hosted by Maria Menounos
and Sakis Rouvas.===Cuisine===Greek cuisine is characteristic of the healthy
Mediterranean diet, which is epitomised by dishes of Crete. Greek cuisine incorporates
fresh ingredients into a variety of local dishes such as moussaka, pastitsio, classic
Greek salad, fasolada, spanakopita and souvlaki. Some dishes can be traced back to ancient
Greece like skordalia (a thick purée of walnuts, almonds, crushed garlic and olive oil), lentil
soup, retsina (white or rosé wine sealed with pine resin) and pasteli (candy bar with
sesame seeds baked with honey). Throughout Greece people often enjoy eating 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 to almost every dish.
Some sweet desserts include melomakarona, diples and galaktoboureko, and drinks such
as ouzo, metaxa and a variety of wines including retsina. Greek cuisine differs widely from
different parts of the mainland and from island to island. It uses some flavorings more often
than other Mediterranean cuisines: oregano, mint, garlic, onion, dill and bay laurel leaves.
Other common herbs and spices include basil, thyme and fennel seed. Many Greek recipes,
especially in the northern parts of the country, use “sweet” spices in combination with meat,
for example cinnamon and cloves in stews.===Cinema===Cinema first appeared in Greece in 1896, but
the first actual cine-theatre was opened in 1907 in Athens. In 1914 the Asty Films Company
was founded and the production of long films began. Golfo (Γκόλφω), a well known
traditional love story, is considered the first Greek feature film, although there were
several minor productions such as newscasts before this. In 1931 Orestis Laskos directed
Daphnis and Chloe (Δάφνις και Χλόη), containing one of the first nude scene in
the history of European cinema; it was also the first Greek movie which was played abroad.
In 1944 Katina Paxinou was honoured with the Best Supporting 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 cinema. Directors and actors of this era were recognised
as important figures in Greece and some gained international acclaim: George Tzavellas, Irene
Papas, Melina Mercouri, Mihalis Kakogiannis, Alekos Sakellarios, Nikos Tsiforos, Iakovos
Kambanelis, Katina Paxinou, Nikos Koundouros, Ellie Lambeti and others. More than sixty
films per year were made, with the majority having film noir elements. Some notable films
include The Drunkard (1950, directed by George Tzavellas), The Counterfeit Coin (1955, by
Giorgos Tzavellas), Πικρό Ψωμί (1951, by Grigoris Grigoriou), O Drakos (1956, by
Nikos Koundouros), Stella (1955, directed by Cacoyannis and written by Kampanellis),
Woe to the Young (1961, by Alekos Sakellarios), Glory Sky (1962, by Takis Kanellopoulos) and
The Red Lanterns (1963, by Vasilis Georgiadis) Cacoyannis also directed Zorba the Greek with
Anthony Quinn which received Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film nominations.
Finos Film also contributed in this period with movies such as Λατέρνα, Φτώχεια
και Φιλότιμο, Madalena, I theia ap’ to Chicago, Το ξύλο βγήκε από
τον Παράδεισο and many more. During the 1970s and 1980s, Theo Angelopoulos
directed a series of notable and appreciated movies. His film Eternity and a Day won the
Palme d’Or and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.
There are also internationally renowned filmmakers in the Greek diaspora, such as the Greek-French
Costa-Gavras and the Greek-Americans Elia Kazan, John Cassavetes and Alexander Payne.===Sports===Greece is the birthplace of the ancient Olympic
Games, first recorded in 776 BC in Olympia, and hosted the modern Olympic Games twice,
the inaugural 1896 Summer Olympics and the 2004 Summer Olympics. During the parade of
nations Greece is always called first, as the founding nation of the ancient precursor
of modern Olympics. The nation has competed at every Summer Olympic Games, one of only
four countries to have done so. Having won a total of 110 medals (30 gold, 42 silver
and 38 bronze), Greece is ranked 32nd by gold medals in the all-time Summer Olympic medal
count. Their best ever performance was in the 1896 Summer Olympics, when Greece finished
second in the medal table with 10 gold medals. The Greek national football team, ranking
12th in the world in 2014 (and having reached a high of 8th in the world in 2008 and 2011),
were crowned European Champions in Euro 2004 in one of the biggest upsets in the history
of the sport. The Greek Super League is the highest professional football league in the
country, comprising sixteen teams. The most successful are Olympiacos, Panathinaikos,
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. They have won the European
Championship twice in 1987 and 2005, and have reached the final four in two of the last
four FIBA World Championships, taking the second place in the world in 2006 FIBA World
Championship, after a 101–95 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 Panathinaikos, Olympiacos, Aris Thessaloniki, AEK Athens and P.A.O.K.
Greek basketball teams are the most successful in European basketball the last 25 years,
having won 9 Euroleagues since the establishment of the modern era Euroleague Final Four format
in 1988, while no other nation has won more than 4 Euroleague championships in this period.
Besides the 9 Euroleagues, Greek basketball teams (Panathinaikos, Olympiacos, Aris Thessaloniki,
AEK Athens, P.A.O.K, Maroussi) have won 3 Triple Crowns, 5 Saporta Cups, 2 Korać Cups
and 1 FIBA Europe Champions Cup. After the 2005 European Championship triumph of the
Greek national basketball team, Greece became the reigning European Champion in both football
and basketball. The Greece women’s national water polo team
have emerged as one of the leading powers in the world, becoming World Champions after
their gold medal win against the hosts China at the 2011 World Championship. They also
won the silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics, the gold medal at the 2005 World League and
the silver medals at the 2010 and 2012 European Championships. The Greece men’s national water
polo team became the third best water polo team in the world in 2005, after their win
against Croatia in the bronze medal game at the 2005 World Aquatics Championships in Canada.
The domestic top water polo leagues, Greek Men’s Water Polo League and Greek Women’s
Water Polo League are considered amongst the top national leagues in European water polo,
as its clubs have made significant success in European competitions. In men’s European
competitions, Olympiacos has won the Champions League, the European Super Cup and the Triple
Crown in 2002 becoming the first club in water polo history to win every title in which it
has competed within a single year (National championship, National cup, Champions League
and European Super Cup), while NC Vouliagmeni has won the LEN Cup Winners’ Cup in 1997.
In women’s European competitions, Greek water polo teams (NC Vouliagmeni, Glyfada NSC, Olympiacos,
Ethnikos Piraeus) are amongst the most successful in European water polο, having won 4 LEN
Champions Cups, 3 LEN Trophies and 2 European Supercups.
The Greek men’s national volleyball team has won two bronze medals, one in the European
Volleyball Championship and another one in the Men’s European Volleyball League, a 5th
place in the Olympic Games and a 6th place in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship.
The Greek league, the A1 Ethniki, is considered one of the top volleyball leagues in Europe
and the Greek clubs have had significant success in European competitions. Olympiacos is the
most successful volleyball club in the country having won the most domestic titles and being
the only Greek club to have won European titles; they have won two CEV Cups, they have been
CEV Champions League runners-up twice and they have played in 12 Final Fours in the
European competitions, making them one of the most traditional volleyball clubs in Europe.
Iraklis have also seen significant success in European competitions, having been three
times runners-up of the CEV Champions League. In handball, AC Diomidis Argous is the only
Greek club to have won a European Cup. Apart from these, cricket is relatively popular
in Corfu.===Mythology===The numerous gods of the ancient Greek religion
as well as the mythical heroes and events of the ancient Greek epics (The Odyssey and
The Iliad) and other pieces of art and literature from the time make up what is nowadays colloquially
referred to as Greek mythology. Apart from serving a religious function, the mythology
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 Twelve Gods, who lived on the top of Mount Olympus. The
most important of all ancient 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 Ares, Poseidon, Athena, Demeter, Dionysus, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Hephaestus 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===According to Greek law, every Sunday of the
year is a public holiday. Since the late ’70s, Saturday also is a non school and not working
day. In addition, there are four mandatory official public holidays: 25 March (Greek
Independence Day), Easter Monday, 15 August (Assumption or Dormition of the Holy Virgin),
and 25 December (Christmas). 1 May (Labour Day) and 28 October (Ohi Day) are regulated
by law as being optional but it is customary for employees to be given the day off. There
are, however, more public holidays celebrated in Greece than are announced by the Ministry
of Labour each year as either obligatory or 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 year. In addition to the national holidays, there
are public holidays that are not celebrated nationwide, but only by a specific professional
group or a local community. For example, many municipalities have a “Patron Saint” parallel
to “Name Days”, or a “Liberation Day”. On such days it is customary for schools to take
the day off. Notable festivals, beyond the religious fests,
include Patras Carnival, Athens Festival and various local wine 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 important film festivals in Southern Europe.==See also==Outline of Greece
Outline of ancient Greece Index of Greece-related articles==
Notes====
References=====
Citations======
Bibliography=====
External links=====
Government===President of the Hellenic Republic
Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic Hellenic Parliament
Greek National Tourism Organisation Greek News Agenda Newsletter===General information===
Greece at Encyclopædia Britannica. “Greece” (guide). National Geographic Traveler..
“Greece”. The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
“Greece”. UCB Libraries GovPubs. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved
23 March 2016.. Greece at Curlie
“Greece profile”. BBC News. 25 December 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2016..
“Greek Council for Refugees”. Retrieved 23 March 2016..
“Hellenic History”. GR: FHW. Retrieved 23 March 2016..
“Hellenism”. Retrieved 23 March 2016. – Everything about Greece.
History of Greece: Primary Documents The London Protocol of 3 February 1830
The Greek Heritage Wikimedia Atlas of Greece
Geographic data related to Greece at OpenStreetMapTrade World Bank Summary Trade Statistics Greece

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