Fly to Greece
|Motto: Eleftheria i Thanatos, (Greek: “Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος”, “Freedom or Death”) (traditional)|
|Anthem: “Ὕμνος εἰς τὴν Ἐλευθερίαν
Ýmnos is tin Eleftherían
Hymn to Liberty1“
Location of Greece (dark green)– in Europe (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union (green) — [Legend]
(and largest city)
|Ethnic groups||94% Greek,
|Demonym||Greek (Officially: Hellenic)|
|Government||Unitary parliamentary republic|
|-||Prime Minister||George Papandreou MP|
|Independence from the Ottoman Empire|
|-||Declared||1 January 1822, at theFirst National Assembly|
|-||Recognized||3 February 1830, in theLondon Protocol|
|-||Current constitution||11 June 1975,
Third Hellenic Republic
|-||Total||131,990 km2 (96th)
50,944 sq mi
|-||2010 estimate||11,305,118 (74th)|
|-||2011 (preliminary data) census||10,787,690|
|GDP (PPP)||2010 estimate|
|-||Total||$318.082 billion (37th)|
|-||Per capita||$28,434 (29th)|
|GDP (nominal)||2010 estimate|
|-||Total||$305.415 billion (32nd)|
|-||Per capita||$27,302 (29th)|
|HDI (2011)||0.861 (very high) (29th)|
|Currency||Euro (€)2 (
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|-||Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
|Drives on the||right|
|ISO 3166 code||GR|
|1||Also the national anthem of Cyprus.|
|2||Before 2001, the Greek drachma.|
|3||The .eu domain is also used, as in other European Union member states.|
Greece /ˈɡriːs/ (Greek: Ελλάδα, Elláda, IPA: [eˈlaða]), also known as Hellas (Ancient Greek: Ἑλλάς, Hellás, IPA: [hellás]) and officially the Hellenic Republic (Ελληνική Δημοκρατία, Ellīnikī́ Dīmokratía, IPA: [eliniˈci ðimokraˈtia]), is a country in southeastern Europe.
Greece has land borders with Albania, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the east. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of mainland Greece, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the twelfth longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands (approximately 1,400, of which 227 are inhabited), including Crete, theDodecanese, the Cyclades, and the Ionian Islands among others. Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest at 2,917 m (9,570 ft).
Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of ancient Greece, generally considered the cradle of Western civilization. As such, it is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, university education, coinage, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy. This legacy is partly reflected in the seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Greece, ranking Greece 7th in Europe and 13th in the world. The modern Greek state was established in 1830, following the Greek War of Independence.
A developed country with an advanced, high-income economy and very high standards of living, Greece has been a member of what is now the European Union since 1981 and the eurozone since 2001, NATO since 1952, and the European Space Agency since 2005. It is also a founding member of the United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and theOrganization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.
Athens is the capital and the largest city in the country (its urban area also including Piraeus).
The name of Greece differs in Greece in comparison with the names used for the country in other languages and cultures, just like the names of the Greeks. Although the Greeks call the country Hellas or Ellada (Greek: Ελλάς, Ελλάδα) and its official name is Hellenic Republic, in English the country is called Greece, which comes from Latin Graecia as used by the Romans and literally means ‘the land of the Greeks’; however, the nameHellas is sometimes used in English too.
The Parthenon on theAcropolis of Athens.
Detail of the Alexander Mosaic, depicting Alexander the Great on his horse Bucephalus.
While the area around Attica was inhabited during the Upper Paleolithic period (30000 –10000 BC), archaeological evidence suggests that the small caves around the Acropolis rock and the Klepsythra spring were in use during the Neolithic Period (3000–2800 BC). Greece was the first area in Europe where advanced early civilizations emerged, beginning with the Cycladic civilization of the Aegean Sea, the Minoan civilization in Crete and then the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland. Later, various Greek kingdoms and city-states emerged across the Greek peninsula and spread to the shores of the Black Sea, South Italy and Asia Minor, reaching great levels of prosperity that resulted in an unprecedented cultural boom, that of classical Greece, expressed inarchitecture, drama, science and philosophy, and nurtured in Athens under a democratic environment.
Athens and Sparta led the way in repelling the Persian Empire in a series of battles. Both were later overshadowed by Thebes and eventually Macedonia, with the latter under the guidance of Alexander the Greatuniting and leading the Greek world to victory over the Persians.
The Hellenistic period was brought only partially to a close two centuries later with the establishment of Roman rule over Greek lands in 146 BC. Many Greeks migrated to Alexandria, Antioch, Seleucia and the many other new Hellenistic cities in Asia and Africa founded in Alexander’s wake.
The Greek peninsula as a part of the Byzantine Empire in purple, c.1180, at the end of the Komnenian period.
The sortie of Messolonghi, during the Greek War of Independence (1821–1830), byTheodoros Vryzakis.
The subsequent mixture of Roman and Hellenic cultures took form in the establishment of the Byzantine Empire in 330 AD around Constantinople. Byzantium remained a major cultural and military power for the next 1,123 years, until the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. On the eve of the Ottoman conquest, much of the Greek intelligentsia migrated to Italy and other parts of Europe not under Ottoman rule, playing a significant role in the Renaissance through the transmission of ancient Greek works to Western Europe. Nevertheless, the Ottoman millet system contributed to the cohesion of the Orthodox Greeks by segregating the various peoples within the empire based on religion, as the latter played an integral role in the formation of modern Greek identity.
After the Greek War of Independence, successfully waged against the Ottoman Empire from 1821 to 1829, the nascent Greek state was finally recognized under the London Protocol in 1830. In 1827, Ioannis Kapodistrias, from Corfu, was chosen as the first governor of the new Republic. However, following his assassination in 1831, the Great Powers installed a monarchy under Otto, of the Bavarian House of Wittelsbach. In 1843, an uprising forced the king to grant a constitution and a representative assembly.
Due to his unimpaired authoritarian rule, he was eventually dethroned in 1862 and a year later 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. In 1877, Charilaos Trikoupis, who is credited with significant improvement of the country’s infrastructure, curbed the power of the monarchy to interfere in the assembly by issuing the rule of vote of confidence to any potential prime minister.
20th Century and Onwards
As a result of the Balkan Wars, Greece increased the extent of its territory and population. In the following years, the struggle between King Constantine I and charismatic Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos over the country’s foreign policy on the eve of World War I dominated the country’s political scene, and divided the country into two opposing groups.
In the aftermath of WWI, Greece fought against Turkish nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal, a war which resulted in a massive population exchange between the two countries under the Treaty of Lausanne. According to various sources, several hundred thousand Pontic Greeks died during this period. Instability and successive coups d’état marked the following era, which was overshadowed by the massive task of incorporating 1.5 million Greek refugees from Turkeyinto Greek society. The Greek population in Istanbul dropped from 300,000 at the turn of the century to around 3,000 in the city today.
King Constantine I andEleftherios Venizelos (seated, with back to camera) in 1913, during the Balkan Wars.
On 28 October 1940, Fascist Italy demanded the surrender of Greece, but Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas 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 country would eventually fall to urgently dispatched German forces during the Battle of Greece. The German occupiers nevertheless met serious challenges from the Greek Resistance. Over 100,000 civilians died from starvation during the winter of 1941–42, and the great majority of Greek Jews were deported to Nazi extermination camps.
After liberation, Greece experienced a bitter civil war between communist and anticommunist forces, which led to economic devastation and severe social tensions between rightists and largely communist leftists for the next thirty years. The next twenty years were characterized by marginalisation of the left in the political and social spheres but also by rapid economic growth, propelled in part by the Marshall Plan.
Territorial evolution of Kingdom of Greeceuntil 1947.
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 United States-backed Regime of the Colonels. The brutal suppression of the Athens Polytechnic uprising on 17 November 1973 sent shockwaves through the regime, and a counter-coup established Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannidis as dictator. On 20 July 1974, asTurkey invaded the island of Cyprus, the regime collapsed.
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. On 14 August 1974, Greek forces withdrew from the integrated military structure of NATO in protest at the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus. The first multiparty electionssince 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 founded the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in response to Karamanlis’s conservative New Democracyparty, with the two political formations alternating in government ever since. Greece rejoined NATO in 1980. 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.
Greece became the tenth member of the European Communities (subsequently subsumed by the European Union) on 1 January 1981, ushering in a period of remarkable and sustained economic 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 have raised the country’s standard of living to unprecedented levels. The country adopted the euro in 2001 and successfully hosted the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens. More recently, it has been hit hard by the late-2000s recession and central to the related European sovereign debt crisis. The Greek economic crisis and resultant, sometimes violent protestshave roiled domestic politics and regularly threatened European and world financial-market stability in 2010-11.
Sea of Crete
Greece consists of a mountainous, peninsular mainland jutting out into the sea at the southern end of the Balkans, ending at thePeloponnese peninsula (separated from the mainland by the canal of the Isthmus of Corinth). Due to its highly indented coastline and numerous islands, Greece has the twelfth-longest coastline in the world with13,676 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.
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 Rhodes and Lesbos.
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 Euboea, and the Ionian Islands, located to the west of the mainland in the Ionian Sea.
Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains or hills, making the country one of the most mountainous in Europe. Mount Olympus, the mythical abode of the Greek Gods, culminates at Mytikas peak 2,917 m (9,570 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 theDinaric 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.
Navagio (shipwreck) bay, Zakynthos.
Spring in Agrafa, in the Pindus mountains
The Pindus range continues through the central Peloponnese, crosses the islands of Kythera and Antikythera and find 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 characterized by its high, steep peaks, often dissected by numerous canyons and a variety of other karstic landscapes. The spectacular Vikos Gorge, part of the Vikos-Aoos National Park in the Pindus range, is listed by the Guinness 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 periphery of East Macedonia and Thrace; this area is covered with vast, thick, ancient forests, including the famous Dadia forest in the Evros Prefecture, in the far northeast of the country.
View of Mount Olympus, located on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia.
Expansive plains are primarily located in the prefectures 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 lynx, the Roe Deer and the Wild Goat.
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.
Topographical map of Greece.
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 prefectures of Achaia, 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.
The Hellenic Parliament in central Athens.
Count Ioannis Kapodistrias(1776–1831), first head of state and governor of independent Greece.
Karolos Papoulias, President of Greece(since 2005), in 2009.
Greece is a 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 twice since, in 1986 and in 2001. The Constitution, which consists of 120 articles, provides for aseparation 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 a 1952 Constitutional amendment.
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.
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.
Since the restoration of democracy, the Greek two-party system is dominated by the liberal-conservative New Democracy (ND) and the social-democraticPanhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). Other significant parties include the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS). In 2010, two new parties split off from ND and SYRIZA, the centrist-liberal Democratic Alliance (DS) and the moderate leftist Democratic Left (DA). The current prime minister is George Papandreou, president of PASOK, who on 4 October 2009, won with a majority in the Parliament of 160 out of 300 seats. A new government was sworn in on 20 June 2011, and received a marginal vote of confidence on 22 June, with 155 votes for, 143 against, and two MPs absent. As of 29 June 2011, PASOK holds a majority of 152 seats in parliament, following a series of resignations by party members over austerity plans.
Since the 2010 economic crisis, the two major parties, New Democracy and PASOK, have seen a sharp decline in the share of votes in polls conducted, with predictions allocating just over 60% of eligible votes to them. Additionally, only 11% of the population agree with the policies of the governing party, PASOK, while only 6% with the main opposition, New Democracy.
Since the Kallikratis programme reform entered into effect on 1 January 2011, Greece consists of thirteen peripheries subdivided into a total of 325municipalities. The 54 old prefectures and prefecture-level administrations have been largely retained as sub-units of the peripheries. Seven decentralized administrations group one to three peripheries for administrative purposes on a regional basis. There is also one autonomous area, Mount Athos (Greek: Agio Oros, “Holy Mountain”), which borders the periphery of Central Macedonia.
Prominent issues in Greek foreign policy include the enduring Cyprus dispute, the Aegean dispute with Turkey over the Aegean Sea and the Macedonia naming dispute with the Republic of Macedonia, which Greece refers to internationally by the provisional reference “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. Also the British government in 1816 purchased the Parthenon Marbles, forming a part of the collection known as the Elgin Marbles and placed on display in the British Museum, where they stand now on view in the purpose-built Duveen Gallery. The debate continues as to whether the Marbles should remain in the British Museum or be returned to Athens.
The Hellenic Armed Forces are overseen by the Hellenic National Defense General Staff(Γενικό Επιτελείο Εθνικής Άμυνας – ΓΕΕΘΑ) and consists of three branches:
- Hellenic Army
- Hellenic Navy
- Hellenic Air Force
The civilian authority for the Greek military is the Ministry of National Defence. Furthermore, Greece maintains the Hellenic Coast Guard for law enforcement in the sea and for search and rescue.
Greece has universal compulsory military service for males, while females (who may serve in the military) are exempted from conscription. As of 2009, Greece has mandatory military service of nine months for male citizens between the ages of 19 and 45. However, as the armed forces had been gearing towards a complete professional army system, the government had promised that the mandatory military service would be cut or even abolished completely.
Greek males between the age of 18 and 60 who live in strategically sensitive areas may be required to serve part-time in the National Guard. Service in the Guard is paid. As a member of NATO, the Greek military participates in exercises and deployments under the auspices of the alliance.
The main building of the Bank of Greecein Athens.
Aerial view of the International Trade Fairand Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
The Greek economy (that is gross domestic product, GDP) expanded at an average annual rate of 4% from 2004– 2007 and 2% during 2008 (at constant prices of 2000), one of the highest rates in the Eurozone. However, in 2009 GDP decreased by −1.9%. In 2010, a decrease of GDP by −2.5% to −4% is estimated, due to the current economic crisis. 
The tourism industry is a major source of foreign exchange earnings and revenue accounting for 15% of Greece’s total GDP and employing, directly or indirectly, 16.5% of the total workforce.
The Greek labour force totals 4.9 million, and it is the second-most-industrious among OECD countries, after South Korea. The Groningen Growth & Development Centre published a poll revealing that between 1995 and 2005, Greece ranked third in the “working hours per year ranking” among European nations; Greeks worked an average of 1,811 hours per year. In 2007, the average worker produced around 20 dollars per hour, similar to Spain and slightly more than half of average U.S. worker’s hourly output. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, occupied in mainly agricultural and construction work.
Greece’s purchasing power-adjusted GDP per capita is the world’s 25th highest. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it had an estimated average per capita income of $29,882 for the year 2009, a figure slightly higher than that of Italy and Spain. According to Eurostat data, Greek PPS GDP per capita stood at 95 per cent of the EU average in 2009. According to a survey by The Economist, the cost of living in Athens is close to 90% of the costs in New York City; in rural regions it is lower.
Greece introduced the euro in 2002.
In Greece, the euro was introduced in 2002. As a preparation for this date, the minting of the new euro coins started as early as 2001. However, all Greek euro coins introduced in 2002 have this year on it, unlike some other countries of the Eurozone where mint year is minted in the coin. Eight different designs, one per face value, were selected for the Greek coins. In 2007, in order to adopt the new common map like the rest of the Eurozone countries, Greece changed the common side of their coins. Before adopting the euro in 2002, Greece had maintained use of the Greek drachma from 1832.
In 2009, Greece had the EU’s second-lowest Index of Economic Freedom (after Poland), ranking 81st in the world. The country suffers from high levels of political and economic corruption and low global competitiveness relative to its EU partners. The Greek economy faces significant problems, including rising unemployment levels and an inefficient government bureaucracy.
Greece’s economic growth between 1961 and 2010, compared with Eurozone average from 1996.
Although remaining above the euro area average, economic growth turned negative in 2009 for the first time since 1993. An indication of the trend of over-lending in recent years is the fact that the ratio of loans to savings exceeded 100% during the first half of the year.
2010–2011 economic crisis
History of the Greek debt between 1999 and 2010.
By the end of 2009, as a result of a combination of international and local factors (respectively, the world financial crisis and uncontrolled government spending), the Greek economy faced its most-severe crisis since the restoration of democracy in 1974 as the Greek government revised its deficit from an estimated 6% to 12.7% of gross domestic product (GDP).
In early 2010, it was revealed that successive Greek governments had been found to have consistently and deliberately misreported the country’s official economic statistics to keep within the monetary union guidelines. This had enabled Greek governments to spend beyond their means, while hiding the actual deficit from the EU overseers. In May 2010, the Greek government deficit was again revised and estimated to be 13.6% which was one of the highest in the world relative to GDP and public debt was forecast, according to some estimates, to hit 120% of GDP during 2010, one of the highest rates in the world.
As a consequence, there was a crisis in international confidence in Greece’s ability to repay its sovereign debt. In order to avert such a default, in May 2010 the other Eurozone countries, and the IMF, agreed to a rescue package which involved giving Greece an immediate €45 billion in bail-out loans, with more funds to follow, totaling €110 billion. In order to secure the funding, Greece was required to adopt harsh austerity measures to bring its deficit under control. Their implementation will be monitored and evaluated by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF.
On 15 November 2010, the EU’s statistics body Eurostat revised the public finance and debt figure for Greece following an excessive deficit procedure methodological mission in Athens, and put Greece’s 2009 government deficit at 15.4% of GDP and public debt at 126.8% of GDP making it the biggest deficit (as a percentage of GDP) amongst the EU member nations (although some have speculated that Ireland’s in 2010 may prove to be worse).
The financial crisis – particularly the austerity package put forth by the EU and the IMF – has been met with anger by the Greek public, leading to riotsand social unrest.
Piraeus is the largest port in Greece.
The shipping industry is a key element of Greek economic activity dating back to ancient times. Today, shipping is one of the country’s most important industries. It accounts for 4.5% of GDP, employs about 160,000 people (4% of the workforce), and represents 1/3 of the country’s trade deficit.
During the 1960s, the size of the Greek fleet nearly doubled, primarily through the investment undertaken by the shipping magnates, Aristotle Onassisand 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.
According to a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report in 2010, the Greek merchant navy is the largest in the world at 15.96% of the world’s total capacity. This is a drop from the equivalent number in 2006, which was 18.2%. The total tonnage of the country’s merchant fleet is 186 million dwt, ranked 1st in the world. In terms of total number of ships, the Greek Merchant Navy stands at 4th worldwide, with 3,150 ships (741 of which are registered in Greece whereas the rest 2,409 in other ports). In terms of ship categories, Greece ranks first in both tankers and drybulk carriers, fourth in the number of containers, and fourth 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% of the world’s dwt (ranked 5th).
Night view of Fira, Santorini.
An important percentage of Greece’s national income comes from tourism. According to Eurostat statistics, Greece welcomed over 19.5 million tourists in 2009, which is an increase from the 17.7 million tourists it welcomed in 2007. 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 periphery 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.
An aerial view of an interchange on theAttiki Odos.
Since the 1980s, the road and rail network of Greece has been significantly modernized. Important works include the Egnatia Odos that connects northwestern Greece (Igoumenitsa) with northern and northeastern Greece (Kipoi). The Rio–Antirrio bridge, the longest suspension cable bridge in Europe, (2250 m or 7382 ft long) connects the western Peloponnese from Rio(7 km or 4 mi from Patras) with Antirrio in Central Greece.
The Rio-Antirio bridge near the city of Patras is the longest cable-stayed bridge in Europe and second in the world.
An expansion of the Patras-Athens motorway towards Pyrgos in the western Peloponnese is scheduled to be completed by 2014. Most of the motorway connection from Athens to Thessaloniki has also been upgraded.
The Athens Metropolitan Area includes state of the art infrastructure such as the Athens International Airport, the privately run motorway Attiki Odos 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 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; and around Thessaloniki, towards the cities of Larissa and Edessa. 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, although as of 2011 they have been suspended, due to the financial crisis.
Broadband internet availability is widespread in Greece; there were a total of 2,252,653 broadband connections as of early 2011. This translates to 20% broadband penetration
Internet cafés that provide net access, office applications and multiplayer gaming are also a common sight in the country, while mobile internet on 3G cellphone networks and Wi-Fi connections can be found almost everywhere.
Science and technology
Thessaloniki Science Center and Technology Museum.
The General Secretariat for Research and Technology of the Ministry of Development is responsible for designing, implementing and supervising national research and technological policy. In 2003, public spending on research and development (R&D) was 456.37 million euros (12.6% increase from 2002). Total R&D spending (both public and private) as a percentage of GDP had increased considerably since the beginning of the past decade, from 0.38% in 1989, to 0.65% in 2001. R&D spending in Greece remained lower than the EU average of 1.93%, but, according to Research DC, based on OECD and Eurostat data, 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 and Coca-Cola have their regional research and development headquarters in Greece.
Greece’s technology parks with incubator facilities include the Science and Technology Park of Crete (Heraklion), the Thessaloniki Technology Park, theLavrio Technology Park and the Patras Science Park. Greece 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. As member of the ESA, Greece participates in the agency’s telecommunication and technology activities, and the Global Monitoring for Environment and SecurityInitiative.
The official statistical body of Greece is the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT). According to the ELSTAT, Greece’s total population in 2001 was 10,964,020. That figure is divided into 5,427,682 males and 5,536,338 females. The preliminary results of the 2011 census show a decrease in the country’s population to 10,787,690, a drop of 1.6%.As statistics from 1971, 1981, and 2001 show, the Greek population has been aging the past several decades.
The birth rate in 2003 stood 9.5 per 1,000 inhabitants (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. In 2001, 16.71% of the population were 65 years old and older, 68.12% between the ages of 15 and 64 years old, and 15.18% were 14 years old and younger.
Greek society has also rapidly changed with the passage of time. Marriage rates kept falling 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. Divorce rates on the other hand, have seen an increase – from 191.2 per 1,000 marriages in 1991 to 239.5 per 1,000 marriages in 2004.
Almost two-thirds of the Greek people live in urban areas. Greece’s largest metropolitan centres and most influential urban areas, are those of Athens and Thessaloniki, with metropolitan populations of approximately 4 million and 1 million inhabitants respectively. A number of cities that also form influential urban centres around the country include those of Patras, Heraklion,Larissa, Volos, Rhodes, Ioannina, Chania and Chalcis with urban populations above 100,000 inhabitants.
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 population census that took place in Greece in May 2011.
|Largest cities of Greece
Hellenic Statistical Authority 2011 census
|Rank||City Name||Periphery||Pop.||Rank||City Name||Periphery||Pop.|
|2||Thessaloniki||C. Macedonia||790,824||12||Katerini||C. Macedonia||86,170|
|7||Rhodes||South Aegean||115,290||17||Kozani||W. Macedonia||70,420|
|10||Chalcis||Central Greece||102,420||20||Veria||C. Macedonia||66,630|
Central square in Nafplion, the first capital of modern Greece.
The Hermoupolis port in the island ofSyros is the capital of the Cyclades.
Throughout the 20th century, millions of Greeks migrated to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Germany, creating a thrivingGreek diaspora. Net migration started to show positive numbers from the 1970s but until the beginning of the 1990s the main influx was that of return migrants.
In 1986, legal and unauthorized immigrants totaled approximately 90,000. A study from the mmo.gr 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] The greatest cluster of non-EU immigrant population are the urban centers, especially the Municipality of Athens with 132,000 immigrants, at 17% of the local population and then Thessaloniki, with 27,000, 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.
Map of the top fifty countries with the largest Greek communities.
Greece, together with Italy and Spain, faces a flood of illegal immigrants trying to enter the EU. The Cabinet has approved a draft law that would allow children born in Greece to parents who are immigrants, one of whom must have been living in the country legally for at least five consecutive years to apply for Greek citizenship.
Flag of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Holy Trinity monastery, inMeteora, central Greece.
The Greek Constitution recognizes the Orthodox faith 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 Orthodox Christians, belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church. In a Eurostat – Eurobarometer 2005 poll, 81% of Greek citizens responded that they “believe there is a God”, which was the third highest percentage among EU members behind only Malta and Cyprus. 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 recognized Greek Muslim minority, which is mostly located in Thrace, range from 98,000 to 140,000, (between 0.9% and 1.2%) while the immigrant Muslim community numbers between 200,000 and 300,000. Albanian immigrants to Greece are usually associated with the Muslim religion, 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 Turks, but also other Muslims, were exchanged with approximately 1,500,000 Greeks from Asia Minor (now Turkey).
Athens is the only EU capital without a purpose-built place of worship for its Muslim population.
Judaism has existed in Greece for more than 2,000 years. Sephardi Jews used to have a large presence in the city of Thessaloniki (by 1900, some 80,000, or more than half of the population, were Jews), but nowadays the Greek-Jewish community who survived German occupation and the Holocaust, during World War II, is estimated to number around 5,500 people.
Greek members of Roman Catholic faith are estimated at 50,000 with the Roman Catholic immigrant community approximating 200,000. Old Calendarists account for 500,000 followers. Protestants, including Greek Evangelical Church and Free Evangelical Churches, stand at about 30,000. Assemblies of God, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and other Pentecostal churches of the Greek Synod of Apostolic Church has 12,000 members. Independent Free Apostolic Church of Pentecost is the biggest Protestant denomination in Greece with 120 churches. There are not official statistics about Free Apostolic Church of Pentecost, but the Orthodox Church estimates the followers as 20,000. The Jehovah’s Witnesses report having 28,859 active members.
Regions with a traditional presence of languages other than Greek. Today, Greek is the dominant language throughout the country.
The first concrete 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 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 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, anAlbanian-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 mountaneous 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 or locally known as Slavomacedonian-speaking groups, whose members identify ethnically as Greeks in their majority. Their dialects can be linguistically classified as forms of eitherMacedonian Slavic or Bulgarian. It is estimated that in the aftermath of the population exchanges of 1923 there were somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 Slavic speakers in Greek Macedonia. The Jewish community in Greece traditionally spoke Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), today maintained only by a small group of a few thousand speakers.
The Academy of Athens is Greece’snational academy and the highest research establishment in the country.
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 4 years of age. Children start primary school aged 6 and remain there for six years. Attendance at gymnasia starts at age 12 and last for three years.
Greece’s post-compulsory secondary education consists of two school types: unified upper secondary schools (Ενιαίο Λύκειο, Eniaia Lykeia) andtechnical–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.
The Faculty of Education ofAristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Public higher education is divided into universities, “Highest Educational Institutions” (Ανώτατα Εκπαιδευτικά Ιδρύματα, Anótata Ekpaideytiká Idrýmata, “ΑΕΙ”) and “Highest Technological Educational Institutions” (Ανώτατα Τεχνολογικά Εκπαιδευτικά Ιδρύματα,Anótata Technologiká Ekpaideytiká Idrýmata, “ATEI”). 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. TheCapodistrian 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. Specialist gymnasia and high schools offering musical, theological and physical education also exist.
The Greek healthcare system is universal and is ranked as one of the best in the world. In a 2000 World Health Organization report it was ranked 14th in the overall assessment and 11th at quality of service, surpassing countries such as the United Kingdom (18th) and Germany (25th). 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 shorten the number to 77 hospitals with 36,035 beds, as a necessary reform to reduce expenses and further enchance healthacare 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 same 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 below 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 is one of the lowest in the developed world with a rate of 3.1 deaths per 1,000 live births.
The ancient theatre of Epidauruscontinues to be used for staging ancient Greek plays.
The culture of Greece has evolved over thousands of years, with its beginnings in the Mycenaean and Minoan Civilizations, continuing most notably intoClassical Greece, the Hellenistic Period, through the influence of the Roman Empire and its Greek Eastern successor the Byzantine Empire. TheOttoman Empire too had a significant influence on Greek culture, but the Greek War of Independence is credited with revitalizing Greece and giving birth to a single entity of its multi-faceted culture throughout the ages.
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. The Presocratics were from the western or the eastern colonies of Greece and only fragments of the original writings of the presocratics 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.
The manuscript of the poem “Thermopyles” (Θερμοπύλες) byConstantine P. Cavafy. Cavafy’s poems are, typically, concise but intimate evocations of real or literary figures and milieux that have played roles in Greek culture. He is considered probably the greatest modern Greek poet.
The timeline of the Greek literature can be separated into three big periods: the ancient, the Byzantine and the modern Greek 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.
Modern Greek literature refers to literature written in common Modern Greek, emerging from late Byzantine times in the 11th century AD. The Cretan Renaissance poemErotokritos 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 will prepare with their works the Greek Revolution (1821–1830).
Contemporary Greek literature is representated by many writers, poets and novelists:Dionysios Solomos, Andreas Kalvos,Angelos Sikelianos, Emmanuel Rhoides, Kostis Palamas, Penelope Delta, Yannis Ritsos, Alexandros Papadiamantis, Nikos Kazantzakis, Andreas Embeirikos, Kostas Karyotakis, Gregorios Xenopoulos, Constantine P. Cavafy, Demetrius Vikelas, while George Seferis and Odysseas Elytis have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Greek salad with additional ingredients.
Greek cuisine is as an example of the healthy Mediterranean diet (Cretan diet). Greek cuisine incorporates fresh ingredients into a variety of local dishes such as moussaka, stifado, Greek Salad, spanakopita and the world famous Souvlaki. Some dishes can be traced back to ancient Greece likeskordalia (a thick purée of potatoes, 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.
Sweet desserts such as 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 fennelseed. 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.
Mikis Theodorakis, one of the most popular Greek songwriters.
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, Eastern Europe, and the Byzantine Empire changed Greek music.
While the new technique of polyphony was developing in the West, the Eastern Orthodox Church resisted any type of change. Therefore, Byzantine musicremained 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 Tragodistis) Byzantine music was deprived of elements of which in the West encouraged an unimpeded development of art. However, the isolation of Byzantium after 1453, 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.
Cretan dancers of traditional music.
Along with the Byzantine chant, the Greek people also cultivated the Greek folk song which is divided into two cycles, the akritic and klephtic. The akritic was created between the 9th and 10th centuries A.D. 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 struggle in 1821. The klephtic cycle, together with historical songs, paraloghes (narrative song or ballad), love songs, 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 Second World War, German occupation of Greece and the Greek Civil War decisively influenced the Greek folk song. After the first World War and the 1922 débâcle, the trend towards urban living focused on Athens where popular musicians congregated and, in 1928, founded their own professional society: the Athens and Piraeus Musicians Society. Until the early years of this century, musical tradition was preserved in the villages where there was little contact with the outside world. The events and social changes of the 20th century changed Greek folk song. Once the seat of folk song was the village, now the reverse applies. The commercialised folk song spreads in all directions to the remotest villages. The authentic songs and dances have been replaced by the stylised modern “folk songs” written by contemporary musicians which they write new lyrics to authentic folk tunes, changing them enough to ensure copyright protection.
Greece is the birth place of the Olympic Games. The Panathenian stadium in Athens hosted the Olympic Games in 1896. It had also hosted Olympic Games in 1870 and 1875 (see Evangelis Zappas). The Panathenian stadium also hosted the Games in 1906 and was used to host events at the 2004 Summer Olympics.
The Greek national football team, ranked 12th in the world in 2009, won the UEFA Euro 2004 in one of the biggest surprises 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 areOlympiacos, Panathinaikos, Aris, PAOK and AEK Athens.
The Greek national basketball team has a decades-long tradition of excellence in the sport. In August 2008, it ranked 4th in the world. They have won the European Championship twice in 1987 and 2005, and have reached the final four in three of the last four FIBA World Championships, taking second place in 2006. In 2009, Greece beat France in the under-20 European Basketball championship. The domestic top basketball league, A1 Ethniki, is composed of fourteen teams. The most successful Greek teams are Panathinaikos, Olympiacos, Aris Thessaloniki and PAOK. Water polo and volleyball are also practiced widely in Greece whilecricket and handball are relatively popular in Corfu andVeroia respectively.
Zeus was the king of the ancient Greekdodekatheon.
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’ sister. The other Greek gods that made up the Twelve Olympians were Demeter, Hades, Ares, Poseidon, Athena, 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.
- Outline of Greece
- Bibliography of Greece
- Index of Greece-related articles
- Name days in Greece