Information about Greece

General Information about Greece

General Information about Greece

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country in Southeast Europe. It is situated on the southern tip of the Balkans, and is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, North 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, and the Sea of Crete and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin, featuring thousands of islands. The country consists of nine traditional geographic regions, and has a population of approximately 10.4 million. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki and Patras.

Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilization, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, Western literature, historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, theatre and 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 Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Philip II of Macedon united most of present-day Greece in the fourth century BC, with his son Alexander the Great rapidly conquering much of the ancient world, from the eastern Mediterranean to India. The subsequent Hellenistic period saw the height of Greek culture and influence in antiquity. Greece was annexed by Rome in the second century BC, becoming an integral part of the Roman Empire and its continuation, the Byzantine Empire, which was culturally and linguistically predominantly Greek.

The Greek Orthodox Church, which emerged in the first century AD, helped shape modern Greek identity and transmitted Greek traditions to the wider Orthodox world. After falling under Ottoman rule in the mid-15th century, Greece emerged as a modern nation state in 1830 following a war of independence. After European powers initiated prolonged periods of monarchial rule by a foreign family, the country fell to a military junta in 1967. Subsequently, the junta collapsed in 1974 and Greece returned to democratic governance, which has continued to this day. The country's rich historical legacy is reflected in part by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Greece is a unitary parliamentary republic, and a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy, and a high quality of life, ranking 32nd in the Human Development Index. Its economy is among the largest in the Balkans, where it is an important regional investor. 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, NATO, the OECD, the WTO, and the OSCE. Greece's unique cultural heritage, large tourism industry, prominent shipping sector and geostrategic importance classify it as a middle power.

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Interesting facts about Greece in a flash!

  • Population: 10,305,191 currently. From that number 3,154,000 inhabitants live in Athens as we speak.
  • Government: Greece’s government form is the Unitary Parliamentary Republic. The government is directly elected through the election process every four years. Every Greek citizen who is above 17 years old, is required to vote by law.
  • Greece has been a member of the European Union since 1981 and of NATO since 1952.
  • Greek is one of the oldest spoken languages in Europe since it has been spoken for more than 3.000 years. It is an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. The ancient language most closely related to it may be ancient Macedonian, which most scholars suggest may have been a dialect of Greek itself, but it is poorly attested and it is difficult to conclude.
  • Greece is famous for its long coastline. Greece's coastline measures 13,676 km (8,498 mi). 80% of Greece is mountainous.
  • 776 BC was the year that the first Olympic Games took place. Although the ancient Games were staged in Olympia, Greece, from 776 BC through 393 AD, it took 1503 years for the Olympics to return. The first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece, in 1896. The man responsible for its rebirth was a Frenchman named Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who presented the idea in 1894.
  • Democracy was born in Greece. However democracy in ancient Athens was significantly different from modern democracies. It was both more participatory and exclusive, and there were certainly no political parties in Athenian democracy.
  • Greek philosophy: The first philosopher is considered to be Thales of Miletus (c. 624 – 425 B.C.). He is credited as giving the first explanation for the origin of the world that was not mythological.
    Socrates is considered by many to be the founding father of Western philosophy—as well as one of the most enigmatic figures of ancient history.
    Plato defined thinking as ‘the talking of the soul with itself’. He taught that the soul is immortal, and that life imprisons the soul in the body.He founded his own school of thought, the Academy, in Athens, which was a hub of skeptical philosophy for 300 years and had many important students, including Aristotle.
    Aristotle is the father of western logic. He was the first to develop a formal system for reasoning. He observed that the deductive validity of any argument can be determined by its structure rather than its content, for example, in the syllogism: All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal.
  • The first historian is considered to be Herodotus (c. 484 – 425 B.C.). He is the author of the first great book of history on the Greco-Persian Wars.
  • Greece enjoys more than 250 days of sunshine -or 3,000 sunny hours- per year.
  • There is no point in Greece which is more than 85 miles or 137 kilometers from water!
  • The Acropolis of Athens was a runner-up for the New 7 Wonders of the World.
  • The Greek flag includes nine blue-and-white horizontal stripes, which stands for the nine syllables of the Greek motto “Eleftheria i Thanatos” or “Freedom or Death”. Blue represents Greece’s sea and sky, while white stands for the purity of the struggle of freedom. In the upper left corner is the traditional Greek Orthodox cross.
  • Coming to names, in Greek society name days are equally important to birthdays. Most of the Greek names are derived from religious saints and the name day is a great celebration for the family.
  • The Easter Holiday is of greater importance than the Christmas Holiday. For the Orthodox Church, the resurrection of Christ is the biggest celebration of the year. The whole country laments the death of Christ, before the mood turns festive with Easter Sunday being the climax of the celebrations.
  • The island of Ikaria is one of the five Blue Zones with one of the longest lifespans in the world. Around 30% live well into their 90s, which is on average 10 years longer than those in the rest of Europe and America. They also have much lower rates of cancer and heart disease, suffer significantly less from depression and dementia, maintain a sex life well into old age and remain physically active deep into their 90s. The secret behind these achievements is not specific, but there are a few reasons why we think this is the case. Firstly, their low-calorie diet consisting of a lot of beans and locally grown greens containing antioxidants. Secondly, an active lifestyle due to the uneven terrain that requires people to walk to get around the villages. Stress is another contributing factor or rather the lack of stress. People in Ikaria lead a simple village life, vastly different to the corporate stress of city life. They take a siesta during the middle of the day and get together to socialize over homegrown glasses of wine regularly.
  • Greece is the leading producer of sea sponges. Kalimnos is especially famous for producing sea sponges.
  • Greece has more archaeological museums than any other country in the world. The 300 national and private museums keep a huge treasure of cultural wealth, from the Neolithic to modern times
  • There are more than 6000 islands and islets scattered in the Greek Seas, but only 227 are populated.
  • Greece has more varieties of olives than any country in the world. That is why there are many varieties of Greek olives today. There are now over 60 different types of olives. Each variety has its own character. The olive varieties in Greece differ not only in size, color and shape, but also in the composition of their ingredients and thus in taste. It is the world’s 3rd leading producer of olives.