Greece Travel Information

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WWF Greece The World Wide Fund For Nature in Greece.

Facts About Greece

Background: Greece achieved its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, it gradually added neighboring islands and territories with Greek-speaking populations. Following the defeat of communist rebels in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. A military dictatorship, which in 1967 suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country, lasted seven years. Democratic elections in 1974 and a referendum created a parliamentary republic and abolished the monarchy; Greece joined the European Community or EC in 1981 (which became the EU in 1992).
Government type: parliamentary republic; monarchy rejected by referendum 8 December 1974
Capital: Athens
Currency: drachma (GRD); euro (EUR)

Geography of Greece

Location: Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey
Geographic coordinates: 39 00 N, 22 00 E
Area:
total: 131,940 sq km
land: 130,800 sq km
water: 1,140 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 1,210 km
border countries: Albania 282 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Turkey 206 km, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 228 km
Coastline: 13,676 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
territorial sea: 6 nm
Climate: temperate; mild, wet winters; hot, dry summers
Terrain: mostly mountains with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917 m
Natural resources: bauxite, lignite, magnesite, petroleum, marble, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 19%
permanent crops: 8%
permanent pastures: 41%
forests and woodland: 20%
other: 12% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 13,140 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: severe earthquakes
Environment - current issues: air pollution; water pollution
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified:  Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: strategic location dominating the Aegean Sea and southern approach to Turkish Straits; a peninsular country, possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands.

People of Greece

Greece was inhabited as early as the Paleolithic period and by 3000 BC had become home, in the Cycladic Islands, to a culture whose art remains among the most evocative in world history. In the second millennium BC, the island of Crete nurtured the maritime empire of the Minoans, whose trade reached from Egypt to Sicily. The Minoans were supplanted by the Mycenaeans of the Greek mainland, who spoke a dialect of ancient Greek. During the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires (1st-19th centuries), Greece's ethnic composition became more diverse. Since independence in 1830 and an exchange of populations with Turkey in 1923, Greece has forged a national state which claims roots reaching back 3,000 years. The Greek language dates back at least 3,500 years, and modern Greek preserves many elements of its classical predecessor.

Education
Greek education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 15. English language study is compulsory from 4th grade through high school. University education, including books, also is free, contingent upon the student's ability to meet stiff entrance requirements. Overall responsibility for education rests with the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs. Private primary and secondary schools are under the authority of the Ministry of National Education. Control is mainly exercised in matters of curriculum and competence of teaching staff, as well as financial control in connection with fee collection and increases in fees. The Greek constitution does not permit the operation of private universities in Greece. Private colleges and universities (mostly foreign), however, do have campuses in Greece in spite of the fact that their degrees are not recognized by the Greek state.

Religion
Eastern Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion in Greece and receives state funding. During the centuries of Ottoman domination, the Greek Orthodox Church preserved the Greek language and cultural identity and was an important rallying point in the struggle for independence. There is a Muslim religious minority concentrated in Thrace. Smaller religious communities in Greece include Old Calendar Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormons.

Media
The Greek media constitute a very influential institution--usually aggressive, sensationalist, and frequently irresponsible with regard to content. Objectivity as known to the U.S. media on the whole does not exist in the Greek media. Most of the media are owned by businessmen with extensive commercial interests in other sectors of the economy. They use their newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV channels to promote their commercial enterprises as well as to seek political influence.

Population: 10,668,354 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  14.98% 
15-64 years:  67.3%
65 years and over:  17.72%
Population growth rate: 0.21% 
Birth rate: 9.83 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 9.73 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 1.96 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 6.38 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  78.59 years
male:  76.03 years
female:  81.32 years
Total fertility rate: 1.33 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Greek(s)
adjective: Greek
Ethnic groups: Greek 98%, other 2%
note: the Greek Government states there are no ethnic divisions in Greece
Religions: Greek Orthodox 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7%
Languages: Greek 99% (official), English, French
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95%
male: 98%
female: 93% (1991 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Greece > Map Economy History