Greece

Greece

[grees]
Greece, Gr. Hellas or Ellas, officially Hellenic Republic, republic (2005 est. pop. 10,668,000), 50,944 sq mi (131,945 sq km), SE Europe. It occupies the southernmost part of the Balkan Peninsula and borders on the Ionian Sea in the west, on the Mediterranean Sea in the south, on the Aegean Sea in the east, on Turkey and Bulgaria in the northeast, on Macedonia in the north, and on Albania in the northwest. Athens is its capital and largest city.

Land and People

About 75% of Greece is mountainous and only about 20% of the land is arable. The country falls into four main geographical regions. Northern Greece includes portions of historic Epirus, Macedonia, and Thrace. It takes in part of the Pindus Mts. (which continue into central Greece); low-lying plains along the lower Nestos and Struma rivers; and the Khalkidhikí peninsula, on which Thessaloníki, Greece's second largest city, is located. Central Greece, situated N of the Gulf of Corinth, includes the low-lying plains of Thessaly, Attica, and Boeotia; Mt. Olympus (Ólimbos; 9,570 ft/2,917 m), the highest point in Greece; and Athens. Southern Greece is made up of the Peloponnesus. The fourth region of Greece comprises numerous islands (with a total area of c.9,600 sq mi/24,900 sq km), the most notable of which are Crete, in the Mediterranean; Kérkira, Kefallinía, Zákinthos, Lefkás, and Itháki, in the Ionian Sea; and the Cyclades, the Northern Sporades, the Dodecanese (including Rhodes, Évvoia, Lesbos, Khíos, Sámos, Límnos, Samothrace, and Thásos, in the Aegean. Greece has few rivers, none of them navigable.

The Greek people are only partly descended from the ancient Greeks, having mingled through the ages with the numerous invaders of the Balkans. Modern vernacular Greek is the official language. There is a small Turkish-speaking minority, and many Greeks also speak English and French. The Greek Orthodox Church is the established church of the country, and it includes the great majority of the population. The Greek primate is the archbishop of Athens, who recognizes the Ecumenical Patriarch of Istanbul. There is a small Muslim minority.

Economy

Historically agricultural, Greece has seen industry replace agriculture as the leading source of income; agriculture accounts for about 5% of the gross domestic product, while industry accounts for some 20%. Tourism, a part of the growing service sector, provides a vital source of revenue. The chief agricultural products are wheat, corn, barley, sugar beets, olives and olive oil, tomatoes, wine, tobacco, and potatoes. Large numbers of sheep and goats are raised.

The country's main industrial centers are Athens, Thessaloníki, Piraiévs, Pátrai, and Iráklion. The principal industries are tourism, agricultural processing, mining, petroleum refining, and the manufacture of textiles, chemicals, and metal products. The chief minerals produced are lignite, petroleum, iron ore, bauxite, lead, zinc, nickel, magnesite, and marble. Electricity is generated mainly by hydroelectric and thermal power stations. Greece has a large merchant fleet, and its chief ports are Piraiévs and Thessaloníki. There is a significant fishing industry in coastal areas.

The main exports are food and beverages, manufactured goods, petroleum products, chemicals, and textiles; the leading imports are machinery, transportation equipment, fuels, and chemicals. The principal trade partners are Germany, Italy, and France.

Government

Greece is governed under the constitution of 1975 as amended. The president, who is the head of state, is elected by the legislature for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is appointed by the president with the approval of Parliament, as is the cabinet. The 300 members of the unicameral Parliament are popularly elected to four-year terms. Administratively the country is divided into 51 prefectures and one autonomous region (Mt. Athos).

History

Ancient Greece

Important aspects of ancient Greek culture are covered in separate articles—Greek architecture, Greek art, Greek language, Greek literature, Greek music, and Greek religion. See also the articles on the cities, e.g., Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes.

At various times in its history Greece included all of Epirus, Macedonia, and Thrace, part of Asia Minor, and Magna Graecia. Archaeological remains show that Greece had a long prehistory, dating from the Neolithic Age (c.4000 B.C.). By the Bronze Age (c.2800 B.C.) important cultures had developed. The Aegean civilization had several phases, two of the most important being the Minoan civilization and the Mycenaean civilization. These cultures had disappeared by 1100 B.C. The Greek-speaking Achaeans migrated into the Peloponnesus during the 14th and 13th cent. B.C. The Aeolians and the Ionians apparently preceded the Dorians, who migrated into Greece before 1000 B.C. The Ionians, moving forth, possibly as refugees, possibly as conquerors, settled in the Ionian Islands and on the shores of Asia Minor, which became a part of the Greek world.

After the Dorian invasion, the peoples of Greece, under the influence of the divisive geography and the great variety of tribes, developed the city-state—small settlements that grew into minor kingdoms. Homeric Greece (named for the great epic poet Homer) was dependent on the agriculture of relatively unproductive fields but was already open to the sea. Although the Greeks never rivaled the Phoenicians or the later Carthaginians and Romans as mariners, the sea offered them an opportunity for expansion and commerce. In the 8th, 7th, and 6th cent. B.C., the Greeks established colonies, many of which became separate city-states, from the Black Sea and the Bosporus (where Byzantium was founded) to Sicily, S Italy (Magna Graecia), Mediterranean France, the northern shores of Africa, and Spain. These colonies had a great influence on the history of the Greek mainland, where the city-states were developing in quarrelsome freedom.

Because of their independence, the cities developed separately. However, there was a general pattern of development, which varied somewhat in each particular instance. Monarchies yielded to aristocracies, which were in turn replaced by tyrants, who usually gained power by espousing the cause of the underprivileged and by using force. Although the tyrants usually tried to establish dynasties, the hold established by their families was short-lived. Pisistratus, Hipparchus, and Hippias in Athens and the later Gelon, Dionysius the Elder, and Dionysius the Younger in Sicily were typical tyrants.

On the Greek mainland the tyrannies soon yielded to oligarchies or to democracies tempered by limited citizenship and by slaveholding; it was in Greece that the idea of political democracy came into being. Solon established a democracy in Athens. Militaristic Sparta had a unique constitutional and social development. The warring city-states had a sense of unity; all their citizens considered themselves Hellenes, and religious unity gave rise to leagues known as amphictyonies, notably the great amphictyony centered at Delphi.

The celebration of contests such as the Olympian Games also fostered unity. However, the Ionian cities in Asia Minor received little help from Greece when they revolted (499 B.C.) against Persia, which also threatened the Greek mainland, and the mainland cities were poorly united in the Persian Wars that continued until 449 B.C. Out of these successful wars, however, came the powerful surge of Greek civilization.

Athens, in particular, with the support of the Delian League as the basis of an empire, grew dramatically, and in the age of Pericles (c.495-429 B.C.) developed a culture that left its mark on the course of Western and Eastern civilization. Drama, poetry, sculpture, architecture, and philosophy flourished, and there was a vigorous intellectual life. The leading Greeks of the 5th and 4th cent. B.C. included Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Phidias, Myron, Polykleitos, Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Hippocrates. Although Athens succumbed in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) and Sparta triumphed briefly before continued fighting gave the hegemony of Greece to Corinth and Thebes, the civilization that had been created lived on.

When Philip II of Macedon attacked the warring city-states and conquered Greece by defeating the Athenians and the Thebans in the battle of Chaeronea (338 B.C.), he paved the way for his son, Alexander the Great, who spread Greek civilization over the known Western world and across Asia to India. After Alexander's death, his empire was torn apart by his warring generals (see Diadochi; Ptolemy I; Seleucus I; Antigonus I; Demetrius I) in the period from 323 to 276 B.C. Some Greek cities formed the Aetolian League to oppose Macedonian rule, but members of the Achaean League took the Macedonian side. The Greek city-states continued their rivalries, and Macedonia under the Antigonids became thoroughly Hellenized.

Incessant warfare made Greece increasingly weak, while Rome grew stronger. In 146 B.C., after the Fourth Macedonian War (see Macedon), the remnants of the Greek states fell definitively into the hands of Rome. Under Roman rule, the cities long retained a measure of independence and intellectual life, but had little political or economic importance. Hellenism, however, had triumphed, and Greek intellectual supremacy continued for many centuries. The Byzantine Empire was thoroughly Greek in origin, and Hellenistic civilization, centered at Alexandria, Pergamum, Dura, and other cities, spread Greek influence and preserved the Greek heritage for later ages. The Greeks were the first to write narrative secular history, and the works of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Polybius are basic sources of events and contemporary ideas as well as classics of world literature.

Medieval Greece to Ottoman Rule

From the division (A.D. 395) of the Roman Empire into East and West until the conquest (15th cent.) of Greece by the Ottoman Turks, Greece shared the fortunes and vicissitudes of the Byzantine Empire. The victory (378) of the Visigoths over Emperor Valens at Adrianople marked the beginning of the frequent and devastating barbarian invasions of Greece; the Huns, Avars, Slavs, and Bulgars followed.

Greek power and prestige were restored by the Macedonian dynasty of Byzantine emperors (867-1025); however, the center of the Greek world was Constantinople, not Greece proper. In the 11th cent. the Seljuk Turks began making inroads into the empire, the Normans attacked Epirus, and the Crusades commenced. The Fourth Crusade led in 1204 to the temporary disintegration of the Byzantine Empire and the creation of a feudal state (see Constantinople, Latin Empire of) under the rule of French, Flemish, and Italian nobles and of Venice.

The restored Byzantine Empire (1261-1453) recovered only parts of Greece, most of which continued under the rule of French and Italian princes until conquered by the Ottoman Turks (completed in 1456). Genoa held Khíos until 1566; Venice retained Crete until 1669 and the Ionian Islands until 1797. In its numerous wars with the Ottomans, Venice also held Athens, Évvoia, and several other ports and islands for brief intermittent periods prior to 1718.

Under the Ottoman Empire, Greece was merely one of many exploited territories. The Turks practiced religious tolerance, but otherwise their regime was grasping and oppressive. Many Greek families (notably the Phanariots; see under Phanar) were important in the administration of the empire, and the Greek merchants living in Constantinople and in the ports of Asia Minor, notably Izmir (Smyrna), were very prosperous; but Greece itself languished in obscurity and poverty.

The Struggle for Independence

In the early 19th cent. the desire of the Greeks for independence was stimulated by growing nationalism, by the influence of the French Revolution, by the Turkish reverses in the Russo-Turkish Wars, by the rebellion (1820) of Ali Pasha against the Ottoman Empire, and by the sympathetic attitude of Alexander I of Russia, whose foreign minister, Capo d'Istria, was Greek. In 1821 the Greek War of Independence began under the leadership of Alexander and Demetrios Ypsilanti. European sentiment was overwhelmingly in favor of the Greek cause; financial aid poured in, and many foreign volunteers (of whom Lord Byron was the most celebrated) joined the Greek forces.

Russia and Great Britain agreed (1826) to mediate between the Greeks and Turkey, and in 1827 the Greek political factions set aside their bitter rivalries to elect Capo d'Istria president of Greece. Great Britain, Russia, and France joined in demanding an armistice. Turkey having refused, the allied fleets attacked and defeated the fleet of Muhammad Ali, viceroy of Egypt and the Ottoman sultan's chief supporter against the Greeks, in the battle of Navarino (1827). Only Russia, however, declared war (1828) on Turkey. Defeated, Turkey accepted the Treaty of Adrianople (1829; see Adrianople, Treaty of) and recognized Greek autonomy.

In 1832, Greece obtained from the European powers recognition of its independence. The powers chose, and Greece accepted (1832), a Bavarian prince as king of the Hellenes. Otto I proved authoritarian and unpopular. He was pressured into promulgating a constitution in 1844, and in 1862 he was forced to abdicate. Otto was succeeded by a Danish prince, who as George I (reigned 1863-1913) introduced (1864) a new constitution establishing a unicameral parliament.

Great Britain ceded (1864) the Ionian Islands, and in 1881 Greece acquired Thessaly and part of Epirus. Because of British opposition, Greece was unable to annex Crete during a major insurrection (1866-69) there against Ottoman rule. Continued irredentist agitation to absorb Crete led to the Greco-Turkish War of 1897; Greece was defeated, but because of the pressure of the powers Crete was eventually made independent and later (1913) incorporated into Greece.

The Balkan Wars to the 1930s

Venizelos and Zaïmis were the leading Greek political figures from the late 1890s to the mid-1930s. In the Balkan Wars (1912-13) Greece obtained SE Macedonia and W Thrace; the frontier with newly independent Albania gave a larger part of Epirus to Greece, but neither country was satisfied, and the area remained in dispute until 1971, when Greece, at least temporarily, dropped its claims to N Epirus. George I was assassinated in 1913 and was succeeded by Constantine I.

In World War I, Venizelos, who favored the Allies, negotiated (1915) an agreement allowing them to land troops at Thessaloníki (see Salonica campaigns). However, King Constantine, who favored neutrality, refused to aid the Allies and dismissed Venizelos as prime minister. Venizelos organized (1916) a government at Thessaloníki, and in 1917 Allied pressure led to Constantine's abdication in favor of his younger son, Alexander. Venizelos again became premier, and Greece fully entered the war. At the peace conference (see Neuilly, Treaty of; Sèvres, Treaty of) Greece received the Bulgarian coast on the Aegean and the remnants of European Turkey including E Thrace and the Dodecanese (except Rhodes) but excluding the Zone of the Straits. Izmir was placed under Greek administration pending a plebiscite.

Encouraged by the Allies, the Greeks invaded (1921) Asia Minor, but were defeated (1922) by the Turkish forces of Kemal Atatürk. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) restored the Maritsa River as the Greco-Turkish frontier in Europe. A separate agreement provided for the compulsory exchange of populations. Under the supervision of a League of Nations commission about 1.5 million Greeks of Asia Minor were resettled in Greece and about 800,000 Turks and 80,000 Bulgarians left Greece and were repatriated in their respective countries. Constantine, who had returned after the death (1920) of King Alexander, was again deposed in 1922. George II succeeded Alexander, but was soon also deposed (1923), and in 1924 a republic was proclaimed and then confirmed by a plebiscite.

The years 1924-35 were marked by unsettled economic conditions and by violent political strife (including coups and countercoups), in which Paul Kondouriotis, Theodore Pangalos, George Kondylis, Panayoti Tsaldaris, Zaïmis, and Venizelos were the chief protagonists. The defeat (1935) of the rebelling Venizelists in Crete marked the end of the republic. Kondylis ousted Tsaldaris and arranged for a plebiscite that resulted in the restoration of the monarchy and the return of George II. In 1936, Premier John Metaxas, supported by the king, established a dictatorship, ostensibly to avert a Communist takeover of the country. In foreign relations, Greece abandoned its anti-Turkish policy by establishing (1934) the Balkan Entente with Yugoslavia, Romania, and Turkey.

World War II and Civil War

When World War II broke out (1939) Greece remained neutral. In Oct., 1940, however, Italy, after a farcical ultimatum, invaded Greece. The Greeks resisted successfully, carrying the war into S Albania. Metaxas, who had strong pro-German leanings, died in Jan., 1941. When Germany began to gather troops on the Greek borders, Greece allowed the landing (Mar., 1941) of a small British expeditionary force, but by the end of April the Greek mainland was in German hands, and in May Crete fell. The Greek government fled to Cairo, then to Great Britain, and in 1943 settled in Cairo. The German occupation, in which Bulgarian and Italian troops also took part, plunged Greece into abject misery, including an acute shortage of food. Resistance grew despite ruthless reprisals, and successive puppet governments were failures. Guerrilla bands controlled large rural areas.

In 1943 sporadic civil war began between the Communist guerrilla group (EAM-ELAS) and the royalist group (EDES). The guerrillas held most of Greece after the Germans began to withdraw in Sept., 1944. British troops landed, and by November all Germans were expelled. The appalling financial and economic conditions faced by the Greek government on its return (Oct., 1944) to Athens were complicated by an explosive political situation. In Dec., 1944, fighting broke out in Athens between British troops and the EAM-ELAS, which ignored the British order to disarm. Upon the intervention of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, an uneasy truce was arranged (Feb., 1945), and a regency was established under Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens.

Cabinets replaced each other in rapid succession, until elections (Mar., 1946) returned a royalist majority. In Sept., 1946, a plebiscite decided in favor of the return of George II, the reigning monarch; George died in 1947 and was succeeded by his brother Paul. Also in 1946, guerrilla warfare was renewed; Communist-led bands were successful in the northern mountain districts. Charges by the Greek government, supported by Britain and the United States, that Albania, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria were aiding the Communist rebels created great controversy at the United Nations between the Western and Soviet blocs. As the civil war continued and Great Britain felt unable to extend further financial and military support to the Greek government, U.S. President Harry S. Truman announced (Mar., 1947) the "Truman Doctrine," under which the United States sent a group of officers to advise the Greek army and eventually gave Greece about $400 million in military and economic aid. In Dec., 1947, the Communists, led by Markos Vafiades, proclaimed a rival government of the country. However, by late 1949, the rebels, having suffered severe military setbacks and no longer receiving aid from Yugoslavia (which had defected from the Soviet bloc in 1948), ceased open hostilities.

The civil war was marked by brutality on both sides. Economic conditions were miserable, and charges of incompetence and corruption were made against the Greek government by non-Communists as well as by Communists. Political freedom was curtailed, and the Communist party was outlawed. The legislature, dominated by the Populist (royalist) party headed by Constantine Tsaldaris, operated under the 1911 constitution, which it was empowered to revise.

Constitutional Government

Government was unstable in 1950-51, but after a new constitution was ratified in 1951 and elections were held in 1952, Field Marshal Papagos became premier with a majority in the legislature. Greece was a charter member of the UN, and in 1951 it was admitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). When Papagos died in 1955, he was succeeded by Constantine Karamanlis, whose National Radical Union party increased its majority in subsequent elections (1956, 1958, 1961). Under Papagos and Karamanlis, the Greek economy improved considerably, despite a series of damaging earthquakes in 1953-54; the United States continued to give Greece considerable economic and military aid. In 1954, Greece signed an alliance with Turkey and Yugoslavia, but friction with Turkey (and also with Great Britain) soon arose over the sovereignty of Cyprus, the majority of whose population is ethnically Greek, and continued after Cyprus became independent in 1960. The moderately liberal Center Union gained a plurality of seats in the legislature in elections in 1963, but its leader George Papandreou failed to win a vote of confidence for his government, and new elections were held in 1964. This time the Center Union gained a majority of seats and Papandreou became prime minister. Also in 1964, Paul died and was succeeded by his son, Constantine II.

In mid-1965, Gen. George Grivas accused Papandreou's son Andreas (an economist who had taught in the United States) of helping to organize a secret leftist group among army officers; similar accusations against both Papandreous were made by the defense minister. In the resulting furor Constantine forced the resignation of George Papandreou, who long had been an opponent of the monarchy. After a period of uncertainty, a new government headed by Stefanos Stephanopoulos was formed in Sept., 1965. This government fell in Dec., 1965, and Constantine authorized Ioannis Paraskevopoulos to form an extraparliamentary government pending elections set for May, 1967. Paraskevopoulos gained the support of George Papandreou and of Panayotis Kanellopoulos, the leader of the National Radical Union, but was forced to resign in Mar., 1967, and was replaced as prime minister by Kanellopoulos.

Military Rule

Before the elections (which the Center Union seemed likely to win) could be held, rightist army officers staged (Apr. 21, 1967) a successful coup, claiming that a Communist takeover of Greece was imminent. Constantine Kollias was made prime minister, but real power was held by three army officers, George Papadopoulos, Gregory Spandidakis, and Stylianos Patakos. Many liberals and leftists were placed under arrest, and rigid controls were placed over Greek life. After failing in a countercoup (Dec., 1967), Constantine went into exile. Shortly thereafter, Gen. George Zoitakis was made regent, and Papadopoulos and Patakos, after resigning their army posts, became, respectively, prime minister and deputy prime minister. Some clandestine opposition groups were organized in Greece, and there was international protest against the dictatorial ways of the new regime.

In 1968, a new constitution that drastically curtailed the power of the monarchy and expanded that of the prime minister was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum. Controls over Greek life were relaxed somewhat, and most political prisoners had been released by the early 1970s. In 1972, Papadopoulos, by then the most powerful person in the country, also assumed the post of regent. In May, 1973, members of the navy staged an unsuccessful coup. In June, 1973, the monarchy was abolished, and Greece became a presidential republic. After this move was approved by a plebiscite later in the year, Papadopoulos became provisional president, and Spyros Markezinis replaced him as prime minister. In an effort to eliminate the remaining traces of military rule and thus to gain greater international acceptance of the new order in Greece, elections were scheduled for 1974. However, on Nov. 25, 1973, Papadopoulos was ousted in a bloodless military coup led by Lt. Gen. Phaedon Gizikis, who became president.

The New Greece

In the aftermath of its failure to gain control of Cyprus by political manipulation there, the Gizikis government, in July, 1974, voluntarily turned over power to a civilian government headed by Karamanlis, who returned from exile. Most exiled politicians (notably Andreas Papandreou) returned to Greece, all political parties (including the Communist party) were allowed to operate freely, and the 1951 constitution was reinstated. In a 1974 referendum, Greek voters rejected reestablishing the monarchy in favor of a presidential parliamentary republic. Karamanlis and the New Democratic Party were reelected and retained their majority in 1977. In 1980, Karamanlis was elected to a five-year term as president, and Giorgios Rallis succeeded him as prime minister. In 1981, Greece became a member of the European Community (now the European Union).

The Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok), under Papandreou, won majorities in the elections of 1981 and 1984, ending 35 years of pro-Western, conservative rule. Under the Socialist governments of the 1980s, support of the public sector grew, and many state-owned businesses continued to lose money. Pasok failed to retain power in 1989, but three elections were needed before the conservative New Democratic party secured a parliamentary majority of one vote in 1990. Constantine Mitsotakis then became premier, and Karamanlis was elected president for a second time. Facing a record deficit and high inflation, the Mitsotakis government instituted a severe austerity program and started large-scale privatization of state-owned industries.

In the 1993 elections, Pasok regained power, with Papandreou as premier, and privatization programs were cut back. A dispute with Yugoslav Macedonia was resolved in 1995 when the new republic agreed to modify its flag and renounce any territorial claims against Greece, but the neighboring nation's use of the name Macedonia continued to objectionable to Greece. Karamanlis retired as president in 1995 and was succeeded by Costis Stephanopoulos, who was reelected in 2000.

In Jan., 1996, Papandreou, who was then severely ill, resigned and was replaced by the moderate Socialist Costas Simitis, who continued economic reforms aimed at shrinking Greece's welfare state and preparing the nation to participate in the European Union's single currency (the euro), which was adopted by Greece in 2001. Thoughout the 1980s and 1990s Greece's ongoing disputes with Turkey over Cyprus and the status of the Aegean Sea resisted solution, but relations with Turkey began to improve in 1999 after both nations were separately hit by earthquakes and sent aid to each other.

In 2000, Simitis and Pasok retained power after a narrow victory in the general election. Although the economy generally improved under the Socialists, the unemployment rate remained high and corruption scandales hurt the party. In the 2004 elections the New Democratic party won a majority in parliament, and Costas Karamanlis, nephew of the former president, became premier. Karolos Papoulias was elected president in 2005, succeeding Costis Stephanopoulos. In Aug., 2007, Greece experienced the worst outbreak of wildfires since perhaps the late 1800s; the fires were particularly devastating in the W Peloponnesus. The perceived slow government response to the fires contributed to New Democratic losses in the Sept., 2007, parliamentary elections, but Karamanlis's government nonetheless narrowly retained power. In Jan., 2008, Karamanlis made an official visit to Turkey, the first by a Greek prime minister in half a century.

In 2008, several government scandals, the effects of the international economic downturn, and days of rioting in December sparked by the shooting of a teenager greatly diminished public support for the government. In Aug., 2009, raging wildfires outside Athens, though less destructive than those of 2007, led to renewed criticism of government preparedness and planning. When Karamanlis called a snap election for Oct., 2009, Pasok secured a majority in the parliament and George Papandreou, Andreas's son, became premier. A sizable budget deficit forced the new government to adopted an austerity budget for 2010 amid fears that Greece could default on its significant debt obligations. In Jan., 2010, the European Commission condemned Greece for deliberately misreporting past government financial data, and said that its national debt could be greater than expected.

Bibliography

Ancient Greece

The histories of ancient Greece by A. Holm (tr., 4 vol., 1894-98) and G. Grote (rev. ed., 12 vol., 1906-38) were long standard and are still useful. See also W. Jaeger, Paideia (tr., 3 vol., 1943-45); W. G. Forrest, The Emergence of Greek Democracy, 800-400 B.C. (1967); M. I. Rostovtsev, Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World (3 vol., 1941, repr. 1986); V. Ehrenberg, From Solon to Socrates (1973); J. B. Bury, The History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great (4th ed., rev. by R. Meiggs, 1975); K. J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (1978); M. M. Austin, The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest (1981); M. I. Finley, Early Greece (1982); J. V. Fine, The Ancient Greeks (1983); E. S. Gruen, The Hellenistic World and the Coming of Rome (2 vol., 1984); N. G. Hammond, A History of Greece to 322 B.C. (3d ed. 1986); D. Kagan, The Fall of the Athenian Empire (1987); J.-P. Descoendres, Greek Colonists and Native Populations (1989). See also E. R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational (1951, repr. 2004); M. I. Finley, The World of Odysseus (2d ed. 1977); J. Davidson, Courtesans & Fishcakes (1998).

Later Greece

See E. O'Ballance, The Greek Civil War, 1944-49 (1966); G. Finlay, A History of Greece (7 vol., 1877; repr. 1970); A. G. Papandreou, Democracy at Gunpoint (1970); D. Dakin, The Unification of Greece: 1770-1923 (1972); D. Eudes, The Kapetanios, Partisans and Civil War in Greece, 1943-1949 (tr., 1972); A. F. Freris, The Greek Economy in the Twentieth Century (1986); T. Bahcheli, Greek-Turkish Relations Since 1955 (1988); R. Clogg, A Short History of Modern Greece (1988); Y. A. Kourvetaris and B. A. Dobratz, A Profile of Modern Greece (1988); J. V. Kofas, Intervention and Underdevelopment: Greece During the Cold War (1989); T. Boatswain and C. Nicolson, A Traveller's History of Greece (1990).

officially Hellenic Republic

Country, Balkan Peninsula, southeastern Europe. Area: 50,949 sq mi (131,957 sq km). Population (2005 est.): 11,088,000. Capital: Athens. The people are predominantly Greek. Language: Greek (official). Religion: Christianity (predominantly Eastern Orthodox [official]). Currency: euro. The land, with its 2,000-odd islands and extensive coastline, is intimately linked with the sea. About one-fifth of this mountainous country consists of lowland, much of this as coastal plains along the Aegean or as mountain valleys and small plains near river mouths. The interior is dominated by the Pindus Mountains, which extend from Albania on Greece's northwestern border into the Peloponnese. Mount Olympus is the country's highest peak. Among the Greek islands are the Aegean and Ionian groups and Crete. The climate is Mediterranean. Greece has an advanced developing economy characterized mainly by private enterprise and based on agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism. It is a multiparty republic with one legislative house; the chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. The earliest urban society in Greece was the palace-centred Minoan civilization, which reached its height on Crete circa 2000 BC. It was succeeded by the mainland Mycenaean civilization, which arose circa 1600 BC following a wave of Indo-European invasions. About 1200 BC a second wave of invasions destroyed the Bronze Age cultures, and a Dark Age followed, known mostly through the epics of Homer. At the end of this time, Classical Greece began to emerge (circa 750 BC) as a collection of independent city-states, including Sparta in the Peloponnese and Athens in Attica. The civilization reached its zenith after repelling the Persians at the beginning of the 5th century BC (see Persian Wars) and began to decline after the civil strife of the Peloponnesian War at the century's end. In 338 BC the Greek city-states were taken over by Philip II of Macedon, and Greek culture was spread by Philip's son Alexander the Great throughout his empire. The Romans, themselves heavily influenced by Greek culture, conquered the city-states in the 2nd century BC. After the fall of Rome, Greece remained part of the Byzantine Empire until the mid-15th century, when it became part of the expanding Ottoman Empire; it gained its independence in 1832. It was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II. Civil war followed and lasted until 1949, when communist forces were defeated. In 1952 Greece joined NATO. A military junta ruled the country from 1967 to 1974, when democracy was restored and a referendum declared an end to the Greek monarchy. In 1981 Greece joined the European Community (see European Union), the first eastern European country to do so. Upheavals in the Balkans in the 1990s strained Greece's relations with some neighbouring states, including the former Yugoslav entity that became the Republic of Macedonia. Greece revised its constitution in 2001.

Learn more about Greece with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Greece (Ελλάδα, transliterated: Elláda , historically Ἑλλάς, Ellás, ), officially the Hellenic Republic (Ελληνική Δημοκρατία, Ellīnikī́ Dīmokratía, ), is a country in southeastern Europe, situated on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. It has borders with Albania, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the north, and Turkey to the east. The Aegean Sea lies to the east and south of mainland Greece, while the Ionian Sea lies to the west. Both parts of the Eastern Mediterranean basin feature a vast number of islands.

Greece lies at the juncture of Europe, Asia and Africa. It is heir to the heritages of ancient Greece, the Roman and Byzantine Empires, and nearly four centuries of Ottoman rule. Greece is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama including both tragedy and comedy.

Greece is a developed country, a member of the European Union since 1981, a member of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union since 2001, NATO since 1952, the OECD since 1961, the WEU since 1995 and ESA since 2005. Athens is the capital; Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Volos, Ioannina, Larissa and Kavala are some of the country's other major cities.

History

The shores of the Aegean sea saw the emergence of the first advanced civilizations in Europe, the Minoan civilization in Crete and the Mycenean civilization on the mainland. Later, city-states emerged across the Greek peninsula and spread to the shores of Black Sea, South Italy and Asia Minor reaching great levels of prosperity that resulted in an unprecedented cultural boom, expressed in architecture, 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 Macedon, with the latter under the guidance of Alexander the Great uniting and leading the Greek world to victory over the Persians, to presage the Hellenistic era, itself brought only partially to a close two centuries later with the establishment of Roman rule over Greek lands in 146 BC.

The subsequent mixture of Roman and Hellenic cultures took form in the establishment of the Byzantine Empire in 330 AD around Constantinople, which remained a major cultural and military power for the next 1,123 years, until its fall at the hands of Ottomans in 1453. On the eve of the Ottoman era the Greek intelligentsia migrated to Western Europe, playing a significant role in the Western European Renaissance through the transferring of works of Ancient Greeks to Western Europe. Nevertheless, the Ottoman millet system contributed to the cohesion of the Orthodox Greeks by segregating the various peoples within the Ottoman 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 fought against the Ottoman Empire from 1821 to 1829, the nascent Greek state was finally recognized under the London Protocol. In 1827, Ioannis Kapodistrias, a noble Greek from the Ionian Islands, was chosen as the first governor of the new Republic. However, following his assassination, the Great Powers soon 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 1863 and replaced by Prince Vilhelm (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, a dominant figure of the Greek political scene who is attributed with the 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.

As a result of the Balkan Wars, Greece successfully increased the extent of her territory and population, a challenging context both socially and economically. 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 bitterly hostile factions.

In the aftermath of WW I, 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. Instability and successive coups d'etat marked the following era, which was overshadowed by the massive task of incorporating 1.5 million Greek refugees from Asia Minor into Greek society. 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.

After liberation, Greece experienced a bitter civil war between Royalist and Communist forces, which led to economic devastation and severe social tensions between its Rightists and largely Communist Leftists for the next 30 years. The next 20 years were characterized by marginalisation of the left in the political and social spheres but also by a significant economic growth, propelled in part by the Marshall Plan.

In 1965, a period of political turbulence led to a coup d’etat on 21 April 1967 by the US-backed Regime of the Colonels. On November 1973 the Athens Polytechnic Uprising sent shock waves across the regime, and a counter-coup established Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannides as dictator. On 20 July 1974, as Turkey invaded the island of Cyprus, the regime collapsed.

Former premier Constantine Karamanlis was invited back from Paris where he had lived in self-exile since 1963, marking the beginning of the Metapolitefsi era. On the 14 August 1974 Greek forces withdrew from the integrated military structure of NATO in protest at the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus. In 1975 a democratic republican constitution was activated and the monarchy abolished by a referendum held that same year. Meanwhile, Andreas Papandreou founded the Panhellenic Socialist Party, or PASOK, in response to Constantine Karamanlis' New Democracy party, with the two political formations dominating Greek political affairs in the ensuing decades. Greece rejoined NATO in 1980. Relations with neighbouring Turkey have improved substantially over the last decade, since successive earthquakes hit both nations in the summer of 1999 (see Greece-Turkey earthquake diplomacy), and today Athens is an active supporter of Turkey's bid for EU membership.

Greece became the tenth member of the European Union on 1 January 1981 and ever since the nation has experienced a 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 organised the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Government and politics

Greece is a parliamentary republic. The 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 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.

According to the Constitution, executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic and the Government. The Constitutional amendment of 1986 the President's duties were curtailed to a significant extent, and they are now largely ceremonial. 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. The Prime Minister exercises vast political power, and the amendment of 1986 further strengthened his position to the detriment of the President of the Republic.

Legislative power is 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 and the social-democratic Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). Other significant parties include the Communist Party of Greece, the Coalition of the Radical Left and the Popular Orthodox Rally. The current prime minister is Kostas Karamanlis, president of the New Democracy party and nephew of the late Constantine Karamanlis, who won a second term on 16 September 2007, acquiring a slimmer majority in the Parliament with only 152 out of 300 seats.

Peripheries and prefectures

Administratively, Greece consists of thirteen peripheries subdivided into a total of fifty-one prefectures (nomoi, singular nomos). There is also one autonomous area, Mount Athos (Agio Oros, "Holy Mountain"), which borders the periphery of Central Macedonia.

Map Number Periphery Capital Area Population
1 Attica Athens 3,808 km² 3,761,810
2 Central Greece Lamia 15,549 km² 605,329
3 Central Macedonia Thessaloniki 18,811 km² 1,871,952
4 Crete Heraklion 8,259 km² 601,131
5 East Macedonia and Thrace Komotini 14,157 km² 611,067
6 Epirus Ioannina 9,203 km² 353,820
7 Ionian Islands Corfu 2,307 km² 212,984
8 North Aegean Mytilene 3,836 km² 206,121
9 Peloponnese Kalamata 15,490 km² 638,942
10 South Aegean Ermoupoli 5,286 km² 302,686
11 Thessaly Larissa 14.037 km² 753,888
12 West Greece Patras 11,350 km² 740,506
13 West Macedonia Kozani 9,451 km² 301,522
- Mount Athos (Autonomous) Karyes 390 km² 2,262

Geography

Greece consists of a mountainous mainland jutting out into the sea at the southern end of the Balkans, the Peloponnesus peninsula (separated from the mainland by the canal of the Isthmus of Corinth), and numerous islands (around 2,000), including Crete, Euboea, Lesbos, Chios, the Dodecanese and the Cycladic groups of the Aegean Sea as well as the Ionian Sea islands. Greece has the tenth longest coastline in the world with ; its land boundary is .

Four fifths of Greece consist of mountains or hills, making the country one of the most mountainous in Europe. Western Greece contains a number of lakes and wetlands and it is dominated by the Pindus mountain range. Pindus has a maximum elevation of and it is essentially a prolongation of the Dinaric Alps.

The range continues through the western 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. Most notably, the impressive Meteora formation consisting of high, steep boulders provides a breathtaking experience for the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the area each year.

The Vikos-Aoos Gorge is yet another spectacular formation and a popular hotspot for those fond of extreme sports. Mount Olympus, a focal point of Greek culture throughout history is host to the Mytikas peak , the highest in the country. Once considered the throne of the Gods, it is today extremely popular among hikers and climbers. Moreover, northeastern Greece features yet 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. The famous Dadia forest is in the prefecture of Evros, in the far northeast of the country.

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, Rodope montane mixed forests, Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests and Crete Mediterranean forests.

Climate

The climate of Greece can be categorised into three types (the Mediterranean, the Alpine and the Temperate) that influence well-defined regions of its territory.The Pindus mountain range strongly affects the climate of the country by making the western side of it (areas prone to the south-westerlies) wetter on average than the areas lying to the east of it (lee side of the mountains).The Mediterranean type of climate features mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The Cyclades, the Dodecanese, Crete, Eastern Peloponessus and parts of the Sterea Ellada region are mostly affected by this particular type of climate. Temperatures rarely reach extreme values along the coasts, although, with Greece being a highly mountainous country, snowfalls occur frequently in winter. It sometimes snows even in the Cyclades or the Dodecanese.

The Alpine type is dominant mainly in the mountainous areas of Northwestern Greece (Epirus, Central Greece, Thessaly, Western Macedonia) as well as in the central parts of Peloponnese, including the prefectures of Achaia, Arcadia and parts of Laconia, where extensions of the Pindus mountain range pass by). Finally, the Temperate type affects Central Macedonia and East Macedonia and Thrace; it features cold, damp winters and hot, dry summers. Athens is located in a transitional area featuring both the Mediterranean and the Temperate types. The city's northern suburbs are dominated by the temperate type while the downtown area and the southern suburbs enjoy a typical Mediterranean type.

Economy

After World War II, Greece experienced the "Greek economic miracle"; GDP growth averaged 7% between 1950 and 1973. Since then Greece has implemented of a number of structural and fiscal reforms while receiving considerable European Union funding. In 2001 Greece joined the Economic and Monetary Union. Annual growth of Greek GDP has surpassed the respective levels of most of its EU partners. Today, the service industry makes up the largest, most vital and fastest-growing sector of the Greek economy, followed by industry and agriculture. 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.

Greece is a leading investor in all of her Balkan neighbors with the National Bank of Greece in 2006 acquiring the 46% of Turkish Finansbank and 99.44% of Serbia's Vojvođanska Bank.The manufacturing sector accounts for about 13% of GDP with the food industry leading in growth, profit and export potential. The public sector accounts for about 40% of GDP, with the government however taking measures to decrease it further. High-technology equipment production, especially for telecommunications, is also a fast-growing sector. Other important areas include textiles, building materials, machinery, transport equipment, and electrical appliances. At 10% of GDP, construction is one of the main pillars of the economy, with the sector experiencing a boom due to the Athens Olympics of 2004. Agriculture, at 7%, is the final important sector of Greek economic activity.

The Greek labor force totals 4.9 million, and it is the second most industrious in the world, after South Korea. The Groningen Growth & Development Centre has published a poll revealing that between 1995 - 2005, Greece was the country with the largest work/hour ratio among European nations; Greeks worked an average of 1,900 hours per year, followed by the Spanish (average of 1,800 hours/year). In 2007, the average worker made around 20 dollars, similar to Spain and slightly more than half of average U.S. hourly income. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, occupied mainly in agricultural and construction work.

Greece's purchasing power-adjusted GDP per capita is the world's 28th highest. According to the International Monetary Fund it has an estimated average per capita income of $35,166 for the year 2007, comparable to that of Germany, France or Italy and approximately equal to the EU average. Greece ranks 24th in the 2006 HDI, 22nd on The Economist's 2005 world-wide quality-of-life index. According to a survey by the Economist, the cost of living in Athens is close to 90% of the costs in New York; in rural regions it is lower.

An important percentage of Greece's income comes from tourism. In 2007, Greece welcomed more than 19 million tourists, and climbed to the top ten tourist destinations worldwide. The island of Rhodes was announced the best European tourist destination. Other known tourist sites are the capital Athens, and the island resort of Myconos.

Maritime industry

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 Onassis and 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 United States Government through the Ship Sales Act of the 1940s. According to the BTS, the Greek-owned maritime fleet is today the largest in the world, with 3,079 vessels accounting for 18% of the world's fleet capacity (making it the largest of any other country) with a total dwt of 141,931 thousand (142 million dwt). In terms of ship categories, Greece ranks first in both tankers and dry bulk 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 70's.

Science and technology

Because of its strategic location, qualified workforce and political and economic stability, many multinational companies such as Ericsson, Siemens, SAP, Motorola and Coca-Cola have their regional R&D Headquarters in Greece.

The General Secretariat for Research and Technology of the Hellenic Ministry of Development is responsible for designing, implementing and supervising national research and technological policy.

In 2003, public spending on R&D was 456,37 million Euros (12,6% increase from 2002). Total research and development (R&D) spending (both public and private) as a percentage of GDP has increased considerably since the beginning of the past decade, from 0,38% in 1989, to 0,65% in 2001. R&D spending in Greece remains 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.

Greece's technology parks with incubator facilities include the Science and Technology Park of Crete (Heraklion), the Thessaloniki Technology Park,the Lavrio Technology Park and the Patras Science ParkGreece 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 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 Security Initiative.

International relations

Greece is a major participant in most large scale international bodies, with the geographic significance of the region proving advantageous for diplomatic, trade and political crossroads.

BIS, BSEC, CCC, CE, EAPC, EBRD, ECA (associate), ECE, ECLAC, EIB, EMU, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, NATO, OECD, OSCE, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, WEU,WHO, WIPO, WMO.

Most recently, Greece was elected by the United Nations General Assembly to the United Nations Security Council, on 15 October 2004, as a non-permanent member for 2005 and 2006.

Demographics

The official Statistical body of Greece is the National Statistical Service of Greece (NSSG). According to the NSSG, Greece's total population in 2001 was 10,964,020. That figure is divided into 5,427,682 males and 5,536,338 females. 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 municipalities in 2001 were: Athens, Thessaloniki, Piraeus, Patras, Iraklio, Larissa, and Volos.

Throughout the 20th century, millions of Greeks had migrated to the US, UK, Australia and Germany, creating a thriving diaspora that accounts today almost 6 million people. The migration trend however was reversed after the important improvements of Greek economy since the 80's.

Minorities

The only minority in Greece that has a specially recognized legal status is the Muslim minority (Μουσουλμανική μειονότητα, Mousoulmanikí meionótita) in Thrace, which amounts to approximately 0.95% of the total population. Its members are predominantly of Turkish, Pomak and Roma ethnic origins. Other recognized minorities include approximately 35,000 Armenians and 5,500 Jews.

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. 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 mountaneous central Greece. Members of these groups ethnically identfiy as Greeks and are today all at least bilingual in Greek. In many areas their traditional languages are today only maintained by the older generations and are on the verge of extinction.

In northern Greece there are also Slavic-speaking groups, whose members identify ethnically as Greeks in their majority. Their dialects can be linguistically classified as forms of either Macedonian (locally called Slavomacedonian or simply Slavic), or Bulgarian (distinguished as Pomak in the case of the Bulgarophone Muslim Pomaks of Thrace).

Immigration

Due to the complexity of Greek immigration policy, practices and data collection, truly reliable data on immigrant populations in Greece is difficult to gather and therefore subject to much speculation. A study from the Mediterranean Migration Observatory maintains that the 2001 Census from the NSSG recorded 762,191 persons residing in Greece without Greek citizenship, constituting around 7% of total population and that, of these, 48,560 were EU or EFTA nationals and 17,426 Cypriots with privileged status. People from the Balkan countries of Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania make up almost two-thirds of the total foreign population. Migrants from the former Soviet Union (Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Moldava, etc.) comprise 10% of the total.

The greatest cluster of non-EU immigrant population is in the Municipality of Athens –some 132,000 immigrants, at 17% of local population. Thessaloniki is the second largest cluster, with 27,000, reaching 7% of local population. After this, the predominant areas of location are the big cities environs and the agricultural areas. At the same time, Albanians constituted some 56% of total immigrants, followed by Bulgarians (5%), Georgians (3%) and Romanians (3%). Americans, Cypriots, British and Germans appeared as sizeable foreign communities at around 2% each of total foreign population. The rest were around 690,000 persons of non-EU or non-homogeneis (of non-Greek heritage) status.

According to the same study, the foreign population (documented and undocumented) residing in Greece may in reality figure upwards to 8.5% or 10.3%, that is approximately meaning 1.15 million - if immigrants with homogeneis cards are accounted for.

Religion

The constitution of Greece recognizes the Greek Orthodox faith as the "prevailing" religion 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 State Department, an estimated 97% of Greek citizens identify themselves as Greek Orthodox. In the Eurostat - Eurobarometer poll of 2005, 81% of Greek citizens responded that they believe there is a God, the third highest percentage among EU members behind only Malta and Cyprus.

Estimates of the recognized 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 faith, although most are secular in orientation. Judaism has existed in Greece for more than 2,000 years. Sephardi Jews used to have a large presence in the city of Thessaloniki, but nowadays the Greek-Jewish community who survived the Holocaust 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. The Jehovah's Witnesses report having 30,000 active members. Protestants including Evangelicals stand at about 30,000. Free Apostolic Church of Pentecost and other Pentecostals denominations are about 12,000. Mormons can also be found with 420 followers. The ancient Greek religion has also reappeared as Hellenic Neopaganism, with estimates of approximately 2,000 adherents (comprising 0.02% of the general population).

Education

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) 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.

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. 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. Specialist gymnasia and high schools offering musical, theological and physical education also exist.

Some of the main universities in Greece include:

National and Capodistrian University of Athens National Technical University of Athens University of PiraeusAgricultural University of Athens University of Macedonia (in Thessaloniki) University of Crete Technical University of Crete Athens University of Economics and Business Aristotle University of Thessaloniki University of the Aegean (across the Aegean Islands) Democritus University of Thrace University of Ioannina University of Thessaly University of Western Macedonia Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences University of Patras Charokopeio University of Athens Ionian University (across the Ionian Islands)

Culture

The culture of Greece has evolved over thousands of years, with its beginnings in the Mycenaean and Minoan Civilizations, continuing most notably into Classical Greece, the Hellenistic Period, through the influence of the Roman Empire and its Greek Eastern successor the Byzantine Empire. The Ottoman 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.

Cuisine

Greek cuisine is often cited as an example of the healthy Mediterranean diet. Greek cuisine incorporates fresh ingredients into a variety of local dishes such as moussaka, stifado, Greek Salad, spanakopita and the world famous Souvlaki. 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.

Sports

Greece home to the first modern Olympics, holds a long tradition in sports. The Greek national football team, currently ranked 18th in the world, 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 of 16 teams. The most successful of them are Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, AEK Athens, PAOK and Aris. The Greek national basketball team has a decades-long tradition of excellence in the sport. As of August 2008 it is 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 the second place in 2006. The domestic top basketball league, A1 Ethniki, is composed of fourteen teams. The most successful Greek teams are Panathinaikos, Olympiacos, Aris, AEK Athens and PAOK. Water polo and volleyball are also practiced widely in Greece while cricket, handball are relatively popular in Corfu and Veroia respectively.As the birth place of the Olympic Games, Greece was most recently host of 2004 Summer Olympics and the first modern Olympics in 1896.

Armed forces

The Hellenic Armed Forces are overseen by the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (Γενικό Επιτελείο Εθνικής Άμυνας - ΓΕΕΘΑ) and consists of three branches:

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 search and rescue. Greece currently has universal compulsory military service for males while females (who may serve in the military) are exempted from conscription. As a member of NATO, the Greek military participates in exercises and deployments under the auspices of the alliance.

International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 2006
Human Development Index 2004
Human Development Index 2000
24 out of 177
24 out of 177
24 out of 177
International Monetary Fund GDP per capita (PPP) 18 out of 180
The Economist Worldwide Quality-of-life Index, 2005 22 out of 111
Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom 57 out of 157
Reporters Without Borders Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006
Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2005
Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2004
32 out of 168
18(tied) out of 168
33 out of 167
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2006
Corruption Perceptions Index 2005
Corruption Perceptions Index 2004
54 out of 163
47 out of 158
49 out of 145
World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 47 out of 125
Yale University/Columbia University Environmental Sustainability Index 2005 67 out of 146
Nationmaster Labor strikes 13 out of 27
A.T. Kearney / Foreign Policy Globalization Index 2006
Globalization Index 2005
Globalization Index 2004
32 out of 62
29 out of 62
28 out of 62

See also

Notes

References

Further reading

  • Richard Clogg, A Concise History of Greece, Second Edition, Cambridge University Press 2002.
  • Minorities in Greece - historical issues and new perspectives. History and Culture of South Eastern Europe. An Annual Journal. München (Slavica) 2003.

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