The Balkan state of Greece is bounded on three sides by the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Ionian seas. It has a strong seafaring tradition, with some of the world’s richest shipowners.
Geography: Mountainous peninsula and over 2000 islands. Large plain along the mainland’s Aegean coast.
Climate: Mainly Mediterranean, with dry, hot summers. Alpine climate in northern mountain areas.
People and Society: Post-war industrial development altered the dominance of agriculture and seafaring. The rural exodus to industrial cities has been stemmed but a third of the population now lives in Athens. Age-old culture and Greek Orthodox Church balance social mobility. Civil marriage and divorce became legal only in 1982.
The Economy: One of Europe’s leading tourist destinations. World’s largest shipping fleet. Fruit, vegetables, olives. Large black economy. Public debt and budget deficit remain high.
Insight: The modern Olympics,first held in Athens in 1896, evolved from Olympia’s ancient Greek games
Official Name: Hellenic Republic
Date of Formation: 1829
Population: 11.2 million
Total Area: 50,942 sq. miles (131,940 sq. km)
Density: 221 people per sq. mile
Languages: Greek*, Turkish, Macedonian, Albanian
Religions: Orthodox Christian 98%, Muslim 1%, other 1%
Ethnic Mix: Greek 98%, other 2%
Government: Parliamentary system
Currency: Euro = 100 cents