Europe :: Greece

Introduction ::Greece

    Greece achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1830. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, it gradually added neighboring islands and territories, most with Greek-speaking populations. In World War II, Greece was first invaded by Italy (1940) and subsequently occupied by Germany (1941-44); fighting endured in a protracted civil war between supporters of the king and other anti-communist and communist rebels. Following the latter's defeat in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. In 1967, a group of military officers seized power, establishing a military dictatorship that suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country. In 1974, democratic elections and a referendum created a parliamentary republic and abolished the monarchy. In 1981, Greece joined the EC (now the EU); it became the 12th member of the European Economic and Monetary Union in 2001. In 2010, the prospect of a Greek default on its euro-denominated debt created severe strains within the EMU and raised the question of whether a member country might voluntarily leave the common currency or be removed.

Geography ::Greece

    Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey
    39 00 N, 22 00 E
    total: 131,957 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 97
    land: 130,647 sq km
    water: 1,310 sq km
    slightly smaller than Alabama
    total: 1,228 km
    border countries: Albania 282 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Turkey 206 km, Macedonia 246 km
    13,676 km
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
    temperate; mild, wet winters; hot, dry summers
    mostly mountains with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands
    lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
    highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917 m
    lignite, petroleum, iron ore, bauxite, lead, zinc, nickel, magnesite, marble, salt, hydropower potential
    arable land: 18.95%
    permanent crops: 8.73%
    other: 72.32% (2011)
    15,550 sq km (2007)
    74.25 cu km (2011)
    total: 9.47 cu km/yr (9%/2%/89%)
    per capita: 841.4 cu m/yr (2007)
    severe earthquakes
    volcanism: Santorini (elev. 367 m) has been deemed a "Decade Volcano" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; although there have been very few eruptions in recent centuries, Methana and Nisyros in the Aegean are classified as historically active
    air pollution; water pollution
    party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, 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
    strategic location dominating the Aegean Sea and southern approach to Turkish Straits; a peninsular country, possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands

People and Society ::Greece

Government ::Greece

    conventional long form: Hellenic Republic
    conventional short form: Greece
    local long form: Elliniki Dimokratia
    local short form: Ellas or Ellada
    former: Kingdom of Greece
    parliamentary republic
    name: Athens
    geographic coordinates: 37 59 N, 23 44 E
    time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
    13 regions (perifereies, singular - perifereia) and 1 autonomous monastic state* (aftonomi monastiki politeia); Agion Oros* (Mount Athos), Anatoliki Makedonia kai Thraki (East Macedonia and Thrace), Attiki (Attica), Dytiki Ellada (West Greece), Dytiki Makedonia (West Macedonia), Ionia Nisia (Ionian Islands), Ipeiros (Epirus), Kentriki Makedonia (Central Macedonia), Kriti (Crete), Notio Aigaio (South Aegean), Peloponnisos (Peloponnese), Sterea Ellada (Central Greece), Thessalia (Thessaly), Voreio Aigaio (North Aegean)
    1830 (from the Ottoman Empire)
    Independence Day, 25 March (1821)
    11 June 1975; amended March 1986, April 2001, and May 2008
    civil legal system based on Roman law
    accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    18 years of age; universal and compulsory
    chief of state: President Karolos PAPOULIAS (since 12 March 2005)
    head of government: Prime Minister Antonis SAMARAS (since 20 June 2012)
    cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
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    elections: president elected by parliament for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 3 February 2010 (next to be held by February 2015); president appoints leader of the party securing plurality of vote in election to become prime minister and form a government
    election results: Karolos PAPOULIAS reelected president; number of parliamentary votes, 266 out of 300
    unicameral Parliament or Vouli ton Ellinon (300 seats; members elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)
    elections: last held on 17 June 2012 (next to be held by 2016); note - there was a legislative election on 6 May 2012 in which none of the leaders of the top three parties (New Democracy, Coalition of the Radical Left, and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement) were able to form a government
    election results: percent of vote by party - ND 29.7%, SYRIZA 26.9%, PASOK 12.3%, ANEL 7.5%, Golden Dawn 6.9%, DIMAR 6.3%, KKE 4.5%, other 6.0%; seats by party - ND 129, SYRIZA 71, PASOK 33, ANEL 20, Golden Dawn 18, DIMAR 17, KKE 12; note - only parties surpassing a 3% threshold are entitled to parliamentary seats; parties need 10 seats to become formal parliamentary groups, but can retain that status if the party participated in the last election and received the minimum 3% threshold
    highest court(s): Hellenic Supreme Court of Civil and Penal Law (consists of 56 judges)
    judge selection and term of office: judges selected by the Supreme Judicial Council which includes the president of the Supreme Court, other judges, and the prosecutor of the Supreme Court; judges appointed for life following a 2-year probationary period
    subordinate courts: Supreme Administrative Court; Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance; Court of Auditors
    Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow or ANTARSYA [Petros KONSTANTINOU]
    Coalition of the Radical Left or SYRIZA [Alexis TSIPRAS]
    Communist Party of Greece or KKE [Dimitris KOUTSOUMPAS]
    Democratic Left or DIMAR [Fotis KOUVELIS]
    Democratic Alliance or DISY [Theodora (or Dora) BAKOGIANNI]
    Ecologist Greens [Nikos CHRYSOGELOS]
    Golden Dawn [Nikolaos MICHALOLIAKOS]
    Independent Greeks or ANEL [Panos KAMMENOS]
    New Democracy or ND [Antonis SAMARAS]
    Panhellenic Socialist Movement or PASOK [Evangelos VENIZELOS]
    Popular Orthodox Rally or LAOS [Georgios KARATZAFERIS]
    Civil Servants Confederation or ADEDY [Spyros PAPASPYROS]
    Federation of Greek Industries or SEV [Dimitris DASKALOPOULOS]
    General Confederation of Greek Workers or GSEE [Ioannis PANAGOPOULOS]
    chief of mission: Ambassador Christos P. PANAGOPOULOUS
    chancery: 2217 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 939-1300
    FAX: [1] (202) 939-1324
    consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Tampa (FL), San Francisco
    consulate(s): Atlanta, Houston, New Orleans
    chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel Bennett SMITH
    embassy: 91 Vasillisis Sophias Avenue, 10160 Athens
    mailing address: PSC 108, APO AE 09842-0108
    telephone: [30] (210) 721-2951
    FAX: [30] (210) 645-6282
    consulate(s) general: Thessaloniki (2012)
    nine equal horizontal stripes of blue alternating with white; a blue square bearing a white cross appears in the upper hoist-side corner; the cross symbolizes Greek Orthodoxy, the established religion of the country; there is no agreed upon meaning for the nine stripes or for the colors; the exact shade of blue has never been set by law and has varied from a light to a dark blue over time
    Greek cross (white cross on blue field; arms equal length)
    name: "Ymnos eis tin Eleftherian" (Hymn to Liberty)

    lyrics/music: Dionysios SOLOMOS/Nikolaos MANTZAROS
    note: adopted 1864; the anthem is based on a 158 verse poem by the same name, which was inspired by the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Ottomans; Cyprus also uses "Hymn to Liberty" as its anthem

Economy ::Greece

    Greece has a capitalist economy with a public sector accounting for about 40% of GDP and with per capita GDP about two-thirds that of the leading euro-zone economies. Tourism provides 15% of GDP. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, mainly in agricultural and unskilled jobs. Greece is a major beneficiary of EU aid, equal to about 3.3% of annual GDP. The Greek economy grew by nearly 4% per year between 2003 and 2007, due partly to infrastructural spending related to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and in part to an increased availability of credit, which has sustained record levels of consumer spending. But the economy went into recession in 2009 as a result of the world financial crisis, tightening credit conditions, and Athens' failure to address a growing budget deficit. The economy contracted by 2.3% in 2009, 3.5% in 2010, 6.9% in 2011, and 6.0% in 2012. Greece violated the EU's Growth and Stability Pact budget deficit criterion of no more than 3% of GDP from 2001 to 2006, but finally met that criterion in 2007-08, before exceeding it again in 2009, with the deficit reaching 15% of GDP. Austerity measures reduced the deficit to about 8% in 2012. Deteriorating public finances, inaccurate and misreported statistics, and consistent underperformance on reforms prompted major credit rating agencies to downgrade Greece's international debt rating in late 2009, and has led the country into a financial crisis. Under intense pressure from the EU and international market participants, the government adopted a medium-term austerity program that includes cutting government spending, decreasing tax evasion, overhauling the health-care and pension systems, and reforming the labor and product markets. Athens, however, faces long-term challenges to push through unpopular reforms in the face of widespread unrest from the country's powerful labor unions and the general public. In April 2010 a leading credit agency assigned Greek debt its lowest possible credit rating; in May 2010, the International Monetary Fund and Euro-Zone governments provided Greece emergency short- and medium-term loans worth $147 billion so that the country could make debt repayments to creditors. In exchange for the largest bailout ever assembled, the government announced combined spending cuts and tax increases totaling $40 billion over three years, on top of the tough austerity measures already taken. Greece, however, struggled to meet 2010 targets set by the EU and the IMF, especially after Eurostat - the EU's statistical office - revised upward Greece's deficit and debt numbers for 2009 and 2010. European leaders and the IMF agreed in October 2011 to provide Athens a second bailout package of $169 billion. The second deal however, calls for Greece's creditors to write down a significant portion of their Greek government bond holdings. In exchange for the second loan Greece has promised to introduce an additional $7.8 billion in austerity measures during 2013-15. However, these massive austerity cuts are lengthening Greece's economic recession and depressing tax revenues. Greece's lenders are calling on Athens to step up efforts to increase tax collection, privatize public enterprises, and rein in health spending, and are planning to give Greece more time to shore up its economy and finances. Many investors doubt that Greece can sustain fiscal efforts in the face of a bleak economic outlook, public discontent, and political instability.
    $281.4 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 47
    $300.6 billion (2011 est.)
    $323.6 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $249.2 billion (2012 est.)
    -6.4% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 218
    -7.1% (2011 est.)
    -4.9% (2010 est.)
    $24,900 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 63
    $26,400 (2011 est.)
    $28,500 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    10.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 123
    6.2% of GDP (2011 est.)
    7.4% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 73.7%
    government consumption: 17.8%
    investment in fixed capital: 12.6%
    investment in inventories: 1%
    exports of goods and services: 27%
    imports of goods and services: -32%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 3.4%
    industry: 16%
    services: 80.6% (2012 est.)
    wheat, corn, barley, sugar beets, olives, tomatoes, wine, tobacco, potatoes; beef, dairy products
    tourism, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, metal products; mining, petroleum
    -6.2% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 166
    4.95 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    agriculture: 12.4%
    industry: 22.4%
    services: 65.1% (2005 est.)
    24.3% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    17.4% (2011 est.)
    20% (2009 est.)
    lowest 10%: 2.5%
    highest 10%: 26% (2000 est.)
    33 (2005)
    country comparison to the world: 99
    35.4 (1998)
    revenues: $111.4 billion
    expenditures: $136.4 billion (2012 est.)
    44.7% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 26
    -10% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 202
    156.9% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 3
    170.3% of GDP (2011 est.)
    calendar year
    1.5% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 28
    3.3% (2011 est.)
    1.5% (31 December 2012)
    country comparison to the world: 114
    1.75% (31 December 2010)
    note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area
    7.33% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 125
    7.15% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $116.1 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    $126.4 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 17 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money circulating within their own borders
    $251.5 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 35
    $262.1 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $343.6 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    $413.4 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $33.65 billion (31 December 2011)
    country comparison to the world: 48
    $72.64 billion (31 December 2010)
    $54.72 billion (31 December 2009)
    -$16.68 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 179
    -$29.36 billion (2011 est.)
    $28.31 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 66
    $28.16 billion (2011 est.)
    food and beverages, manufactured goods, petroleum products, chemicals, textiles
    Turkey 10.8%, Italy 7.7%, Germany 6.4%, Bulgaria 5.6%, Cyprus 5% (2012)
    $53.53 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 54
    $66.05 billion (2011 est.)
    machinery, transport equipment, fuels, chemicals
    Russia 12.4%, France 7.5%, Italy 7.8%, Saudi Arabia 5.7%, Netherlands 4.7% (2012)
    $7.255 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 80
    $6.9 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $576.6 billion (31 December 2012)
    country comparison to the world: 25
    $478.7 billion (31 December 2011)
    $37.8 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 56
    $29.17 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $43.73 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 38
    $43.7 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    euros (EUR) per US dollar -
    0.7778 (2012 est.)
    0.7185 (2011 est.)
    0.755 (2010 est.)
    0.7198 (2009 est.)
    0.6827 (2008 est.)

Energy ::Greece

Communications ::Greece

    5.745 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 30
    12.128 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 65
    general assessment: adequate, modern networks reach all areas; good mobile telephone and international service
    domestic: microwave radio relay trunk system; extensive open-wire connections; submarine cable to offshore islands
    international: country code - 30; landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3 optical telecommunications submarine cable that provides links to Europe, Middle East, and Asia; a number of smaller submarine cables provide connectivity to various parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Cyprus; tropospheric scatter; satellite earth stations - 4 (2 Intelsat - 1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean, 1 Eutelsat, and 1 Inmarsat - Indian Ocean region)
    broadcast media dominated by the private sector; roughly 150 private TV channels, about a dozen of the private channels broadcast at the national or regional level; 3 publicly owned terrestrial TV channels with national coverage, 1 publicly owned satellite channel, and 3 stations designed for digital terrestrial transmissions; multi-channel satellite and cable TV services available; upwards of 1,500 radio stations, nearly all of them privately owned; state-run broadcaster has 7 national stations, 2 international stations, and 19 regional stations (2007)
    3.201 million (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 32
    4.971 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 46

Transportation ::Greece

    77 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 69
    total: 68
    over 3,047 m: 6
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 15
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 19
    914 to 1,523 m: 18
    under 914 m: 10 (2013)
    total: 9
    914 to 1,523 m: 2
    under 914 m:
    7 (2013)
    9 (2013)
    gas 1,329 km; oil 94 km (2013)
    total: 2,548 km
    country comparison to the world: 65
    standard gauge: 1,565 km 1.435-m gauge (764 km electrified)
    narrow gauge: 961 km 1.000-m gauge; 22 km 0.750-m gauge (2008)
    total: 116,960 km
    country comparison to the world: 39
    paved: 41,357 km (includes 1,091 km of expressways)
    unpaved: 75,603 km (2010)
    6 km (the 6 km long Corinth Canal crosses the Isthmus of Corinth; it shortens a sea voyage by 325 km) (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 107
    total: 860
    country comparison to the world: 12
    by type: bulk carrier 262, cargo 49, carrier 1, chemical tanker 68, container 35, liquefied gas 13, passenger 7, passenger/cargo 109, petroleum tanker 302, roll on/roll off 14
    foreign-owned: 42 (Belgium 17, Bermuda 3, Cyprus 3, Italy 5, UK 6, US 8)
    registered in other countries: 2,459 (Antigua and Barbuda 4, Bahamas 225, Barbados 14, Belize 2, Bermuda 8, Brazil 1, Cambodia 2, Cape Verde 1, Cayman Islands 9, Comoros 4, Curacao 1, Cyprus 201, Dominica 4, Egypt 8, Gibraltar 8, Honduras 4, Hong Kong 27, Indonesia 1, Isle of Man 62, Italy 7, Jamaica 3, Liberia 505, Malta 469, Marshall Islands 408, Mexico 2, Moldova 1, Panama 379, Philippines 5, Portugal 2, Saint Kitts and Nevis 2, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 42, Sao Tome and Principe 1, Saudi Arabia 4, Singapore 22, UAE 3, Uruguay 1, Vanuatu 3, Venezuela 4, unknown 10) (2010)
    major seaport(s): Aspropyrgos, Pachi, Piraeus, Thessaloniki
    oil/gas terminal(s): Agioi Theodoroi

Military ::Greece

Transnational Issues ::Greece

    Greece and Turkey continue discussions to resolve their complex maritime, air, territorial, and boundary disputes in the Aegean Sea; Greece rejects the use of the name Macedonia or Republic of Macedonia; the mass migration of unemployed Albanians still remains a problem for developed countries, chiefly Greece and Italy
    stateless persons: 154 (2012)
    a gateway to Europe for traffickers smuggling cannabis and heroin from the Middle East and Southwest Asia to the West and precursor chemicals to the East; some South American cocaine transits or is consumed in Greece; money laundering related to drug trafficking and organized crime