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  Introduction Back To Top

Greece achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, it gradually added neighboring islands and territories, 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 Communist rebels. Following the latter's defeat in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. A military dictatorship, which in 1967 suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country, lasted seven years. The 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.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 8.7 cu km/yr (16%/3%/81%)
per capita: 782 cu m/yr (1997)

Total renewable water resources:
72 cu km (2005)

Land boundaries:
total: 1,228 km
border countries: Albania 282 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Turkey 206 km, Macedonia 246 km

Environment - international agreements:
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

temperate; mild, wet winters; hot, dry summers

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
39 00 N, 22 00 E

Natural resources:
lignite, petroleum, iron ore, bauxite, lead, zinc, nickel, magnesite, marble, salt, hydropower potential

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917 m

mostly mountains with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands

Geography - note:
strategic location dominating the Aegean Sea and southern approach to Turkish Straits; a peninsular country, possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands

total: 131,940 sq km
land: 130,800 sq km
water: 1,140 sq km

Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey

13,676 km

Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Alabama

Irrigated land:
14,530 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:
air pollution; water pollution

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Natural hazards:
severe earthquakes

Land use:
arable land: 20.45%
permanent crops: 8.59%
other: 70.96% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
1.36 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
9,100 (2001 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 79.52 years
male: 76.98 years
female: 82.21 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96%
male: 97.8%
female: 94.2% (2001 census)

Net migration rate:
2.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
population: Greek 93%, other (foreign citizens) 7% (2001 census)
note: percents represent citizenship, since Greece does not collect data on ethnicity

Median age:
total: 41.5 years
male: 40.4 years
female: 42.6 years (2008 est.)

10,722,816 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
4.4% of GDP (2005)

Population growth rate:
0.146% (2008 est.)

Greek 99% (official), other 1% (includes English and French)

Death rate:
10.42 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 5.25 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.77 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 100 (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 17 years
male: 17 years
female: 17 years (2006)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 14.3% (male 789,137/female 742,469)
15-64 years: 66.6% (male 3,568,101/female 3,575,572)
65 years and over: 19.1% (male 898,337/female 1,149,200) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
9.54 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Greek Orthodox 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7%

noun: Greek(s)
adjective: Greek

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel V. SPECKHARD
embassy: 91 Vasilisis 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

National holiday:
Independence Day, 25 March (1821)

18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Government type:
parliamentary republic

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Civil Servants Confederation or ADEDY [Spyros PAPASPYROS]; Federation of Greek Industries or SEV [Dimitris DASKALOPOULOS]; General Confederation of Greek Workers or GSEE [Ioannis PANAGOPOULOS]

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Alexandros P. MALLIAS
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, San Francisco, Tampa
consulate(s): Atlanta, Houston

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament or Vouli ton Ellinon (300 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: elections last held 16 September 2007 (next to be held by 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - ND 41.8%, PASOK 38.1%, KKE 8.2%, Synaspismos 5%, LAOS 3.8%, other 3.1%; seats by party - ND 152, PASOK 102, KKE 22, Synaspismos 14, LAOS 10

Legal system:
based on codified Roman law; judiciary divided into civil, criminal, and administrative courts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

Flag description:
nine equal horizontal stripes of blue alternating with white; there is a blue square in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a white cross; the cross symbolizes Greek Orthodoxy, the established religion of the country

1829 (from the Ottoman Empire)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Hellenic Republic
conventional short form: Greece
local long form: Elliniki Dhimokratia
local short form: Ellas or Ellada
former: Kingdom of Greece

Political parties and leaders:
Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza - formerly Synaspismos) [Alekos ALAVANOS]; Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) [Gr. KONSTANTOPOULOS]; Communist Party of Greece or KKE [Aleka PAPARIGA]; Democratic Revival [Stelios PAPATHEMELIS]; Democratic Universal Hellas [Stergio KRIKELISI]; Ecologist Greens [Ioanna KONTOULI]; Fighting Socialist Party [Nikos KARGOPOULOS]; Greek Ecologists [Dimosthenis VERGIS]; Liberal Alliance [Foris PERIKOS]; Liberal Party [Manolis KALIGIANNIS]; Light-Truth-Justice [Konstantinos MELISSOURGOS]; New Democracy or ND (conservative) [Konstandinos KARAMANLIS]; Organization for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party of Greece [Ilias ZAFIROPOULOS]; Panhellenic Socialist Movement or PASOK [Yiorgos PAPANDREOU]; Popular Orthodox Rally or LAOS [Yeoryios KARATZAFERIS]; Radical Left Front [D. DESILLAS]; Regional Urban Development [Nikolaos KOLITIS]; Salvation Party Christian Democracy [Alkiviadis STOILIS]; Union of Centrists [Vassilis LEVENTIS]; United Anti-Capitalist Left [Konstantinos PAPDAKIS]

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

11 June 1975; amended March 1986 and April 2001

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Karolos PAPOULIAS (since 12 March 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Konstandinos (Kostas) KARAMANLIS (since 7 March 2004)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections: president elected by parliament for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 8 February 2005 (next to be held by February 2010); according to the Greek Constitution, presidents may only serve two terms; president appoints leader of the party securing plurality of vote in election to become prime minister and form a government
election results: Karolos PAPOULIAS elected president; number of parliamentary votes, 279 out of 300

Administrative divisions:
51 prefectures (nomoi, singular - nomos) and 1 autonomous region*; Achaia, Agion Oros* (Mt. Athos), Aitolia kai Akarnania, Argolis, Arkadia, Arta, Attiki, Chalkidiki, Chanion, Chios, Dodekanisos, Drama, Evros, Evrytania, Evvoia, Florina, Fokidos, Fthiotis, Grevena, Ileia, Imathia, Ioannina, Irakleion, Karditsa, Kastoria, Kavala, Kefallinia, Kerkyra, Kilkis, Korinthia, Kozani, Kyklades, Lakonia, Larisa, Lasithi, Lefkas, Lesvos, Magnisia, Messinia, Pella, Pieria, Preveza, Rethynnis, Rodopi, Samos, Serrai, Thesprotia, Thessaloniki, Trikala, Voiotia, Xanthi, Zakynthos

Judicial branch:
Supreme Judicial Court; Special Supreme Tribunal; all judges appointed for life by the president after consultation with a judicial council

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
Germany 11.6%, Italy 10.8%, Cyprus 6.6%, Bulgaria 6.5%, UK 5.5%, Romania 4.5%, France 4.2%, US 4.2% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
55.98 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

Electricity - imports:
5.894 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$36.26 billion (2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$92.19 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Unemployment rate:
8% (2008 est.)

Oil - exports:
125,100 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$32,800 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
24.9% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$392.4 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$351.3 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$373.5 billion (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
33 (2005)

Exchange rates:
euros (EUR) per US dollar - 0.6734 (2008 est.), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
2.8% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the Euro Area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 15 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money and quasi money circulating within their own borders

Labor force:
4.96 million (2008 est.)

Imports - partners:
Germany 12.9%, Italy 11.7%, Russia 5.6%, France 5.6%, China 5%, Netherlands 5% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
4.4% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3.5%
industry: 23.4%
services: 73.1% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
527,200 bbl/day (2005)

$27.4 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:
4.069 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
euro (EUR)

Economy - overview:
Greece has a capitalist economy with the public sector accounting for about 40% of GDP and with per capita GDP at least 75% 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 4.0% 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 growth dropped to 2.8% in 2008, as a result of the world financial crisis and tightening credit conditions. Greece violated the EU's Growth and Stability Pact budget deficit criteria of no more than 3% of GDP from 2001 to 2006, but finally met that criteria in 2007-08. Public debt, inflation, and unemployment are above the euro-zone average, but are falling. The Greek Government continues to grapple with cutting government spending, reducing the size of the public sector, and reforming the labor and pension systems, in the face of often vocal opposition from the country's powerful labor unions and the general public. The economy remains an important domestic political issue in Greece and, while the ruling New Democracy government has had some success in improving economic growth and reducing the budget deficit, Athens faces long-term challenges in its effort to continue its economic reforms, especially social security reform and privatization.

Economic aid - donor:
$424 million (2006)

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery, transport equipment, fuels, chemicals

tourism, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, metal products; mining, petroleum

Electricity - exports:
269 million kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
7.71% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:

Electricity - production:
59.33 billion kWh (2007 est.)

$82.28 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:
10 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 12.4%
industry: 22.4%
services: 65.1% (2005 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
1.982 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$2.425 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
441,400 bbl/day (2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$25.33 billion (2008 est.)

Public debt:
90.1% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$55.19 billion (2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$264.9 billion (31 December 2007)

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.5%
highest 10%: 26% (2000 est.)

Exports - commodities:
food and beverages, manufactured goods, petroleum products, chemicals, textiles

Economic aid - recipient:
$8 billion annually from EU (2000-06); Greece will receive about $3.8 billion per year between 2007-13 under the EU's Community Support Funds IV

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 94.5%
hydro: 3.8%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1.7% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
4.1 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
24 million cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $132.4 billion
expenditures: $143.8 billion (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
4,265 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
2.54 million (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
6.227 million (2007)

2.54 million (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 26, FM 88, shortwave 4 (1998)

5.02 million (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
11.997 million (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
36 (plus 1,341 repeaters); also 2 stations in the US Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (1995)

Telephone system:
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)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
27 (2000)

Internet hosts:
1.626 million (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

6 km
note: Corinth Canal (6 km) crosses the Isthmus of Corinth; shortens sea voyage by 325 km (2008)

gas 1,166 km; oil 94 km (2007)

total: 2,571 km
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
dual gauge: 23 km combined 1.435 m and 1.000-m gauges (three rail system) (2006)

Ports and terminals:
Agioitheodoroi, Aspropyrgos, Pachi, Piraeus, Thessaloniki

9 (2007)

Merchant marine:
total: 869
by type: bulk carrier 260, cargo 66, carrier 1, chemical tanker 66, combination ore/oil 2, container 45, liquefied gas 10, passenger 13, passenger/cargo 115, petroleum tanker 274, roll on/roll off 15, specialized tanker 2
foreign-owned: 64 (Belgium 16, Cyprus 7, Turkey 1, UK 32, US 8)
registered in other countries: 2,357 (Antigua and Barbuda 3, Bahamas 209, Barbados 12, Belize 1, Bermuda 9, Brazil 1, Cambodia 3, Cayman Islands 16, China 2, Comoros 6, Cyprus 259, Denmark 4, Dominica 10, Egypt 8, Georgia 5, Gibraltar 6, Honduras 4, Hong Kong 22, Isle of Man 50, Italy 6, Jamaica 6, North Korea 1, Lebanon 2, Liberia 358, Maldives 1, Malta 452, Marshall Islands 269, Norway 3, Panama 510, Philippines 4, Portugal 4, Russia 1, Saint Kitts and Nevis 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 71, Sao Tome and Principe 1, Saudi Arabia 3, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 15, Slovakia 2, Turkey 1, UAE 3, Uruguay 1, Vanuatu 1, Venezuela 3, unknown 5) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 66
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 15
1,524 to 2,437 m: 20
914 to 1,523 m: 17
under 914 m: 9 (2007)

total: 117,533 km
paved: 107,895 km (includes 880 km of expressways)
unpaved: 9,638 km (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 12 (2007)

81 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
19-45 years of age for compulsory military service; during wartime the law allows for recruitment beginning January of the year of inductee's 18th birthday, thus including 17 year olds; 17 years of age for volunteers; conscript service obligation - 1 year for all services; women are eligible for voluntary military service (2008)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 2,535,174
females age 16-49: 2,517,273 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 2,084,469
females age 16-49: 2,065,956 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Hellenic Army (Ellinikos Stratos, ES), Hellenic Navy (Ellinikos Polemiko Navtiko, EPN), Hellenic Air Force (Elliniki Polimiki Aeroporia, EPA) (2007)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 53,858
female: 50,488 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
4.3% of GDP (2005 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
Greece and Turkey continue discussions to resolve their complex maritime, air, territorial, and boundary disputes in the Aegean Sea; Cyprus question with Turkey; 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

Illicit drugs:
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

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