GREECELOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENERGY AND POWER
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
CAPITAL: Athens (Athínai)
FLAG: The national flag consists of nine equal horizontal stripes of royal blue alternating with white and a white cross on a royal-blue square canton.
ANTHEM: Ethnikos Hymnos (National Hymn), beginning "Se gnorizo apo tin kopsi" ("I recognize you by the keenness of your sword").
MONETARY UNIT: The euro replaced the drachma as official currency in 2002. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. €1 = $1.25475 (or $1 = €0.79697) as of 2005.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.
HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Epiphany, 6 January; Independence Day, 25 March; Labor Day, 1 May; Assumption, 15 August; National Day (anniversary of successful resistance to Italian attack in 1940), 28 October; Christmas, 25 December; Boxing Day, 26 December. Movable religious holidays include Shrove Monday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday.
TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.
Greece is the southernmost country in the Balkan Peninsula, with a total area of 131,940 sq km (50,942 sq mi); about a fifth of the area is composed of more than 1,400 islands in the Ionian and Aegean seas. Comparatively, the area occupied by Greece is slightly smaller than the state of Alabama. Continental Greece has a length of 940 km (584 mi) n–s and a width of 772 km (480 mi) e–w. It is bounded on the n by Macedonia and Bulgaria, on the ne by Turkey, on the e by the Aegean Sea, on the s by the Mediterranean Sea, on the sw and w by the Ionian Sea, and on the nw by Albania, with a total land boundary length of 1,228 km (763 mi) and a coastline of 13,676 km (8,498 mi). The capital city of Greece, Athens, is located along the country's southern coast.
About four-fifths of Greece is mountainous, including most of the islands. The most important range is the Pindus, which runs down the center of the peninsula from north to south at about 2,650 m (8,700 ft) in average elevation. Mt. Olympus (Ólimbos; 2,917 m/9,570 ft) is the highest peak and was the legendary home of the ancient gods.
Greece has four recognizable geographic regions. The Pindus range divides northern Greece into damp, mountainous, and isolated Epirus (Ipiros) in the west and the sunny, dry plains and lesser mountain ranges of the east. This eastern region comprises the plains of Thessaly (Thessalía) and the "new provinces" of Macedonia (Makedonia) and Thrace (Thraki)—"new" because they became part of Greece after the Balkan wars in 1912–13. Central Greece is the southeastern finger of the mainland that cradled the city-states of ancient Greece and comprises such classical provinces as Attica (Atikí), Boeotia (Voiotia), Doris, Phocis, and Locris. Southern Greece consists of the mountainous, four-fingered Peloponnesus (Pelopónnisos), separated from the mainland by the Gulf of Corinth (Korinthiakós Kólpos). Islands of the Aegean comprise the numerous Cyclades (Kikládes); the Dodecanese (Dhodhekánisos), including Rhodes (Ródhos); and the two large islands of Crete (Kríti) and Euboea (Évvoia).
Greek rivers are not navigable. Many dry up in the summer and become rushing mountain torrents in the spring. The longest river is the Maritsa, which runs along the northeast border a distance of 480 km (300 mi).
Greece is located above the convergence of the Eurasian and the African Tectonic Plates, a situation which causes frequent earthquakes and tremors. While many quakes are low magnitude tremors with minimal damage and injury, stronger quakes are not entirely uncommon. On 14 August 2003, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake occurred in western Greece causing injuries to about 50 people and damaging roads and buildings.
The climate in southern Greece and on the islands is Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Winters are severe in the northern mountain regions. The summer heat is moderated by mountain and sea breezes. Precipitation is heaviest in the north and in the mountains. Average annual rainfall varies from 50 to 121 cm (20–48 in) in the north and from 38 to 81 cm (15–32 in) in the south. The mean temperature of Athens is 17°c (63°f), ranging from a low of 2°c (36°f) in the winter to a high of 37°c (99°f) in the summer.
Of the 4,992 species of higher plants recorded in Greece, about 742 are endemic to the country. Many pharmaceutical plants and other rare plants and flowers considered botanical treasures flourish in Greece. Vegetation varies according to altitude. From sea level to 460 m (1,500 ft), oranges, olives, dates, almonds, pomegranates, figs, grapes, tobacco, cotton, and rice abound. From 460 to 1,070 m (1,500–3,500 ft) are forests of oak, chestnut, and pine. Above 1,070 m (3,500 ft), beech and fir are most common.
Fauna are not plentiful, but bear, wildcat, jackal, fox, and chamois still exist in many sparsely populated areas. The wild goat (agrimi), which has disappeared from the rest of Europe, still lives in parts of Greece and on the island of Crete. There are about 95 species of mammal throughout the country. Migratory and native birds abound and there are more than 250 species of marine life. Natural sponges are a main export item.
Among Greece's principal environmental problems are industrial smog and automobile exhaust fumes in metropolitan Athens. Over half of all industry is located in the greater Athens area. From June to August 1982, the air pollution became so oppressive that the government closed down 87 industries, ordered 19 others to cut production, and banned traffic from the city center. In July 1984, the smog again reached the danger point, and 73 factories were ordered to cut production and cars were banned from the city. In January 1988, the number of taxis in the center of Athens was halved, and private cars were banned from the city's three main thoroughfares. The smog regularly sends hundreds of Greeks to the hospital with respiratory and heart complaints. Greece is among the 50 nations with the world's highest levels of industrial carbon dioxide. In 1992, it ranked 37th, with emissions totaling 73.8 million metric tons, a per capita level of 7.25. In 1996, the total rose to 80.6 million metric tons.
Water pollution is a significant problem due to industrial pollutants, agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, and sewage. The Gulf of Saronikos is one of the most polluted areas because 50% of Greece's industrial facilities are located there. Greece has 58 cu km of renewable water resources with 81% used for farming and 3% used for industrial purposes.
Greece's pollution problems are the result of almost complete disregard for environmental protection measures during the rapid industrial growth of the 1970s, compounded by unbalanced development and rapid, unregulated urban growth. Government policies have emphasized rational use of natural resources, balanced regional development, protection of the environment, and increased public participation in environmental matters. Four environmental and planning services were consolidated under the Ministry for Physical Planning, Housing, and the Environment.
In 2003, about 3.6% of the total land area was protected by the state. Meteora and Mount Athos are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are 10 Ramsar wetland sites in the country. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 11 types of mammals, 14 species of birds, 6 types of reptiles, 4 species of amphibians, 27 species of fish, 1 type of mollusk, 10 species of other invertebrates, and 2 species of plants. Endangered species include the Mediterranean monk seal, the hawksbill turtle, Atlantic sturgeon, and the large copper butterfly.
The population of Greece in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 11,100,000, which placed it at number 74 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 18% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 15% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 98 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–10 was expected to be stagnant at 0.0%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The projected population for the year 2025 was 11,394,000. The population density was 84 per sq km (218 per sq mi).
The UN estimated that 60% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.58%. The capital city, Athens (Athínai), had a population of 3,215,000 in that year. Another major urban area is Thessaloniki with a metropolitan population of 824,000.
Under League of Nations supervision in 1923, more than one million Greek residents of Asia Minor were repatriated, and some 800,000 Turks left Greece. During the German occupation (1941–44) and the civil war (1944–49), there was a general movement of people from the islands, the Peloponnesus, and the northern border regions into the urban areas, especially the Athens metropolitan area, including Piraiévs. Between 1955 and 1971 about 1,500,000 peasants left their farms—about 600,000 going to the cities, the rest abroad. According to the 1981 census, 813,490 Greeks had migrated since 1975 to urban areas, and 165,770 had moved to rural areas. The growth rate of the Athens, Thessaloniki, Pátrai, Iráklion, and Vólos metropolitan areas during 1971–81 far exceeded the population growth rate for the nation as a whole.
Many Greeks leave the country for economic reasons. In the years after World War II, the number of annual emigrants has varied from a high of 117,167 (in 1965) to a low of 20,330 (in 1975). The net outflow of Greek workers during the 1960s was 450,000; during the 1970s, however, there was a net inflow of 300,000. This mainly reflected declining need for foreign labor in western Europe.
In 1974, when the Greek military government collapsed, about 60,000 political refugees were living overseas; by the beginning of 1983, about half had been repatriated, the remainder being, for the most part, Communists who had fled to Soviet-bloc countries after the civil war of 1944–49. After the fall of Communism in 1989 slightly more than half of the migrants to Greece were Albanians, followed by other influxes from nearby countries. In 2002 Greece received $1.18 billion in remittances.
In 2004, Greece received 7,375 applications for asylum, as compared to 4,367 in 1997. Most of them were from Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, Algeria, and Iran. In that same year Greece had a population of 2,489 refugees and another 3,459 persons of concern (primarily Iraqi Christians) according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). According to Migration News, in 2005 Greece had 900,000 to 1.2 million immigrants, including 400,000 in irregular status. In August 2005 Greece passed a new immigration law allowing for foreigners legally living in the country in 2004 to become permanent residents in 2006. However, the ethnic Greek Albanians and about 500,000 unauthorized foreigners were excluded from this policy change.
In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as 2.18 migrants per 1,000 population.
About 98% of the population is Greek. Minority groups include Turks, Macedonian Slavs, Albanians, Armenians, Bulgarians, Jews, and Vlachs. Though a number of citizens identify themselves as Pomaks, Romas, Macedonians, Slavomacedonians, Roma, and Arvanites, the government does not officially acknowledge these groups as minorities. Though some citizens describe themselves as Turks or Turkish, use of the term is prohibited in titles of organizations or associations. The Greeks also object to use of the term Macedonian by the Slavic speaking inhabitants of that region.
Modern Greek, the official language, is the first language of about 99% of the population. English, learned mostly outside the school system, and French are widely spoken. Turkish and other minority languages, such as Albanian, Pomakic, Kutzovalachian, and Armenian, also are spoken. The vernacular and the language of popular literature are called dimotiki (demotic). The official language dialect—katharevousa—generally used by the state, the press, and universities, employs classical terms and forms. In 1976, the government began to upgrade the status of dimotiki in education and government. The liturgical language is akin to classical Greek.
The government does not keep statistics on membership in religious groups; however, it is estimated that about 97% of the population are nominally members of the Greek Orthodox Church. Official estimates place the number of Muslims at about 98,000 people, with most living in Thrace. Jehovah's Witnesses and the Roman Catholic Church each have about 50,000 members. There are about 30,000 Protestants and 5,000 Jews. There are small congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the Church of Scientology, and the Anglican church. There is a very small Baha'i community.
Under the constitution, the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ (Greek Orthodox) is the "prevailing" religion of Greece; the church is self-governing under the ecumenical patriarch resident in Istanbul, Turkey, and is protected by the government, which pays the salaries of the Orthodox clergy. The Orthodox Church is also allowed a significant influence in economic and political policies. The constitution prohibits proselytizing. The Orthodox Church, Judaism, and Islam are considered to be "legal persons of public law," a designation of preferred legal status that makes it easier for these groups to own property and gain legal representation in court. Religious groups must obtain a house of prayer permit through the Ministry of Education and Religion in order to open a public place of worship. Approval for a permit is based in part on the opinion of the local Orthodox bishop.
Greek transportation was completely reconstructed and greatly expanded after World War II. The length of roads in 2002 was 117,000 km (72,704 mi), of which 107,406 km (66,742 mi) were paved. Toll highways connect Athens with Lamía and Pátrai. In 2003 there were 5,024,600 motor vehicles, including 3,885,908 passenger cars and 1,138,692 commercial vehicles in use.
The Hellenic State Railways, a government organ, operates the railroads, which in 2004 had a total length of 2,571 km (1,597 mi), that which consisted of standard, narrow and dual gauge lines. Standard gauge lines made up the bulk of the nation's railway system, at 1,565 km (973 mi), of which 764 km (475 mi) was electrified. Narrow gauge lines accounted for 983 km (611 mi), with dual gauge trackage amounting to 23 km (14 mi). The agency also operates a network of subsidiary bus lines connecting major cities. The privately owned Hellenic Electric Railways operates a high-speed shuttle service between Piraiévs and Athens.
Principal ports are Elevsís, Thessaloniki, Vólos, Piraiévs, Iráklion, and Thíra. In 2005 the Greek merchant fleet had 861 ships (down from 2,893 in 1982) of 1,000 GRT or over, for a total of 30,186,624 GRT. In addition, Greek shipowners had many other ships sailing under Cypriot, Lebanese, Liberian, Panamanian or other foreign registries. The Greek fleet was hard hit by the international shipping slump of the 1980s. The inland waterway system consists of three coastal canals and three inland rivers, for a total of 80 navigable km (50 mi).
Greece had an estimated 80 airports in 2004. As of 2005, a total of 67 had paved runways, and there were also eight heliports. Athens' main airport connects the capital by regular flights to major cities in Europe, the Middle East, and North America. The new Athens airport at Spata opened March 2001. Olympic Airways, nationalized in 1975, operates a large internal domestic network as well as international flights. In 2003, about 7.519 million passengers were carried on domestic and international flights. Also during 2003, Greek aircraft performed 63 million freight ton-km of service.
Civilization in Greece first arose on Crete in the 3rd millennium bc, probably as a result of immigration from Asia Minor (now Turkey). The Minoan civilization (c.3000–c.1100 bc), named after the legendary King Minos (which may have been a title rather than a name), was centered in the capital of Knossos, where it became known as Helladic (c.2700–c.1100 bc). During the 2nd millennium bc, Greece was conquered by Indo-European invaders: first the Achaeans, then the Aeolians and Ionians, and finally the Dorians. The Greeks, who called themselves Hellenes after a tribe in Thessaly (they were called Greeks by the Romans after another tribe in northwestern Greece), adapted the native culture to their own peasant village traditions and developed the characteristic form of ancient Greek political organization, the city-state (polis). The resulting Mycenaean civilization (c.1600–c.1100 bc), named after the dominant city-state of Mycenae, constituted the latter period of the Helladic civilization.
The Mycenaeans, who were rivals of the Minoans, destroyed Knossos about 1400 bc and, according to legend, the city of Troy in Asia Minor about 1200 bc. The Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations both came to a relatively abrupt end about 1100 bc, possibly as a result of the Dorian invasion, but the foundations had already been laid for what was to become the basis of Western civilization. It was the Greeks who first tried democratic government; produced the world's first outstanding dramatists, poets, historians, philosophers, and orators; and made the first scientific study of medicine, zoology, botany, physics, geometry, and the social sciences.
In the 1st millennium bc, overpopulation forced the Greeks to emigrate and to colonize areas from Spain to Asia Minor. The Greeks derived their alphabet from the Phoenicians during the 8th century bc. By the 6th century bc, the two dominant polises (city-states) were Athens and Sparta. The 5th century bc, recognized as the golden age of Athenian culture, brought the defeat of the Persians by the Athenians in the Persian Wars (490–479 bc) and the defeat of Athens and its allies by Sparta and its allies in the Peloponnesian War (431–404 bc). The territory that is present-day Greece was under Spartan rule.
The inability of Greeks to unite politically led to the annexation of their territories by Philip II of Macedon in 338 bc and by his son Alexander the Great. Through Alexander's ambition for world empire and his admiration of Greek learning, Greek civilization was spread to all his conquered lands. The death of Alexander in 323 bc, the breakup of his empire, and the lack of national feeling among the Greeks prepared the way for their conquest by Rome at the close of the Macedonian Wars in 146 bc.
Greece was made a Roman province, but Athens remained a center of learning. To speak the Greek language was to speak the language of culture, commerce, art, and politics. Greeks were widely influential in Rome, in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, and elsewhere. For this reason, the period between the death of Alexander and the beginning of the Roman Empire is known as the Hellenistic period.
When the Roman Empire was officially divided in ad 395, Greece, by this time Christianized, became part of the Eastern Roman Empire, eventually known as the Byzantine Empire (so named from Byzantium, the former name of Constantinople, its capital). The Byzantine Empire lasted for more than a thousand years. During this period, Greek civilization continued to contribute to Byzantine art and culture.
The formal schism between Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism came in 1054, when Pope Leo IX and Patriarch Michael Cerularius excommunicated each other. The continuity of Byzantine rule was broken by the fall of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Under the Latin Empire of the East, which lasted until 1261, Greece was divided into feudal fiefs, with the Duchy of Athens passing successively under French, Spanish, and Florentine rulers.
The Ottoman Turks, who conquered Constantinople in 1453 and the Greek peninsula by the end of the decade, gave the Greeks a large degree of local autonomy. Communal affairs were controlled by the Orthodox Church, and Greek merchants ranged throughout the world on their business ventures, but Greece itself was poverty-stricken. Following an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Turks in 1770—an uprising aided by Russia, as part of Catherine the Great's plan to replace Muslim with Orthodox Christian rule throughout the Near East—the Greeks, led by the archbishop of Patras, proclaimed a war of independence against the Turks on 25 March 1821. The revolution, which aroused much sympathy in Europe, succeeded only after Britain, France, and Russia decided to aid the Greeks in 1827. These three nations recognized Greek independence through the London Protocol of 1830, and the Ottomans accepted the terms later in the year.
The same three powers also found a king for Greece in the person of Otto I of Bavaria. During his reign (1832–1844), Otto I faced a series of foreign and domestic problems. In March 1844, Otto's administration was pressured to draft a constitution to establish a new government. Under this document, the leader would reign as a constitutional monarch and the legislature would be elected by all property-holding males over the age of 25. Otto managed to hold onto power for another decade, until the outbreak of the Crimean War (1854–1856). Otto sent troops to occupy Ottoman territory with the pretense of protecting Christians in the Balkans, but the European powers sided against him. Otto, humiliated, was forced to give up his "Christian Cause" in the Balkans. He abdicated in 1862.
Next Prince William George of Denmark, who ruled as King George I, took control of Greece until his assassination in 1913. During and after his rule, Greece gradually added islands and neighboring territories with Greek-speaking populations, including the Ionian Islands, ceded by the British in 1864; Thessaly, seized from Turkey in 1881; Macedonia, Crete, and some Aegean islands in 1913; and the Dodecanese Islands and Rhodes, ceded by Italy in 1947.
The first half of the 20th century for Greece was a period of wars and rivalries with Turkey; of republican rule under the Cretan patriot Eleutherios Venizelos; of occupation by Italy and Germany during World War II (in World War I, Greece had been neutral for three years and had then sided with the Allies); and of a five-year civil war (1944–49) between the government and the Communist-supported National Liberation Front, in which US aid under the Truman Doctrine played a significant role in defeating the insurgency. In September 1946, the Greeks voted back to the throne the twice-exiled George II (grandson of George I), who was succeeded upon his death in April 1947 by his brother Paul I. A new constitution took effect in 1952, the same year Greece joined NATO. For much of the decade, Greece backed demands by Greek Cypriots for enosis, or the union of Cyprus with Greece, but in 1959, the Greek, Turkish, and Cypriot governments agreed on a formula for an independent Cyprus, which became a reality in 1960.
King Paul died on 6 March 1964 and was succeeded by his son Constantine. Meanwhile, a parliamentary crisis was brewing, as rightist and leftist elements struggled for control of the army, and the government sought to purge the military of political influence. On 21 April 1967, a right wing military junta staged a successful coup d'etat. Leftists were rounded up, press censorship was imposed, and political liberties were suspended. After an unsuccessful countercoup on 13 December 1967, King Constantine and the royal family fled to exile in Italy. Lt. Gen. George Zoetakis was named regent to act for the king, and Col. George Papadopoulos was made premier. A constitutional reform was approved by 92% of the voters in a plebiscite held under martial law on 29 September 1968. Under the new constitution, individual rights were held to be subordinate to the interests of the state, many powers of the king and legislature were transferred to the ruling junta, and the army was granted extended powers as overseer of civil order. The constitution outlawed membership in the Communist Party. US military aid to Greece, suspended after the 1967 coup, was restored by President Richard M. Nixon in September 1970.
Following an abortive naval mutiny in 1973, Greece was declared a republic by the surviving junta. Papadopoulos became president, only to be overthrown by a group of officers following the bloody repression of a student uprising. The complicity of the junta in a conspiracy by Greek army officers on Cyprus against the government of Archbishop Makarios precipitated the final fall from power of Greece's military rulers in July 1974, when the Turkish army intervened in Cyprus and overwhelmed the island's Greek contingent. Constantine Karamanlis, a former prime minister and moderate, returned from exile to form a civilian government that effectively ended eight years of dictatorial rule.
General elections were held on 17 November 1974, the first since 1964, marking the recovery of democratic rule. In a referendum held on 8 December 1974, 69% of the electorate voted to end the monarchy and declare Greece a parliamentary republic. On 7 June 1975, a democratic constitution was adopted by the new legislature, although 86 of the 300 members boycotted the session. Karamanlis became Greece's first prime minister under the new system, and on 19 June 1975, parliament elected Konstantinos Tsatsos as president.
Prime Minister Karamanlis, who had withdrawn Greece from NATO's military structure in 1974 to protest Turkey's invasion of Cyprus, resumed military cooperation with NATO in the fall of 1980 (a few months after he was elected president of Greece) and brought his nation into the European Community (EC) effective 1 January 1981. With the victory of the PanHellenic Socialist Movement (Panellinio Socialistikou Kinema—PASOK) in the elections of October 1981, Greece installed its first Socialist government. The new prime minister, Andreas Papandreou—the son of former prime minister George Papandreou and a man accused by rightists in 1967 of complicity in an abortive leftist military plot—had campaigned on a promise to take Greece out of the EC (although his government did not do so). In November 1982, he refused to allow Greek participation in NATO military exercises in the Aegean, which were then canceled. In January 1983, the government declared a general amnesty for the Communist exiles of the 1944–49 civil war.
In mid-1982, in an attempt to deal with the deepening economic crisis, the government created a ministry of national economy, which embraced industrial and commercial affairs. The proposed "radical socialization" of the economy, however, provoked widespread opposition, which limited it to the introduction of worker participation in supervisory councils; state control was imposed only on the pharmaceutical industry (in 1982). Of Greece's largest enterprises, only the Heracles Cement Co. was nationalized (in 1983). Relations with labor were strained as the government sought to balance worker demands that wages be indexed to inflation with the growing need for austerity; in late 1986, the government imposed a two-year wage freeze, which provoked widespread strikes and demonstrations.
In 1985, Prime Minister Papandreou unexpectedly withdrew his support for President Karamanlis's bid for a second five-year term and announced amendments to the constitution that would transfer powers from the president to the legislature and prime minister. Karamanlis resigned and Papandreou proceeded with his proposed changes, calling an election in June and winning a mandate to follow through with them (parliament's approval was given in March 1986). Subsequently, however, the government began to lose power; the opposition made substantial gains in the 1986 local elections, and a 1987 scandal associated with Papandreou further weakened the government. In January 1988, Papandreou met with Turkish premier Turgut Ozal in Switzerland; they agreed to work toward solving the problems between the two countries.
Two rounds of parliamentary elections were held in 1989; neither was conclusive. After the June vote, the center-conservative New Democracy (ND) party, with 146 of 300 seats, formed a government with left wing parties and concentrated on investigating scandals of the Papandreou government, including those of the former prime minister himself. That government resigned in the fall, and new elections were held in November. The ND and PASOK both improved their totals and an all-party coalition was formed to address economic reform. That government, however, also failed. In April 1990 elections, the ND emerged victorious to lead the government.
In the balloting of 10 October 1993, PASOK won 171 seats to 110 for the ND and Papandreou was again elected prime minister, despite repeated scandals of both personal and political nature. In 1995, parliament appointed Konstandinos Stephanopoulos president. Voters appeared dissatisfied with ND's economic reforms while PASOK won support for its hardline foreign policy demanding that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia change its name. Many Greeks believe the name of the newly independent state implies territorial designs on the northern Greek region, which once formed part of historic Macedonia. In 1995, Papandreou became ill and was not able to adequately perform his duties. In January 1996, PASOK named Costas Simitis prime minister. In June of that year, Papandreou died at 77, ending the tumultuous political career of postwar Greece's most important—and controversial—politician.
In 1996, Simitis, facing strong resistance to austerity measures from labor and farmers, called on the president to dissolve parliament and hold early elections. Simitis had vowed not to call for a dissolution, but faced with mounting opposition to his austerity measures—taken to prepare the Greek economy for European monetary union in 1999—felt he needed a reinforced mandate. The election, held on 22 September 1996, returned PASOK and Simitis to power, giving them, in fact, a commanding majority in parliament.
The next four years were highlighted by continued Greek-Turkish tension, and Simitis's push for Greek entry into the monetary union. Relations with Turkey reached a new low in early 1999 when Turkey's most-wanted man, Kurdish terrorist leader Abdullah Ocalan, was captured by the Turkish secret services in Nairobi, Kenya. Ocalan had sought refuge in the Greek embassy and was seized while en route to the airport, apparently on the way to an asylum-granting country in Africa. Ocalan's capture led to subsequent Turkish charges that the Greek state sponsored international terrorism.
The outbreak of a war in Kosovo little over a month later also placed Greece in an awkward diplomatic position. Although the overwhelming majority of the Greek public opposed the war, the Simitis government maintained its ties to NATO and offered logistical—although not combat—support to its allies. Nevertheless, the widespread anti-Western backlash remained for some months. Rioting greeted US president Bill Clinton when he visited Greece in November 1999.
Unexpectedly, relations with Turkey began to significantly improve in August 1999 following a devastating earthquake in Turkey that killed over 20,000 Turkish citizens. Greece was among the first countries to offer aid to its traditional foe. When a smaller earthquake struck Greece the following month, Turkey reciprocated the Greek gesture. In the aftermath of the tragedies, Greece and Turkey continued a dialogue that resulted in the signing of cooperation accords in the areas of commerce and the fight against terrorism. In addition, Greece supported the decision of the December 1999 European Union (EU) summit in Helsinki to place Turkey as a candidate for EU membership, which also contributed to improving relations between Greece and Turkey. When the EU in late 2002 announced Turkey would not be one of 10 new candidate countries invited to join the body as of 2004, Greece pressed the EU to set a date for the start of accession talks. Greece itself entered the euro zone on 1 January 2002.
Relations between the two countries also warmed due to cooperation on a project to build a natural gas pipeline connecting them; the pipeline was scheduled to be in operation by November 2006.
Negotiations between the Greek and Turkish leaders in Cyprus were held in early 2003 to see if they could agree on a plan to unify the island prior to Cyprus signing an EU accession treaty on 16 April. The talks failed, and the internationally recognized Greek government of Cyprus signed the accession treaty. However, later that month, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash opened the borders of northern Cyprus to Greeks, and by 15 May 2003, about 250,000 Greek Cypriots and 70,000 Turkish Cypriots—40% of the island's combined population—had visited each other's side.
Approximately 90% of Greece's population was opposed to the US-led war in Iraq that began on 19 March 2003. Prime Minister Costas Simitis indicated that by waging war, the United States and United Kingdom were undermining the EU. Yet he gave the coalition permission to use of Greece's airspace in launching strikes against Iraq.
Greece's international standing received a boost when the country hosted the 2004 Summer Olympics.
In February 2005, parliament elected Karolos Papoulias president by a vote of 279 out of 300 votes; he took office on 12 March 2005.
Before the 1967 coup, executive power was vested in the crown but was exercised by a Council of Ministers appointed by the king and headed by a premier. The 1975 constitution abolished the 146-year-old Greek monarchy and created the office of president as head of state. If a majority in parliament fails to agree on the selection of a president, the office is filled in a general election. The president, who is limited to two five-year terms, appoints the prime minister, who is head of government and requires the confidence of parliament to remain in power. (The constitution was amended in 1986 to reduce the power of the president, limiting his right to dissolve parliament on his own initiative and depriving him of the right to dismiss the prime minister, veto legislation, or proclaim a state of emergency; basically, these powers were transferred to parliament.) The prime minister selects a cabinet from among the members of parliament.
Legislative power is vested in a parliament (Vouli), a unicameral body of 300 deputies elected by direct, universal, secret ballot for maximum four-year terms. A proportional electoral system makes it possible for a party with a minority of the popular vote to have a parliamentary majority. In the 1974 elections, voting was made compulsory for all persons aged 21–70 residing within 200 km (124 mi) of their constituencies. Suffrage is now universal and compulsory at age 18.
After World War II, political parties in Greece centered more on leaders than platforms. The Greek Rally, founded and led by Field Marshal Alexander Papagos, won control of the government in the 1951 elections. About 10% of the vote was received by the Union of the Democratic Left, a left wing party founded in 1951 as a substitute for the Communist Party, outlawed since 1947. When Papagos died in October 1955, Constantine Karamanlis formed a new party called the National Radical Union, which won the elections of 1956, 1958, and 1961 and held power until 1963, when Karamanlis resigned and the newly formed Center Union, comprising a coalition of liberals and progressives and led by George Papandreou, subsequently won a narrow plurality, with Papandreou becoming prime minister. In elections held in February 1964, the Center Union won 174 out of 300 seats; however, King Constantine dismissed Papandreou in July 1965, and Stephanos Stephanopoulos formed a new government. This government, too, was short-lived. Political conflict came to a head when Panayotis Kanellopoulos, leader of the National Radical Union, who had been appointed premier of a caretaker government, set new elections for 28 May 1967. On 21 April, however, a military coup resulted in the cancellation of elections and suppression of political parties, which lasted until 1974.
On 28 September 1974, following his return from exile, Karamanlis formed the New Democracy Party (Nea Dimokratia—ND), advocating a middle course between left and right and promoting closer ties with Western Europe. The Center Union–New Forces (EKND), renamed the Union of the Democratic Center (EDHK) in 1976, rallied liberal factions of the former Center Union and announced a line that generally paralleled ND policies. The EDHK disintegrated following the 1981 elections. Other groups to emerge, most of them led by former opponents of the junta, included the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (Panellinio Socialistiko Kinema—PASOK), led by Andreas Papandreou; the United Left (UL), which brought together elements of the Union of the Democratic Left and the Communist Party to oppose the upcoming elections; and the National Democratic Union (NDU), which represented an amalgam of various elements, including some royalists and right wing activists. Also in 1974, the Communist Party (Kommounistiko Komma Ellados—KKE) was made legal for the first time since 1947; the party later split into two factions, the pro-Soviet KKE-Exterior and the Eurocommunist wing, called the KKE-Interior. In May 1986, the KKE-Interior changed its name to the New Hellenic Left Party.
In the general elections held on 17 November 1974, the ND won an overwhelming majority in parliament, with the EKND forming the major opposition. The ND was again the winner in 1977, although its parliamentary majority dropped from 220 to 172. After parliament elected Karamanlis president in 1980, George Rallis succeeded him as prime minister. In the elections of 18 October 1981, Papandreou's PASOK won 48% of the popular vote and commanded a clear parliamentary majority. Although PASOK won again in the election of 2 June 1985, its share of the total votes cast fell to 45.8%.
In the elections of 10 October 1993, PASOK had about the same percentage (46.9%) and a majority of 171 seats. The ND followed with 110 seats and an offshoot party, Political Spring, had 10 seats. The Communists gained 9 places.
In the parliamentary elections of 22 September 1996, PASOK retained its majority, but lost 9 seats. ND emerged with 108 seats; the KKE, 11; Coalition of the Left and Progress, 10; and the Democratic and Social Movement Parties, 9. The Political Spring lost all its seats in the election, gaining only 2.95% of the popular vote.
PASOK continued its dominance of the post-1974 era with yet another victory at the polls on 9 April 2000. In a close election PASOK won 158 seats (43.8% of the vote), ND earned 125 seats (42.7%), the KKE held steady at 11 (5.5%), while the Coalition of the Left and Progress saw its share of the seats drop to 6 (3.2%). The Democratic Social Movement failed to clear the 3% hurdle needed for representation and Political Spring once again failed to win any seats.
Following the 7 March 2004 elections, ND increased its seats in parliament to 165 (45.5%), while PASOK's number declined to 117 (40.6%). The KKK gained one seat, winning 12 (5.9%), with the Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) holding steady at 6 seats (3.3%).
The 1975 constitution restored the large measure of local self-government initially provided for in the constitution of 1952 and re-emphasized the principle of decentralization, although local units must depend on the central government for funding. Under the military regime of 1967–74, local units had been closely controlled by the central authorities.
Greece is divided into 13 regional governments (periferiarchis ), which are subdivided into 51 prefectures or nomarchies (nomoi ), in addition to the autonomous administration of Mt. Áthos (Aghion Oros) in Macedonia. Each prefecture is governed by a prefect (nomoi) who is elected. There are also 272 municipalities or demoi (cities of more than 10,000 inhabitants), administered by mayors; communes (with 300 to 10,000 inhabitants), each run by a president and a community council; and localities.
The rocky promontory of Mt. Áthos, southeast of Salonika, is occupied by 20 monasteries, of which 17 are Greek, one Russian, one Serbian, and one Bulgarian. Mt. Áthos is governed by a 4-member council and a 20-member assembly (1 representative from each monastery). The special status of Mt. Áthos was first formalized in the 1952 constitution.
The 1975 constitution (Syntagma) has been revised twice, in 1985 and in 2001. The constitution provides for an independent judiciary.
The constitution designates the Supreme Court (Areios Pagos) as the highest court of appeal. It consists of both penal and civil sections. A Council of State does not hear cases but decides on administrative disputes, administrative violations of laws, and revision of disciplinary procedures affecting civil servants. The Comptrollers Council decides cases of a fiscal nature. The 1975 constitution also established a Special Supreme Tribunal as a final arbiter in disputes arising over general elections and referenda, in addition to exercising review of the constitutionality of laws. Other elements of the judicial system include justices of the peace, magistrates' courts, courts of first instance, courts of appeal, and various administrative courts. Judges of the Supreme Court, the courts of appeal, and the courts of first instance are appointed for life on the recommendation of the Ministry of Justice. The president has the constitutional right, with certain exceptions, to commute and reduce sentences.
In 2005 Greece's active armed forces totaled 163,850 members and were supported by some 325,000 reservists. As of that year, there were 110,000 active personnel in the Army, 19,250 in the Navy, and 23,000 in the Air Force. The Greek field army has a large and varied combined arms structure, with units manned at three different levels of readiness: 85% are fully ready; 65% are ready within 24 hours; and 20% are ready within 48 hours. The 1,150 troops serving on Cyprus include 1 mechanized brigade. The Army operates 1,723 main battle tanks, 175 reconnaissance vehicles, 501 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 1,640 armored personnel carriers, and 4,660 artillery pieces. The Navy had 13 tactical submarines, 18 frigates, 4 corvettes, 36 patrol and coastal combatants, and 13 mine warfare vessels, as well as various amphibious and support vessels. The Navy's aviation arm is focused on antisubmarine warfare and search and rescue. The Air Force operated 283 combat capable aircraft in addition to 120 fixed and rotary wing transport aircraft. The paramilitary consisted of 4,000 coast guard and customs officers. Greek military personnel provided support to UN peacekeeping missions in seven countries or regions around the world. In 2005, the defense budget totaled $4.46 billion. The United States has one major naval base on Greek soil and several smaller installations.
Greece is a charter member of the United Nations (UN), having joined on 25 October 1945, and participates in ECE and several nonregional specialized agencies. Greece was admitted to NATO in 1951 but suspended its military participation (1974–80) because of the Cyprus conflict. It belongs to the Council of Europe, the OECD, OSCE, WTO, G-6, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone, and the Western European Union. Greece is also a permanent observer at the OAS. The country became a full member of the European Union as of 1 January 1981.
In August 1987, Greece and Albania signed a pact ending the state of war that had existed between them since World War II (1939–45). The Greek government continues to be in dispute with the neighboring Republic of Macedonia over the name of the latter. In 1995, Greece agreed to recognize the country as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece and Turkey have unresolved boundary disputes in the Aegean Sea and tension between the two countries has grown in connection with the Greek-Turkish disputes in the nation of Cyprus. Greece has supported UN operations and missions in Kosovo (est. 1999), Western Sahara (est. 1991), Ethiopia and Eritrea (est. 2000), and Georgia (est. 1993). Greece has guest status in the Nonaligned Movement.
Greece belongs to the Australia group, the Zangger Committee, the Nuclear energy Agency, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). In environmental cooperation, Greece is part of the Antarctic Treaty, the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Air Pollution, Ramsar, CITES, the London Convention, International Tropical Timber Agreements, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.
The Greek economy suffers from a paucity of exploitable natural resources and a low level of industrial development relative to the rest of Western Europe. By 1992, it had fallen behind Portugal to become the poorest European Community (now European Union—EU) member; with the entrance into the EU of 10 primarily Eastern European nations in 2004, that was no longer the case. In 2004, agriculture (with forestry and fishing) generated about 7% of GDP but employed about 12% of the labor force. Agricultural exports include tobacco, cotton, wheat, raisins, currants, fresh fruits, tomato products, olive oil, and olives. In 2004, industry and construction accounted for about 22% of GDP and 20% of the labor force. Wholesale and retail trade and other services provided some 71% of GDP, employing 68% of the labor force.
Next to food processing, textile manufacturing used to be the most important industry, but chemicals and metals and machinery have outstripped it in recent years. Paper products has been a fast-growing industry since 1980. Greece has stimulated foreign investments in the development of its mineral resources by constitutionally providing guarantees for capital and profits. The government has encouraged tourism, which has developed into a major source of revenue (15% of GDP in 2004). Greece continues to play a dominant role in the international shipping industry.
During the late 1950s and 1960s, the government took steps to reclaim land, develop new farms, increase credits and investments for agriculture, protect agricultural prices, and improve the agricultural product and utilize it to the best advantage; however, the country still depends on many imports to meet its food needs. Industrial output contributed substantially to the rapid increase in national income after 1960, and manufacturing and service industries were the fastest-growing sectors in the 1970s. In the 1980s, however, the economy retracted sharply because of the worldwide recession and growth in real terms was sluggish. In the best year of the decade, 1988, GDP grew by 4.9%. In 1993, GDP dropped by 0.5%, but rebounded in 1995 by 2.0%. Inflation, which neared 20% in 1991, had been lowered to 8.1% in 1995, lower than the many European Union (EU) countries that struggled mightily with inflation in the mid-1990s. As Greece pursued an economic austerity program aimed at meeting the criteria for European economic and monetary union (EMU), inflation continued to fall, reaching less than 4% at the end of 1998. Greece entered into the EMU in 2001.
As of 2006, Greece had failed to meet the EU's Growth and Stability Pact budget deficit criteria of 3% of GDP since 2000. Greece is a recipient of EU aid, amounting to 3.3% of annual GDP. The country's public debt burden is a major drag on economic growth and prosperity, at 112% of GDP in 2004. Unemployment remained high at 10% in 2004 and the country was in need of introducing social insurance reform. Greece has a large public sector (some 40% of GDP), but is implementing privatization policies. Per capita GDP is about 70% of the leading eurozone economies. Public and private investment was strong in 2003, in preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games that were held in Athens; the Greek economy grew at a rate of approximately 4% in 2003 and 2004. Spending on the Olympic Games contributed to an estimated general government deficit of 6.6% of GDP in 2004; however, the deficit was forecast to fall substantially in 2005–07, although it was projected to remain above the 3% of GDP limit established by the EU's Growth and Stability Pact. GDP growth was expected to slow from 4.2% in 2004 to 3.4% in 2005, 3.1% in 2006, and 2.9% in 2007. Inflation was likely to rise from 3% in 2004 to 3.8% in 2005, driven by indirect tax rises and high international oil prices, before easing again to 3.3% in 2006 and 2.8% in 2007.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Greece's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $242.8 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $22,800. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 3.3%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 3.8%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 6.2% of GDP, industry 22.1%, and services 71.7%.
According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $1.564 billion or about $142 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.9% of GDP.
The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Greece totaled $114.60 billion or about $10,418 per capita based on a GDP of $172.2 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 2.4%.
In 2005, Greece's labor force was estimated at 4.72 million people. In 2004, it was estimated that agriculture accounted for 12% of the labor force, followed by industry at 20% and the services sector at 68%. Unemployment was estimated at 10.8% in 2005.
In 2005, about 26% of salaried, nonagricultural employees belonged to unions. Altogether, there were over 4,000 trade unions. Unions were organized on a territorial rather than a plant basis: all workers of a certain trade in a town usually belong to one union. On a nationwide scale, union members of the same trade or profession form a federation; the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) is the central core of the private sector union movement. Government plays an important role in labor-management relations. Collective bargaining and the right to strike are protected by law, although workers must give notice of an intent to strike (4 days for public utilities, 24 hours in the private sector). Because of a history of compulsory arbitration as a means to resolve labor disputes, unions successfully lobbied for new legislation, passed in 1992, which restricted the use of compulsory arbitration in favor of mediation procedures.
As of 2005, the maximum legal workweek is 40 hours in the private sector and 37.5 hours in the public sector. The minimum monthly salary negotiated by the GSEE for that same year was around $35 per day or $779 per month. This amount provided a decent standard of living for a family. Annual vacations (of up to a month) with pay are provided by law. In general, employment of children under the age of 15 in the industrial sector was prohibited. The minimum age for children employed in cinemas, theaters and family businesses was 12. Industrial health and safety standards are set by law and regularly enforced.
Agriculture in Greece suffers not only from natural limitations, such as poor soils and droughts, but also from soil erosion, lack of fertilizers, and insufficient capital investment. The total farm labor force in 2003 was 129,900 full-time and nearly 1.4 million part-time workers.
About 30% of the land area is cultivable, and it supports over half of the population. Of the land under cultivation in 2003, about 72% was planted in seasonal crops, and 28% in orchards and vineyards. About 38% of the agricultural land was irrigated in 2003. Although agriculture accounts for 17% of the work force, its role in the economy is declining; in 2003 agriculture accounted for 7% of GDP, down from 25% in the 1950s.
In recent decades, Greek agriculture has been characterized by an increasing diversification of fruit crops for export. Agricultural production of principal crops in 2004 was estimated as follows (in thousands of tons): sugar beets, 2,300; corn, 2,300; olives, 2,130; tomatoes, 1,800; wheat, 1,800; peaches and nectarines, 955; oranges, 903; cotton, 359; apples, 288; barley, 220; and tobacco, 127.
Progress has been made toward modernization in machinery and cultivation techniques. Agricultural products, including processed foods, beverages, and tobacco, make up one-third of total exports. To expand agricultural production and encourage farm prosperity, the government exempts agricultural income from most taxes, extends liberal farm credits, and subsidizes agriculture. It also operates a service by which individual growers or cooperatives may hire heavy farm equipment at low prices, encourages the development of industries that use farm products, provides educational programs, and has sought to halt the trend toward ever-smaller farm holdings. There were 255,000 tractors, 5,150 harvester-threshers, and 13,450 milking machines in use in 2003.
In 2005 there were 9,000,000 sheep, 5,400,000 goats, 1,000,000 hogs, 600,000 head of cattle, 68,000 donkeys, 29,000 horses, 28,000 mules, and 28,000,000 chickens. Although production of milk, meat, and cheese has risen greatly since the end of World War II (1939–45), Greece still must import substantial quantities of evaporated and condensed milk, cheese, cattle, sheep, hides, and meat. Estimated meat production in 2005 included 134,000 tons of poultry, 134,000 tons of pork, 124,000 tons of mutton and goat meat, and 75,000 tons of beef and veal. Livestock products in 2005 included (in thousands of tons) cow's milk, 780; sheep milk, 700; goat milk, 495; cheese, 246; eggs, 105; honey, 15; and butter, 4. Recent modernization in machinery has especially helped poultry and hog operations. Exports of dairy and egg products were valued at $216.4 million in 2004 (mostly going to European Union nations).
The fishing industry has expanded and been modernized in recent years. In 2002, the Greek fishing fleet consisted of 19,504 vessels with 97,579 GRT, and there were 33,992 people employed in small scale fisheries. The total fish catch was 197,596 tons in 2003. A total of $317.2 million of fish and fish products were exported that year. In the north of Greece, freshwater fisheries have been restocked and developed, but the inland catch only accounted for 3% of total volume in 2003.
Sponge fishing, formerly an important undertaking in the Dodecanese and other regions, decreased in volume from 135.5 tons of sponges in 1955 to 2.5 tons in 2003.
Forests cover about 28% of the total area. Much of the forest area was destroyed during the 1940s, but the government's reforestation program planted more than 100 million trees during the 1970s and 1980s. Pine, fir, and oak are the most common trees, and resin and turpentine are the principal products. In 2004, 1,672,000 cu m (59,022,000 cu ft) of roundwood were harvested, including 1.073 million cu m (37.88 million cu ft) of firewood. Sawn wood production in 2004 totaled 196,000 cu m (6,911,000 cu ft), and wood-based panels, 770,000 cu m (27.2 million cu ft). Production of timber is insufficient to meet the domestic demand, and many forestry products are imported. Total trade in forestry products in 2003 amounted to $929 million imports and $112.4 million in exports.
The minerals industry, consisting of the mining, industrial minerals, and metal processing sectors, was a small but important part of the national economy. Greece, the only Balkan country in the European Union (EU), was the union's largest producer of bauxite, magnesium, nickel, and perlite, and was second to the United States in bentonite production (from Milos Island). Chromite (from Tsingeli Mines, near Volos) and zinc (from Kassandra Mines, in Olympias and Stratoni) were other important commodities. Greek marble, produced in all parts of the country, continued to play a leading role in the international dimension stone market because of its versatility and many colors (ash, black, brown, green, pink, red, and multicolored). With the exception of bauxite, Greece's mines operated far below their productive capacity. A relatively small industrial base, lack of adequate investment, and distance from EU markets, have restricted the export potential of the country. The emerging Balkan markets could offer opportunities for growth. About 50% of the country's mineral production was exported. Northern Greece was thought to contain a significant amount of exploitable mineral resources, and most new activities were directed toward gold.
Production in 2003 of bauxite was 2.418 million metric tons, compared to 2,468,865 metric tons in 2002. Nickel (content of ferronickel) output in 2003 was estimated at 18,000 metric tons, while crude perlite production in that year was estimated at 850,000 metric tons, up from 838,997 metric tons in 2002. Other types of magnesite produced were dead-burned, caustic-calcined, and crude huntite/hydromagnesite, which had unique flame-retardant properties. Grecian Magnesite S.A., with its openpit mine at Yerakini, was a leading magnesite producer in the western world. Also produced in 2003 were alumina, lead, manganese, silver, barite, cement, kaolin, feldspar, gypsum (from Crete), anhydrite, nitrogen, pozzolan (Santorin earth, from Milos), pumice (from Yali), salt, silica, sodium compounds, dolomite, marble, flysch, quartz, sulfur, zeolite, and crude construction materials. No asbestos was produced in 2003. Other mineral deposits of commercial importance were antimony, gold (placer dredger), asbestos, emery, ceramic clay, talc, and limestone. Industrial processing of mineral ores was very limited until the 1960s and 1970s, when facilities for refining nickeliferous iron ore and bauxite were developed.
Coal and oil are imported to supply power for the many small generating plants spread over the country. Before World War II, the Athens-Piraiévs Electricity Co. operated the only modern plant in Greece, which ran on imported coal. In 1950, the government-organized Public Power Corp. was established to construct and operate electricity generating plants and power transmission and distribution lines; by 1955, it had erected four major power plants. In 1965, the first two units of the Kremasta hydroelectric station were opened; by 2001, installed capacity totaled 10.2 million kW. Production of electricity increased from 8,991 million kWh in 1970 to 50,400 million kWh in 2000, of which 91.5% was provided by thermal power, 6.6% by hydroelectric stations, and the rest by other sources. It has been estimated that 15% of Greece's energy needs can be supplied by wind power by 2010, and there are wind farms on Crete, Andors, and a number of other Greek islands. As of 2002, solar water heaters were used in 20% of Greek homes.
As of 2003, 63% of Greece's total energy consumption came from oil. Greece has actively explored offshore oil resources. A field off Thásos in the northern Aegean began operations in July 1981. Total production, however, fell from 25,000 to 6,000 barrels per day between 1986 and 1998. In 2004, oil production totaled an estimated 6,411 barrels per day, of which crude oil accounted for 2,836 barrels per day, from reserves estimated at 7 million barrels, as of 1 January 2005. Consumption in 2004 totaled an estimated 429,000 barrels per day, making Greece strongly reliant on imported oil, mostly from Russia, Libya, OPEC, the Persian Gulf, and Egypt. Natural gas production in 2003 totaled an estimated 1.0 billion cu ft, compared with an estimated consumption of 86 billion cu ft for that same year. Two-thirds of Greece's imports of natural gas come from Russia, with the remainder from Algeria. Greece's only substantial fossil fuel resource is brown coal, or lignite. Its lignite reserves totaled an estimated 4,299 million short tons in 2003, with production and consumption estimated at 75.3 million short tons and 76 million short tons, respectively for that same year.
Manufacturing, which now ranks ahead of agriculture as an income earner, has increased rapidly owing to a vigorous policy of industrialization. However, Greek industry must rely on imports for its raw materials, machinery, parts, and fuel. Greece has only a rudimentary iron and steel industry and does not manufacture basic transport equipment, such as cars and trucks. Industry is concentrated in the Athens area.
Chief industries in 2006 were food, beverages and tobacco; metals and metals manufactures; machinery and electrical goods; chemicals; textiles; and nonmetallic minerals. Although the government controls certain basic industries, such as electric power and petroleum refining, most industry is privately owned. The portion of government-controlled industries is declining as the state has divested itself of substantial control over key holdings such as Olympic Airways and the telecommunications company, OTE. There is substantial room for investment in tourism infrastructure.
The industrial sector accounted for 22% of GDP in 2004, and it grew by 4.1% that year. High technology equipment is a growth sector, as are the production of electrical machinery, office machinery and computers, defense products, building products and equipment, medical equipment, environmental engineering products and services, and certain agricultural products.
The Academy of Athens, founded in 1926, oversees the activities of research institutes in astronomy and applied mathematics and in atmospheric physics and climatology. Greece has five other scientific research institutes. Specialized scientific learned societies include the Association of Greek Chemists, founded in 1924, and the Greek Mathematical Society, founded in 1918, both headquartered in Athens. Advanced scientific and technical training is provided at nine colleges and universities. The University of Athens has maintained a zoological museum since 1858. In the early 1980s, the government established a Ministry of Research and Technology to foster scientific and technological development.
In the period 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 26% of university enrollment. In 2001, Greece had 1,357 scientists and engineers per million people who were engaged in research and development (R&D). In that same year, total spending on R&D amounted to 1,226.070 million, or 0.65% of GDP. The government sector accounted for the largest portion of R&D spending in 2001 at 46.6%, followed by the business sector at 33.1%. Foreign sources accounted for 18.4%, with higher education accounting for 2%. In 2002, high technology exports by Greece totaled $524 million, or 10% of the country's manufactured exports.
Industry and trade are centered on about 20 seaports throughout the country. Athens, Piraeus, and Thessaloniki are the principal commercial cities; importers and exporters have offices in these cities and branches in other centers. There are about 300,000 wholesale and retail trading establishments in the country.
In general, small shops specialize in particular lines of merchandise, but there are a growing number of department stores. Most people buy in the small shops and in the markets. Usual private sector business hours are from 8 or 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Banking hours are from 8:30 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday. Stores are open from 9 am to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday, but some have longer evening hours. Businesses are often closed for extended vacations throughout July and August, reopening in September after the annual trade fair.
Advertising is used widely in the towns and cities, and several advertising agencies are active in Athens and Thessaloniki. The most common media are television, newspapers, radio, films, billboards, neon signs, and window displays. The principal annual trade fair is the International Fair of Thessaloniki, held in September.
|Italy-San Marino-Holy See||1,470.3||5,625.0||-4,154.7|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
Garments and cotton have traditionally provided Greece with the most exports, followed by petroleum products; fruit, nuts, and vegetable oils; and tobacco. Tobacco exports from Greece are substantial on the world commodities export market. In 2004, the major exports were machinery (19.3% of all exports), food (17.1%), and transportation (13.7%, not including services). The major imports in 2004 were machinery (20.7% of all imports), chemicals and plastics (14.2%), and food (13.7%). Trade is the second-largest services sub-sector, after property management. The transportation and communications sector has grown in importance following the liberalization of the telecommunications market, while the financial services sector also increased in the mid-2000s. Greece's leading markets in 2004 were Germany (12.6% of all exports), Italy (10.5%), the United Kingdom (7%), and France (4.2%). Leading suppliers included Germany (12.3% of all imports), Italy (12%), France (6.5%), and the Netherlands (5.1%).
Because it imports more than twice the value of its exports, Greece has registered chronic annual deficits in its balance of payments. The major contributors to Greece's foreign exchange earnings are tourism, shipping services, and remittances from Greek workers abroad. Greece's relatively small industrial base and lack of substantial investment since the mid-1990s limited the country's export potential. Greece's productive base expanded in 1999 and 2000, however, in part due to a thriving stock exchange, and low interest rates. A devaluation of the drachma in 1998 and Greece's inclusion in the euro zone in 1999 restored Greek competitiveness. Merchandise exports amounted to $15.7 billion in 2004 and imports to $47.4 billion, while the current-account deficit was $13 billion. The current-account balance averaged -6.7% from 2001–05.
The government-controlled Bank of Greece (founded in 1927) is the central bank and the bank of issue; it also engages in other banking activities, although the European Central Bank is in charge of monetary policy. There are 33 Greek commercial banks, which are dominated by two massive, state-controlled banking groups, the National Bank and the Commercial Bank. Nineteen of the commercial banks are foreign, including three American banks. The two leading private banks are Alpha Credit and Ergo, which ranked third and fifth, respectively, in 1997 in the Greek banking industry in terms of assets. Banks still must redeposit 70% of all their foreign exchange deposits with the Bank of Greece at the going interest rate plus a small commission. In 1999, as part of a general privatization program, the government began selling shares in the National Bank of Greece and Ionian Bank was sold outright and taken over by Alpha Credit.
The Currency Committee, composed of five cabinet ministers, controls the eight specialized credit institutions: the Agricultural Bank, National Investment Bank, National Investment Bank for Industrial Development, Hellenic Industrial Development Bank, National Mortgage Bank, Mortgage Bank, Postal Savings Bank, and Consignments and Loans Fund. The money supply in 2001, as measured by M1, was 24.7 billion euros. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand deposits—an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $22.2 billion. In that same year, M2—an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $129.6 billion.
The Athens Stock Exchange (Chrimatisterion) was founded by royal decree in 1876. In 1967, significant reforms were instituted, including more stringent listing requirements, bringing about a rapid increase in the number of listed securities. New legislation was introduced in 1988 to expand and liberalize its activities. The rule changes provided for the establishment of brokerage companies, thus breaking the traditional closed shop of individual brokers. In 1997 there were 53 brokerage houses and just 6 private brokers. Computerized trading was implemented in 1992 and there has since been a rapid evolution of the market. The aim is
|Balance on goods||-25,606.0|
|Balance on services||13,033.0|
|Balance on income||-2,924.0|
|Direct investment abroad||-9.0|
|Direct investment in Greece||717.0|
|Portfolio investment assets||-9,807.0|
|Portfolio investment liabilities||23,456.0|
|Other investment assets||-4,413.0|
|Other investment liabilities||-3,887.0|
|Net Errors and Omissions||-1,076.0|
|Reserves and Related Items||4,722.0|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
to secure total dematerialization of shares and to allow brokers to screen-trade from their offices. A satellite trading floor was established in Thessaloniki in 1995. In 1996, Greek law was harmonized with the European Union financial services directive, and banks may now be directly represented on the floor of the exchange instead of having to establish subsidiary brokerage houses. The late 1990s witnessed a boom on the exchange. In 1998, the index rose 85%, while the first five months of 1999 saw a further jump of 43.7%. However, this expansion did not continue into the new millennium. Between 2002 and 2003, the index lost 33.1% of its value. As of 2004, a total of 340 companies were listed on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), which had a market capitalization of $125.242 billion that year. In 2004, the ASE rose 23.1% from the previous year to 2,786.2.
Most of Greece's large insurance companies are partly or wholly owned by banks. In addition, insurers are required to join several unions, trade groups, and insurance pools. Brokers in Greece also must be accepted by the Ministry of Trade. In Greece, the social security scheme and third-party automobile liability insurance are compulsory. In 2003, the direct premiums written were valued at $3.668 billion, of which nonlife premiums accounted for $2.040 billion. Ethniki was the country's largest nonlife and life insurer in 2003, with total gross earned non life premiums (including personal accident and inwards reinsurance) and gross written life insurance premiums valued at $361.2 million and $258.3 million respectively.
Insurance companies have begun to develop private pension schemes and corporate pension schemes. However, most occupational pension funds remain under state control because they are part financed by state-enacted levies. Insurance companies have also been responsible for the recent explosion in unit trusts (mutual funds), from two in 1989 to 152 in December 1995, when there were more than D2 trillion (7.8% of GDP) under management.
The state budget includes ordinary revenues and expenditures and a special investment budget administered by the Ministry of Coordination. The public sector, which employs 15% of the workforce, has many more civil servants than required for a country the size of Greece. Public payrolls, liberal social security benefits, and loss-generating state owned companies have all contributed to a government deficit. Recent austerity measures implemented to meet the criteria for European Monetary Union membership significantly lowered the budget shortfall.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Greece's central government took in revenues of approximately $94.1 billion and had expenditures of $103.4 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$9.2 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 108.9% of GDP. Total external debt was $75.1 billion.
The corporate income tax rate in Greece in 2005 was 32%. The profits of general partnerships (OE) and limited partnerships (EE) were taxed at 25%. A discount of 2.5% was given to companies that settled their corporate tax liability in full when they filed their
|Revenue and Grants||57,882||100.0%|
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|Recreational, culture, and religion||…||…|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
tax returns. A surcharge is applied to gross rental income, but the surcharge is not to exceed the primary corporate tax. Capital gains were taxed at rates between 20% and 35%. Dividends paid to the corporate or individual shareholder are not taxed. Interest paid to Greek legal entities is 20% and 35% to foreign legal entities that do not have a permanent establishment in Greece.
The progressive personal income tax schedule for 2005 has a top rate of 40%. Various deductions or tax credits can be applied to taxable income for medical and hospitalization expenses; social security taxes; interest payments on home loans; and donations to charitable organizations, with special deductions for families whose income is derived primarily from their own work on agricultural enterprises. The withholding tax is 15% on interest income from banks and 10% on interest income derived from treasury bills and corporate bands. There is a 20% tax on royalty payments, but these are often reduced or eliminated in bilateral double tax prevention treaties, of which Greece has concluded more than 35. Gift and inheritance taxes, property taxes on large estates having a certain value, real estate transfer taxes, and taxes on urban property and rural property are also levied.
The main indirect tax in Greece is its value-added tax (VAT) introduced in January 1987. The standard VAT rate in 2005 was 19%. There were also three reduced rates—0% on domestic transportation, lawyers and land registrar fees; 4.5% on books and newspapers; and 9% on foodstuffs, agricultural products and medical materials. Excise duties are charged on tobacco, alcohol, gasoline, and automobiles.
The import tariff protects domestic products and provides a source of government revenue. Many Greek industries are not yet large enough or sufficiently modern to compete in price with foreign products, either in markets abroad or in Greece itself. As a full member of the European Union (EU) since 1981, Greece eliminated its remaining tariffs and quotas on imports from EU nations by 1986 and aligned its own tariffs on imports from other countries with those of EU members. Greek exports to EU countries are tariff-free. Imports from non-EU countries are subject to the EU's common customs tariff. Most raw materials enter duty-free, while manufactured goods have rates between 5% and 7%. Textiles, electronics, and some food products have higher rates. Motor vehicles, yachts, and motorcycles are subject to special duties. In addition, Greece imposes an 8–19% value-added tax and special consumption taxes on alcohol and tobacco.
The government encourages foreign capital investment and protects foreign investors against compulsory appropriation of their assets in Greece. Incentives include reduced tax rates and increased depreciation rates.
Total direct foreign investment (FDI) was estimated at $3.78 billion in 1995. From 1995 to 1997, FDI inflow averaged about $1 billion a year. In the wake of the Russian financial crisis of 1998, FDI inflow fell to $700 million in 1998 and to $567 million in 1999. FDI inflow in 2000 reached over $1 billion and grew to a record $1.56 billion in 2001. In 2002, FDI inflow fell nearly 90% to $50.3 million. For the period 1999 to 2002, FDI inflow averaged about $833 million.
Outward FDI flow was $542 million in 1999, over $2 billion in 2000, and $611 million in 2001. Outward FDI increased to $655.3 million in 2002. For the period 1999 to 2002, average outward FDI from Greece was $993.3 billion.
From 2001–05, FDI inflows averaged 0.6% of GDP. The corporate tax rate was being cut from 35% to 32% on income earned in 2005, to 29% on income earned in 2006, and to 25% on income earned in 2007. Value-added tax (VAT) is levied at 19%, 8%, and 4.5%. Although there is no official estimate of total foreign investment in Greece, as of 2002 the total stock of FDI was estimated at $6 billion, or approximately 4.3% of GDP. Greece's investment abroad is directed primarily to the Balkans. Greek direct investment in the Balkans was estimated at $3.6 billion in 2002.
Until the mid-1970s, Greek governments devoted themselves principally to expanding agricultural and industrial production, controlling prices and inflation, improving state finances, developing natural resources, and creating basic industries. In 1975, the Karamanlis government undertook a series of austerity measures designed to curb inflation and redress the balance-of-payments deficit. A new energy program included plans for stepped-up exploitation of oil and lignite reserves, along with uranium exploration in northern Greece. Increased efforts at import substitution were to be undertaken in all sectors. On 7 March 1975, in an effort to strengthen confidence in the national currency, the government announced that the value of the drachma would no longer be quoted in terms of a fixed link with the US dollar, but would be based on daily averages taken from the currencies of Greece's main trade partners.
The Socialist government that took office in 1981 promised more equal distribution of income and wealth through "democratic planning" and measures to control inflation and increase productivity. It imposed controls on prices and credit and began to restructure public corporations. But the government was cautious in introducing what it called "social control in certain key sectors" of the economy, and it ordered detailed studies to be made first. Its development policies emphasized balanced regional growth and technological modernization, especially in agriculture. The conservative government that came to power in 1990 adopted a 1991–93 "adjustment program" that called for reduction of price and wage increases and a reduction in the public-sector deficit from 13% to 3% of GDP. Twenty-eight industrial companies were to be privatized.
The chief goal of the Simitis government was admission to the European Monetary Union (EMU). As a consequence, his government instituted an austerity program aimed to tackle chronically high inflation, unemployment, and a bloated public sector. By 1998–99, these policies showed significant progress. Greece gained admission to the EMU in 2001, and adopted the euro as its new currency in 2002. The Greek economy was growing at rates above European Union (EU) averages from 2002–05; however, unemployment and inflation rates were still higher than in most euro-area countries. In 2004, Greece's general government debt stood at approximately 112% of GDP. Greece benefits from EU aid, equal to about 3.3% of GDP.
Privatization of state-owned enterprises has moved at a relatively slow pace, especially in the telecommunications, banking, aerospace, and energy sectors. In 2003, preparations for the 2004 Olympics drove investment, but spending on the Olympic Games contributed to a general government deficit of 6.6% of GDP in 2004. With the aid of EU grants, Greece will need to update its infrastructure, especially in the northern regions and on the islands. Improvements in road, rail, harbor, and airport links financed through the EU's Community Support Framework (CSF) programs have contributed to economic decentralization.
The Social Insurance Foundation, the national social security system, is supported by contributions from employees, employers and the government. It provides for old age, disability and survivorship. Work injury and unemployment benefits are also provided. Sickness and maternity benefits have been in place since 1922. Current benefits include medical care, hospitalization, medicine, maternity care, dental coverage, appliances, and transportation. Payments also include birth and funeral grants.
Although the law mandates equal pay for equal work, according to statistics in 2004 women's pay amounted to 75.5% of men's pay. Domestic violence and rape remains underreported, and the number of prosecutions and convictions is low. Women are beginning to enter traditionally male-oriented careers such as law and medicine, but only make up 42.5% of the work force. Sexual harassment is specifically prohibited by law.
Occasional human rights abuses, involving residents, illegal aliens and persons in custody, have been reported. Government measures to improve prison conditions continue. The constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality, race, language, religion, or political beliefs. In practice the government does not always protect these rights.
Since World War II, the government has broadened health services by building new hospitals and providing more clinics and medical personnel. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 8.4% of GDP. As of 2004, there were an estimated 410 physicians per 100,000 people. There are severe air quality problems in Athens. Pulmonary tuberculosis, dysentery, and malaria, which were once endemic, have been controlled. The incidence of typhoid, which was formerly of epidemic proportions, dropped to only 149 cases in 1985 following the application of US aid to improve sanitary conditions in more than 700 villages. At present, 100% of the population has access to safe water. In 2005, the infant mortality rate was 5.53 per 1,000 live births. The total fertility rate in 1980 (2.2) has dropped to 1.3 as of 2000. The birthrate was an estimated 9.8 per 1,000 people. The sharp birth rate decline since World War II has been attributed to the legalization of abortion. In 2005, life expectancy averaged 79.09 years. As of 2002, the overall mortality rate was estimated at 9.8 per 1,000 people.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 600 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 200 deaths from AIDS in 2003.
Construction of new dwellings (including repairs and extensions) reached 88,477 units in 1985 and rose to 120,240 in 1990. Most new construction is in Athens or Thessaloniki, indicating the emphasis on urban development. Considerable amounts of private investment have been spent on the construction of apartment houses in urban areas. In 2001, the total number of dwelling units was 5,476,162. About 47.9% of all dwelling units are owner occupied. About 40% of all dwellings are single household homes.
Education is free and compulsory for nine years beginning at age six, and primary education lasts for six years. Secondary education is comprised of two steps: first three years, followed by an additional three years of college preparation. At the upper secondary levels, students may choose to attend a three-year vocational school. The central and local governments pay the cost of state schools, and private schools are state-regulated. The academic year runs from September to June. Greek is the primary language of instruction.
In 2001, about 68% of children between the ages of four and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 99% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 86% of age-eligible students. Nearly all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 12:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 9:1.
In July 1982, the Socialist government initiated a program to democratize the higher-education system; a law was approved that diminished the power of individual professors by establishing American-style departments with integrated faculties. Junior faculty members and representatives of the student body were granted a role in academic decision-making. The legislation also curbed university autonomy by establishing the National University Council to advise the government on higher-education planning, and the Academy of Letters and Sciences to set and implement university standards.
Greece has six major universities: Athens, Salonika, Thrace, Ioánnina, Crete, and Pátrai—together with the National Technical University of Athens, the new University of the Aegean, and the Technical University of Crete, plus seven special institutions of higher education. There are several technological educational institutions, which offer nondegree programs of higher education. Private universities are constitutionally banned. In 2003, about 74% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 91%, with 94% for men and 88.3% for women.
As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4% of GDP, or 7% of total government expenditures.
The National Library traces its origins to 1828, when it was established on the island of Aíyina; the library was moved to its present site in Athens in 1903 and today has more than 2.5 million volumes. Both the National Library and the Library of Parliament (1.5 million volumes) act as legal depositories for Greek publications and are open to the public. Public libraries are located mainly in provincial capitals, and there are regional libraries with book-mobile services for rural areas.
Besides the libraries attached to the universities and other educational institutions, there are several specialized research libraries located in Athens. Outstanding special collections can be found at the Democritus Nuclear Research Center (91,000 volumes), the Center of Planning and Economic Research (30,000 volumes), the Athens Center of Ekistics (30,000 volumes), and the Gennadius Library (80,000 volumes), which houses a large collection on modern Greek history. Being at the crossroads of different civilizations and an important European country, there are several libraries attached to various cultural and ethnic studies centers. Notable among these are the libraries of the Institute for Balkan Studies in Thessaloniki, the British Council, the Society for Byzantine Studies in Athens, and the Center for Asia Minor Studies in Athens.
Most museums are devoted to antiquities and archaeology. One of the richest collections of Greek sculpture and antiquities is found at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, which is also home to the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Benaki Museum, and Kanellopoulos Museum. The most impressive archaeological remains, of course, are the great temples and palaces at Athens (particularly the Parthenon and the Stoa of Attalos), Corinth, Salonika, Delphi, Olympia, Mycenae, the island of Delos, and Knossos, on Crete. There are also notable museums dedicated to the work of other cultures, including the Byzantine Museum and the Jewish Museum, both in Athens. Among the newer facilities are the Hellenic Children's Museum (1987), the Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments (1991), the Museum of Delphic Celebrations of Angelos and Eva Sikelianou (1991), the Nikolaos Parantinos Museum of Sculpture (1991), and the Maria Callas Museum (2003) all located in Athens.
The Greek Telecommunications Authority operates domestic telegraph and telephone communications. In 2003, there were an estimated 454 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 1,700 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 902 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.
Radio Athens broadcasts are carried by provincial relay stations located in various parts of the country; other stations are operated by the Greek armed forces and by the Hellenic National Radio and Television Institute. There are numerous independent radio and television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 466 radios and 519 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 81.7 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 150 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 290 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.
In 2002, there were over 150 daily papers throughout the country. The largest Athens dailies (with estimated 2002 circulation rates) are To Vima (250,000), Eleftheros Typos (167,186), Ta Nea (135,000), Ethnos (84,700), Apogevmatini (72,900), and Avriani (51,300).
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and with a few exceptions the government is said to respect these rights. On matters involving the politically sensitive subject of the recognition of certain ethnic minorities, it is reported that the government is restrictive. The constitution also allows for seizure of publications that insult the president, offend religious beliefs, contain obscene articles, advocate violent overthrow of the political system, or disclose military and defense information. However, such action is very rare.
Most of the larger cities and towns have associations of commerce, industry, handicrafts, and finance. There are some consumers' and producers' cooperatives; chambers of commerce and industry function in Athens, Piraiévs, and Salonika. There are professional and trade organizations for a variety of occupations and industries, such as the Association of Greek Honey Processors and Exporters, the Greek Association of Industries and Processors of Olive Oil, and the PanHellenic Association of Meat-Processing Industries. The Federation of Greek Industries draws together many of these business and manufacturing organizations.
The Academy of Athens serves to promote public interest in science and works to improve availability and effectiveness in science education programs. Artists, writers, musicians, educators, and journalists are organized into professional associations. Scholarly societies include those devoted to archaeology, anthropology, geography, history, political science, and sociology. Several professional associations also promote research and education in their field.
National youth organizations in Greece include the Greek Democratic Socialist Youth, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts of Greece, the Association of Boy Scouts, YMCA/YWCA, the Greek Youth Federation, the Radical Left Youth, and the Student and Scientist Christian Association of Greece. There are several sports organization in Greece, including the historical societies of the Hellenic Federation of Ancient Olympic Games and the International Society of Olympic Historians. The World Chess Federation is based in Athens.
There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society, Caritas, and Amnesty International.
Principal tourist sites, in addition to the world-famous Parthenon and Acropolis in Athens, include Mt. Olympus (the home of the gods in ancient mythology), the site of the ancient oracle at Delphi, the Agora at Corinth, the natural spring at the rock of the Acropolis, and the Minoan ruins on Crete. Operas, concerts, ballet performances, and ancient Greek dramas are presented at the Athens Festival each year from July to September; during July and August, Greek classics also are performed in the open-air theater at Epidaurus, 40 km (25 mi) east of Árgos. Popular sports include swimming at the many beaches, sailing, water-skiing, fishing, golf, and mountain climbing.
The Greek government encourages tourists and facilitates their entry and accommodation. A passport is needed for admission; residents of the United States, Australia, Canada, and 37 other countries do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days.
About 14,180,000 tourists visited Greece in 2002. There were 330,970 hotel rooms in 2003 with 628,170 beds. The average length of stay that same year was seven nights.
In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the cost of staying in Athens at $294 per day. Elsewhere in the country, daily expenses ranged from $53 to $296.
The origins of Western literature and of the main branches of Western learning may be traced to the era of Greek greatness that began before 700 bc with the epics of Homer (possibly born in Asia Minor), the Iliad and the Odyssey. Hesiod (fl.700 bc), the first didactic poet, put into epic verse his descriptions of pastoral life, including practical advice on farming, and allegorical myths. The poets Alcaeus (620?–580? bc), Sappho (612?–580? bc), Anacreon (582?–485? bc), and Bacchylides (fl.5th cent. bc) wrote of love, war, and death in lyrics of great feeling and beauty. Pindar (522?–438? bc) celebrated the Panhellenic athletic festivals in vivid odes. The fables of the slave Aesop (b.Asia Minor, 620?–560? bc) have been famous for more than 2,500 years. Three of the world's greatest dramatists were Aeschylus (525–456 bc), author of the Oresteia trilogy; Sophocles (496?–406? bc), author of the Theban plays; and Euripides (485?–406? bc), author of Medea, The Trojan Women, and The Bacchae. Aristophanes (450?–385? bc), the greatest author of comedies, satirized the mores of his day in a series of brilliant plays. Three great historians were Herodotus (b.Asia Minor, 484?–420? bc), regarded as the father of history, known for The Persian Wars; Thucydides (460?–400? bc), who generally avoided myth and legend and applied greater standards of historical accuracy in his History of the Peloponnesian War; and Xenophon (428?–354? bc), best known for his account of the Greek retreat from Persia, the Anabasis. Outstanding literary figures of the Hellenistic period were Menander (342–290? bc), the chief representative of a newer type of comedy; the poets Callimachus (b.Libya, 305?–240? bc), Theocritus (b.Italy, 310?–250? bc), and Apollonius Rhodius (fl.3d cent. bc), author of the Argonautica; and Polybius (200?–118? bc), who wrote a detailed history of the Mediterranean world. Noteworthy in the Roman period were Strabo (b.Asia Minor, 64? bc–ad 24?), a writer on geography; Plutarch (ad 46?–120?), the father of biography, whose Parallel Lives of famous Greeks and Romans is a chief source of information about great figures of antiquity; Pausanias (b.Asia Minor, fl. ad 150), a travel writer; and Lucian (ad 120?–180?), a satirist.
The leading philosophers of the period preceding Greece's golden age were Thales (b.Asia Minor, 625?–547? bc), Pythagoras (570?–500? bc), Heraclitus (b.Asia Minor, 540?–480? bc), Protagoras (485?–410? bc), and Democritus (460?–370? bc). Socrates (469?–399 bc) investigated ethics and politics. His greatest pupil, Plato (429?–347 bc), used Socrates' question-and-answer method of investigating philosophical problems in his famous dialogues. Plato's pupil Aristotle (384–322 bc) established the rules of deductive reasoning but also used observation and inductive reasoning, applying himself to the systematic study of almost every form of human endeavor. Outstanding in the Hellenistic period were Epicurus (341?–270 bc), the philosopher of moderation; Zeno (b.Cyprus, 335?–263? bc), the founder of Stoicism; and Diogenes (b.Asia Minor, 412?–323 bc), the famous Cynic. The oath of Hippocrates (460?–377 bc), the father of medicine, is still recited by newly graduating physicians. Euclid (fl.300 bc) evolved the system of geometry that bears his name. Archimedes (287?–212 bc) discovered the principles of mechanics and hydrostatics. Eratosthenes (275?–194? bc) calculated the earth's circumference with remarkable accuracy, and Hipparchus (190?–125? bc) founded scientific astronomy. Galen (ad 129?–199?) was an outstanding physician of ancient times.
The sculptor Phidias (490?–430? bc) created the statue of Athena and the figure of Zeus in the temple at Olympia and supervised the construction and decoration of the Parthenon. Another renowned sculptor was Praxiteles (390?–330? bc).
The legal reforms of Solon (638?–559? bc) served as the basis of Athenian democracy. The Athenian general Miltiades (554?–489? bc) led the victory over the Persians at Marathon in 490 bc, and Themistocles (528?–460? bc) was chiefly responsible for the victory at Salamis 10 years later. Pericles (495?–429? bc), the virtual ruler of Athens for more than 25 years, added to the political power of that city, inaugurated the construction of the Parthenon and other noteworthy buildings, and encouraged the arts of sculpture and painting. With the decline of Athens, first Sparta and then Thebes, under the great military tactician Epaminondas (418?–362 bc), gained the ascendancy; but soon thereafter, two military geniuses, Philip II of Macedon (382–336 bc) and his son Alexander the Great (356–323 bc), gained control over all of Greece and formed a vast empire stretching as far east as India. It was against Philip that Demosthenes (384–322 bc), the greatest Greek orator, directed his diatribes, the Philippics.
The most renowned Greek painter during the Renaissance was El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos, 1541–1614), born in Crete, whose major works, painted in Spain, have influenced many 20th-century artists. An outstanding modern literary figure is Nikos Kazantzakis (1883–1957), a novelist and poet who composed a vast sequel to Homer's Odyssey. Leading modern poets are Kostes Palamas (1859–1943), Georgios Drosines (1859–1951), and Constantine Cavafy (1868–1933), as well as George Seferis (Seferiades, 1900–72), and Odysseus Elytis (Alepoudhelis, 1911–96), winners of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1963 and 1979, respectively. The work of social theorist Cornelius Castoriadis (1922–97) is known for its multidisciplinary breadth. Musicians of stature are the composers Nikos Skalkottas (1904–49), Iannis Xenakis (b.Romania, 1922–2001), and Mikis Theodorakis (b.1925); the conductor Dmitri Mitropoulos (1896–1960); and the soprano Maria Callas (Calogeropoulos, b.United States, 1923–77). Filmmakers who have won international acclaim are Greek-Americans John Cassavetes (1929–89) and Elia Kazan (1909–2003), and Greeks Michael Cacoyannis (b.1922) and Constantin Costa-Gavras (b.1933). Actresses of note are Katina Paxinou (1900–73); Melina Mercouri (1925–94), who was appointed minister of culture and science in the Socialist cabinet in 1981; and Irene Papas (Lelekou, b.1926).
Outstanding Greek public figures in the 20th century include Cretan-born Eleutherios Venizelos (1864–1936), prominent statesman of the interwar period; Ioannis Metaxas (1871–1941), dictator from 1936 until his death; Constantine Karamanlis (1907–98), prime minister (1955–63, 1974–80) and president (1980–85) of Greece; George Papandreou (1888–1968), head of the Center Union Party and prime minister (1963–65); and his son Andreas Papandreou (1919–96), the PASOK leader who became prime minister in 1981. Costas Simitis (b.1936) was leader of PASOK and prime minister from 1996–2004. He was succeeded by Kóstas Karamanlís (b.1956).
Greece has no territories or colonies.
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The Hellenic Republic
Athens, Thessaloníki, Rhodes, Patras, Kavala
Canea, Corfu, Corinth, Iráklion, Larissa, Piraeus, Sparta, Tripolis, Vólos
This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 2001 for Greece. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.
Greek legend tells that Titans battling Olympian gods once hurled giant rocks at Zeus in an attempt to knock him out of the sky. Their missiles piled up to become the mountains which blanket Greece, and stray boulders splashed into the sea to form the islands that serve as stepping stones across the Aegean.
In the past 30 years, Greece has changed from an agrarian to a semi industrial economy, but on the few fertile plains and many rocky slopes of this tip of the Balkan Peninsula, farmers herd sheep or tend olive groves, wheat fields, and vineyards, as did their ancestors for a thousand years. Each province preserves its traditional costume, brightening the festivals held in the small, square dominated villages. Throughout the storied isles of Greece-some 400 lie in the Aegean and Ionian Seas and account for a fifth of the nation's area-the white of house and church glints against the blue of sky, and men go down to the sea for sponges and fish. This seafaring tradition gives Greece the world's largest merchant tonnage-more than half of it registered under foreign flags for tax reasons.
During the Bronze Age (3000-1200 BC) a maritime civilization flourished. By 800 BC Greece was undergoing a cultural and military revival, with the evolution of city-states, the most powerful of which were Athens and Sparta. This period was followed by an era of great prosperity known as the classical or Golden Age. During this time, a tradition of democracy was ushered in. The classical age came to an end with the Peloponnesian Wars (431-404 AD) in which the militaristic Spartans defeated the Athenians.
Greece became a part of the Byzantine Empire in 395 AD. By the 12th century, the Crusades were in full flight and Byzantine power was much reduced by invasions.
For 25 centuries a crossroads between Europe and Asia to both merchant and conqueror, Greece did not achieve political unity until rebellion brought independence after 400 years of Turkish rule in 1830. The Acropolis in Athens stands as an enduring monument to the "glory that was Greece," fountainhead of Western culture and democracy. Below its marble ruins and glass-faced offices serve shipping, tourism, and flourishing light industries in a developing nation that still must import much of its food, machinery, and raw materials.
The arts have been integral to Greek life since ancient times. In summer, Greek dramas are staged in the ancient theaters where they were originally performed. Greek literature's ancient heritage spans poetry, drama, philosophical and historical treatises, and travel-ogues. Western civilization's mania for logic and "ideas" can be traced directly back to ancient Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and the West's sciences, arts, and politics are also deeply indebted to classical Greece.
Athens (Athínai, in Greek), the capital of Greece, is situated 300 feet above sea level in east-central Greece on the Attica Plain, bordered by the Aegean Sea and Mounts Parnis, Penteli, and Hymettus. The city proper is built around the historic Acropolis and picturesque Lycabettus Hill. The Attica Plain is the ancient division which outlines the territory of Athens; it is agriculturally rich, but surrounded by semiarid hills and mountains. Athens is the commercial, cultural, and political center of Greece. Like many larger U.S. cities, Athens is a "mother city," the central point of a group of suburban townships with separate entities. Some northern suburbs are Psychico, Filothei, Kifissia, and Ekali. Old phaleron, Kalamaki, Glyfada, and Voula border the sea.
The architecture of Athens varies from the antiquity of the Acropolis to the contemporary structures of the modern suburbs. The city is burgeoning with construction, especially of apartment and office buildings in the downtown area. Like Boston, it is a "mother city," the central point of a group of suburban townships with separate entities. The northern suburbs are Psychico (Psyhiko), Philothei, Kifissia, and Ekali. Old Phaliron, Kalamaki, Hellenikon, Glyfada, and Vouliagmeni are on the seafront.
Ancient Athens began as a city-state in the seventh century B.C. It reached the height of its splendor two centuries later, during the time of its great statesman, Pericles, and of its philosophers and dramatists, Socrates, Anaxagoras, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. During these years, the magnificent white marble Parthenon was built on the Acropolis.
The Spartans captured Athens in 404 B.C., during the Peloponnesian War and, although the city eventually regained its freedom, it never again basked in the power and glory of its earlier days. Athens eventually came under Macedonian and Roman rule, then was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1456, and remained under Turkish control until 1833. It became the capital of modern Greece in 1835. During World War II, the city was occupied for more than three years by the Germans.
On the local market, fresh meat, both local and imported, is cut in the European manner and is expensive; good pork and lamb are available. Local beef is not aged and lacks the tenderness of American beef. Fresh chickens, eggs, and cheese are good buys. Many Greeks shop daily, so the local shopping centers are an important part of every neighborhood. Each has its own grocer, butcher, florist, greengrocer, pharmacy, and a fish merchant. Fresh produce, fruits, plants, eggs, and sometimes fish can also be purchased at the colorful weekly neighborhood farmers' markets. Fish is available but expensive. The huge central market daily sells fresh meats, game, chicken, seafood, spices, and a surprising variety of other commodities. A recent phenomenon is the neighborhood Greek equivalent to the U.S. supermarket. Many of these establishments cater to the demands of clientele with international tastes, so they stock delicacies from around the world in addition to national products. Although some specialty items are expensive, there are also bargains. In any case, there is almost nothing that cannot be found in the Greek food market. Greek bakeries offer a tasty variety of home-style bread from wheat to French and Arabic all made without preservatives. Sweet shops specialize in a variety of Greek pastries and European-style cakes and chocolates. Health food stores are a new fad and located in many areas. Greek wines are plentiful, varied and inexpensive, and some of the finer ones compete well internationally.
Wardrobes for Greece should include hot and cold weather clothing similar to that worn in Washington, D.C., although outer wear for snowy conditions is not necessary, except in northern Greece and in mountainous areas. Warm winter clothes and sweaters are necessary because apartments, houses, and some offices are not adequately heated. Summer clothing should be lightweight and include many washable items.
Shoes wear out quickly because of dust, dirt, and uneven pavements. Fashionable shoes in average sizes and widths are available and of good quality but are expensive. People with large, narrow, or wide feet or who are more comfortable in shoes with a special American brand should bring a good supply with them or order through mail-order companies.
Men: Medium-to-heavyweight wool suits are most comfortable during late fall and winter. For outdoors, supplement these with a sweater or a medium weight coat. A lightweight raincoat is also useful. One or two dark conservative suits are a must. Dark suits are worn year round for official functions, receptions, and informal dinners. In spring, summer, and early fall, lightweight suits of Orlon, Dacron, and tropical-worsted gabardine are ideal. English and good Greek woolens are available locally but are expensive. Since the weather is pleasant most of the year, bring informal sportswear (sport shirts, slacks, or jeans, loafers, etc.) for picnics, beaches, and at home. Order shirts, ties, underwear, pajamas, socks, etc., from the U.S. or purchase locally at higher prices.
Women: Lightweight cotton, cotton-linen blends, silk, or other natural fibers in simple styles are preferred during the summer season. Slacks are popular casual attire. Shorts are not popular unless on an island/beach. Dark cottons, shantungs, silks, and polyesters are worn during spring and fall. Suits and jacket dresses give versatility to clothes, particularly for changes of temperature and occasion. Wool dresses, suits, and sweaters are worn from October through April. Leather skirts, jackets, and coats are popular. Any cloth coat is appropriate in winter, as are fur coats. One or two raincoats are desirable. European women dress fashionably, particularly for social occasions. Black is always in style for dressy occasions. Simple dresses are suitable for cocktail parties. Short as well as long dresses are worn for formal occasions.
Stoles or evening sweaters are recommended for evening garden parties in summer. Ready-to-wear clothes of all kinds are a standard item in Greece. Prices and quality vary. Sales held twice yearly (August and February) offer good buys. Local shops carry good purses, belts, buttons, and jewelry. Imported or handmade items are expensive.
Greek markets offer a variety of yard goods. Imported silks, woolens, and cottons are available, but the best quality fabrics are expensive. Some local silks are attractive; Greek cottons, though less expensive, are seldom colorfast or pre-shrunk and never drip dry. Notions of European origin are plentiful. Dressmaking services range from local seamstresses to expensive couturiers. Local seamstresses are expensive. Local silver jewelry is attractive and reasonable. Yarns for knitting are available. Fur jackets, stoles, and coat, are available locally. Prices vary according to styles, kind of fur, and whether the skins are pieced or whole. Stone martens are native to Greece.
Sports clothes are practical. Purchase sports and walking shoes in the U.S. Greek and American women wear blouses or sweaters and skirts year round. These are available locally. Bring several swimsuits, since saltwater and bright sun wear them out rapidly. Attractive European-style swimsuits are available locally but are expensive.
Children: Ready-made clothing for children is available locally, but good quality apparel is expensive. Most families obtain children's clothing through catalog companies. As in the U.S., boys wear jeans or slacks to school, and girls wear dresses or skirts or jeans or slacks with blouses or sweaters. Sweaters are necessary, especially during colder months when building heat is inadequate.
Supplies and Services
Athens has several main shopping areas in the city and the suburbs, where you can find a good variety of locally made and imported goods. Stores of one specialty cluster together-furniture stores in one section and light fixtures in another. Large supermarkets and economy merchandise chains throughout the city carry a wide variety of cleaning and cosmetic products, as well as everyday household items. Each neighborhood has its own dry-cleaner, shoe repair shop, hair-dresser, and men's hair stylist. A contracting dry-cleaning service is available through the employee's association. Hair stylists and beauty shops are expensive compared to U.S. prices for the same service. Friends, neighbors, and associates are helpful on where to find auto mechanics, plumbers, electricians, or carpenters.
Many house dwellers employ a part-time gardener/handyman. These workers usually speak English, French, or German, in addition to Greek. By government decree and custom, in addition to regular compensation, servants receive bonuses at Christmas (a month's salary); Easter (half a month's salary); and vacation time (8-15 days' wages). Live-in servants also receive food, clothing, and medical care. The servant's medical care is provided under IKA (Greek social security). A legislative decree provides for obligatory insurance enrollment with IKA for all full-time, live-in domestic employees as follows: gardeners, butlers, and cooks pay 35%--45% of monthly wage (13.25% by employees and 22.20% by employer).
General house workers, chambermaids, and laundresses are paid whether living in or out. Some take their meals in the household and other receive food allowance. Mandatory insurance payments provide old-age pension and medical care. Those who employ day workers are not obliged to pay this insurance fee; the workers are responsible for their own coverage.
In addition to the Greek Orthodox church, several other faiths are represented in Athens. St. Andrew's Protestant and Interdenominational Church has services in central Athens, Kifissia, and Voula/Glyfada. Centrally located are: St. Paul's Anglican, Church of the Latter-day Saints, Grace Baptist Church, Trinity Baptist Church, Crossroads International Christian Center, Glyfada Christian Center, and First Church of Christ, Scientist. Catholic Mass in English can be heard at St. Paul's in Kifissia. The central Cathedral has services in Greek, with readings and announcements occasionally in English. Beth Shalom Synagogue is located in Athens, and a mosque occupies the top floor of the Caravel Hotel. Sunday school and CCD classes are available through several churches.
The American Community Schools (ACS) (tel. 639-3200) is a private, nonprofit school incorporated in Delaware. The governing body is an eight-member Board of Education elected by the Parents Association.
ACS provides an American educational program and offers the international baccalaureate program to interested students. ACS has two limited special education resource centers for learning disabilities. Admission to these centers is limited and is based on evaluation of records. ACS has a current enrollment of 800. Pupils with American citizenship comprise 50% of the student body; English-speaking citizens of more than 50 other countries make up the remainder. About 150 students graduate from high school each year, and, of these, 80% continue their education at colleges and universities. The school complex is located in Halandri, 7 miles from downtown Athens. It consists of three schools: an elementary school (junior kindergarten through grade 5), a middle school (grades 6-8), and a high school (grades 9-12), as well as administrative offices. Bus service is available. Curriculum includes advanced placement and college preparatory courses, as well as the international baccalaureate program, business education, industrial and fine arts, home economics, physical education, extensive foreign language program, and work-study program. All faculty members are certified and more than 75% hold master's degrees. The international address is: 129, Aghias Paraskevis Street, 152 34 Ano Halandri, Athens, Greece.
Tasis Hellenic International School (tel. 808-1426) is a branch of the American School in Switzerland. It was founded in 1979 in a merger between TASIS Greece and the Hellenic International School, which was established in 1971. It prides itself on having a caring, student-centered community. TASIS Hellenic enrolls 323 students at the Middle and Upper School on the Kifissia campus. TASIS Hellenic offers American college preparatory, Cambridge University I.G.C.S.E. and A-level preparation, American advanced placement courses in all disciplines, and English as a second language. Classes are small; the average class has 15 students. All faculty are certified, and 92% of the graduating seniors continue their education at colleges and universities in the U.S. and the U.K. The academic year extends from September to mid-June. The school year is divided into 2 semesters, with a 3-week Christmas vacation and a 2-week spring break. Grades and teacher comments are sent to parents four times yearly. Bus transportation is provided from all major residential areas in and around Athens.
Tasis also has an elementary school (pre-K to grade 5) with a curriculum that is designed to meet the special needs of the young child. The elementary school is located 12 minutes from the middle and high school campus. The mailing address is: TASIS Hellenic International School, P.O. Box 25 Artemidos and Xenias Street, 145 62 Kifissia, Greece.
St. Catherine's British School (tel. 282-9750/282-9751) is coeducational and caters for children aged 3 to 13 years. Some families are permanent residents of Athens while others are more internationally mobile. The curriculum is closely modeled on the British National Curriculum but has certain adaptations and additions that take into account the school's unique circumstances. All children follow programs of study in English, mathematics, science, art and design, geography, history, music, physical education, religious/moral education, and technology. Every effort is made to keep class size small. The school occupies a site in Lykovrissi, bordering the residential suburb of Kifissia, and is within easy access of other northern suburbs of Athens. All children are required to wear a school uniform, which is designed so that most items are relatively easy to obtain. The school's facilities in terms of playground space, campus environment, and outdoor swimming pool are excellent. Mailing address for overseas mail is: PO. Box 52843, Nea Erithrea, Greece 146 10. Local address is: c/o British Embassy Plutarchou l, Athens 106 75.
Campion School (tel. 813-3883) is an all-age, coeducational international school run on British lines, admitting pupils of any race or nationality. Senior pupils are prepared for the "A," "O," and AP level exams and the SAT. Campion is registered in Massachusetts and has been a member of the Governing Bodies Association in the U.K. since 1970. Campion operates two elementary schools, one in the northern suburb of Halandri and the other in the coastal suburb of Glyfada. The senior school is situated in Ekali, 1.5 kilometers north of Athens. Bus service is available. One-third of the student body is British; the remainder represent 50 other countries. Computer and technical studies are available, and a particularly wide range of foreign languages is taught. The mailing address is: Dimitros & Antheon Street 145 65, Ekali, Greece.
St. Lawrence College (tel. Glyfada: 894-3251) is an independent coeducational school registered in England. A British public/prep school prepares students for "A" and "O" level exams, as well as SAT's. Current enrollment is 400 pupils from 18 countries between the ages of 3 and 18 years. The school is located in the Hellenikon area of Athens. Bus transportation is available. Mailing address is: 3 Delta Street, 166 77 Glyfada.
Foreign Language Schools Japanese School (tel. 682-4278). Instruction is in Japanese. Address is: Embassy of Japan, 64 Vassilissis Sophias Avenue 115 28, Athens, Greece.
Dorpfeld Gymnasium (tel. 682-0921). Private German School in Paradissos, Amaroussion.
Italian School (tel. 228-3258). Elementary, high school, and lycee. Instruction is in Italian. Address is: 18 Mitsaki Street 11141, Athens, Greece.
Special Educational Opportunities
Special teachers and speech therapists are available for private hire through the Center for Psychic Health, 58 Notara Street, 10683 Athens, phone 881-2944 and 823-2833. (A private, independent organization called CARE/HELLAS also has a listing of specialists.
The American College of Greece or Deree College (tel. 639-3250) serves nearly 2,000 students at its two campuses. The college is an independent, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Association for Schools and Colleges and under American direction. Primarily a coeducational liberal arts college in the English and American tradition, the main campus offers a 3-4 year program leading to a bachelor's degree in business administration, economics, psychology, sociology, English, history, and dance. The downtown center offers business and economics courses in the afternoon and evening and offers a 2-year associate degree in secretarial studies. Most Derree students are Greek; 20 other nationalities are also represented. Instruction is in English. Pierce College (tel. 639-3250) is an affiliated secondary school on the main campus. The mailing address is: 6 Gravias Street, 153 42 Aghia Paraskevi, Greece FAX: 600-9811.
The University of LaVeme (tel. 810-0111) is fully accredited with academic requirements identical to the main school in California. Evening classes are held at TASIS School in Kifissia. BA and BS degrees can be pursued in business administration and economics, business management, behavioral science, sociology, history, political science, psychology, social science, and mathematics. Courses leading to a master's degree are available in business administration, management, and history. The mailing address is: Xenias & Artemidos Sts. 145 62 Kifissia, Greece FAX: 620-5929.
College Year in Athens is a program intended as a year abroad to enrich education at the sophomore, junior, and senior levels. Instruction is given in English by visiting U.S. and Greek professors. Courses are Greek civilization, archaeology, culture, art, literature, and politics. A limited number of qualified adults may be accepted as part-time special students for credit. The mailing address is: 59 Denocratous Street, 106 76 Athens, Greece.
Tel.: 726-1622/726-0749, FAX: 726-1497 American School of Classical Studies is primarily a research institute for a limited number of students sent from the U.S. by their graduate schools. The mailing address is: 54 Souidias Street, 106 76 Athens, Greece, Tel.: 723-6313, FAX: 725-0584.
Opportunities for sports participation abound in Greece. Many tennis clubs exist, from elite to affordable. A superb and rigorous test of golf is available at the 18-hole Glyfada Golf Course. Reasonable annual fees of around $1,000, plus slightly more tourist-oriented daily greens fees, are available. Only four other courses exist in Greece; in Rhodes, Porto Carras (Halkidiki) serving Thessaloniki and Northern Greece, Rhodes, Corfu, and a small 9-hole course at the VOA Station in Kavala. American-style 10-pin bowling lanes are available in a few locations.
The annual Athens marathon group and weekly runs of the international Hash House Harriers welcome joggers wishing company. Roller skating and ice-skating rinks are accessible, and health clubs have become popular. Yachtsmen moor their craft in numerous marinas along the Saronic Gulf, and organized racing is available. The less affluent can charter various size yachts with or without a skipper to cruise the islands. Sailing classes are also available.
Windsurfers love the balmy breeze of the Aegean Sea, and water skiing, although not as popular, is available. Scuba divers and sailors must understand Greek regulations and have knowledge of local waters. For those who enjoy a sandy beach and cool swim, many beaches are available in close proximity to Athens. Some government-operated beaches offer lockers, sports equipment, parking, umbrellas, chairs, and restaurants in various locations.
Eight or more riding clubs are located in Athens, some with indoor and outdoor menages; lessons given in English can be arranged. All riding is English style. Horse racing takes place three afternoons weekly at the Faliron Race course. When the waters cool, the mountains beckon.
Greece has several ski areas with lifts, good rental equipment, and instructors. The closest to Athens is near Delphi on Mount Parnassus; Mount Helmos in the Peloponnese is 317 miles from Athens; to the north are Mount Pelion and Metsovo. From mid-September to June, Athenians spend much time rooting for their favorite soccer team in one of two major stadiums in Athens or in Piraeus. The new Olympic Stadium is used for a variety of national and international sports events.
There are mountaineering, hiking, parachuting, track, table tennis, badminton, basketball, boxing, cycling, fencing, field hockey (not ice), riding, rowing, and volleyball associations. The American Women of Greece (AWOG) gives bridge lessons, and there are several Greek bridge clubs.
Fishing enthusiasts will find excellent trout streams 3-5 hours from Athens. Sole, bass, pike, mullet, tuna, red snapper, and perch can be caught in the Aegean Sea. Greece is not a hunter's paradise, and access to overcrowded areas is difficult. The country-wide hunting license does not indicate the holder has any gun safety knowledge. Dove season lasts from mid August to mid-March; partridge season from mid-September to mid-November; and other birds and game from mid-September to mid-March. Decoys and calls are prohibited. European and American hunting equipment, such as boots, guns, jackets, etc., are locally available, although American-made ammunition is difficult to obtain.
Touring and Outdoor Activities
The heart of an assignment to Greece is definitely its availability of touring and outdoor activities. Outside the greater Athens area, one finds Greece. Even with a 2-or 3-year posting, careful planning is necessary to see what Greece offers, whether with numerous organized tours and cruises or using good guidebooks and literature published by the National Tourist Organization.
Representing every era are historical sites and museums throughout Greece. Within a few hours' drive are Delphi (the ancient navel of the world), Corinth, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Tiryns, and other renowned sites. By ferry, hydrofoil, cruise liner, or on Olympic Airways, the numerous islands are accessible-each with its distinctive character-Crete, Santorini, Rhodes, Hydra, Corfu, and the innumerable picturesque smaller spots. Back in Athens are the Acropolis, Agora, Byzantine churches, Roman ruins, and 10 fine museums. Accommodations are available year round in Greece; however, during peak tourist season, advance reservations are wise, and in mid-winter, many hotels are closed. Hotels vary from deluxe class to back-packer quality, and recently the National Tourist Organization renovated several typical old Greek villas in several areas for tourist use. Camping is also popular in Greece, and grounds have been established throughout the country. Charter flights fly in and out of Greece regularly, but are not permitted to originate here. Compensating for this, numerous, inexpensive package tours are developed by AWOG and private agencies.
Greece is characterized by the informality, spontaneity, simplicity, and individuality of its entertainment. Night life in Athens is diversified and interesting. Taverna-style restaurants throughout the city and suburbs offer music for dining and dancing. More sophisticated establishments offer floor shows. In summer, outdoor restaurants in the city, the suburbs, and on the sea front are popular. Athens' better restaurants and hotels serve Greek and continental food; several restaurants specialize in Asian and other ethnic food. In restaurants, cafes, bars, and nightclubs, a service charge of 15% is included in the bill; however, it is customary to round the bill up to the nearest Drs 100.
Athens and the suburbs have many movie theaters. Recent American films are popular and widely shown, as are Greek, French, Italian, Spanish, and German films. Most films are shown in their original language, with Greek subtitles.
In summer, most movie houses are traditionally closed, and outdoor theaters take their place. Acoustics at the outdoor cinemas are poor, but the ambiance makes up for it. Theater and movie ushers expect a small tip. The theater, a tradition firmly rooted from classical days, operates in modern Greece year round but suffers the same economic restrictions faced in the U.S. and Europe. Even so, most of the private long-established Athenian theaters have full seasons. Greek translations of classical and contemporary plays by foreign playwrights are included in the repertory. A revival of the ancient outdoor theater, with the plays of Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes, is the basis of the annual Athens Festival held from June through August. Performances are given in three locations: in Athens at the imposing Roman-era Herodus Atticus theater; at the modern Lycabettus Hill theater, dramatically situated overlooking the city; and at the fourth century B.C. amphitheater, noted for its superb acoustics and setting in the Peloponnese at Epidaurus, 2-1/2 hours from Athens.
There is a dance company that performs at the theater on Philopappou Street (opposite the Acropolis) during summer. Karagiozi shadow theater performances are held in public squares in summer. Greek commercial firms regularly organize recitals and theater and ballet performances with foreign artists and troupes during winter. The National Opera Company and the Athens Ballet Company perform in winter; the Athens State Orchestra and the Athens State Opera offer regular year-round programs. The Athens concert hall, the Megaron, has many classical music and ballet performances and hosts performers from around the world. "The Players," an amateur theater company, and the Hellenic Amateur Musical Society (HAMS), which performs musical plays and light opera, give several productions in English each year and are always looking for volunteers. National and religious festivals are colorful, impressive, and worth seeing. It is also possible to be an armchair viewer, as most significant festivals are shown on TV Typical of such festivities are Epiphany (January) and the pre-Lenten carnival season. Common sense and good taste should govern photographing certain religious celebrations.
Art exhibits are held at many galleries and cultural centers in Athens. The National Gallery of Art, opposite the Hilton Hotel, on Vasileos Constantinou Avenue, contains a collection of works by Greek painters. There are many museums devoted to folk art and handicrafts, where articles of high quality may be found in Athens, as well as in shops, villages, and islands. Greece has a reciprocal agreement with the US. concerning amateur radio operation. Currently, licenses are available. Applicants must have a valid U.S. amateur license issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Greek Government does not allow third party traffic.
Activities includes American clubs, fraternal organizations, and church groups that invite membership. For adults: AWOG; Newcomers; Greek Red Cross; American Legion; Masonic Order; Parent-Teacher Association; Propeller Club; YWCA; Women's International Club. AWOG was founded by the spouse of the American Ambassador in 1948 and is open to all American women, spouses of U.S. citizens, and to a smaller number of Greek and international members. The honorary president is always the spouse of the current American Ambassador. Originally founded as a study group, it has expanded to raise funds for welfare work in Greece, including bazaars, dances, musical programs, etc. It grants scholarships, aid to schools, orphanages, and hospitals. AWOG has an extensive fine arts program, with weekly and monthly tours and lectures. It publishes "Hints for Living in Greece," which is helpful to all newcomers.
Newcomers is an informal and popular women's group with a wide international membership. Newcomers has no club dues, and the only membership requirement is the ability to speak English. Monthly meetings are held in members' homes. Other group activities include Greek cooking, international cooking, potluck dinners and cocktail parties, tennis, golf, play groups, tours, bridge, and walking groups. Religious groups include Catholic Women's Guild; Catholic Youth Organization; Protestant Women of the Chapel; Saint Andrew's Women's Guild; Saint Ann's Sodality; American Jewish Community Group. For young people there are Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Due to the many Americans and other English-speaking foreigners who live in Athens, international contacts are diverse and abundant. Thus it is easy to make social contacts among those with common interests. Americans are invited by Greek friends to weddings, christenings, and other ceremonies in churches and homes. Dress and etiquette vary according to occasion.
Dozens of clubs and organizations in Greece are dedicated to public service, charity, philanthropy, and the exchange of ideas and cultural aspects of Greece and other countries. It is important to note that Greeks tend to dress more formally for events, and the Greek notion of "informal" is usually business attire.
Membership in the Hellenic American Union is open to Greeks and Americans desiring to strengthen their cultural and friendship ties. The Union holds conferences, offers Greek language and art classes, lectures, and recitals; raises funds for scholarships; and promotes other worthwhile activities. The Propeller Club of the U.S. promotes business, public relations, and cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Greece. Members are Greek and American business representatives, Mission officers, and Greek government personnel. The club holds monthly meetings with guest speakers, and its activities include granting scholarships and aiding schools, orphanages, and hospitals. The club's activities are financed by initiation fees, annual dues, and proceeds from an annual carnival ball cosponsored with AWOG.
With over 1 million inhabitants, Thessaloniki is Greece's second largest city, located 300 miles north of Athens in the ancient province of Macedonia. Built around the shores of the Thermaikos Gulf and framed by its acropolis and Mount Hortiatis, Thessaloniki enjoys a splendid natural setting.
Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Kassandros, brother-in-law of Alexander the Great, probably on the site of classical Therme. Kassandros named the city after his wife, the daughter of Philip of Macedon and half-sister of Alexander the Great. Just two decades earlier King Philip had won a decisive victory for his Thessalian allies at Chaeronia. He named the daughter born to him that year Thessaloniki ("Thessalian Victory") to commemorate his triumph. When Alexander's half-sister was wed to General Kassandros, the city was given to them as a home and renamed after her.
In 146 AD Thessaloniki, by then under the domination of Rome, became an imperial provincial capital governing the area from the Adriatic to the Black Sea. During this era the famous Via Egnatia was constructed as a through-road between Rome in the west and Constantinople in the east. The Via Egnatia is one of the great commercial roads of history and remains one of Thessaloniki's major arteries.
Thessaloniki achieved its greatest prominence during the late Roman and Byzantine periods when it became the first city of the "province" of Greece, far surpassing Athens in commercial and administrative importance. Its large natural port and location at a crossroads in southeastern Europe made it a tempting target for successive conquerors. As the Byzantine Empire declined, Saracens, Normans, and Venetians at various times gained control of the city. Venice bought Thessaloniki in 1423 AD, but the city was seized by the Ottoman Empire in 1430 and suffered a decline in importance under the 482-year Turkish occupation. Many Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 settled in Thessaloniki, giving it, by the 19th century, one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. Turkish rule ended on October 26, 1912, with the recapture of the city by Greek troops. October 26 is also the name-day of the city's patron saint, Demetrios, and the liberation is celebrated every year on that day.
The central part of Thessaloniki was rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 1917 using a design drawn by the French architect Hebrard. During World War 11 the Germans occupied the city for nearly 4 years, until their withdrawal in October 1944. More than 50,000 members of the city's vibrant Jewish community perished during the Holocaust. Since the war, and particularly in the last 30 years, the city has expanded rapidly, its population rising from 380,000 in 1961 to 871,500 in 1981. Thessaloniki's character changed during this time from that of a prosperous provincial city to a booming, modern metropolis with all the urban problems that plague the world's large cities.
Thessaloniki is second in Greece only to the Athens/Piraeus area as an industrial and commercial center. Industries in the area produce petrochemical products, textiles, wood and paper products, steel, and assorted manufactured goods. As throughout the city's history, transportation services and shipping remain significant sources of revenue for Thessaloniki. The city dreams of regaining its Byzantine role as a pan-Balkan commercial center.
Although the overwhelming majority of its inhabitants are of Greek ethnic origin, Thessaloniki has small numbers of various other Balkan nationalities, as well as a few thousand members of the once-thriving Jewish community. Thessaloniki also houses two of Greece's largest universities and two US.-affiliated private colleges that attract students from throughout Greece and the southern Balkans.
The post's consular district encompasses the two northernmost Greek provinces-Macedonia and Thrace-extending from Albania in the west to the Turkish border in the east and from the Aegean Sea and Thessaly in the south to The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria in the north.
Some 3,500 U.S. citizens live in the Thessaloniki area. Most are of Greek origin and reside permanently in Greece. Several Americans are employed by local English speaking private schools; others teach and study at the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki under Fulbright and other programs.
Most Thessalonicans still shop at their small neighborhood stores. These stores come in a variety of distinct flavors: bakeries, pastry shops, butchers, cheese merchants, produce sellers, grocers, and fishmongers. All provide a wide selection of quality products. Additionally, there is a large, covered central market area that sells regional produce and other foodstuffs, and many neighborhoods have weekly farmers' markets. The fresh fruits and vegetables are usually of excellent quality and relatively inexpensive, although more seasonal than in the U.S. Seafood is readily available, but often rather pricey. Cheeses and dairy products are excellent, as is the large variety of bread available locally.
In addition to these traditional sources, there are two American-style supermarket chains with outlets in the city. These supermarkets stock, however, a European style inventory. Diet drinks and low calorie foods are difficult to find.
The city's unfluoridated water is potable but not particularly tasty. Most people drink bottled water, which is readily available at all locations. Local wines are inexpensive and of excellent quality. European and American brands are also obtainable. Beer and liquor are not duty-free outside the commissary. Most Greeks prefer beer or scotch whiskey to wine, so there is no need to purchase other alcoholic beverages.
Shopping, Services, and Transportation
Barbers, hairdressers, and dry cleaners are available at US prices and quality, and traditional tailors and cobblers have shops throughout the city. Electronic, appliance, and automotive repair is also readily available in Thessaloniki, although spare parts for American and some other non-European models are often unavailable. Ford, Honda, Chrysler (Jeep only), Toyota, Hyundai, and all European manufacturers have service and parts facilities in the city but may be unfamiliar with models not sold in Europe.
Taxis in the city are numerous if a bit feisty. Drivers routinely pick up other passengers en route and often refuse to take customers to destinations deemed inconvenient. Radio taxis can be ordered at a slight additional cost but are sometimes unavailable at peak hours. Buses are frequent and inexpensive but often crowded. Traffic is heavy in the city center-often at unusual hours by U.S. standards but generally acceptable in most other neighborhoods. Many city streets are oneway, causing additional confusion. Street parking is difficult everywhere in town. Minor streets are very narrow and crowded with parked cars. Inter-city roads are well marked but of wildly varying quality. Road surfaces are more slippery than in the U. S. and stopping distances longer.
Telephone service is generally reliable and most of the network has been upgraded to all-digital lines. Local providers sell Internet access at approximately U.S. prices, but line speed is limited to 33.6 KB. Modems may require user software reconfiguration to detect local dial tone. Phone calls cost about 100 Drs./minute. Cell phones are ubiquitous and reasonably priced. Officers are provided with mobile phones for official use. Other utilities are normally reliable, but water pressure and supply can be problematic in some areas during the summer.
ATMs connected to U.S. bank networks (Cirrus, Plus) dispense local currency around the clock.
Most shops are small family operations. As described above, the city also has several large supermarkets (which also sell clothing, appliances, electronics, office supplies, and other items), as well as a bulk purchase discount warehouse, Foot-locker shoe stores, a large toy store modeled on Toys "R" Us, and two large hardware stores similar to Home Depot. Numerous shops sell antiques, and there is a weekly open-air flea market near the Rotunda. Sporting goods are expensive and difficult to find.
Most larger stores will have at least one employee who speaks some English. At smaller establishments, communication can require a bit more creativity on the part of the non-Greek speaker.
Prices for clothing, appliances, electronics, toys, cosmetics, toiletries, and most other items are generally higher than in the U.S. The selection of over-the counter medications is limited and available only at pharmacies. Shops are open three evenings a week but otherwise close in mid-afternoon. Virtually all are closed Sunday and holidays.
As in the rest of Greece, Thessaloniki's public hospitals provide nearly free healthcare; however, most foreigners choose to use private hospitals. Saint Lucas Clinic, a private hospital in Panorama, provides quality healthcare for slightly below U.S. prices. The Inter Balkan Medical Center, a state-of-the-art private hospital affiliated with the Medical Center Hospital in Athens, opened in 2000. Many physicians speak English and are US.-trained. Local dental and optical care providers are good.
Nearly two dozen television stations broadcast locally around the clock. Most programs are in Greek, but normally there are one or two English-language movies on each evening as well as National Geographic and other documentaries. Many more American movies are broadcast late in the evening, usually after midnight. U. S. network evening news broadcasts are shown live early each morning. Satellite service is available free with a dish but offers only two channels in English, with the remainder broadcasting in French, Italian, German, and Polish. Pay cable TV includes movie and cartoon channels. Many shops rent videos (SECAM system) inexpensively. There are many radio stations, some featuring a mix of Greek and American music.
Full-time domestic help is difficult to obtain, and wages are high. Part-time help is reasonably available for about $30 for a 6-8 hour day. English-speaking childcare for evenings can be located with a little persistence but is difficult to find it for days.
A synagogue serves the long-established Jewish community. The Greek Evangelical Church, located downtown, serves the small Greek Protestant community. The Church of the Immaculate Conception downtown holds Catholic Mass; services and sermons are in Greek and are in French on Sunday evenings. Confessions are heard in Greek, French, and Italian. An Anglican Episcopal vicar conducts services in English on Sunday in the Armenian Church on Dialetti Street.
The Pinewood Schools Association. Inc. is a private, nonprofit corporation providing pre-kindergarten (ages 3 and 4) through grade 12 education for English speaking, mostly non-Greek children. The school year consists of two semesters running from early September to early January and from mid-January to mid-June. Curricula, teaching plans, and materials conform to US. standards, and the school has been accredited in the U.S. An elected 11-member board, including the Consul General as an ex officio member, governs the school.
Pinewood has 20 full-time and 7 part-time teachers, about half of whom are American. Total enrollment averages 240 children. Roughly a quarter of the students are American and the rest are a diverse group from 32 different countries. With a student-to-teacher ratio of around 10:1, classes are normally small with frequent individual attention.
Pinewood has decently equipped and maintained facilities, including a chemistry/biology laboratory, small gym/auditorium, library/audio-visual center, music and art rooms, and computer room. The school offers instruction in music and Greek and provides a limited after-school activities program. There is an on-campus snack bar, and school bus service is available to most areas.
Pinewood can be contacted at: Director Pinewood Schools Association, PO. Box 21001, 555 10 Pilea, Thessaloniki, Greece. Te1.:30-31-301-221 Fax: 30-31-323-196 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The American College of Thessaloniki provides a U.S.-accredited, liberal arts undergraduate education in English. Additional information is available at the: American College of Thessaloniki, c/o Anatolia College, PO. Box 21021, 555 10 Pilea, Thessaloniki, Greece. Tel.: 30-31-316-740 Fax: 30-31-301-076
The Aristotle University in Thessaloniki offers (in Greek) a foreign students program, including an excellent intensive Greek course, that does not require applicants to take an entrance examination. City University offers part-time (day and evening) undergraduate and graduate classes in English through the University of Sheffield (England).
Several small but good tennis clubs are available through club membership. In addition to public and YMCA courts, Anatolia College rents two tennis courts during summer. The American Farm School also has a court available. The YMCA in the center of the city has a swimming pool, handball, and basketball courts, and offers aerobics, yoga, art classes, and other activities (in Greek). Several small private gyms offer members access to facilities of varying quality around the city.
Northern Greece's one golf course, on the Halkidiki peninsula, is currently closed. For horse lovers, several excellent riding schools (English saddle only) with inexpensive instruction in English operate in Thermi and Panorama.
Private tennis, swimming, pottery, and other lessons are available at a reasonable price. Cycling can be difficult due to traffic and dogs, but short, pleasant and safe rides are possible along the waterfront. Mountain biking possibilities exist in the forests and hills near the city. Athletic equipment is, however, both difficult to find and expensive.
Soccer is the most popular spectator sport in Thessaloniki, though basketball is also well attended. The city has three athletic associations that field both soccer and basketball teams in Greece's premier leagues.
Touring and Outdoor Activities
The nearest beaches, including one with bathhouses, snack bars, chairs, and umbrellas, are 15-20 miles from the city. Some 45-75 miles from the city, crystal-clear water and isolated beaches provide excellent bathing and snorkeling. The more isolated beaches have no cabins or bath-houses to provide protection from the hot sun. Beach and snorkel equipment is available locally in season. Modest apartments near the beach are available for summer or year round rental at reasonable prices. VOA/Kavala (3 hours by car) boasts a modest nine-hole golf course, club house, and private beach. Ferry service from Thessaloniki to many Greek islands is available throughout the summer. A local hotel offers free pool use for families during the summer with the understanding that parents will purchase beverages and snacks during their visit.
Three yacht clubs provide anchorage but only limited service for small craft. Small motorboats are available but expensive. Most week-day mornings see a few sculls rowing across the main harbor. Good hiking is possible in nearby mountains, and ambitious hikers can climb 10,000-foot Mt. Olympus (40 miles distant), overnighting at one of the two hikers lodges near the summit. There are ski resorts within 2 hours at Selli in the Vermion Range, Tria-Pente Pigadia in Naoussa, Lialias in Serres, and 3 hours distant in Bulgaria. Locally purchased equipment is expensive.
Partridge, quail, dove, hare, and wild boar can be hunted in fall, but hunting is poor in the immediate vicinity of Thessaloniki. Waterfowl hunting can be arranged but is expensive. Salt water fishing and spear fishing is good in nearby Halkidiki, but nearby lakes are too polluted for fresh water fish to thrive. More isolated rivers and lakes are better choices.
Like all of Greece, the area around Thessaloniki boasts numerous archaeological sites and museums. Pella, ancient capital of Macedonia and birthplace of Alexander the Great, is 45 minutes from Thessaloniki. Several beautifully preserved mosaics and numerous artifacts are on display. At nearby Vergina, several royal tombs were discovered in 1977. One is believed to be that of Philip II, father of Alexander. The principal finds are on exhibit in new underground museum onsite. Naoussa, noted for its fruit trees, wine, and fresh trout; Edessa, with its dam and picturesque waterfalls; Kastoria, a picturesque, provincial town, noted for its Byzantine churches, scenic beauty, and fur industry; and the islands of Thasos and Samothrace are all within easy driving or ferry distance. The unique Mount Athos peninsula is also nearby. The monasteries of the Mount Athos (known as the "Holy Mountain" in Greek) form an independent ecclesiastical government dating from medieval times. Visitors travel to Ouranoupolis by road (2 hours) and then by small boat out onto the peninsula. Entry to the peninsula requires a visa (issued locally), and no women or minors are allowed.
Local and international artists present a variety of Greek-language plays, concerts, lectures, and exhibits throughout the year. The Opera Company, the National Theater, and other Athens companies come to Thessaloniki annually for l-to 2-week runs. The National Symphony Orchestra of Northern Greece performs weekly fall through spring, and in the summer an outdoor theater brings high-quality cultural events to a hillside venue above the city. The Thessaloniki Concert Hall, a new facility for classical music, and the fully remodeled Royal Theater opened their doors in 2000. Both host performances by international and Greek groups, including well known ensembles such as Britain's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The International Trade Fair of Thessaloniki is held annually during September with industrial exhibits, consumer goods, and entertainment activities. The city holds a wine festival during the fair, as well as a Greek song festival and a week-long cinema festival. An outdoor flower exhibit and international jazz festival open each May, and the city hosts a major cultural festival each October and an international film festival each November. Various colorful and interesting religious festivities occur throughout the year.
The city has a good-size waterslide park with tube rides and wave pool, and a year-round, carnival-style amusement park. There are a number of both indoor and outdoor movie theaters, including three state-of-the-art multiplexes. Theaters show mostly big-budget American films (which tend to appear 3 to 6 months after they debut in the States); movies are always shown in their original language with Greek subtitles, except for cartoons, which are usually dubbed.
Thessaloniki has an active nightlife centering on the three club districts and a strip of cafes along the water-front. Clubs are loud, trendy, and packed. The more popular places often charge significant covers even for nights with recorded music. Hyatt Regency operates an upscale casino just outside the city that features slots and gaming tables. A large nightclub and open-air theater complex just beyond the western edge of the city offers a variety of jazz, rock, and (Greek) comedy performances.
Thessaloniki is reputed to have over 3,000 restaurants, including hundreds of charming Greek restaurants and tavernas, many of them featuring al fresco dining. Non-Greek cuisine is confined to a few Italian, French, European, American, and Chinese restaurants of varying quality. McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Applebee's, and Haagen Dazs have outlets in the city.
Anatolia College (a local US.-affiliated high school) and the British Council Library have English-language books and periodicals for loan. Local bookstores have a fair selection of English-language books at high prices. Pinewood School keeps its library open 1 day a week during the summer for children who wish to borrow books when classes are out.
Northern Greeks adhere to a daily schedule that does not always fit well with an American workday. Offices open between 8 and 9 a.m., but many close permanently for the day in mid-afternoon. Lunch rarely occurs before 1:30 in the afternoon-later on the weekends-and tends to last several hours. Dinner in private homes and at restaurants seldom begins before 9 p.m. and can start as late as 10:30 or 11 p.m. on weekend evenings. Nightclubs and similar centers generally do not begin to fill with people before midnight and often remain active until dawn, even during the week. The city's large university population (about 60,000) ensures that such establishments are always busy.
Social life among Americans is informal and casual. The principal social activity is entertaining at home: luncheons, buffet dinners, cards, cocktails, etc. Greek hosts take their guests to restaurants, although home entertaining is becoming more common.
Several pleasant outdoor restaurants offer dancing in summer, and charity balls are held during the 3-4 weeks in the pre-Lenten carnival season. Some Americans study Greek folk dancing at the American Farm School. Four Rotary Clubs welcome Americans, but Greek is the primary language used. Other clubs include the Lions Club; Propeller Club; International Women of Greece, which provides lectures and sightseeing trips for its members and engages in local charity work; and the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.
Rhodes is a modern city of 41,400 residents, and is the largest, most cosmopolitan resort in Greece. It is located on the Island of Rhodes, which lies on the southeastern coast of the Aegean Sea, 225 miles southeast of Athens and only 12 miles south of Turkey. Rhodes, the most important of the 12 Greek islands known as the Dodecanese, is about 65 miles long and 25 miles wide.
The city is the capital of both the island and of the Dodecanese. Each year, three-quarters of a million tourists swell its population and bring business to its large shopping area, its restaurants and casino, its travel agencies, and its many hotels.
The city is, as well as a famous resort, a manufacturing center and port. There is an international airport with daily flights to Athens by Olympic Airways (45 minutes) and chartered flights to Europe and the Middle East. During summer, Olympic Airways also has flights to London and Cairo, and to Mykonos, Santorini, Kos, Karpathos, Kasos, and Iráklion (Candia). There also are regular ship connections to all the Dodecanese islands, Piraeus (Athens' port), Crete, Cyprus, and Israel. The trip to Piraeus on large ferries takes approximately 20 hours.
The private American community is small, including a few families engaged in philanthropic work or the arts, and a number of retired persons, mostly Greek-Americans.
Rhodes enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate, with cool summers and relatively mild winters, creating an excellent condition to produce crops such as figs, olives, grapes, vegetables, etc. During summer, a breeze called meltemi keeps temperatures below 90°F near the sea, although inland the temperature and humidity are higher. Freezing temperatures in winter are unusual. January and February are months of heavy rainfall.
Rhodes as an island was colonized in 1,000 B.C., but the city itself dates to 408 B.C. The present city is on the site of ancient Rhodes, and in its harbor is the famous Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Some of the powerful fortifications built by the Knights Hospitalers, who dramatically resisted Turkish siege in the Middle Ages, are part of the present harbor.
Interesting sites to explore in Rhodes include the Citadel; Kameiros Temple; and the medieval group of buildings in the old section of the city—the Palace of the Grand Master (of the Order of St. John), the hospital, and the various inns, or billets, of the nationalities of knights forming the order. The Inn of Auvergne is a handsome 15th-century building set in the Square of the Amory. Interesting collections are on display in the Archaeological and the Byzantine museums, and the Museum of Decorative Arts.
Rhodes has an 18-hole golf course located at Afandou, near the transmitter plant, and playable year round. The course is part of a resort complex which includes clubhouse, tennis courts, Olympic-size swimming pool, and shallow pool for youngsters.
The Rhodes Tennis Club is open for membership for a very reasonable fee. The club has two clay courts in downtown Rhodes. Several of the tourist hotels have hard-surfaced courts, and these can be rented at an hourly rate.
The Rhodes Palace Hotel is the only place on the island with bowling facilities. The four-lane alley has AMF automatic pinsetters.
The main summer activities are swimming and sunbathing, with many available beaches. Swimming hazards are few, and shark attacks are unknown. The water is clear and clean.
Because of the narrow roadways in most villages, bicycling is an excellent, although tiring, way to see the island. Bicycles can be rented in the city of Rhodes at an hourly rate.
Arrangements can be made to rent or charter boats. Membership in the Rhodes Yacht Club is available; dues are quite reasonable, but facilities are minimal. Club members moor their boats free. Small boats are usually dry-docked during winter. Marine supplies are not available in Rhodes.
Rhodes is considered one of the most beautiful places in Greece, but it is an island, isolated for most practical purposes from involvement and interests of mainland living. The main highway and almost all city streets are paved; however, many villages, popular beaches, and points of interest can be reached only by rocky roads. Streets in town are often quite narrow, and parking space is scarce.
Some services are limited, such as medical care, but in general the
training and competence of physicians and dentists is good. There is a hospital, where minor surgery can be performed, and which has X-ray and laboratory facilities.
Basic services and supplies are readily available. However, items such as spare parts for cars are in short supply, and local mechanics have limited capabilities for automotive repair.
Rhodes does not have English-language libraries. The International Herald Tribune and many other papers and magazines can be found at various newsstands, but papers often are delayed on weekends and holidays.
Most hotels will not accept pets, so boarding arrangements must be checked in advance. Several veterinarians practice in Rhodes, but no kennels are available.
Patras, with a population of more than 142,000, is located in the northern Peloponnesus, and connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Ionian Sea. It is a major industrial center and the country's main western port. Its chief exports are currants, wine, olive oil, and sheepskins.
A city of lovely, arcaded streets, Patras is the center of Greece's elaborate pre-Lenten Carnival celebrations. Its old fortifications, dating from the Middle Ages, and its famous Claus winery are among the principal points of interest. A university was founded in the city in 1966.
Patras (in Greek Pátri) was occupied by the Turks during the 18th and 19th centuries (until 1828), and it was here that the Greek War of Independence began in 1821. For three-and-a-half years during World War II, from April 1941 until October 1944, the city was again occupied, this time by Axis powers.
History tells that it was in Patras that St. Andrew, one of the Twelve Disciples, was martyred on an x-shaped cross, which came to be
known as a St. Andrew's cross. He had been a missionary in Asia Minor and in Macedonia.
Kavala, with about 70,000, is a mixture of old and new. Its seaport accommodates light shipping, and fishing boats operate from there. It is a popular tourist city, with a picturesque old quarter, Turkish fortress, and Roman aqueduct. Kavala has an international airport near Chryssoupolis, 20 miles east of Kavala, from which Olympic Airways operates daily flights to and from Athens.
A few miles from Kavala are the ruins of the ancient city of Philippi, named by Alexander the Great in honor of his father, and the site of St. Paul's first sermon in Europe. There, the theater of Philippi is still in use during summer, and portions of St. Paul's first churches in Europe still remain.
The climate is comparable to that of the U.S. southern states. In winter, temperatures are in the 30s and low 40s, with a few days of below-freezing weather. Northern Greece gets its rain in winter and early spring. In the summer months of July and August, temperatures range around 90°E.
The Kavala Relay Station is one of VOA's largest overseas radio relay stations. The Relay Station site occupies a 2,000-acre plot of flat land bordered on one side by the Aegean Sea. Near the western border of the plot is the mouth of the Nestos River. The site contains the transmitter plant building (housing the station's administrative offices and the transmitting plant operation), the power plant building (with nearby storage tanks that have a capacity of 1 million gallons of diesel fuel), the warehouse/garage facilities building, an antenna field, 15 houses for American families, and private beach facilities.
The transmitter plant receives RFE/RL VOA radio programs from the U.S. via satellite. Programs are rebroadcast to target areas, including east and central Europe, central and south Asia, the Middle East, and Africa by medium-and short-wave radio broadcast transmitters using directional antennas. The telephone number for Kavala Relay Station is (0541) 61120 and 61130.
Mass is celebrated at the small Catholic church in Kavala on Sundays. No nearby religious services in English are available.
Recreation and Social Life
An extensive sandy beach winds along the south boundary of the station and can be enjoyed during summer. A 9-hole golf course and two tennis courts are available.
CANEA , or Khaniá, the capital of Crete since 1841, lies on the north coast of the island known to the Greeks as Kríti. The arsenal and medieval fortifications testify to the history of the Venetian colony which flourished here in the 13th century. The town and the island itself have been, through the ages, under Roman, Arab, Byzantine, Venetian, Turkish and, finally, Greek rule. In May 1941, the area was heavily damaged and captured by German airborne forces. Canea is a seaport city with a population of 47,500. Greek Orthodox and Catholic bishoprics are located here.
The city of CORFU , on the beautiful island whose name it bears, is called Kérkyra in Greek. Churches, villas, museums, libraries, hotels, and parks are surrounded by the Ionian Sea in a setting that draws thousands of tourists throughout the year. The narrow, medieval streets of this island port belie the modern accommodations and resort facilities found here. The Greek royal family, now in exile, once maintained a summer villa outside the city. Corfu was a major port during its four centuries (1386-1797) as a Venetian possession.
CORINTH , as a new city, was founded in 1858 after a devastating earthquake leveled the ancient town which had stood near the present site for 10 centuries. Another earthquake in 1928 caused considerable damage, and extensive rebuilding was done again. Corinth lies on the Gulf of the same name in the northeastern Peloponnesus, and is home to about 22,500 people. The ruins of the ancient and once powerful city, about three miles from the modern community, include vestiges of the Agora (forum), theater, fountains, and some of the columns of the archaic temple of Apollo. Modern Corinth is a transportation center for wines and raisins. Like so many other strategic Greek cities, it was occupied by German troops during World War II.
IRÁKLION (also known as Candia or Heraklion) is a seaport city of 102,500 residents on the north shore of Crete. The largest city on the island, it is an episcopal see (Greek Orthodox), and also the site of a famous museum of Minoan antiquities. Founded in 832 by the Saracens, it was occupied by the Venetians between the 13th and 17th centuries. Still remaining around the town are some of the Venetian walls and fortifications. Iráklion is another of the many Greek cities devastated during World War II (spring of 1941) by German troops. The city is located on some of Crete's best farmland; exports include grapes, wine, olives, and leather.
LARISSA , with a population of about 113,000, is a rail and agricultural trading city on the Piniós River in eastern Thessaly. It was the ancient capital of the Pelasgians, a fifth-century Christian heretical sect who defied the accepted doctrines of theology. It was at Larissa that the Turkish military governor, Ali Pasha, maintained his headquarters in the Greek War of Independence in 1821. The city did not become part of Greece until 1881. In more recent times, it was the scene of bitter fighting between the German and the British-Greek armies in April 1941. Today, Larissa is linked with the port of Vólos by rail.
PIRAEUS , a part of Greater Athens, is linked to the capital by electric railway and highway. Situated six miles south of Athens on the northern coast of Greece, this major port and commercial city's population exceeds 196,000. Industries here include the manufacture of textiles, chemicals, and machinery.
Piraeus' harbor has been significant since the fifth century B.C., when it was Athens' naval base. The city's port was destroyed during World War II, and was restored after the war.
The ancient city of SPARTA , situated in the Eurotas valley of southern Greece, was renowned in history as the leading power of the country. Today, modern Sparta, with an estimated population of 12,900, lies near the remains of the old city, less than 75 miles south of Corinth. The few reminders of ancient Sparta are in poor condition. However, the Byzantine town of Mistra, founded in about 1250, is four miles west and is well preserved. Helen, wife of the Spartan king, Menelaus, was supposedly taken from Sparta. Her abduction is said to have instigated the Trojan War. During the eighth century Sparta was prosperous, and became a cultural center. It was a meeting hub for artists and poets. Currently, the city is the capital of Laconia Department; its economic mainstays are olives and grapes.
The capital city of Arcadia Department, TRIPOLIS (also called Tripolitsa or Tripolitza) is situated about 40 miles southwest of Corinth. Located in southern Greece, Tripolis is an important center for tanning, woodworking, agricultural trade, and textiles. The city was the regional capital of Morea under Turkish rule. It was severely damaged in 1821 and 1825 during the war for independence. Tripolis has a population of about 120,000.
VÓLOS is a seaport city in southeastern Thessaly on the Gulf of Vólos, an inlet of the Aegean Sea. It is a transportation, communications, and industrial center which has developed considerably in recent years; its population is around 71,000. Grain, wine, tobacco, and olives are the principal goods shipped from here. Close to Vólos are the ancient ruins of Iolcus and Demetrias.
Geography and Climate
Greece, a rugged country of mountains and islands, is bordered on the north by Bulgaria, the former Yugoslav Federal Republic of Macedonia, and Albania; on the east by Turkey and the Aegean Sea; and on the south and west by the Mediterranean and Ionian Seas. The land area, including the islands, is 50,270 square miles (about the size of Alabama). Only 25% of the land is arable, and much of that is dry and rocky. Greece is 2 hours east (ahead) of Greenwich mean time and at about the same latitude as New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia.
Greece has mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Athens daytime summer temperature averages 90°F and often exceeds 100 °F for periods in July-August. Humidity is low and the heat is tempered by sea breezes. Summer evenings are comfortable outdoors. Spring and fall temperatures are pleasant, and winter temperatures are 30 °F-55 °F. Snow flurries occur, particularly in the northern suburbs, but seldom accumulate. Air pollution is a major problem in Athens throughout the year, but the climate is otherwise healthy.
Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, experiences high temperatures and humidity from the end of May until the end of September. Summer heat is sometimes tempered by late morning and early evening breezes. July and August nights can be uncomfortably warm. In winter, periods of mild, sunny, and spring-like weather are interspersed with uncomfortable cold periods. Thessaloniki has periods of chilly and damp weather, with considerable rainfall and occasional snow. Temperatures often fall below freezing in winter. Although snow does not linger, the city has been struck by blizzards. One feature of Thessaloniki's climate is the vardari, a strong northwesterly wind that appears suddenly and irregularly from the area of the Axios (Vardar) River Valley.
Greece's population is about 10.1 million. Metropolitan Athens, including Piraeus, has about 4,250,000 people, and greater Thessaloniki 1 million. Other population centers are the cities of Patras, Volos, Iraklion, Kavala, Larisa, Kalamata, and Tripolis. Most of the remainder of Greece is sparsely populated. About 28% of the population is agricultural, a percentage that is declining with greater economic development and increasing urbanization.
Greeks claim continuity with ancient Greeks, whose language achieved its first written form in Mycenaean times 14 centuries before Christ. The modern Greek language, "Dimotiki," maintains most of the vocabulary and some of the grammar of ancient Greek. "Katharevousa," a 19th century attempt to eliminate foreign influences and return the language to its classical roots, has been almost completely phased out since 1974 as a language of culture and administration.
During Byzantine and Ottoman times, Greece received Slavic, Albanian, Turkish, Gypsy, and other population inflows. Since the 1821 War of Independence, however, Greece has been the subject of a nation building process that has resulted in one of the most ethnically homogeneous societies in Europe. The only officially recognized minority is a Muslim population (130,000 persons) concentrated in Western Thrace, though most Gypsies and many Vlach, Slav, and Albanian speakers continue to use their traditional languages at home. Urban Greeks strongly encourage their children to learn foreign languages. Most leading shops, hotels, and restaurants in Athens and Thessaloniki employ clerks who speak English. This is not the case outside major tourist centers, however, where some knowledge of Greek makes life easier and more rewarding. The Greek Orthodox Church is the predominant religion in Greece, professed by 98% of the population. The Church is self governing under the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece and has historic ties to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. American citizens residing in the Athens area are estimated to be approximately 30,000. Many Greek Americans are retired in Greece, and several multinational corporations who have local or Middle Eastern operations based in Athens employ US. citizens. Athens and the rest of Greece have a steady flow of US. tourists each year.
Greece's current constitution dates to the restoration of democracy following the 1967-74 military dictatorship (junta). The 1975 constitution establishes Greece as a parliamentary democracy, the Hellenic Republic, with the President as its largely ceremonial head of state. The Prime Minister, as head of government, is responsible to a 300-seat Parliament of the Hellenes elected every 4 years by a system of reinforced proportional representation. Greece has an independent judiciary along European models. The constitution guarantees a wide range of civil liberties.
The largest political party in Greece's parliament is the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), which won 41.5% of the popular vote in the September 1996 general election and achieved 162 seats in Parliament. PASOK president Constantine Simitis is Prime Minister. Since winning its first election in 1981, PASOK has governed the country for about 13 years. The largest opposition party, the center right New Democracy Party (ND), holds 108 parliamentary seats after winning 38.1% of the vote in September 1996.
Three smaller parties, each of which received at least 3 percent of the popular vote in the last election, together hold the remaining 30 seats. The current President of the Republic, Constantine Stephanopoulos, an independent conservative politician widely respected across the political spectrum, was elected by Parliament to a 5-year term in 1995.
The current government places its highest priority on entry into the European Union's Economic and Monetary Union (common currency union). To do this, Greece must satisfy the economic criteria in the Maastricht Treaty for acceptable performance on inflation, budget deficit, and government debt. If Greece meets expectations on the Maastricht criteria, it can look forward to EMU entry on January 1, 2001. Greece has been a member of the European Union since 1981, and Greek policy on most international issues follows the EU consensus. Greece is also a member of NATO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the Western European Union, and the United Nations.
Arts, Science, and Education
Greece has rich cultural roots, and a continuing literary, artistic, and musical life. Modern writers carry on the heritage and tradition of the giants of ancient and recent Greek letters. The writings of Nikos Kazantzakis and the Nobel Prize laureates, George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis, are available in English, as are many others.
Although Greek art suffered neglect during the centuries when Greece was under foreign domination, art is again flourishing with works from the primitive through realism to extreme avant-garde. Athens has scores of active and interesting commercial galleries, as well as other urban art centers.
Greek museums are also numerous, from the world class Cycladic Art Museum to the assortment of masterpieces in the National Archaeo-logical Museum. Other important museums in Athens include the Benaki Museum, the Folk Art Museum, the Byzantine Museum, and the Goulandris Natural History Museum.
Folk art and handicrafts survive in Greece, but, as a result of commercialization and tourism, it is difficult to distinguish between "souvenirs" and the genuine article. Greek popular music, with its delightful melodies and rhythms, can be heard on numerous radio stations around the clock, as well as at frequent public concerts and in nightclubs. Many Americans fall under the spell of more exotic music featuring the "bouzouki," a stringed instrument, heard not only on the radio, but also in "bouzouki clubs," where performances usually start at midnight. Rebetika (turn-of-the-century popular folk music) is experiencing a strong revival throughout the country. Folk dancing can sometimes be seen in the Greek countryside, especially on holidays, and city dwellers may spontaneously break into traditional dances at parties and other social functions. In the Plaka district of Athens, several taverns have live dance shows, as well as some other more authentic (but far from the center) folk music nightclubs. Athens has many theaters. Most performances are in modern Greek. Occasionally, foreign touring companies perform in English. The Karagiozi shadow puppet theater, with oriental and Turkish antecedents, is also worth seeing.
The Athens Festival, held every year from June to July, features performing arts ranging from Greek tragedy to modern dance and rock groups, often with internationally famous groups or stars from the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere. Cultural centers of interest to the English-speaking community are the Hellenic American Union (HAU), the British Council, and the Athens Center. Their programs, which normally extend from October through May, include concerts, films, exhibits, lectures, and panel discussions. Education is revered in Greece, and the hunger for education in both the humanities and sciences remains high. Greeks attach great value to higher education, and many study abroad. The HAU in Athens is a private, nonprofit, binational educational and cultural institution with close ties to the Public Affairs Office. Its main function is English teaching, but the HAU also offers a variety of courses, including all levels of modern spoken Greek, Greek studies, Greek dance, creative arts, and writing skills. The library, which is currently closed for renovations, includes remnants of the former USIS library, including about 5,000 volumes on all subjects related to the U.S., as well as periodicals and on-line services. The library can be reached through the HAU switchboard. Athens has several libraries, most of which are non-circulating, e.g., the National Library of Greece, the Parliament Library, and the Athens Municipal Library. Some of the lending libraries open to the public are the following:
HAU, American Library, 22 Massalias Street, Athens
British Council Library Kolonaki Square, Athens, 363-3215
French Institute Library, 31 Sina Street, Athens, 362-4301
Goethe Institute Library, 14-16 Omirou Street, Athens 522-9294
National Research Foundation Library (periodicals only), 48 Vas. Konstantinou Ave., Athens, 722-9811
Evgenides Foundation Library, 387 Syngrou Ave., Athens, 941-1118
Commerce and Industry
During the past three decades, Greece has changed from an agrarian to a semi industrial economy. This shift has resulted in rapid urbanization, so that most of the country's 10.5 million inhabitants live in towns of more than 10,000 people.
In 1996, agriculture output accounted for 11% of the total GDP, industry 18%, while services (primarily tourism and shipping) totaled 63%.
Shipping is a major economic activity. The Greek commercial fleet is the largest in the world. The Greek flag flies on 946 ships with a total gross registered tonnage of 27.8 million tons (February 1998 data). Another 2,412 ships of 1.1 million tons are controlled by Greek interests under foreign flags (February 1998 data).
Greece's most important industries, it terms of production and employment, arc food processing, tobacco, textiles chemicals, including refineries nonmetallic minerals, metallurgy shipbuilding, aerospace and military equipment, cement, and pharmaceutical; Greece is a leading world producer of bentonite, magnesite, and perlite, as well as an important European producer of bauxite, cement, ferrochromium, emery, and marble. A plant processing bauxite into alumina, then into aluminum, is operated by the French firm Pechiney on the Gulf of Corinth. A Greek-Russian agreement to complete a new plant to process bauxite into alumina in Domvraina (Biotic) near the bauxite of Mount Parnassus is still undecided. Greece is also endowed with lignite reserves, which are exploited for domestic energy uses.
U.S. investment in Greece is estimated at $2.2 billion, representing almost a third of all foreign investment. Major U.S. investments include: Mobil Oil ($170.2 million); Pepsico foods and beverages ($101.6 million); Hyatt Hotels ($106.2 million), Philip Morris Group ($97.8 million), and Procter & Gamble ($97.2 million).
Development projects by the Greek state include: a natural gas network for industrial and household use in Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissia, and Volos; hydroelectric power plants in northern and central Greece; a new international airport at Spata near Athens; metro systems for the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki; a 1.5mile bridge linking Rion and Antirrion at the western end of the Gulf of Corinth; a tunnel linking Aktion-Preveza in Western Greece; an irrigation and hydroelectricity project in Thessaly (Acheloos river diversion); computerization of the Greek Postal Service; wastewater treatment plants for the cities of Athens, Iraklion, Volos, and Larissa; upgrading of the highway network; completion of ports infrastructure; and modernization of the main north-south railway system.
Greece's low levels of investment during the last decade have not expanded its industrial base sufficiently to meet domestic demand. As a result, imports are twice as large as exports. The merchandise trade deficit, however, has been largely counterbalanced in most years by strong inflows from tourism, emigrant remittances, shipping earnings, and net transfers from the EU.
In 1997, imports totaled $25.5 billion and exports $10.9 billion. The EU accounts for about 64% of the Greek import market due to increased infra-EU trade. U.S. exports in 1997 reached $978.3 million, while imports from Greece were $487 million, producing a record $491 million trade surplus. Major Greek exports to the U.S. are textiles and apparel, foodstuffs, iron and steel, construction materials, tobacco, shoes, and petroleum products. The EU remains Greece's major market, absorbing 46.7% of Greek exports. The other European countries and Asia are the second and third largest markets. In 1997, the U.S. absorbed 4.5% of Greek exports.
Greek labor unions play an important role in determining wages, fringe benefits, and working conditions. Unemployment has dropped from 10.3% in 1997 to 10.1 in 1998 and is projected to decrease in 1999 to 9.8%. Although emigration has dramatically decreased over the last three decades, more than 5 million Greeks are estimated to live abroad, mainly in the U.S., Australia, Germany, and Belgium. Per capita income is estimated at $11,305 for 1998, a steady increase from previous years.
Greece became an associate member of the EU in 1962 and was elected the tenth full EU member on January 1, 1981. New inflows from the EU reached $4 billion in 1998. These funds from the EU (about $20 billion for the period 1994-1999, and another $30 billion for the period 20002006) will go to projects such as building highway and rail networks, ports, bridges, the Athens and Thessaloniki metros, and the new international airport at Sparta.
Automobiles are necessary for trips outside the cities and for commuting from the suburbs. Small cars are most suitable for driving on the narrow Greek roads and city streets. Air conditioning is desirable during hot, dusty, summer months. Traffic moves on the right. To obtain license plates, you must present a valid international drivers license or a valid Greek license. (Without a valid U.S. license, you may apply for a driving test but this will create considerable delay, and the test is in Greek). A license plate will not be issued to persons presenting only a U.S. drivers license. It is therefore imperative to obtain valid international drivers licenses prior to arrival. AAA offices in the U.S. are a good source for information/application. The Greek Government requires third-party liability insurance for all motor vehicles. Vehicles cannot be driven prior to purchase of insurance.
Main streets and highways are paved; secondary roads are rough and ungraded. Most roads are two-lane, except for parts of the National Road. The road network is good and constantly being expanded. In response to tourism, road surfaces are improving; however, in some remote areas, be prepared to find unimproved conditions. The roads to Belgrade and Sofia are good. The borders between Greece and Turkey, FYROM, Bulgaria, and Albania are open to private automobiles. Before driving to Greece through FYROM, Bulgaria, or Albania, however, you might want to check with the U.S. Embassy to find out which border crossings you may use.
The Athens area now is home for more than 40% of Greece's 10.1 million people. The number of passenger cars in the Greater Athens area has increased dramatically from 111,000 in 1968 to 791,000 in 1989. The total number of vehicles circulating in Athens, including buses, trucks, motorcycles, etc., is more than 1 million. Many Athens streets are narrow and lined with parked cars. Heavy traffic flows in and out of the city from early morning until after midnight are typical. This causes noisy and irritating driving. In an effort to control the pollution problems in Athens, driving is restricted in the central area every day, except Sundays, holidays, and the month of August. Vehicles with license plates ending in an odd number may drive in the restricted area only on odd-numbered days, and those with even numbers may drive only on even-numbered days. Only public transportation, motorcycles, and vehicles with diplomatic license plates are exempt from these restrictions.
Because of congestion in the city, shopping trips and commuting can be extremely time-consuming. Commutes of about an hour each way are not uncommon. Athens has a good and inexpensive but very crowded public transportation system consisting of buses, trolleys, and a metro running from Kifissia to Piraeus. Additional metro lines are expected to open between 1999 and 2006. Taxis are inexpensive, but getting one can be frustrating. Cab drivers take more than one passenger or group of passengers and sometimes decline to pick up passengers at all. Radio taxis can be obtained by telephone but often require waits of 30-45 minutes to arrive. Parking is a perennial problem throughout most of the city and environs, even at supermarkets. Private vehicles are not allowed in the "historical center" of Athens. In the inner city, however, many historical sites, museums, and shops are within walking distance for avid walkers.
Olympic Airways, British Airways, Delta, Air France, Ethiopian Airways, Scandinavian Airlines System, Swiss Air, Royal Dutch Airlines, Sabena, and Lufthansa connect Athens with the Near and Far East, North Africa, and Europe, often with daily flights. Daily service within Greece is available from Athens to Thessaloniki, Alexandroupolis, Kalamata, Kavala, Corfu, Crete, Rhodes, and the other larger islands. Railroad service within Greece is good but not extensive. As a maritime nation, Greece has extensive interisland ferry and hydrofoil service. The main ports serving Athens are Piraeus and Rafina. Except for an occasional cruise ship, no direct ship service is available between Greece and the U.S.
Telephone and Telegraph
Greek OTE telephone billing is different from that in the U.S. OTE bills cover two-month periods, arrive at least 6 weeks after the end of the billing period, and must be paid within 5 days after the payment expiration date to avoid disconnection. Calls are metered and charged per unit. Long-distance calls are metered and charges vary according to distance. A call to the U.S. costs about 75¢ plus 18% tax per minute. Residents of most Athens suburbs can request both touch-tone service and itemized billing. However, certain residential pockets still rely on rotary dialing and metered long-distance service. Direct-dial calls to the US. can be made by dialing the prefix 001 followed by the area code and the local U.S. number. Direct-dial calls may also be made to European countries and some nearby Middle Eastern countries. Long-distance calls, collect calls, person-to-person calls, or credit-card calls may be made through the OTE operator by dialing 161. Public telephones are located at many newspaper kiosks. Local calls may be made for 7¢. Also, card phones are available throughout Greece.
Cellular phone use has proliferated throughout Greece. While somewhat expensive, there are a number of reliable networks to choose from. U.S. cellular phones are not compatible with the Greek telephone system.
Internet providers are plentiful in Greece. Typical subscription fees average $25 per month plus separate telephone charges from OTE for the local connection.
Radio and TV
Reception in Athens is good, with most programs broadcast in Greek. However, major networks run recent U.S. movies and sitcoms in English, with Greek subtitles. AFRTS television service is available in private residences for a minimal fee. EWSA manages the distribution of the AFRTS decoders. Television reception can be augmented by erecting a satellite dish and subscribing to various pay for view satellite services. Unfortunately, Greece is located beyond the southern edge of SKY and other popular European satellite broadcasts, though CNN and EURONEWS are available. Greece has many English language programs on radio standard broadcast, and local stations offer a variety of good musical programs, both classical and modern. VOA broadcasts by shortwave in Greek and in English, and London BBC can be received on short-wave radios. Daily news is broadcast in English on several Greek radio stations. Greek TV has about 10 channels.
All channels broadcast in color using the European PAL/SECAM system. U.S. standard televisions will not receive this signal. Purchase of a multi-format, adjustable voltage television set and VCR, available from AAFES or locally, which includes NTSC, PAL, and SECAM, is highly recommended. Video movies are popular in Greece. The EWSA rents videos in VHS NTSC. Numerous local clubs rent videos in VHS PAL/SECAM format at modest prices. U.S. standard TVs brought to Greece can be used with VCRs and computer games only from the U.S., without modification.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals
Newspapers, including the daily English language Athens News, on newsstands every morning but Monday, cover international and local news and contain information on current cultural events in Greece, as well as cinema and TV schedules. The Athens News Agency publishes a daily bulletin in English. The International Herald Tribune publishes an English-language insert, a condensed version of Kathemerini, which is available everyday except Sunday. Store the next working day after publication. The International Herald Tribune is now available six mornings a week, while airmail editions of other English-and foreign-language newspapers arrive a day late. Also available are a multitude of foreign magazines such as Paris Match and Oggi, (Italian). Locally published English language magazines, such as The Athenian (monthly), Business and Finance (weekly), Greece's Weekly, and 30 Days (monthly) are available by subscription or at newsstands. The Athenian covers what is happening in Athens and contains informative articles on all aspects of historic and contemporary Greece. Kiosks all over Athens offer a wide assortment of current events listings, technical and women's magazines, children's comic books, and paperbacks. International editions of Time and Newsweek arrive promptly; other American magazines arrive 3-4 weeks late.
In the streets near Syntagma Square, several bookstores carry a good selection of English-language books on all subjects, including the latest bestsellers. Prices, however, are almost double what you would pay in the U.S.
Athens has a number of first-rate movie theaters which show recent U.S. and foreign films. Open-air theaters are a popular summer venue for movie lovers.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities are good. For specialized care, Athens has several general hospitals and clinics, including separate pediatric and maternity hospitals. The level of care at these facilities is good, with the only weakness being the level of nursing/support-type care. Most hospitals are equipped with modern diagnostic equipment and trained technicians. Therefore, emergency and most routine surgery, as well as general hospitalizations, can be handled at local facilities. If an individual requires medical evacuation for further treatment, the evacuation points for all posts within Greece are London and Germany. Routine dental care is available throughout Greece. In Athens, pediodontic and orthodontic care is available from American or Greek dentists or orthodontists, with a few who have received their training in the U.S. Athens has oral surgeons, if needed. If possible, individuals with corrective lenses should have extras made in the U.S. before arrival in Greece. Local opticians can fill optical prescriptions, however, and some local ophthalmologists have extensive experience with contact lenses. Additionally, bring sunglasses for sun-drenched Greece. In Greece, few facilities are available for handicapped individuals, and those that do exist are not up to Western standards. Some hospitals and other medical institutions are equipped for wheelchairs.
The level of community health is considered high in Athens. Although the enforcement of regulations concerning the storage and sale of foods and drugs is less strict than that in the U.S., most local restaurants and taverns are safe and good places to eat. The local fruits and vegetables are excellent and do not require any special preparation beyond cooking and cleaning. Most meats can be procured locally and are safe. Pasteurized milk in Athens is safe for consumption.
The sanitation practices in the cities are good, unless a public works strike occurs; trash can sometimes accumulate up to a week at a time. In Athens and its suburbs, the garbage is collected 3-7 days a week, depending on the area. Local sewage drainage and treatment are adequate. The water in most cities throughout Greece is potable, but use a fluoride supplement for children up to age 13. When visiting small villages and the islands, however, consume bottled water, as the water source may be limited and not well treated. Insects and vermin pose no particular problems, but mosquitoes, garden pests, and ants can be annoying.
The major endemic, communicable diseases of concern to Americans are respiratory infections, which are caused by high levels of pollution present in Athens at periods of time throughout the year. Therefore, individuals with chronic respiratory disorders such as severe allergies, asthma, and emphysema may experience difficulty breathing during heavy pollution periods. Otherwise, no unusual health risks are involved in living in Greece. Traffic accidents can be a cause of injury, both in Athens and outside of major cities. Defensive driving and wearing seat belts are crucial.
NOTES FOR TRAVELERS
Passage, Customs and Duties
A passport is required but no visa is needed for tourist or business stays of up to three months. An AIDS test is required for performing artists and students on Greek government scholarships; U.S. test results are not accepted. For other entry questions, travelers should contact the Embassy of Greece at 2221 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20008, telephone (202) 939-5800, or Greek consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco, and Greek embassies and consulates around the world. Additional information is available at http://www.greekembassy.org.
Travelers may be required to declare U.S. dollars and travelers checks to customs officials on arrival. Importing dollars and dollar instruments is not restricted. Sporting and camping equipment and furs are registered in the owner's passport and must be reexported. Drugs and narcotics may not be imported under any circumstances.
Americans living in or visiting Greece are encouraged to register at the consular section of the U.S. Embassy/Consulate General and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Greece. The U.S. Embassy in Athens is located at 91 Vasilissis Sophias Boulevard, tel: (30)(1) 721-2951. The U.S. Consulate General in Thessaloniki is located at Plateia Commercial Center, 43 Tsimiski Street, 7th floor, tel: (30)(31) 242-905. The Embassy's website is http://www.usisathens.gr. The e-mail address for the consular section is email@example.com. The e-mail address for the U.S. Consulate General Thessaloniki is firstname.lastname@example.org.
In compliance with World Health Organization (WHO) requirements, pets (dogs and cats) entering or departing Greece must have a health certificate stating that the pet is in good health, free from infectious disease, and has had a rabies inoculation not more than 12 months (for cats 6 months) and not less than 6 days before arrival or departure. The certificate must be validated by the appropriate medical authority in the country, where travel begins. In the U.S., validation is performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (DOA). In Washington, D.C., take the papers to the Greek Consulate for validation. Parrots may not be imported, unless they are coming from a country free from psittacosis, in which case no more than two may be imported and must have the same health certification as for dogs and cats. Greece has few boarding kennels available. Those available are not of Western standards, and bookings must be made in advance.
Firearms and Ammunition
Greek law prohibits importation of rifles and handguns of any kind. Shotguns of any gauge and air rifles may be imported. Shotguns may be imported by the owner only. The shotgun is written on his/her passport, then, the owner must go to the Greek Forestry Department to submit the proper papers for the issuance of the gun's ID.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures
As a member of the European Community, the Greek monetary unit is the Euro, which is divided into 100 cent. Coins in circulation are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cent and 1 & 2 Euro. Bank notes are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros. The exchange rate approximates 1.15 euro to $1 US.
The value-added tax (VAT) was first implemented in Greece on January 1,1987, in accordance with the European Economic Community requirements, and replaced previous indirect taxes. Today, income from VAT totals 50% of indirect taxes and 35% of total state revenues. VAT ranges from 8% percent on mass consumption goods, e.g., food, to 18% imposed on most goods and services, and 36% for all luxury goods, such as tobacco products, alcohol, cosmetics (some foodstuffs fall under this percentage)
Greece uses the metric system of weights and measures. Gasoline is sold by the litre.
Jan.1…New Year's Day
Feb/Mar.…Clean Monday (beginning of Lent)*
Mar. 7…Dodecanese Accession Day (observed in Rhodes only)
May 1…May Day
May/June…Holy Ghost Day/Penetecost Monday
Aug 15… Assumption Day
Sept. 13… Finding of the True Cross
Oct. 4… Liberation of Xanthi (observed in Xanthi only)
Oct. 25… Independence Day
Oct. 26… St. Dimitrios Day (observed in Thessaloniki only)
Oct. 28… Ohi Day
Dec. 25…Christmas Day
Dec. 26…Boxing Day
The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:
Biers, William R. The Archaeology of Greece: An Introduction. Cornell University, 1980.
Grinnel, Isabel H. Hellas; A Portrait of Greece. Efstathiadis, 1987. (out of print)
Kitto, Humphrey. The Greeks. Penguin, 1951.
MacKendrick, Paul. The Greek Stones Speak: The Stones of Archaeology in Greek Lands. Norton, 1983.
Ruck, Carl. Ancient Greece: A New Approach. M.I.T. Press, 1972.
Andronikos, Manolis. Greek Museums. Caratzas Bros., 1975.
Avery, Catherine B. The New Century Handbook of Greek Art and Architecture. Appleton, 1972. (out of print)
Broadman, John. Greek Art. Oxford, 1985.
Matthew, Gervase. Byzantine Aesthetics. (Icon Edition Series), Harper and Row, 1971. (out of print)
Pollitt, Jerry J. Art and Experience in Classical Greece. Cambridge University Press, 1972.
Pollitt, Jerry J. Art in the Hellenistic Age. Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Woodford, Susan. An Introduction to Greek Art. Cornell University Press, 1986.
Description and Travel
Antony, Anne. Greece: Hut and Highrise. Constantinidis and Michalo, 1971. (out of print)
Durrell, Lawrence. The Greek Islands. Penguin, 1980.
Ellingham, Mark. A Rough Guide to Greece. Routledge, 1982.
Fodor, Eugene, ed. Fodor's Greece 1991. McKay, 1990.
Miller, Henry. Colossus of Maroussi. New Directions. History, Politics, and Government.
Alexander, G.M. The Prelude to the Truman Doctrine: British Policy in Greece, 1944-47. Oxford University Press, 1983.
Couloumbis, T.A. et.al. Foreign Interference in Greek Politics: An Historical Perspective. Pella, 1976.
Couloumbis Theodore and John O. Iatrides, editors. Greek American Relations: A Critical Review. (out of print).
Clogg, Richard A. A Short History of Modern Greece. Cambridge University Press, 1979.
Gage, Nicholas. Eleni: A True Story of Love, War and Survival. Random, 1983.
Hamilton, Edith. The Greek Way. Avon, 1973.
Iatrides, John, ed. Ambassador MacVeagh Reports: Greece, 1933 to 1947. Princeton, 1980.
Koumoulidis, Johm. Greece in Transition. State Mutual Books, 1977.
Legg, Keith R. Politics in Modern Greece. Stanford, 1969.
McNeil, William. The Metamorphosis of Greece Since World War II. University of Chicago, 1978.
Raizis, Byron M. and Papas, A. Greek Revolution and the American Muse: A Collection of Philhellenic Poetry 1821-1828. Coronet Books, 1972.
Toynbee, Arnold. The Greeks and Their Heritages. Oxford, 1981.
Woodhouse, C.M. Modern Greece: A Short History. Faber and Faber, 1977.
Woodhouse, C.M. The Rise and Fall of the Greek Colonels. Watts, 1985.
Literature and Poetry
Avery, Catherine B. Handbook of Greek Literature. Appleton, 1972. (out of print).
Hadas, Moses. A History of Greek Literature. Columbia University, 1950.
Keeley, Edmund and P.A. Bien. Modern Greek Writers. Princeton University Press, 1972.
Sherrard, Phillip. The Wound of Greece: Studies in New-Hellenism. St. Martin, 1979. (out of print).
Trypanis, Constantine. Greek Poetry from Homer to Seferis. University of Chicago, 1982.
Trypanis, Constantine. PenguinBook of Greek Verse. Penguin, 1971. (out of print)
Buckert, Walter. Greek Religion. Harvard University Press, 1987.
Ware, Timothy. The Orthodox Church. Penguin, 1963.
COPYRIGHT 2002 The Gale Group
LOCATION AND SIZE.
Greece is located on the southernmost point of the Balkan Peninsula and is flanked by 3 large bodies of water: the Aegean Sea, the Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. Greece is bordered to the north by Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M.), and Bulgaria. To the northeast and east is Turkey. The Hellenic Republic of Greece is rich with history, tradition, and archeological sites dating back thousands of years to classical ancient Greece.
With an area of 131,940 square kilometers (50,942 square miles) and a coastline of 13,676 kilometers (8,498 miles), Greece is a land of mountains and sea. Greece's mainland, the Peloponnesus Peninsula, is connected to the Isthmus of Corinth. The country also has more than 2,000 islands, of which 170 are inhabited. Greece is approximately the same size as the state of Alabama. Its cosmopolitan capital, Athens, is located on the Peloponnesus Peninsula.
Greece's position in the Aegean Sea and its access to the Turkish Straits has made it a country with a rich nautical tradition and a valued member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO: a military alliance of certain European states, Canada, and the United States).
The July 2000 population of Greece was estimated at 10,601,527. The birth rate was 9.82 births per 1,000 people while the death rate was 9.64 deaths per 1,000 people. The annual population growth rate was estimated at 0.21 percent.
Nearly all of the population is of Greek descent (98 percent) with the remainder belonging to other ethnicities. However, the Greek government has claimed there are no ethnic divisions in Greece. The majority of Greek citizens are between the ages of 15 to 64 years (67 percent) with 15 percent of the population under 15 years of age and 18 percent 65 years and over.
About 98 percent of Greeks are Orthodox Christians, a religion that figures prominently in Greece's culture. Small religious minorities do exist in Greece. Muslims comprise 1.3 percent of the population and the remaining 0.7 percent includes Catholics, Jews, Old Calendar Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Protestants, and other faiths. Most Muslims live in Thrace, and they are Greece's only officially recognized minority after receiving legal status through provisions in the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923.
The official language of Greece is Greek, which is spoken by 99 percent of the population. The Greek language has its basis in classical Greek and the language of the 21st century is quite similar to that which was spoken during the 5th century B.C.
Athens has a population of 3,096,775 and is a bustling urban center. Athens' suburban population stands at 748,110. Urbanization has been an important trend in the 20th and 21st centuries, yet more than one-third of Greek society is classified as rural. Many people moved into the cities following World War II, lured by a thriving economy that offered a better standard of living than existed in the countryside. Athens is known for its cosmopolitan lifestyle and for retaining many characteristics of village life such as the importance of family, family businesses, and the popular Greek coffeehouses.
OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY
The Greek economy grew significantly after World War II, but declined in the 1970s due to poor economic policies implemented by the government. As a result, Greece has spent much of the latter part of the 20th century and the early 21st century trying to rebuild and strengthen the economy. Thus, Greece is one of the least economically developed member countries in the European Union (EU).
While the Greek government encourages free enterprise and a capitalistic system, in some areas it still operates as a socialist country. For instance, in 2001 the government still controlled many sectors of the economy through state-owned banks and industries, and its public sector accounted for approximately half of Greece's gross domestic product (GDP). Limited natural resources, high debt payments, and a low level of industrialization have proved problematic for the Greek economy and have prevented high economic growth in the 1990s. Certain economic sectors are stronger and more established than others, such as shipping and tourism, which are growing and have shown promise since the 1990s.
The Greek government took measures in the late 1980s and 1990s to reduce the number of state-owned businesses and to revitalize the economy through a plan of privatization . This policy has received support from the Greek people and political parties of both the left and right. Despite the government's efforts, a drop in investment and the use of economic stabilization policies caused a slump in the Greek economy during the 1990s. In 2001, the Greek government fully encouraged foreign investment, particularly in its infrastructure projects such as highways and the Athens Metro subway system.
Soon after joining the European Union (EU), Greece became the recipient of many subsidies from the EU to bolster its struggling agricultural sector and to build public works projects. However, even with the European Union's financial assistance, Greece's agricultural and industrial sectors are still struggling with low productivity levels, and Greece remains behind many of its fellow EU members.
In the late 1990s, the government reformed its economic policy to be eligible to join the EU's single currency (the euro), which it became part of in January 2001. Measures included cutting Greece's budget deficit to below 2 percent of GDP and strengthening its monetary policy . As a result, inflation fell below 4 percent by the end of 1998—the lowest rate in 26 years—and averaged only 2.6 percent in 1999. Major challenges, including further economic restructuring and the unemployment reduction, still lie ahead.
The modern Greek economy began in the late 19th century with the adoption of social and industrial legislation, protective tariffs , and the creation of industrial enterprises. At the turn of the 20th century, industry was concentrated on food processing, shipbuilding, and the manufacturing of textile and simple consumer products. It is worth noting that, having been under direct control of the Ottoman Empire for over 400 years, Greece remained economically isolated from many of the major European intellectual movements, such as the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, as well as the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. Therefore Greece has had to work hard to catch up to its European neighbors in industry and development.
By the late 1960s, Greece achieved high rates of economic growth due to large foreign investments. However, by the mid-1970s, Greece experienced declines in its GDP growth rate and the ratio of investment to GDP, which caused labor costs and oil prices to rise. When Greece joined the European community in 1981, protective economic barriers were removed. Hoping to get back on track financially, the Greek government pursued aggressive economic policies, which resulted in high inflation and caused debt payment problems. To stop rising public sector deficits, the government borrowed money heavily. In 1985, supported by a US$1.7 billion European Currency Unit (ECU) loan from the EU, the government began a 2-year "stabilization" program with moderate success. Inefficiency in the public sector and excessive government spending caused the government to borrow even more money. By 1992 government debt exceeded 100 percent of Greece's GDP. Greece became dependent on foreign borrowing to pay for its deficits, and by the end of 1998, public sector external debt was at US$32 billion, with overall government debt at US$119 billion (105.5 percent of its GDP).
By January 2001 Greece had successfully reduced its budget deficit, controlled inflation and interest rates, and stabilized exchange rates to gain entrance into the European Monetary Union. Greece met the economic requirements to be eligible to join the program of a single currency unit (the euro) in the EU and to have the economy governed by the European Central Bank's focused monetary policy. The Greek government now faces the challenge of structural reform and to ensure that its economic policies continue to enhance economic growth and increase Greece's standard of living.
One of the recent successes of Greece's economic policies has been the reduction of inflation rates . For more than 20 years, inflation remained in double digits, but a successful plan of fiscal consolidation, wage restraint, and strong drachma policies has lowered inflation, which fell to 2.0 percent by mid-1999. However, high interest rates remain troublesome despite cuts in treasury bills and bank rates for savings and loans institutions. Pursuing a strong fiscal policy , combined with public-sector borrowing and the lowering of interest rates, has been challenging for Greece. Headway was made in 1997-99 and rates are progressively declining in line with inflation.
POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION
Greece is a presidential parliamentary republic. The Greek government is similar to the model found in many Western democracies, such as Germany. The prime minister and cabinet are responsible for making national and international policy. The president, whose powers are mostly ceremonial, is elected by parliament for a 5-year term and is eligible for reelection for only one additional term. His powers include declaring war and concluding agreements of peace, alliance, and representing Greece in international organizations. However, the cabinet must countersign any emergency powers exercised by the president. The constitution does not allow the president to dissolve parliament, dismiss the government, or suspend articles of the constitution.
Members of the Greek parliament are elected by secret ballot to 4-year terms; however, elections can be called before their term is up. To prevent political parties from dividing and to ensure there is always a parliamentary majority, Greece uses a complex proportional representation electoral system. A party must obtain at least 3 percent of the total national vote to qualify for parliamentary seats. As of 2001, there are 5 main political parties operating in Greece: the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), New Democracy (ND), Political Spring, Communist Party of Greece (KKE), and the Coalition of the Left (SYNASPISMOS).
Greece is divided into 51 prefectures, each led by a "prefect" who is elected by direct popular vote. There are also 13 regional administrative districts (peripheries), which include a number of prefectures led by a regional governor, the periferiarch, who is appointed by the Minister of Interior. Although municipalities (a city with self-government and corporate status) and villages have elected officials, they do not have an adequate independent tax base and depend on the government for a large part of their financial needs. Accordingly, they are subject to numerous government controls.
Greece has had a rocky political experience since its independence, and has been jolted by a series of deposed (removed from power) leaders and a military coup d'etat. Soon after the civil war of 1944-49, Greece decided to align itself with the Western democracies and became a member of NATO in 1952. During the 1950s and early 1960s, Greece was ruled by a series of politically conservative parties. The Center Union Party of George Papandreou came to power in 1963 and remained in office until 1965.
Several weak coalition (multiple parties ruling together) governments ruled Greece after the Center Union-ists left office. Then in 1967 a coup occurred under the leadership of Colonel George Papadopoulos. The coup introduced a dark period in Greek politics. Many civil liberties were taken away, thousands of political protesters were jailed or exiled to remote islands, and military courts replaced civil courts. University students were politically active during the coup and staged an impressive protest at the Athens Polytechnic University in 1973. The international community did not support the military-led government and called for immediate free elections.
The military junta (a small group that rules a country after a coup d'etat) lost power in 1974 when its new leader, General Dimitrios Ioannides, tried to depose the president of Cyprus, nearly causing the outbreak of war between Greece and its long-time rival Turkey. The junta fell after Ioannides lost support from his senior military officials. Order was restored that same year when former prime minister Constantine Karamanlis returned to Greece from exile in France to lead a new constitutional government. His new political party, New Democracy (ND), won the 1974 elections and he became prime minister again.
A new constitution was adopted in 1975, which restored a number of civil liberties and created the Greek presidency. The New Democracy party stayed in power until 1981. Under their leadership Greece became the tenth member of the EU in January 1981. That same year Greece elected its first socialist government headed by the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), which was led by Andreas Papandreou.
PASOK has dominated Greek political life since the 1980s. However, in 1990 the New Democracy party gained control of the parliament but collapsed in 1993 when several party members broke off and formed their own political party, Political Spring, and new elections were held after the collapse of the government. PASOK won elections in 1996 and 2000, and under Prime Minister Constantine Simitis's leadership, the economy has been revived and relations between Greece and Turkey have improved. Perhaps one of Simitis's greatest achievements is securing Greece's entry into the European Monetary Union in January 2001.
Since the 2000 elections, the PASOK government has improved social services by creating affordable pensions, improving health services and education, and creating better jobs while moving ahead with its privatization and economic policies. However, the PASOK government has become the target of growing criticism because of its recent strict reforms to ensure economic stability. PASOK emphasized meeting the criteria for low inflation and low public debt which are necessary for participation in the "euro zone"—those countries in Europe that will use the euro as a currency. The New Democracy (ND) party has accused the government of awarding large state contracts to friends of the party and favoritism in the sale of state assets, and the government is more cautious now when awarding contracts.
The Greek government employs a taxation system for revenue in which all persons permanently or temporarily residing in Greece, regardless of nationality, are required by law to pay taxes on their income. Sources of taxable income include real estate, securities, commercial and agricultural enterprises, and salaries. Additionally, corporations, companies, foreign construction companies operating in Greece, and ship owners are taxed.
INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS
Greece has a modern infrastructure complete with airports, railways, and paved roads and highways. There are a total of 80 airports (1999 est.), 64 of which have paved runways. There are 2,548 kilometers (1,583 miles) of railways and 117,000 kilometers (72,703 miles) of highways, 107,406 kilometers (66,742 miles) of which are paved. As expected from a historically seafaring country, Greece has 12 ports and harbors and a large merchant fleet of more than 700 ships.
Communications are also modern. The country's telephone system is adequate, with networks reaching all areas for main telephone lines and mobile cellular phones. Most telephone calls are carried by microwave radio relay. Underwater cables transmit calls to the Greek islands. In 1997 there were 5.431 million main lines in use and 328,000 mobile phone users. As of 1998 there were 26 AM radio stations, 88 FM stations, and 4 shortwave stations. In 1999, 64 television stations were operating in Greece. Computers and communications are increasing in popularity and availability. By 1999 there were 23 Internet service providers (ISPs) operating in Greece.
During the 1980s, the government dissolved its monopoly on radio and televisions stations. Many private television and radio stations emerged, as well as European satellite channels. By early 2001, however, the Greek government moved to shut down dozens of the popular privately-owned radio stations, saying that their proximity to the new Athens airport could cause radio interference. The announcement was widely condemned by opposition parties and media unions, as well as large numbers of loyal listeners.
The press in Greece operates much differently than it does in the United States. Journalistic objectivity, where a reporter writes the facts of a news event without his or her own political or ethical viewpoint, is often not followed. Businesspeople with extensive commercial interests in the economy own many of the media outlets and use their newspapers, magazines, and radio and television outlets to promote their commercial enterprises as well as to seek political influence.
Electrical power in Greece is supplied by lignite-fueled power stations. Lignite is a type of coal. Hydro-electric power is also used. Solar energy and wind power are being considered as alternative energy sources. Total power production in 1998 amounted to 43.677 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), while consumption in that year was 42.18 billion kWh.
Natural gas is becoming a popular alternative to coal for electricity production. The gas comes from a pipeline shared by Greece and Russia and is considered more environmentally friendly and efficient than coal. In February 2000, the Ministries of the Environment, Natural Planning, and Public Works signed an agreement to replace coal with natural gas. Natural gas is a new energy source in Athens, and many homes and businesses are beginning to use it. Another benefit is that natural gas would reduce the high smog levels in Athens.
Greece is not a fully capitalist state as there are still many state-owned industries, but the government plans to sell many of them. Greece receives a great amount of financial assistance from the European Union, which accounts for about 4 percent of its GDP. Greece's main
|Country||Newspapers||Radios||TV Sets a||Cable subscribers a||Mobile Phones a||Fax Machines a||Personal Computers a||Internet Hosts b||Internet Users b|
|aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.|
|bData are from the Internet Software Consortium (http://www.isc.org) and are per 10,000 people.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
imports are industrial and capital goods , foodstuffs, and petroleum, and it exports manufactured goods, food and beverages, petroleum products, cement, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.
Greece's chief sector of the economy—services—is comprised of transportation, tourism, communications, trade, banking, public administration, and defense. The service sector is the fastest-growing and largest part of the Greek economy, accounting for 64.4 percent of GDP in 1998. Tourism is the foundation of this sector. However, a poorly developed infrastructure has slowed its expansion. In 1996, more than 10 million tourists visited Greece, yet the tourist industry still faced declining revenues due in part to the drachma's weak performance. Tourism revenues exceeded US$5.2 billion in 1998, an upsurge due in part to political problems in neighboring Balkan countries and an economic recovery in the European Union.
The industrial sector accounts for 27.3 percent of Greece's GDP. One of the fastest growing and most profitable industries in this sector is the food industry, which has excellent export potential. High technology equipment production, especially for telecommunications, is also a fast-growing sector. Textiles, building materials, machinery, transport equipment, and electrical appliances are also a significant part of the manufacturing sector. Shipping is another industry that has shown economic promise. A nation with a great nautical tradition, Greece has built an impressive shipping industry based on its prime geographic location and the entrepreneurial skills of its owners.
Greece's agricultural sector suffers from a lack of many natural resources. Approximately 70 percent of the land cannot be cultivated because of poor soil or because it is covered by forests. Agriculture is centered in the plains of Thessaly, Macedonia, and Thrace, where corn, wheat, barley, sugar beets, cotton, and tobacco are harvested. Greece's low rainfall, its rural land ownership system, and the emigration of the rural community into urban areas or abroad are factors that hold back the growth of the agricultural sector. In 1998 agriculture accounted for only 8.3 percent of GDP.
While agriculture is not a thriving economic sector, Greece is still a major EU producer of cotton and tobacco. Greece's olives—many of which are turned into olive oil—are the country's most renowned export crop. Grapes, melons, tomatoes, peaches, and oranges are also popular EU exports. Wine is an export with promise, and the government has urged vineyard owners to produce higher quality wines to increase its popularity as an international export.
Given Greece's vast coastline and its numerous islands, it is natural that a fishing industry exists. However, it is not as vital to the economy as would be expected from a country with a rich maritime history. Over-fishing has lessened the impact of fishing revenues on the economy. Pollution in the Mediterranean has also damaged the industry.
Animals and animal production constitute a significant part of Greece's agricultural output. Goat and sheep meat and milk are popular and provide about 6 percent of agricultural production, especially sheep milk, which is used for making Greece's renowned feta cheese. Hogs, cattle, chickens, rabbits, beehives, and pigeons are other important livestock.
Employment in the agricultural sector has slipped throughout the latter part of the 20th century and into the 21st. In 1981 the agricultural workforce was measured at 972,000 and had fallen to 873,000 by 1991. Women have dominated employment in the agricultural sector.
Greece adopted a system of farming cooperatives as early as 1915 to streamline farming efforts. These cooperatives are now unionized and have been supported by every government that comes to power. Under the socialist governments of the 1980s, the cooperatives were greatly enhanced, and they received a large percentage of agricultural loans.
The European Union has granted Greece a number of subsidies to bolster its agricultural sector, but it continues to perform poorly in the 21st century. To expand the market for Greek food exports, the Ministry of Agriculture established a private company, Hellagro SA, to assist Greek companies in selling their products over the Internet. Private stockholders will hold the majority share in Hellagro, and financing will come from e-commerce , commission (money paid for performing a given act or transaction), investment opportunities, and joint ventures . The government is hoping this effort will help revitalize the struggling industry.
Greece's industrial sector is weak. While it expanded during the 1960s, growth slowed from the 1970s to the 1990s. Industry has progressed to a higher level in 2000 due to large increases in mining and energy production, as well as construction, but it remains an under-performing economic sector. The shipping industry, however, is an important exception, and has performed exceptionally well. Textile production, food processing, construction, cement, and shipping are important segments of this sector. High-technology equipment production, particularly in telecommunications, is another growing and important industry.
Manufacturing accounts for about 14 percent of the GDP. In 2000 the manufacturing sector increased modestly. During the 1990s, the most important and profitable sectors have been (in order) foodstuffs, textiles, chemicals, and nonmetallic minerals.
The economic crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, in which the Greek economy experienced declines in its GDP growth rate, rising labor and oil costs, and high inflation, hurt many manufacturing companies. The government bought many of these companies to prevent them from going out of business and help them earn a profit. Eventually, the PASOK government in the 1990s decided to embark on a continuing privatization policy in an effort to encourage foreign investment.
Prior to Greece's admittance into the EU, the government tried to bolster new manufacturing companies with tax breaks, tariff protection, and cheap loans. However, this policy was eliminated to comply with EU regulations. Today, most government assistance to manufacturing firms takes place in the form of grants and subsidies for new investment.
Foreign investment in manufacturing has not been strong, despite incentives from the Greek government as early as 1953, but it has grown since 2000. Investment by foreign companies is important, as it helps a struggling economy grow. It expands an economic sector, brings new technology into a country, increases tourism, creates new job opportunities, and accelerates growth in other sectors of the economy. Greece's EU membership helped lure some investors with the promise of working in a unified European market. In 1992, a large Italian company, Calcestruzzi, bought a substantial share of Greece's major cement company, AGET. By 1988, an estimated 18 percent of total manufacturing employment was under foreign control.
The mining industry is small but significant because of Greece's vast mineral resources. Lignite, which is used for making energy in Greece, and bauxite, the raw material needed for aluminum production, are 2 minerals that are found abundantly in Greece. Other mineral deposits include ferronickel ores, magnesite, mixed sulfurous ores, ferrochrome ores, kaolin, asbestos, and marble. Mining accounts for only 1% of the GDP. Mining of metallic ores is concentrated in the hands of a few private companies. Quarry production is divided among many small companies. In 2000 mining output rose significantly, in contrast to its negative performance of the previous 2 years.
Housing and building construction have always played a key role in Greece's industrial sector and have long been a major source of income. Today, construction activity accounts for approximately 7.5 percent of the GDP and is expected to rise due to new infrastructure projects financed by EU funds.
The government traditionally has seen the construction sector as a way to boost employment, income, and domestic demand. Accordingly, the housing construction industry has historically enjoyed tax advantages. However, with the fiscally conservative policies of the 1990s, increased taxation was considered.
The construction of large public works has also played a significant role in this subsector of the economy. The new international airport in Athens was a major construction project planned by the government. The first passenger flights took off in March 2001 and the government hopes the airport will become a regional hub for routes to Europe, Africa, and Asia. With its state-ofthe-art facilities, the new airport is expected to boost the tourism sector and handle the tourist traffic demands of the 2004 Olympic Games, which will be held in Athens. The $1 billion construction project involved both Greek and foreign private companies and the Greek public sector. Attiki Odos, a conglomerate of Greek construction companies, constructed a high-speed toll roadway, and plans are underway to build new hotels near the airport.
The Athens Metro subway system is another construction project that is being renovated and expanded in 2000-01, as well as new roadways, railroads, and bridges. Under the terms of the EU, Greece must be open to international bidding for major projects, which provides tough competition for the Greek construction industry.
In 2000, private building activity increased. Permits for new projects, particularly in the housing industry, rose by 6.3 percent and many predict a real-estate boom in coming years. Although the residential housing market has matured, expansion seems likely in the area of home renovations and in the purchase of second homes.
The service industry is the most important sector of the Greek economy. In 1998, the service sector provided 64.4 percent of Greece's GDP, and accounted for nearly 60 percent of Greece's labor force . A variety of businesses are included in this sector: street vendors, the hotel and lodging industry, telecommunications, and public administration.
Greece has long been known for its warm climate, scenic Mediterranean coastlines, and classical archeological and historical sites. These attractions, together with its beautiful and quiet islands, delicious culinary offerings, and renowned hospitality have made Greece a popular tourist destination. The most popular attractions are the Acropolis of Athens, the palace of Knossos on the island of Crete, the temple of Apollo at Delphi, the Epidaurus Theater and the palace and treasure of Mycenae in the Peleponnesus, and the Acropolis of Lindos on the island of Rhodes.
The tourism industry has grown significantly since the 1960s, and is a major source of foreign exchange, but this sector has suffered from poor infrastructure and a strong drachma. European tourists visiting Greece tripled from the early 1970s to the late 1980s, and reached 11.5 million visitors in 2000. Most tourists visiting Greece hail from Great Britain and Germany; however, droves of visitors come from Italy, the former Yugoslavia, France, and the Netherlands. The number of American tourists declined during the 1990s. Lodging options have increased significantly between the 1970s and 1990s due to an expansion of hotels. In 1998, tourist revenues were high as Greece benefited from problems in neighboring countries and an economic recovery in the EU. Today Greece faces tough competition from Turkey, which has become a popular vacation destination, but improvement in the tourism sector does hold promise.
Fully understanding its importance, the government is working to improve this vital sector of the Greek economy. First, it is attempting to upgrade facilities in the country to levels found in competitors Spain and Italy. It is also looking to expand the tourist season from 6 months to year-round through sports, hosting international conferences, and cultural tourism. Developing marine tourism with activities such as cruises and sailing excursions is another priority. To accommodate more tourists, the state-controlled Hellenic Tourist Organization is planning to expand the number of marinas (docks for pleasure boats) operating in Greece.
In 2001 the PASOK government of Prime Minister Simitis launched a campaign to attract private investment in Greece's tourist industry as part of its ongoing privatization program. The Hellenic Tourist Properties (ETA), which is the asset management arm of the Hellenic Tourist Organization, is trying to attract private investors to develop its properties through long-term leases, joint operations, or equity operations. Some of the projects in need of investment are a theme park for Anavissos, an aquarium, and camping grounds at Voula. The city of Rhodes will build more hotels, a golf course, and athletic facilities. The government hopes these new attractions increase Greece's popularity as a tourist destination, especially with the approach of the 2004 Olympic Games, which will bring thousands of new visitors to Greece. The government is trying to ensure they will return as tourists.
Greece's rugged interior, its lengthy coastline, and multitude of islands have made shipping an important industry. Greece's 5 major cities—Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, and Volos—are all major ports, and there are a total of 123 ports throughout the country, which are essential to transporting and importing goods to and from Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East.
Shipping has been one of Greece's most important and profitable industries due to the business know-how of its shipowners. Its merchant fleet is one of the largest in the world totaling 3,358 ships in 1998, although many of its ships are older. However, Greek ship owners are trying to upgrade their fleets with new ships, and there were a record number of new ship-building orders placed in 2000, due to low prices offered by South Korean shipyards. Many of Greece's ships are cargo carriers to third-world countries, so the industry is sensitive to downturns in the world economy.
Road transportation saw increases in the second half of the 20th century, gaining in importance compared to rail and shipping transport. However, the closing of roads in the former Yugoslavia, traditionally Greece's route into Europe, caused sea transport to increase in importance once again.
Olympic Airways, which is partially state-owned, is Greece's exclusive airline. Olympic offers domestic flights throughout Greece's major cities and islands, as well as overseas flights to Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and South Africa. While passenger loads have increased, the airline has faced financial difficulty as a result of high costs. Greece has negotiated plans with the EU to restructure the airline.
Railway construction began in Greece in the 1880s and, given the rugged terrain of the country, was an extraordinary feat of engineering. Tracks cover slightly less than 2,548 kilometers (1,583 miles) of the country. The EU is providing assistance in renovating the railroad system. Since 1990, diesel locomotives have gone into service and shortened travel time.
In 2000, new registrations for automobiles increased, although many buyers have apparently postponed new purchases until Greece joins the economic and monetary union and interest rates fall to euro zone levels. Truck roads are inadequate in comparison to European standards. Greece has one of the worst automobile accident levels in Europe.
Public transportation in Athens is made up of an overcrowded and unreliable bus network and Metro subway system. Renovation and service extension of the Athens Metro finally began in 1993 after many delays. Work on the 130 year-old Athens Metro was finished in January 2000. The project faced many obstacles because of poor soil conditions, the presence of archeological remains, and contractor disputes. The Metro is expected to have a huge impact on daily life in Athens and ease passenger traffic congestion, making commuting much easier. Attiko Metro, a state-controlled company, oversaw the design, construction, and operation of the new Metro lines and U.S.-based Bechtel International acted as project manager. Further expansions are planned, particularly into lower-income neighborhoods in Athens as required in the funding package from the EU's Community Structural Fund, which provided much of the financing.
Member countries of the European Union have dominated international trade in Greece. Germany and Italy
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Greece|
|SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
are Greece's main EU trading partners, with 25 and 11 percent of exports and 16 percent of imports each, respectively. Outside of the EU countries, the United States is Greece's largest trading partner, with 16 percent of exports and 11 percent of imports. Other significant partners include the United Kingdom, Central and Eastern European countries, and the former Soviet Union. In the 1990s, the biggest trade increases occurred with South Korea, Bulgaria, Egypt, Japan, and China. The former republic of Yugoslavia's internal political problems resulted in a sharp decline in its trade with Greece.
Greece's imports are machinery, transportation equipment, food, chemical products, and petroleum products. Greece's main exports are fruit, vegetables, olive oil, textiles, steel, aluminum, cement, and various manufactured items such as clothing, foodstuffs, refined petroleum and petroleum-based products. Once it joined the EU, Greece was also required to break down all trade barriers in accordance to the organization's by-laws.
Greece must keep its economy in order as a member of the EU. To do this, the government embarked on an ambitious privatization plan during the 1990s, and continues to encourage foreign investment. Greek businesspeople are getting used to competition from international firms, and the government keeps state industries, such as tourism, open to private investment. A good example of foreign investment in a state-owned industry is the operating company Athens International Airport SA, which constructed the airport and will handle its operations. The Greek government owns 55 percent of Athens International Airport SA and the remaining 45 percent belongs to the German Hochtief Group.
Membership in the European Union has been extremely beneficial for Greece. Net payments from the EU budget have significantly decreased Greece's account balance and the state budget deficit. Support packages for public works projects such as the Athens Metro, and economic and human development projects, have been especially useful in attempting to upgrade Greece's infrastructure.
Greece's balance of trade has traditionally been negative (see chart). In 1991-93 exports of goods fell short of imports by more than US$13 billion. By 1998 that trade imbalance had grown to US$15.3 billion on exports of US$12.4 billion and imports of US$27.7 billion. Greece's trade deficit has usually been covered by loans from the EU, remittances from Greeks living abroad, tourism, and shipping.
After many years of high inflation, the Greek economy appears to have settled since 2000. Inflation is above the EU average but is under control and expected to remain that way in the near future. Reducing inflation rates has been a success of Greece's recent reformist economic measures.
Inflation, consistently above 10 percent in the past, has fallen due to government fiscal policies, wage restraints, strong monetary policies, and debt consolidation. By mid-1999 inflation fell to 2.0 percent but later rose again because of a sharp easing of Greece's monetary policy when it joined the EU's Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Fortunately, this did not cause a huge inflation increase as had been feared.
In January 2001, Greece became a member of the EMU after 4 years of careful fiscal planning by the government of Prime Minister Costas Simitis. Greece is expected to relax its monetary policy as its short-term interest rates converge with euro zone rates. The government views the economic forecast favorably, but progress could be slowed if it remains committed to tax cuts.
Greece's banks consist of 3 kinds of institutions. The first is the Central Bank of Greece, which controls and manages the country's money supply and currency exchange rates. It does this by regulating the cash flow of other banks and by direct intervention in money markets. It also operates as a regulatory agency for commercial banks and protects the monetary system against banking catastrophes. In conformity with EU rules, the bank should be a separate entity from the state to keep the government from borrowing bank funds. A large number of Greece's banks remain under state control and in the early 1990s state-controlled banks held some 70 percent of deposits.
Commercial banks also operate in Greece and are the second type of banking institution. Both foreign and domestic commercial banks operate in Greece, and New York-based Citibank is one of the largest banks in Greece. Traditionally banks have been depositories for the people but have recently expanded their operations to include wholesale and retail banking services. Commercial, industrial, consumer, and mortgage loans are issued through these institutions. They can also issue credit cards
|Exchange rates: Greece|
|drachmae (Dr) per US$1|
|SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|
and letters of credit as well as exchange foreign currency. Some banks also offer brokerage services.
A third part of the Greek banking system is made up of specialized credit institutions such as investment and mortgage banks. Examples are the Agricultural Bank of Greece and the Postage Savings bank. Many of the credit institutions are directly or indirectly controlled by the state; however, legislation in the 1990s sought to limit its influence. While these banks already offer credit services, EU standards have forced them to offer a wider range of banking services so that they do not have a monopoly on one specific area. Likewise, other banks are now permitted to offer these banks' specialized services, such as entering the agricultural credit market.
Since the late 1980s, the Greek banking system has undergone a process of liberalization , and Greece's EU membership has pushed modernization of the banking system. Interest rates are now set by market conditions, foreign exchange and capital movements have been deregulated , and credit quality controls were abolished. As a result, banking in Greece has become a modern and competitive industry. Proving its capability in this new environment, the Bank of Greece successfully managed a monetary crisis, protecting the drachma by tightening its monetary policy and raising interest rates to high levels. In less than 2 months, interest rates returned back to normal.
The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) has been modernized and revitalized since 1987. Recent changes include the formation of brokerage firms participating as members of the exchange, the introduction of an automated trading system, and the establishment of a Central Securities Depository. The early 1990s saw 118 public companies on the ASE. Traditionally, many Greeks are reluctant to invest in stocks and shares, preferring to invest their money in real estate, foreign currency, gold, and jewelry.
POVERTY AND WEALTH
Since the 19th century, upward mobility has been more common for Greeks with each generation. How-ever, unlike most European countries, which tend to have rigid class systems, Greece's class system has been more flexible as income has been more widely distributed.
For rich and poor alike, Greek society remains somewhat traditional. The Greek people have strongly held beliefs on the importance of the family and maintaining its societal role, which extends into the economic sector. For example, most Greeks, rich and poor alike, own their own home, and real estate usually stays within families. Non-home owners are considered impoverished, and questions arise about the family's inability to take care of its children and future generations.
The family remains the basic social unit for all classes. The extended family and the obligation of family members to help each other in times of trouble are essential parts of Greek society, which remains unaltered by the expansion of the middle and upper-middle classes following World War II. It is odd for a Greek man or woman to remain single or to break ties with his or her family. Sons and daughters will often live with their parents until they marry. Parents still have influence over the choice of a child's spouse. In rural areas, a groom and his family still consider a potential bride's reputation, family, health, age, and appearance important factors before agreeing to marriage.
Paternal authority is a key part of Greek family life and in Greek society as a whole. Men can often be found smoking, drinking coffees, and discussing politics in the cafés, which are not open to women. During the 1980s, however, significant changes were made in Greek family law, which restricted the dominant role of the father in the family. Dowries for brides were outlawed and although marriage is still viewed as an economic union, civil marriages were permitted and divorce was made easier.
Greeks are noted for their strong sense of community. Despite urbanization, village life remains a strong societal influence. Village square-style meetings on topics relevant to the community are common, even in cities. Many businesses are small, family-owned and operated enterprises. This is evident in some large and more dynamic sectors of the Greek economy such as the shipping industry, which is led by a tight-knit group of Greek
|GDP per Capita (US$)|
|SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.|
|Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Greece|
|Survey year: 1993|
|Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.|
|SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].|
families. Business operations are often run on family connections and favors.
Major strides in health care have occurred since World War II. Many diseases have been eradicated, and Greece has more doctors per person than any other EU member. However, most doctors are located in Athens, meaning many rural dwellers must travel to the city for medical care. In 1976, a government study found that the poor did not have adequate health coverage or access to services, and there was a lack of coordination between government agencies. Reform efforts took several years, but in the 1980s the PASOK government of Andreas Papandreou created a national health-care system which sought to put all medical practices under control of the state. One major goal of the plan was to provide free access to health care regardless of economic means. However, wealthier Greeks often choose to travel abroad for major operations, as they believe health-care services and doctors are more sophisticated elsewhere in Europe.
Greece's health system does provide benefits for workers. Greece has a generous maternity-leave policy for women, and when new mothers return to work they are allowed to leave work 2 hours early so that they can go home to their child. Vacation leave is generous, as it is in many European countries. Greeks take advantage of this, especially during April, the traditional month for vacationing because of the Easter holiday.
Pensions are a complex issue in Greece. Most of the working population, about 80 percent, is covered under the Social Insurance Institute and the Agricultural Insurance Organization. Workers and employers must both contribute to the pension plans for the Social Insurance Institute, which covers professionals, laborers, and craftsmen. The Agricultural Insurance Organization provides pensions for rural workers and is funded entirely by taxes.
Education has always played an important role in Greek society, dating back to its classical roots. The
|Household Consumption in PPP Terms|
|Country||All Food||Clothing and footwear||Fuel and power a||Health care b||Education b||Transport & Communications||Other|
|Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.|
|aExcludes energy used for transport.|
|bIncludes government and private expenditures.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
literacy rate is 93 percent. In the post-World War II period, education has been viewed as the key to upgrading one's position in society and to economic prosperity. However, Greece's education system is rigid and heavily centralized. Teaching is not a highly respected profession and as a result there are not many qualified teachers. State educational institutions are considered inadequate by the populace and, as a result, many children go for tutoring after school at private institutions called phrontistiria. Greek education is free and compulsory for all children to 9 years of age.
The university admissions process for students is very intense and extremely competitive, as graduating from a top university often ensures professional success. About 1 in 4 applicants are admitted. The educational system is plagued by the low social status of educators, lack of supplies and books, frequent strikes, and inadequate labs and technology. Most state universities do not have graduate-level programs, decreasing the incentive for faculty research. Currently about 100,000 students are registered at Greek universities and about 15 percent of the population hold a university degree.
Private universities are not permitted in Greece, which means that the government, and ultimately the taxpayers, must absorb the operating costs of universities and technical schools. A number of new colleges and universities were created throughout the country from the 1960s to the 1980s to meet the growing demand for higher education. However, many of these institutions are not well-equipped with books and laboratory equipment and do not offer enough openings to meet the desire for a university-level education, forcing many Greeks to study abroad. Those students who travel abroad for university tend to enroll in American universities, especially for graduate school. The Greek government evaluates all degrees from international universities to see whether graduates can work in the public sector. One concern with the increased number who study abroad, particularly with EU educational exchanges, is that a "brain drain" will occur, where Greek students will remain abroad rather than return to their home country with their new skills and education.
Following the collapse of military rule in the 1970s, the Greek government issued a number of reforms touching all levels of education such as the expansion of compulsory education and increasing technical education programs. The first PASOK government, which came to office in 1981, continued making education a priority and doubled the education budget during its first 4 years in power. Teaching methods and planning were standardized, routine educational inspections took place, and state education was placed under the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.
With Greece's entry into the European Union and increased urbanization, there has been an emphasis on raising educational standards to those of its fellow EU countries. In June 1999, Greece was one of 29 states to sign the Bologna Declaration. The declaration sought to standardize EU member universities and shape degree requirements around European Union needs. Once accomplished, all university degrees in the EU would be comparable with one another. The plan called for the creation of a 2-cycle educational system with a 3-year undergraduate program and a 2-year master's degree program. The goal is to reduce unemployment by allowing trained and qualified students to enter the labor market more quickly. The Greek Ministry of Education was skeptical of the program and staged a conference in January of 2000 to debate the Bologna Declaration. University officials voiced strong reservations about the plan, particularly the emphasis on professional rather than liberal arts education. The Ministry of Education opted not to adopt the 3-year undergraduate system, but will make university credit hours more similar to those of EU educational institutions.
The occupational structure of Greece has changed in the 20th century because of increased industrialization and urbanization. Since the 1960s, the number of rural workers has dropped considerably. Overall, the employment numbers reflect various sectors' contribution to the GDP, with most Greeks employed in the service sector (59.2 percent) and lesser numbers in industry (21 percent) and agriculture (19.8 percent), according to 1998 estimates in the 2000 CIA World Factbook. Greece's total labor force numbered 4.32 million in 1999, when unemployment was estimated at 9.9 percent.
Generally, more men work in the industry sector while women dominate the service and agriculture industries. Greek women tend to have higher unemployment rates than men and are on average paid less. For additional income many Greeks work in seasonal or nonpermanent agricultural or service industry positions. For example, a craftsman may also work at a tourist site during the summer. Public-sector employees may often take a second job in the evening. Second jobs often complicate the way employment and unemployment figures are measured within the various sectors of the Greek economy.
In the Greek workforce, labor unions have been active throughout the 20th century. But unions have been subject to legal restrictions by successive Greek governments who considered unions a threat to domestic economic stability. Organization is centered on a particular trade or craft within a community. Local chapters are generally affiliated with national federations, which in turn are organized under the umbrella of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE).
The GSEE was founded in 1918 and is one of the oldest trade unions. However, the Greek public does not hold the GSEE and the Supreme Civil Servants' Administrative Committee (ADEDI) in high regard. Public hostility is also aimed toward the white-collar Association of Greek Industrialists, although they improved their public image considerably in the 1990s.
While not popular with the Greek people or government, trade unions can yield considerable political power. For example, when the New Democracy administration was in office in 1992, labor unions staged strikes following the privatization of the Urban Transportation Company, putting the government on the defensive. However, the GSEE has been instrumental in establishing pay increases and other labor benefits, which have benefited the country as a whole.
One of the by-products of industrialization in Greece was the development of an underground economy , which includes unreported economic activities that are not subject to taxation. Given Greece's large service sector, there are a number of retail and small family businesses that are unregulated and untaxed by the government, and it is difficult to track the number of unpaid family members working in these businesses. Estimates of the Greek underground economy are at 50 to 60 percent of the officially reported economy, meaning that income and employment figures in Greece are actually significantly higher than the official estimates. While this unofficial sector provides employment and income to many that would otherwise be jobless, it undermines the modernization of the country's fiscal system and the development of an internationally competitive Greek economy.
COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
2600 B.C. Period of early Minoean civilization in Crete, beginning more than 1,400 years of cultural development.
9TH CENTURY B.C. The poet Homer writes The Odyssey and The Iliad, the Greek classical epic poems.
8TH CENTURY B.C. Trade relations begin between Athens, Sparta, and other city-states.
450s B.C. Under the rule of Pericles, the Golden Age of Athens begins. This period is marked by achievements in architecture, sculpture, and philosophy.
336 B.C. Alexander the Great assumes power and creates the largest empire in history.
86 B.C. Rome conquers Athens. Pax Romana period begins in 31 B.C.
1453. Ottoman Turks capture Constantinople and Greece falls to Ottomans and remains under Ottoman control for close to 400 years.
1821-32. Inspired by the Enlightenment movement in Europe, the Greek War of Independence begins which liberates modern-day Greece. Britain and France assist Greece's efforts.
1863. New constitution establishes parliament. Prince William of Denmark named King George I of Greece.
1881. Ottomans relinquish control of Thessaly and part of Epirus to Greece following pressure from Great Powers at 1878 Congress of Berlin.
1909. Greek government is overthrown by a military coup. Eleutherios Venizelos named head of new government.
1930. World depression causes political and economic unrest in Greece.
1936-41. General Ioannis Metaxas heads dictatorship after Venizelos resigns in 1932.
1941. Nazis invade Greece. Start of 4-year occupation. National resistance movement founded.
1944. Athens is freed from German control and Greece falls under post-WWII British sphere of influence.
1946-49. Civil war erupts between government and Democratic Army of Greece.
1949. Greece receives aid for post-war rebuilding from the U.S. Marshall Plan.
1967. Military seizes the government in a coup d'etat, starting a 7-year period of international isolation. King Constantine goes into exile.
1974. Turkey invades Cyprus in response to coup attempt by Greece against Cypriot president. Greek military junta loses power and civilian government returns. Democratic institutions are restored and the monarchy is abolished by popular vote.
1975. A new constitution based on republican form of government is created. Turkish Federated State of Cyprus declared, heightening tensions between Greece and Turkey.
1981. Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) ends post-war conservative control and starts 8-year rule marked by reform program under Andreas Papandreou; Greece becomes member of European Community (EC).
1990. New government formed by Konstantinos Mitsotakis's New Democracy (ND) party, which wins control of half of assembly.
1992. The New Democracy party privatizes the mass transit system. Strikes erupt against Mitsotakis' government and its economic policies.
1993. European Union (EU) 5-year economic reform program adopted by Greece; Papandreou again elected prime minister.
1994. Greece imposes trade embargo against Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and EU declares embargo violates international law. UN, U.S., and EU attempt to work out a solution with Greece.
1995. Government ratifies UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, causing Turkey to threaten war if treaty is applied in Aegean Sea. Greece lifts trade embargo against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
1996. Papandreou resigns as prime minister because of poor health and is replaced by Constantine Simitis.
2001. Greece joins European Monetary Union (EMU). New Athens International Airport opens.
In the 20th century, the Greek economy has fared poorly and has been plagued with high inflation, debts, account deficits, and shaky economic policies. However, its admittance into the EU has ensured economic reform and the commitment of the government to keep Greece's economic house in order. The road ahead looks brighter and more promising for Greece's long-troubled economy. Its entrance into the European Monetary Union (EMU) demonstrates that Prime Minister Simitis's PASOK government has successfully managed the economy without causing high inflation through tough fiscal measures. All signs show that the Greek economy is likely to expand, perhaps more so than that of other EU members. Recent wage increases, tax cuts, and employment growth are likely to keep consumer spending growing.
If the Balkan region becomes more stable, Greece may have stiff competition attracting foreign investors. Likewise, receiving funds from the Community Support Framework (CSF) of the EU may prove difficult as higher implementation standards are instituted. That said, the Greek economy is far better off than it was during the second half of the 20th century. And in fact, in 2001 the government expected to achieve a small surplus in the budget.
Politically, Greece is expected to remain stable under Prime Minister Constantine Simitis, ensuring the continuation of his economic platform, although there is some resistance to his privatization policies. Improving ties with its EU neighbors will be at the forefront of his political agenda, as well as fostering better relations with Turkey, Greece's longtime adversary. Throughout 1999 and 2000, the 2 countries made significant progress toward enhancing peaceful relations in the wake of Turkey's candidacy for admission to the EU.
Greece will host the 2004 Olympics, and the country is gearing up for this historic event. The new Athens International Airport is better equipped to handle the many tourists coming in for the Games, and improvements are being made in transportation and the country's infrastructure, such as new highways and expansion of the Athens Metro. Tourism revenues should increase significantly from the influx of Olympic participants and spectators.
As Greece continues its plan to modernize its economy while retaining some socialist aspects of its government, societal changes could occur. Businesses, especially family-owned businesses, are feeling the effects of closer integration with Greece's EU partners as the country's entrepreneurs now face growing competition from their European competitors. Small family-owned businesses could crumble due to competition from large international corporations. How this all plays out in Greek society, which is marked by strong family traditions, is unknown. It is hoped that increased free enterprise and capitalism will not damage Greece's strong family structure, which has been a pillar of its culture and society, much like those which still hold up the Acropolis after so many centuries.
Greece has no territories or colonies.
Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Report: Greece. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, January 2001.
Embassy of Greece. <http://www.greekembassy.org/busin-econ/tax.html>. Accessed April 2001.
Greece Now Project 2001. Greece Now. <http://www.greece.gr>. Accessed July 2001.
"Greece Silences Radio Stations Near Airport." Amarillo Globe-News. <http://www.amarillonet.com/stories/032801/usn_ greece.shtml>. Accessed June 2001.
Hellenic Ministry of Agriculture. <http://www.minagric.gr/en/index.shtml>. Accessed July 2001.
Kourvetaris, Yorgos A., and Betty A. Dobratz. A Profile of Modern Greece: In Search of Identity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.
Kurtis, Glenn E., ed. Greece: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1995.
Nevradakis, Michael. "In Memory of the Athenian Free Radio." <http://www.media.net.gr>. Accessed June 2001.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed July 2001.
U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Greece. <http://www.state.gov/www/background_notes/greece_9910_bgn.html>. Accessed January 2001.
Drachma (Dr). 1 drachma equals 100 lepta. Coins in circulation are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 drachmae. Paper currency includes denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 drachmae. As a member of the European Union, Greece adopted the new currency, the euro, for non-cash transactions beginning in 2001, and will adopt the euro for cash transactions beginning in January 2002. The drachma will be replaced by the euro on February 28, 2002.
Manufactured goods, foodstuffs and beverages, fuels.
Manufactured goods, foodstuffs, fuels, chemicals.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:
$149.2 billion (1999 est.).
BALANCE OF TRADE:
Exports: US$12.4 billion (1998 est.). Imports: US$27.7 billion (1998 est.).
COPYRIGHT 2002 The Gale Group Inc.
|Official Country Name:||Hellenic Republic|
|Language(s):||Greek, English, French|
|Number of Primary Schools:||6,651|
|Compulsory Schooling:||9 years|
|Public Expenditure on Education:||3.1%|
|Educational Enrollment:||Primary: 652,040|
|Educational Enrollment Rate:||Primary: 93%|
|Student-Teacher Ratio:||Primary: 14:1|
|Female Enrollment Rate:||Primary: 93%|
History & Background
The Hellenic Republic (Elliniki Dhimocratia), the southernmost country in Europe, lies at the juncture of Europe, Asia, and Africa. A land of mountains and sea, it is simultaneously European, Balkan, and Mediterranean. Mountains occupy about 80 percent of the country and have, at times, restricted internal communications. But the sea opened wider horizons, and Greece has had a naval tradition throughout history.
Greece occupies 131,957 square miles (50,949 square kilometers), approximately the size of Alabama. The Greek Islands make up one-fifth of this territory. Although there are about 2,000 islands, only 170 are inhabited; the largest is Crete. To the east is the Aegean Sea, to the south the Mediterranean, to the west the Ionian. To the north, Greece's continental frontier borders Albania, the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.
Geography has had a big influence on the country's economic, historical, and political development. The landscape has been a strong factor for Greek migration, both internally—from rural to urban areas—and to other countries for employment and a better life. The result over centuries was depopulation of certain areas. In the 1980s, some repatriation occurred.
As of the 1991 census, the population was 10,2590,000, excluding Greeks living in Australia, Canada, and the United States. Of these, 5,055,408 were males and 5,204,492 were females; 58.8 percent lived in urban areas, 12.8 percent in semi-urban, and 28.4 percent in rural. Nineteen percent of the population was 14 years or younger, 67 percent were between 15 and 64, and 14 percent were older than 65.
Between 1991 and 1996, births decreased from 10 per thousand to 9.6, while deaths for the same period increased from 9.3 per thousand to 9.6 (NSSG 1998).
As of the March 18, 2001, census, the population was 10,939,777, an increase of 6.6 percent over 10 years. Women made up 50.4 percent, men 49.6 percent (Hellas Letter April 2001). Approximately 6.8 percent of the population is illiterate; of this figure, 9.8 percent are female, 3.7 percent male (NSSG 2000).
Modern Greece is the heir of classical Greece and the Byzantine Empire (300-1453). From ancient Greece it has inherited a sophisticated culture and language that has been documented for almost three millennia. The language of Periclean Athens in the fifth century B.C. and the present language are almost the same. Few languages can demonstrate such continuity. From Sparta (600 B.C.) and Athens (450-350 B.C.) came group teaching, the humanistic curriculum, and the three levels of education. Primary education was for children 7 through 12 years old; secondary was for those 13 through 17; and tertiary, for those 18 and older. Tertiary education was paid by the State. When a boy reached the age of 18, he spent two years training to be a soldier and a citizen. Until the industrial revolution, preprimary education took place within the family.
The Romans adopted this three-level educational system when they conquered Greece in 146 B.C. It was modified and became bilingual—Greek and Latin. In A.D. 364, the Roman Empire was divided into Eastern and Western Roman Empire. The Eastern became the Byzantine Empire, and the educational system was continued. Eventually it became Greek-Christian from the reconciliation and harmonizing of classical Greek humanism with Christian beliefs.
From the Byzantine Empire, Greece inherited Eastern Orthodox Christianity. There was "one holy catholic and apostolic church" until the Great Schism in 1054, when the church was separated into Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic.
For nearly 400 years (1453-1821), Greece was under Ottoman rule (Tourkokratia ). The Ottomans had no provisions to educate their non-Muslim subjects. The Orthodox Church was the only institution where the Greeks could look as a focus. Through the use of Greek in the liturgy and through its modest educational efforts, the church helped to a degree to keep alive a sense of Greek identity. Many times, members of the clergy were executed in reprisal when the Greeks disobeyed orders or tried to revolt.
The most serious disability for the Christian population was the janissary levy (paidomazoma ). At irregular intervals, Christian families in the Balkans were required to deliver to the Ottoman authorities a given proportion of their most intelligent and handsome male children to serve as elite troops, after they were forced to convert to Islam.
Ottoman rule prevented Greece from experiencing the important historical movements of the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution, which shaped the destinies of the western European countries. The intellectuals who had fled to the West, especially to Italy, established intellectual centers wherever they settled. They began to publish Greek books in the sixteenth century and send them to the enslaved Greeks to educate and enlighten them.
The eighteenth century saw the emergence of a Greek mercantile middle class in the Ottoman Empire. They were also active in southern Russia, in several central European cities, and in the Mediterranean, where they established communities (paroikies ), each with its own church. Greeks came in contact with the ordered societies of Western Europe. Their wealth provided for the intellectual revival of the Greeks. Moved by a sense of patriotism they endowed schools and libraries in the occupied mainland and in Asia Minor. They also financed the education of Greek schoolteachers in the universities of Italy and the German states. Influenced by the ideas of the European Enlightenment and the nationalistic beliefs of the French Revolution, these teachers became aware of the reverence in which the language and the culture of ancient Greece were held throughout Europe. This realization sparked an awareness that they were heirs to this same civilization and language.
Greece became a state in 1830, following the War for Independence (1821-1829). The treaty of 1832 between Bavaria and the Great Powers—Britain, Russia, and France—formally recognized Greece's existence as an independent state, although Greece did not participate in the treaty. The Greeks were the first of the subjugated peoples of the Ottoman Empire to gain full independence. Even so, the new state contained only a part of the Greek population, the remaining population in Asia Minor being still under Ottoman rule. The first century of state-hood was dominated by the struggle to expand the nation's boarders. It was in 1947 that Greece's present borders were established, after the incorporation of the Dodecanese Islands.
The Great Powers also decided that Greece should be a monarchy. They chose a 17-year-old Bavarian prince, Otto, as king. Because he was a minor, the Great Powers further decided that three Bavarian regents should rule the country. They imported European models of administration without regard to local conditions, consequently, Greece's educational system is heavily influenced by the German and French models.
The past is somewhat a burden to Greeks, who identify themselves as "modern" to differentiate themselves from the ancients. References to Greece are usually to ancient Greece. Greeks, however, are proud of their cultural heritage and have made every effort throughout the centuries to maintain it. The continuity between past and present is an essential element of the Greek self-image and national identity.
Greece became a member of the European Council in 1949, NATO in 1952, and the European Community in 1961. This last relationship helped modernize and democratize Greece's educational system and stabilize its government.
There was a military dictatorship from 1967 to 1974. Since 1974, Greece has been a parliamentary democracy with a president whose powers are restricted. (A plebiscite in 1975 abolished the monarchy.) The president is elected by the parliament (Vouli ) and may hold office for two five-year terms. The Prime Minister, leader of the majority party, has extensive powers. The parliament consists of 300 deputies elected for four-year terms by direct, universal, and secret ballot.
The parliament has the power to revise the constitution. Incumbent governments, regardless of political affiliation, have amended the electoral law to benefit their own party. The judicial system is essentially the Roman law system prevalent in continental Europe.
The 1980s brought about changes: civil marriage was introduced parallel to religious marriage, divorce was made easier, legal equality between the sexes was recognized. The right to vote also was extended to 18-year-olds.
Greece's unification with the European Community in 1981 (renamed European Union in 1994) reaffirmed its orientation toward Europe. It was the first eastern European country to join EU. Its heritage of Orthodox Christianity and Ottoman rule set it apart from the other European member states.
The 1990s brought economic refugees from Albania and other former Communist countries, from Asia, and from Africa. Repatriated Greeks also came from the former Soviet Union.
Religion is an important aspect of Greek life. In spite of the long Ottoman occupation, most Greeks belong to the Orthodox Church of Greece. A Muslim Turkish minority (3 percent) live mostly in the northeastern part of the country, in Thrace. Roman and Greek Catholics are found primarily in Athens and in the Ionian Islands.
Constitutional & Legal Foundations
The legal basis of education in Greece is the revised Constitution of 1975. Education is the constitutional responsibility of the State. It is provided free in public institutions at all levels, is controlled by the State, and is compulsory until the age of 15.
Article 16 contains the following provisions:
- Research and teaching in arts and sciences are free, while their development and promotion are obligations of the state.
- Education is the basic mission of the state. Its aims are the moral, intellectual, professional, and physical development of the Greeks, the development in them of a national and religious conscience, and their formation into free and responsible citizens.
- The number of years of compulsory education cannot be less than nine.
- All Greeks have the right to free education in state institutions of all levels. The State supports outstanding students and those in need.
- The state is responsible for providing technical/vocational education in institutes of higher education. It cannot be less than three years duration.
The philosophy underlying the Greek educational system reflects the basic values of the Greek nation, which also constitutes the foundation of Western civilization. The Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs (MoE), created as the Secretariat for Religious and Public Education by the Constitution of 1832, is in charge of all activities pertaining to education. There is a national curriculum, uniform school timetables, and approved textbooks for each subject in each grade. All these are compulsory for the private schools, also.
The development of education in Greece cannot be seen separate from its turbulent sociopolitical context. In the 170 years since the country emerged as an independent state, it has been involved in more than four wars, a three-year foreign occupation, two long-lasting dictatorships, one bitter and devastating civil war, and numerous coups d'état. It also had intermittent civil wars and large influxes of refugees and immigrants, both Greek repatriates and non-Greeks. Such history for a small country weighs heavily on national development and has numerous repercussions on Greek education.
Educational Reforms: Educational reforms have always been a political issue in Greece. Since independence, the educational reforms have been initiated by different political regimes ranging from conservative to center to left. Appropriate laws authorize all educational reforms.
Succeeding governments do not necessarily continue the educational reforms legislated by the government they replaced. They reverse, withdraw, or abolish earlier decisions. This prevents education from moving forward and creates frustration for the pupils and their parents.
The educational system of Greece in the 1950s had three levels: a six-year compulsory primary school; a six-year secondary school (gymnasium ) with a humanistic curriculum; and the tertiary level consisting of universities and the few tertiary schools of general education, such as the Teacher Training and the Physical Education academies.
There was some preprimary education. Generally the kindergartens were attended by a small number of children. Sixty percent of the kindergartens were in Northern Greece.
In the late 1950s the emphasis on modernization and planned economic development intensified reforms, especially for the expansion of technical/vocational education. In 1958-1959, there were 39,824 pupils attending vocational schools, and 239,648 enrolled in secondary schools (OECD 1980).
The educational reforms that followed were tied to the recognition that education and training are important elements in the economic growth of the country. Without education, the national income could not be increased, nor the social welfare and stability ensured.
Reforms of 1957-1963: The secondary school was divided into two three-year cycles. The first three grades were the lower cycle and emphasized a general and humanistic education. A multi-partisan committee of politicians and educational experts had reaffirmed in 1957 the priority of the humanistic curriculum while adding vocational education.
The upper cycle was divided into separate types of gymnasia : classical/literary, commercial, technical, scientific, agricultural, naval, foreign languages, and home economics, with a common core of classes for all.
The demotic language (the popular form of the Greek language spoken by the people) was introduced in the first three grades of the primary school, and the katharevousa (formal or purist) in the three upper grades. Teacher training of preprimary schoolteachers was increased to two years after secondary education, and made equal to that of primary school teachers (Law 3997 1959).
The occupations of the children included the religious, ethical, and social development, the proper use of the Greek language, introduction of arithmetic (reasoning), exercise of the senses, harmonious and unhindered development of the body, cultivation of dexterity, and development of the sense of good.
The Centre of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) was established in 1961 to develop scientific programming of resource allocation for economic development, and technical economic training of personnel for key positions in government and industry.
Reforms of 1964: The educational reforms of 1964 promoted educational equality and economic growth after Greece joined the European community in 1961. In 1964, free education was extended to all levels.
The previous two stages of general secondary school were transformed into two successive and autonomous types of schools, three years each: the non-selective lower secondary, or gymnasium, and the upper secondary, or lyceum. A single lyceum was established, its purposes to provide contemporary education to Greek youth and to develop the future leadership of the country. Entrance exams were established to enter the lyceum, but entrance examinations from the primary to the gymnasium were abolished. The purpose of the gymnasium was to provide a comprehensive education for all Greek youth.
The demotic Greek language officially replaced the katharevousa as a medium of instruction. Also, technical/vocational guidance and the courses of anthropology, "practical knowledge about professions," and "elements of democracy" were introduced to the gymnasium curriculum.
Compulsory education was extended to nine years (ages 6 to 15), and co-education became mandatory from age 6 to 15. School lunches were introduced as well.
Reforms of 1967-1974: During the military dictatorship, most of the reforms were reversed or withdrawn. The use of the demotic language was limited to the first three grades of the primary school. Compulsory education was returned to six years (Law 129, 1967).
New legislation set up a new tertiary level of technical/vocational educational institutions, the Centres for Higher Technical/Vocational Education (KATEE). They would supply vitally needed upper-level technicians, and meet some of the rising demands for university entrance. By 1974, there were five such centers. Law 1404 (1983) transformed them into Technological/Scientific Educational Institutions (TEI). In 1997, there were 14 TEIs throughout Greece.
Reforms of 1975-1981: The country returned to democratic government in 1974. The revision of the Constitu- tion in 1975 reformed and expanded education, and gave it a new direction. Law 309 (1976) restored all the reforms of 1964 and dealt with the organization and function of general education from preprimary to lyceum. It also articulated the purpose of each level:
- Preprimary education complements and supports family education by teaching appropriate behavior and correct expression, and provides for the physical and mental development. Attending preprimary is voluntary for children three and a half to five and a half years of age.
- Primary education sets the foundation for learning, enriches pupils' experiences, and stimulates and develops their intellectual and physical abilities.
- The gymnasium completes and consolidates the encyclopedic education of youth.
- The lyceum offers a richer and wider curriculum than that of the gymnasium, for youth who plan either to attend institutions of tertiary education or to enter the job market.
For more effective teaching, the number of students per teacher was reduced from 40 to 30, and the number of teaching hours per week was reduced from 36 to a range of 28 to 34. Additionally, new textbooks were written and published, and seminars were organized for in-service training of teachers.
The new curriculum introduced the course of "technology" and the use of educational television. Adding to this, evening gymnasia were started for those students who needed to work during the day to earn their living. Lyceums also were established as both three-year day schools and four-year evening schools. A new type of lyceum, the three-year Classical Lyceum, was introduced as well. It offered additional hours in ancient Greek, Latin, and history, and introduced German as a second foreign language.
Reforms of 1981-1985: Automatic promotion was established throughout the grades in the primary school, and physical education and school athletics were emphasized in primary school. Entrance exams from the lower secondary to the upper secondary school were abolished. Uniforms for gymnasium and lyceum pupils were abolished as well. The Integrated Lyceum, or comprehensive school was introduced in secondary education in 1984. It bridged the gap between general and technical education.
The curricula were revised for all grades. They were based on the international bibliography and were adjusted to include Greek traditions. Teachers contributed to the development of the curricula. New textbooks were developed and printed. The new textbooks were no longer merely stores of knowledge, but workbooks to help pupils look for and build knowledge.
Reforms of the 1990s: A new system of postsecondary vocational training was established. The system incorporates the private Centres of Free Studies. The Hellenic Open University was established in 1996-1997 as well.
The first schools in Greece (1834) were patterned on foreign models. The newly independent state had no infrastructure (curricula, books, or organization model). The schools reflected the contemporary ideas prevailing in Western Europe at that time.
The four-year compulsory school was based on the German (Bavarian) tradition that had been influenced by the French educational tradition. It was called demotico (primary). The German and French influences resulted in a strong centralized administration, which exists to date.
A three-year Greek school followed the four-year primary. A four-year gymnasium (secondary school) followed that. After that came the university for four years. King Otto established the first Greek University in Athens in 1837. Instruction was in Greek in all levels. Attendance in primary and Greek schools was compulsory—a total of seven years.
The curriculum included the humanistic heritage of the classics and the orthodox religion but it was progressive: catechism, elements of Greek reading, writing, arithmetic, measures and weights, drawing, singing and, when possible, elements of geography, Greek history, and physical sciences. It also taught gymnastics, gardening, and silkworm and bee culture. The girls were taught "female arts." At the end of each semester there were examinations.
The number of courses was large and practical, but there were not enough teachers to teach them. To compensate, "mutual instruction" (Lancasterian) was employed: The teacher teaches the students of the upper grades, and they in turn teach the younger students the same subject).
At the same time (1834) a teacher training institution was organized in Naupleion, the provisional capital of Greece. The following year the capital and the institution were moved to Athens.
Modern Structure: The structure of the educational system in Greece in 2001 is organized into three levels: primary, which includes a two-year preprimary since 1985 that is not compulsory; secondary;, and tertiary. Children aged three and a half can enroll in the preprimary.
Compulsory education starts with the primary school at five and a half or six years. Since the 1976 reforms, it includes the three-year lower secondary school (gymnasium ) lasting 9 years, from age 6 to age 15. By law a pupil who does not complete compulsory education by the age of 15 is obliged to stay on until age 16.
All schools are coeducational. The language of instruction at all levels has been demotic Greek since the reforms of 1964.
Ecclesiastical gymnasiums and lyceums prepare male students for priesthood. In addition to the regular curriculum, they offer extracurricular activities that contribute to the development of appropriate habits and attitudes. Music gymnasiums offer, besides the regular curriculum, an additional 15 hours per week of musical education for talented pupils.
Upper secondary education is provided in general lyceums, integrated (or comprehensive) lyceums, and technical/vocational lyceums, as well as technical/vocational schools. Students graduating from the gymnasium enroll without exams in the next level, the lyceum.
Graduates of the general lyceum may attend university and postgraduate studies. Graduates of the integrated and technical/vocational lyceums attend technological education institutes. After graduation they can continue to the university or join the job market. Graduates of technical/vocational schools attend institutes of vocational training. After graduation they join the job market.
Tertiary education is provided in universities and technological educational institutes. Entrance is based on exams.
The length of the school year for 1995-1996 was September 11 to June 15 for primary schools, and September 1 to June 30 for secondary. There are five school days a week for both primary and secondary schools for a total of 175 days in a year. There are 12 weeks of summer holidays, two weeks for Christmas and two weeks for Spring/Easter. There are also seven days of national or religious holidays.
Primary school pupils attend 23 to 30 lessons a week. The duration of each lesson is 45 minutes. Pupils in lower secondary attend 33 to 35 lessons per week, each 45 minutes. The number of lessons a week in upper secondary schools varies from 30 in the general lyceums to 34 for both the comprehensive and the technical/vocational lyceums to 41 for the musical lyceums. The duration of one lesson in all secondary schools is 45 minutes.
Primary pupils spend about five hours per day in school, secondary pupils six or seven. The primary school day runs from either 8:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., or from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. In big cities, a large number of school buildings accommodate more than one school. Therefore pupils attend lessons either in the morning or in the afternoon, or one week in the morning followed by one week in the afternoon. As a result, educational and functional problems are created in these schools ("Organization of School" 1995).
Enrollment by educational level and sex in public and private schools in 1993-1994 was as follows:
- 5,520 preschools with 133,979 pupils (65,511 female); 5,387 were public with 128,627 pupils (62,933 female), and 133 were private schools with 5,352 pupils (2,578 female)
- 7,254 primary schools with 731,500 pupils (354,773 female); 6,851 were public with 678,145 pupils (328,951 female), and 403 private schools with 53,355 pupils (25,822 female)
- 3,069 secondary schools with a total of 719,746 pupils (364,012 female); 2,813 were public with 671,913 pupils (342,778 female), and 159 private schools with 32,214 pupils (16,877 female) (NSSG 2000).
Enrollment in tertiary education for 1993-1994 was 212,525 students. Of these, 110,295 were "active" (enrolled students who have not completed the compulsory period), and 102,226 were "inactive" (students who have continued their studies beyond the normal required time). Among active students, 59,730—or 51.9 percent—were female. Among the inactive students, 45,909—or 48.1 percent—were female (Protopapas 1999).
In 1989-1990, some 57.8 percent of four- and five-year-olds attended public kindergartens, or those supervised by the MoE. Primary school participation was 97 percent, and secondary, 93 percent. Participation rates for boys and girls are equal at preschool and primary levels. At the secondary level the participation rate is 95 percent for boys, 91 percent for girls. Rates may actually be somewhat lower since repeaters are included in the enrollment figures (OECD 1997).
Textbooks for primary and secondary education are published by the Organization of School Textbooks (OEDB).
There are no examinations from the primary to the secondary school. There are nationwide (Pan-Hellenic ) examinations for entrance to the university and the technological education institutes.
Because education is prized as an end in itself and as a means of upward mobility, there is a great demand to enter universities. Many children attend private "cramming" classes (frontisteria ), after school to prepare for the university entrance exams. Competition for university places is extremely high in spite the creation of new universities between 1960 and 1980.
Law 682 (1977) provides for the operation of private primary and secondary schools. They are under the supervision of the MoE and are required to follow the national curriculum and to use the same textbooks as the public schools. About 6 percent of the students attend private schools. The Constitution forbids the establishment of private universities.
There is educational television in the State television stations. Computers and instructional television were introduced in the classrooms.
Technical/vocational education broadened the base of education and gave pupils more choices. It met the demand for technical personnel and opened venues to the job market, contributing thus to economic development.
Law 309 (1977) abolished the lower vocational schools and replaced them with technical/vocational schools (TES). Intermediate vocational schools were replaced by technical/vocational lyceums. General education from this point on was provided by the general lyceums.
Graduates of three-year lower secondary schools could enroll in the TES without examinations or, after examinations, enter either the technical/vocational lyceum or the general lyceum.
Opportunities for technical/vocational training in tertiary education have increased. In 1989-1990, of about 42,000 places available in tertiary education, the TEIs made up approximately 19,000, or 45 percent. In 1991 and 1992 the distribution tended to be 50-50 (Stavrou 1996).
Minority Groups: Greece has a small percentage of linguistic and cultural minorities. By legislation, the Greek government provides a budget and ample facilities to educate minority children. As of 1983, primary schools enrolled 12,000 Muslim students. Four hundred twenty-one Muslim teachers (Greek nationals) taught the classes in these schools, plus 27 temporary instructors who came from Turkey. The Turkish language, as well as religion, is taught in these schools. At the secondary level, three schools offer bilingual instruction, one in Komotini (the Celal-Bayar Lyceum) and two Muslim seminaries in Xanthi. Both cities are in Thrace. The Greek government intends to establish technical/vocational schools for the Muslim minority, provided there is agreement among the Muslim communities. Teachers for the Muslim children are trained in a special program at the Pedagogical Department of the University of Thessaloniki.
There are two primary schools for Armenian children in Athens. Also,in the mid-1980s, a pilot program for itinerant Gypsy children was organized by the University of Thessaloniki.
In 1980-1981, the government developed education programs specifically for the children of repatriated Greeks from Germany, the United States, Canada, and Australia. These children have limited proficiency in the Greek language. The objective of the programs was to "aid the repatriation of youth by integrating them in school and social milieus and in the Greek way of thinking and behaving" (OECD 1982). On average, 5,000 children per year were repatriated from Germany, and 4,000 per year from English-speaking countries. Two types of programs were designed for them: special bilingual classes in the regular schools, and out-of-school or "extra class" bilingual programs.
In the 1990s, with the influx of economic refugees, the number of foreign pupils attending Greek primary and secondary schools increased to 6 percent of the total. In 1991-1992 in elementary schools, 51.73 percent of these pupils were from the countries of the former USSR, 24.48 percent were from Albania, and 23.78 percent came from all other countries. In the secondary schools, 39.12 percent were from the countries of the former USSR, 22.14 percent were from Albania, and 38.74 percent were from all other countries (Katsikas and Kavadias 1996).
Special Education: Law 1566 (1985) incorporated the education of children with special education needs (SEN) into the central framework of the educational system, based on the philosophy of equal opportunities in education at all levels. Greece, as a member of the international organizations for child protection, has planned the special education program in order to respond to two basic principles: integration and participation.
Pupils with SEN from 3-1/2 to 18 years of age are in the mainstream school. Compulsory education is from six to 15. Special schools share buildings with mainstream schools; they partially integrate the curriculum and totally integrate the social activities. Special education councilors promote the integration of SEN pupils by providing instruction and support programs for teachers in the mainstream schools. The curriculum, "Activities for Learning Preparedness," helps teachers support pupils to develop to the extent of their capacities and to possibly integrate into the mainstream.
There are about 200 special needs school in Greece. In 1995-1996 there were 39 preschools, 138 primary schools, 10 schools for general secondary education, and four for technical/vocational education. Registered SEN students make up less than 1 percent of all pupils (Meijer 1998).
Preprimary & Primary Education
Preprimary—Kindergarten ( nepiagogeion ): The first interest of the Greek State in preprimary education was in 1895 with a law that allowed Greek citizens to organize private kindergartens after receiving a permit from the MoE. It was for children from three or four years old through age six. The first kindergarten was established in Athens in 1897 by a woman who studied in Germany (like many Greeks did during the nineteenth century). It was private, modeled after the German kindergarten of Froebel (1782-1852). A teacher training institution was part of it.
Until their expansion in the 1970s and 1980s, most kindergartens were private, operating on a fee basis. The teacher and the school's owner determined the curriculum. Teacher training was carried out in separate private institutions.
Children who are three and a half years old by October 1 are accepted and may attend for two years. Attendance is voluntary and participation is continuously increasing.
In 1976 kindergartens became part of primary education. Attendance was still voluntary but can become mandatory in a region if the Minister of Education, the Minister of Health and Welfare, and the Minister of Finance issue a joint resolution according to the needs of the region.
The purpose of kindergarten is to help develop children physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially, and to prepare preschoolers for learning in the elementary schools.
Early childhood education is provided by kindergartens that operate as independent units supervised by the MoE, and within children's centers supervised by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
Kindergarten enrollments vary from region to region. Most rural areas have higher preschool enrollment ratios than Athens, which has one of the lowest.
A kindergarten class can have from 7 to 30 children. In 1993-1994 there were 5,520 kindergartens with 8,706 teachers (8,682 female), and 133,959 pupils (65,511 female). The pupil/teacher ratio was 15:4. The majority of kindergartens (5,387) were public with 8,457 teachers (8,433 female) and 128,627 pupils (62,933 female). The pupil/teacher ratio was 15:2. There were 133 private kindergartens, with 249 teachers, all female, and 5,352 pupils (2,578 female). The pupil/teacher ratio was 21:5. (NSSG 2000) There are almost no male teachers in kindergarten.
In 1989, the MoE issued a national curriculum for kindergarten and a teacher's handbook with guidelines, examples of lesson plans, and activities for implementing the curriculum. Kindergarten teachers, under the guidance of the Pedagogical Institute, developed the curriculum and the handbook. The curriculum is used throughout the country.
Primary education: Elementary school lasts six years. Children who turn six by December 31 can enroll in the first grade. Attendance is obligatory. Pupils graduating from primary school receive a school-leaving certificate that mentions the attainment levels in the various subjects. They enroll in the first grade of the gymnasium without examinations. It is part of the compulsory education years.
The new primary education curriculum came into effect by Presidential Decree 583 (1982). It was implemented during the 1982-1983 school year and contains the following features: the aims of the primary school, the goals of each subject taught, the objectives of the major teaching units, prerequisites for achieving the goals, activities through which to attain the objectives of the teaching units, and recommendations as to how much time to assign to the teaching and learning of the units.
Environmental studies, health education, and civic education were added to the existing courses of religion, Greek language, mathematics, history, geography, natural sciences, music, arts and crafts (for aesthetic development), physical education, and a modern language (English or French). The goals and objectives of the new curricula were: a) to gradually familiarize pupils with moral, religious, national, socioeconomic, political, aesthetic, and other values; b) to gradually to introduce pupils to the cognitive sphere; and c) to progressively socialize pupils in an atmosphere of freedom and inquiry.
Specialists teach physical education, music, foreign languages, and arts. Laboratories for physics and chemistry, and school libraries, were introduced in primary schools.
The implementation of the new curricula followed the design and publication of new textbooks by the Organization for Publication of School Textbooks for all subjects taught in the primary school. A teacher's guide was introduced to accompany each textbook. It contains basic methodological principles and suggestions on procedures to follow in organizing the teaching and learning of each unit.
The upper limit of pupils per class is 25 children for a single-room school (one teacher for all children in all grades). Since 1990 there has been an effort to decrease the number of single-room schools. They exist primarily in the islands, in the rural areas, and in isolated mountainous villages. Local authorities, in cooperation with the State, are trying to develop re-allocation solutions so that students may be transported to bigger, better-staffed, and better-equipped schools in a region.
In 1993-1994 there were 7,254 elementary schools with 44,981 teachers (24,418 female) and 731,500 pupils (354,773 female). The pupil/teacher ratio was 16:3. Of these, 6,851 were public elementary schools with 42,207 teachers (22,750 female) and 678,145 pupils (328,951 female). The pupil/teacher ratio was 16:1. There were 403 private elementary schools with 2,774 teachers (1,668 female) and 53,355 pupils (25,822 female). The pupil/teacher ratio was 19:2 (NSSG 2000).
Participation rates for boys and girls are almost equal at the primary level. Primary school participation for 1989-1990 was 97 percent for six- to 11-year-olds. Repeaters at the primary school are extremely few (OECD 1997).
Secondary education lasts six years, from age 11 and a half to 17 and a half. It is divided into two three-year successive cycles. The lower three grades are the gymnasium. The upper three grades are the lyceum.
The purpose of the gymnasium is to promote pupils' learning potential according to their abilities and the needs of society. The state pursues this goal by offering to all pupils the same curriculum. There are no elective subjects in the gymnasium curriculum. The concern for full formal equality of educational opportunities is thus given precedence over that of offering an education that is adapted to particular needs and interests. Attendance is compulsory.
In 1993-1994 there were 1,713 public gymnasiums with 32,328 teachers (20,203 female) and 417,752 pupils (201,375 female). The ratio of pupils to teachers was 12:9 (NSSG 2000).
Pupils graduating from the gymnasium receive a school-leaving certificate (apolyterion ), without examination. It mentions the acquired attainment levels in the various subjects and enables the holder to enroll in any of the upper secondary schools without any examination. About 60 percent of the gymnasium graduates enroll in the general lyceum, 25 percent in the technical/vocational lyceum, 5 percent to the integrated lyceum, and about 10 percent to the technical vocational schools (Kallen 1996).
The dropout rate in 1994 was 8.9 percent for all students of the gymnasium. It varied from region to region, from 1 to 29 percent. The highest rates were in the Aegean and the Ionian Islands, Crete, and Trace. The dropout rate was higher among boys than among girls, 10.4 and 7.4 percent respectively. This is probably because boys, especially in these regions, are frequently called to work at a young age in their parents' businesses of farming, fishing, or tourism (OECD 1997; Kallen 1996).
The lyceum aims to build pupils' character and personality so that they may contribute to the social, economic, and cultural development of the country. It provides students with guidance for further studies or career choice. There are: general, integrated, and technical/vocational lyceums, and technical/vocational schools.
The general lyceum offers courses preparing students for higher education. There are both day and evening lyceums. The latter—for students who must work during the day—last four years. The first- and second-year curriculum covers religion, ancient and modern Greek language and literature, history, psychology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, physical education and foreign languages—a total of 30 hours a week. Third-year subjects are divided into general education and college-preparatory subjects. The latter are divided into four branches(desmes ), each leading to a certain type of higher education institution. Students are examined in the preparatory subjects on a national level. Branches A and B focus on mathematics and natural sciences. Branch C focuses on ancient Greek, Latin, and history. Branch D focuses on history, sociology, and economics.
In 1993-1994 there were 1,075 day general lyceums and 35 evening general lyceums with 18,034 teachers (8,937 female). The same teachers teach in both. There were 232,168 day students (129,524 female), and 4,726 evening students (1,991 female) (NSSG 2000).
Graduates of the general lyceum receive a leaving-certificate without final examinations. It indicates achievement in the various subjects. They are eligible to compete in the university entrance examinations.
The integrated lyceum aims to interconnect and deepen the objectives and curricula of the general and technical/vocational lyceums. In 1993-1994 there were 25 public integrated lyceums with 2,116 teachers (1,079 female) and 21,993 students (11,859 female). The pupil/teacher ratio was 10.4. (NSSG 2000). Half the curriculum is similar to that of general lyceum in all three years. In the second year, half the subjects are electives associated with broad groups of professions. In the third year, more specialized subjects are added.
The technical-vocational lyceum aims to teach pupils the necessary technical and vocational knowledge and skills that will enable them to successfully work in the respective technical or vocational fields upon leaving school. In the first year, pupils are introduced to subjects in a technical/vocational field. In the second year, workshops are added. In the third year, students choose any of the four branches, as in the general lyceum.
Graduates of the integrated and the technical/vocational lyceums either attend non-university higher education (TEIs) or enter the job market in the field of their specialization.
Technical/vocational schools (TES) have a two-year course of study for day students, and three-year study for evening students. Six hours cover general subjects such as modern Greek, mathematics, physics, foreign languages, and civil education. The remaining 24 hours cover specialization subjects and workshop training. Graduates of TES have access to corresponding employment, to the first grade of the general lyceum, or to the second grade of the technical/vocational lyceum.
Students can move freely from primary school to the gymnasium and then to the lyceum. Every pupil has a chance to compete for entrance to the institutions of higher learning, both academic and technical. They can also move horizontally between technical/vocational schools and the lyceum and, after the first grade of the lyceum, between the general lyceum and the technical/vocational lyceum.
Greece has adopted the international model for higher education suggested by UNESCO, which calls for two main types of institutions for tertiary education—Universities and non-university institutions. In 2001, there were 18 universities in Greece; eight are in the Athens-Piraeus metropolitan area. There are 12 Technological Educational Institutions, two in the Athens-Piraeus area. And there are 61 Higher Professional Schools (the non-university type), 36 in the Athens-Piraeus area (OECD 1997).
Greece's first universities were the National Capodistrian University of Athens (1837), The National Technical University of Athens (Polytechneion ) (1836), and The Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki (1925). Between 1960 and 1980 new regional universities were established throughout Greece to meet the increased demand for higher education and contemporary fields, such as computer technology and environmental studies. The new universities are in Ioannina, Patra, Thrace, Crete, Corfu, and the Aegean. Even with the new universities, there are not sufficient places for every student who wishes to attend. As a consequence many Greek students go to other European countries or to the United States for study. There are no private universities in Greece.
Under the 1992 law, undergraduate studies leading to a first degree last four years (eight semesters) for the majority of disciplines: five years (ten semesters) for agriculture, engineering, and dentistry, and six years (12 semesters) for medical schools. The various departments grant the degrees (ptychia ).
Non-university studies (TEIs) last three years in general. Some majors call for additional six-month on-thejob training for a degree. All institutions of higher learning are open five days a week.
Greek universities award doctoral degrees. Earning a doctorate requires submitting an original thesis to a committee of academic experts. The post-graduate programs are in the process of being organized.
A rector and two vice-rectors who are elected for three years by the university general assembly administer each university. The dean, who is elected for three years by the faculty, administers each faculty consisting of relevant departments. The head, who is elected for two years, administers each department. Undergraduates have equal representation in electoral bodies for selecting administrative heads of the universities.
The teaching staff has four levels: lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. Possession of a doctorate is a prerequisite for all levels.
Women are equally represented in higher education as a whole, though the enrollment of women varies markedly by school or field. In 1993-1994 women exceeded 71 percent in pedagogical sciences, philosophical studies, and social sciences. The fewest women were in engineering, at 23.7 percent (Protopapas 1999).
The demand for tertiary education outstrips supply in the Greek educational system. Admissions are limited by lack of classrooms, staff, and laboratories, and by "inactive" students. Secondary school graduates wishing to enter institutions of higher education must compete in the Panhellenic General Examinations administered yearly by the Central Service of the MoE.
Admissions vary from year to year and from school to school. The are determined by the MoE in consultation with the advisory boards of the National Council of Higher Education and the Council for Technological Education.
Final selection and acceptance to AEIs and TEIs is determined by: the candidate's score on the entrance exam, the AEI/TEI preference stated in the candidate's application, and the number of places available in each institution. Only one in four of the candidates is admitted.
There is a widespread practice among students preparing for tertiary education national exams to take extra courses in frontisteria (nonformal, private cramming schools). The students spend the last two years of their lyceum studies preparing for the four subjects for the exams at the expense of the rest of the subjects, as well as their school activities and the broader educational purposes of the lyceum. The MoE is thinking of modifying the exams system.
Among foreign students studying in Greek universities in 1993-94 were 2,290 from Cyprus, 3,204 compatriots (students whose parents are Greek and live abroad), and 1,263 other foreign students, for a total of 6,757 students (OECD 1997). A large number of students who fail to enter Greek higher institutions go abroad to study. In 1993-1994 there were 21,230. The majority of them prefer Italy (5,494) and Britain (5,272) (NSSG 2000). The expense for study abroad is a drain in the national budget.
Since 1988, the European Union has created programs for inter-university co-operation among member countries. The number of Greek students participating in these programs has increased steadily, from 195 students in 48 programs during the academic year 1988-1989 to 1,765 students in 540 programs during 1993-1994 (OECD 1997).
Centres of Liberal Studies (EES): About 30 private organizations called Centres of Liberal Studies (EES) provide postsecondary education; some are affiliated with foreign universities. Under a 1935 law, these organizations operate as commercial enterprises. As such, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Commerce rather than the Ministry of Education, an organizational position that causes some skepticism about the quality of the education they provide.
Applying the organizational structure of foreign universities, some EES have set up courses of two, three, and sometimes four years. In these cases the students of EES are also students of the foreign universities. This means that after two or three years of study in Greece, these students may go to the town or city where the university is located, to complete their studies and obtain a degree. Most of the co-operations are with universities in Britain and the United States, but some are with universities of France, Germany, and Switzerland. Since the MoE is not involved in this kind of education, there is no formal recognition of their degrees (OECD 1997).
Administration, Finance, & Educational Research
The Greek educational system is governed by national laws (passed by the parliament), and by executive acts (decrees, ministerial decisions). Overall responsibility for education rests with the MoE. Its basic functions and responsibilities are:
- Assessment of educational needs.
- Determination of educational goals and objectives.
- Provision of legal framework underlying the educational program.
- Personnel, methods and processes, and schools.
- Coordination and evaluation of the regional education services.
- Financial support and control of educational activities.
The MoE formulates educational policies according to the political orientation of the country's administration. The administration and management of primary and secondary schools is the responsibility of the Directorates of Primary and Secondary Education in the 54 Prefectures, which report directly to the MoE.
Higher education institutions (AEIs, or universities, and TEIs, or technological education institutions) are autonomous according to the Constitution, but are funded and supervised by the MoE. The MoE and the Ministry of Labor share responsibilities for vocational education and training.
The Minister of Education heads the MoE and is appointed by the party in power. He is assisted by a Deputy Minister, a Junior Minister, and a Secretary General. There are also five General Directors and two Special Secretariats. In January 1995, the MoE headquarters comprised 34 directorates.
There are four national councils, one for each section of education: the Council for University Education, the Council for Technological Education, the Central Council for Secondary Education, and the Central Council for Primary Education.
There are two institutes controlled by the MoE, but independent of the Ministry's Central Service—the Pedagogical Institute (PI) and the Institute for Technological Education (ITE).
The PI is responsible for research relating to primary and secondary education, for planning and programming educational policy for primary and secondary education, for developing and implementing educational technology, and for planning and supervising teacher in-service training.
Other central agencies are:
- State Scholarship Foundation (IKY), which administers scholarships to students of higher education.
- Centre for the Recognition of Foreign Academic Degrees (DIKATSA).
- Service for General State Records.
- Organization for School Buildings (OSK).
- Organization for Publication of School Textbooks (OEDB), which publishes textbooks for primary and secondary education.
- Organization of Vocational Education and Training (OEEK), which is responsible for recognizing qualifications awarded by either Greek or foreign vocational education and training, and for allocating all funds from the EU.
There are also two Secretariats: the General Secretariat for Adult Education (GGLE) and the Secretariat for Youth.
The State finances all capital and staff costs of the public education system. Municipalities bear the cost of school maintenance and some operating costs. Recently the school construction has been delegated to the Prefectures.
The primary source of public education is taxation. The state spends 4.2 percent of the GDP for education; the share of public expenditure is 7 percent. Greek families spent large amounts of money—about 2.3 percent of GDP—on private education, cramming schools, and study abroad (OECD 1997).
Nonformal education for children takes place outside of school hours, its purpose to supplement and enrich their education. They take instruction in music, foreign languages, arts, dance, and other areas. Their parents pay the fees for this part of their education.
Adult Education: Adult nonformal education is both for enrichment, such as art appreciation, and for vocational training, such as computer literacy. Since 1980 adult education programs were aimed at the unemployed under the age of 25, and the long-term unemployment of those older than 25. They have been financed by the European Social Fund and attended yearly by an estimated 200,000 trainees.
The General Secretariat for Adult Education (GGLE) and its regional agencies—the Regional Committees for Adult Education (NELE) throughout Greece—are the only government services responsible for projects regarding Adult Education. The projects include continuing education, literacy, illiteracy prevention, vocational training, vocational training and rehabilitation of disabled persons, social support activities, health counseling and prevention, and cultural and leisure activities, as well as seminars on intercultural communication, workshops for the preservation of traditional arts and skills, and social integration of unprivileged groups.
GGLE plans and develops projects for such underprivileged groups as Gypsies (education for adults and children, community awareness); offenders/ex-offenders (vocational training and social rehabilitation); the disabled (vocational training and social rehabilitation); repatriated Greeks from Western and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Republics (Pontian Greeks), and Albania (Greek language, vocational training); and the elderly (new educational opportunities, social support).
EU funding through corresponding programs supports the GGLE activities. The Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) of the Ministry of Labor also runs nonformal training courses and formal apprenticeship programs for young people and adults.
Law 1268 (1982) created pedagogic departments and kindergarten departments in all the Greek universities for the training of teachers in primary and preprimary education respectively. Teacher training lasts four years in both departments and leads to a university degree. The degree is the only qualification to enter the teaching profession. The first pedagogic departments started functioning in 1984-1985. By 1987-1988 pedagogic and kindergarten departments were functioning in all Greek universities. Before 1964 the State had a variety of teacher preparation institutions of diverse lengths of study and curricula that had been in existence since at least the establishment of the new State. In 1964, a third year of studies was added to the pedagogic academies, and the curriculum was enriched with new courses.
There was a movement to make the academies four-year institutions like the other university departments, thus making the status of the primary teachers equal to those of secondary education. Secondary school teachers were always university graduates in the disciplines they taught. An attempt has been made in recent years to provide the secondary school teachers with some pedagogical training before they are appointed to a school. Between 1967 and 1982, students, teaching staff of the academies, the Primary Teachers' Union (DOE), the Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME), and the various political parties were all asking for better education for the primary school teachers in particular, but also for all teachers of preprimary and secondary.
The pedagogic academies and the pedagogic departments of the universities co-existed until 1988-1989. Graduates of pedagogic departments are placed on lists (Epetirida ) each year that are compiled and maintained by the MoE. The lists refer to each category of education. There may be a lapse of about 10 years between graduating from the university and the first appointment. Teachers are taken in serial order out of the lists as needed. The delay in appointment is due to an oversupply of teachers and the appointment system itself. Retraining becomes a necessity. Beginning teachers have to spend a few years in isolated regions before they become eligible to be transferred into a school near home.
Preprimary, primary, and secondary schoolteachers are employed by the MoE. Teacher promotion and increase in salary are entirely related to years of employment. In-service training is mandatory for all teachers. It is done at the universities.
Greece's educational system has been modernized and democratized steadily during the last 50 years. Many of the reforms resulted from Greece's joining the European Union. One wonders whether the changes were developed from within on imposed from the outside. Greece has to work very hard to maintain its identity within the European identity. There is a need to be balanced. The Greeks also need to keep their religion. It is part of their identity.
The educational reforms seem to lean towards abolishing humanistic education and increasing technical/vocational education. This will be a great detriment to the Greek people. It is humanistic education that provides the values for a person or nation. Even good technocrats need a value system to make sound decisions that will benefit all.
The Greek educational system needs to address the issue of the cramming schools (frontisteria ). They drain family resources without increasing the quantity of university entrants. It also needs to eliminate the inactive students who prevent more new entrants to higher education.
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—V. Celia Lascarides
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Gale Group Inc.
|Official Country Name:||Hellenic Republic|
|Region (Map name):||Europe|
|Language(s):||Greek (official), English, French|
|Area:||131,940 sq km|
|GDP:||112,646 (US$ millions)|
|Number of Daily Newspapers:||32|
|Circulation per 1,000:||78|
|Number of Nondaily Newspapers:||14|
|Circulation per 1,000:||50|
|Total Newspaper Ad Receipts:||277 (Euro millions)|
|As % of All Ad Expenditures:||17.10|
|Number of Television Stations:||36|
|Number of Television Sets:||2,540,000|
|Television Sets per 1,000:||239.1|
|Number of Satellite Subscribers:||190,000|
|Satellite Subscribers per 1,000:||17.9|
|Number of Radio Stations:||118|
|Number of Radio Receivers:||5,020,000|
|Radio Receivers per 1,000:||472.5|
|Number of Individuals with Computers:||750,000|
|Computers per 1,000:||70.6|
|Number of Individuals with Internet Access:||1,000,000|
|Internet Access per 1,000:||94.1|
Background & General Characteristics
The Hellenic Republic of Greece has a very active and vocal press greater in the number of newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and television channels than the population of less than 11 million warrants. The high number of publications is a Greek expression of freedom of the press to compensate for decades of suppression by military governments or foreign interventionists in modern Greek history, when the nation alternated between being a kingdom or a republic.
Ancient Greece represents the birthplace of democracy in the history of western civilization. Ancient Greek democracy was not extended to all city-state residents, and the Greek peninsula was a collection of city-states in competition with each other. Conflict among the Greeks led to their conquest by Philip of Macedon and the Greek incorporation into the successive empires of Alexander the Great, Rome, Byzantium, and the Ottomans. Modern Greece did not emerge until 1821, when the wars of Greek independence were waged against the Turkish rulers of the Ottoman Empire. Europe's major powers initially did not want an independent Greece, fearing a disintegrating Ottoman state would leave the eastern Mediterranean open to either Egyptian or Russian expansionism. Expatriate newspapers published in Greek in Vienna kept the Greek language and culture alive and encouraged rebellion. European public opinion, influenced by British poet Lord Byron and the romanticism of the principles of democracy in Ancient Greece, sided with the Greeks, and Great Britain was forced to accept the role of protector of the Greek people. Frequent disagreements among Greek political factions and the failure to create a unified state led Europe's three major powers, Great Britain, France, and Russia, to impose a monarchy upon the Greeks, with a foreign prince as king and neutral arbitrator to bring about national consensus. Foreign interventionism, military takeovers, and feuding Greek politicians have clouded Greek politics for almost two hundred years and forced the Greek media to struggle underground, face outright suppression of its publications, or suffer regulation by the central government censor in Athens.
The reign of King Otto, a Bavarian prince selected for the Greek people by European powers in 1832, witnessed considerable centralization of authority in the capital of Athens. The Kingdom of Greece isolated and ignored Greece's indigenous political traditions, created new hierarchies of power staffed by Germans loyal to King Otto, and failed to revive agriculture and the economy. The Greek people did not always fight back with print media. They gravitated toward oral debates, republicanism, and armed insurrection. What print media existed within Greece was considered either biased or anti-royalist. King Otto's first period of governance ended with a military coup in 1844, an internal Greek interventionist theme that would regularly be a part of Greek politics until 1975. Greece's second attempt at democracy relied more upon political patronage rather than one man, one vote democracy. Bribery, corruption, and appeals to Greek nationalism to achieve a "Greater Greece" by freeing Greeks still under Ottoman rule led to British and French intervention in Greek politics once again, and a refusal by the major powers to allow the further breakup of the Ottoman Empire. Greek nationalism was thwarted, but the desire to bring all Greeks under one national flag would add a new theme to Greek politics and newspapers. The military intervened again in 1862; King Otto returned permanently to Germany.
A new monarchy was created in 1864, once again by Europe's major powers, who extended an invitation to Danish prince William to come to Athens and become King of the Hellenes (king of the Greek people). Prince William adopted the reigning name of George I, and a new constitution was written with power invested in the Greek people, a single-legislative chamber, and a monarch with specific but substantial powers. Political personalities and political clubs came to characterize Greece in the late nineteenth century. Greeks regularly expressed their views in oral debates and in print—their positions frequently in opposition to government policies. Both political clubs and artisan guilds brought out the voters and imposed their views upon the nation. From 1865 to 1875, Greece witnessed a succession of seven general elections and 18 different administrations. Greek politician Kharilaos Trikoupis wrote a newspaper article about the political gridlock within Greece's national governments and criticized the king for supporting governments representing minority political groups rather than the larger parties, which dominated the Greek Parliament. Trikoupis was arrested for treason for his comments, but he was later released and went on to serve as Greece's prime minister. The political pressure applied to the monarchy by the print media led to political reform. After 1874 Greek prime ministers were usually selected from the strongest party represented in Parliament.
The reign of King George I ended by assassination in 1913 by a deranged Greek in the newly freed Greek district of Salonika. Greek media kept the public emotionally charged over the issues of a "Greater Greece," the acquisition of the island of Crete, and economic collapse. The Greek media traditionally served as spokesmen for Greek politicians and political parties, and were usually divided between the supporters of the monarchy and media supporters advocating a republic. World War I and King Constantine's attempt to keep Greece neutral led to political rivalry between the palace and Eleutherios Venizelos, one of Greece's most influential politicians of the twentieth century. The dispute over national policy led Venizelos to claim that King Constantine was pro-German and disrespected the wishes of the Greek people to join the Allies against the Central Powers. The strategic importance of Greece in the Allied fight against the Central Powers nations of the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria led to French interventionism in Greek politics and the disposition and exile of the king in 1917. The Venizelos press implied that King Constantine denied Greece the opportunity to expand its boundaries as a member of the Allies in the war against Germany. The monarchy remained under a figurehead king, Alexander I, a son of King Constantine. Royalists and republicans expressed their opposition to each other and polarized the Greek state. An unsuccessful attempt on the life of Venizelos and the unexpected death of the young King Alexander led to the restoration of King Constantine. The Greek nation remained evenly split between republicans and royalists. The side in power suppressed the voice of the other side. King Constantine was exiled a second time in 1922 after disastrous defeats by the Greek army at the hands of the Turks that the Venizelos press blamed on the Greek king and princes who commanded the nation's armed forces. King George II lasted less than a year on the throne and was exiled in 1923. Venizelos returned from exile to govern the Greek republic. He remained in power until the worldwide economic depression reached Greece. Venizelos' failure to revive the Greek economy led to his overthrow by the military in 1935.
The monarchy was restored in the person of King George II. The instability of Greek politics forced King George to turn to the military to govern what seemed an ungovernable state. General Ioannis Metaxas restored public order, but the cost was high. Greece became a one-party state, repressed human rights, suppressed the media, and contributed to further divisions within the Greek body politic. The secret police brutally suppressed all dissent. Political dissent led to arrest, prison, or exile. Torture was regularly used to extract confessions. The regular conflict between royalists and republicans, and the brutality of the Metaxas dictatorship led to opposition support forming around a Greek Communist Party engineered from Moscow. Germany and Italy invaded in 1941. The end of World War II and the retreat of German armies left Greece in a state of civil war between the Communists and elements of the royalist government-in-exile in London. Both Great Britain and the United States, fearful of a Communist Greece strategically located in the eastern Mediterranean threatening the Suez Canal, supported the restoration of the monarchy to counter Moscow's influence.
The defeat of the Communists in the Greek Civil War did not lead to a national healing. Royalist and republican rivalries resurfaced in the Greek press and within Greek political parties. The reign of Paul I (1947-1964) witnessed an attempt to bring economic stability to Greece with the imposition of prime ministers and political parties that were pro-Western and more rightist in political affiliation. Greek newspapers urged greater freedom of expression, which the military and the central government in Athens were not always willing to tolerate. Greece's only radio and television stations were government owned and expressed the opinions of the party in power.
Greece's last king, Constantine II, began his reign in 1964 with the nation expecting Greece to become a true constitutional monarchy, with the king and the military outside of politics. Political rivalries between Greek politicians and personalities, Konstantinos Karamanlis of the National Radical Union Party and Georgios Papandreou of the Center Union Party, during the decades of the fifties and sixties further destabilized Greek politics, placed the neutrality of the monarchy at risk, and generated fear within the Greek military that leftists allied to the Soviet Union would make Greece a Communist ally. In 1967 Greece's limited democracy was overthrown in a military coup. The regime ruled by propaganda and terror. Political parties were dissolved, the media was suppressed, closed down, or censored, and human rights were curtailed. King Constantine II attempted a countercoup to restore democracy but failed and fled into permanent exile. The monarchy remained in name until it was abolished by the military in 1973. The military regime used public interest in television for its own political and ideological interests. The views expressed in the media were "government-controlled overt propaganda." During seven years of military rule, television stressed consumerism over politics. The military junta's 1974 attempt to annex the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus with its large Turkish Muslim population led to a war with Turkey and the collapse of the military regime. The monarchy was rejected by a national referendum in 1974, and Greece officially became a republic.
The creation of the Hellenic Republic and the adoption of a new Constitution in 1975, amended in 1986, did not immediately remove antiquated press laws dating back to the Metaxas era of the 1930s. The Constitution of 1975 created Greece as a parliamentary democracy with a president as head of state and a prime minister exercising executive authority. The prime minister is the leader of the largest party in the Greek Parliament. A cabinet is appointed with the approval of the Greek president on the recommendation of the prime minister. The president of the Hellenic Republic is voted into office by Parliament for a five-year term. The Greek Parliament (Vouli ton Ellinon ) is a one-chamber legislative body with 300 members. The judges for the Supreme Judicial Court and the Special Supreme Tribunal are appointed for life by the president after consultation with a judicial council.
The return of democracy brought a proliferation of Greek newspapers. The largest circulation dailies are in the capital of Athens. Ta Nea is Athens' largest daily newspaper with 168,800 readers (all circulations as of 1995) followed by Eleftheros Typos with 130,000 readers. Other leading Athenian daily papers include Eleftherotypia 114,000 readers, Ethnos, 66,100 readers,Apoyevmatini with 61,500 readers, and Adesmeftos Typos, 60,000 readers. Additional Athenian daily newspapers include Athens News (4,500), Avghi (2,500), Avriani (15,700), Eleftheri Ora (2,300), Eleftheros (9,800),Estia (3,900), Express (25,000), Imerisia (10,000), Kerdos (23,000), and Nafteboriki (35,000), financial dailies, and Kathimerini (35,500), Niki (11,800), and Rizospastis (16,400). The two largest newspapers in Thessaloniki are the dailies Makedonia, 17,000 readers, and Thessaloniki, 14,000 readers. New entries into the journalism field include O Pothos, a gay newspaper, and Patras Today, a daily electronic newspaper and magazine in Patras. Circulation among daily newspapers has steadily declined. Sunday newspapers have increased circulation from 857,000 papers in 1993 to 920,000 in 1998. However, 30 percent of all printed newspapers in Greece remain un-sold. To compensate for lost revenues, newspapers court advertising. Automobiles, banks and other financial institutions, computers and cellular phones, and the public sector are the four primary types of advertising found in the print media. Advertising for cigarettes, educational institutions, and travel are alternative sources for print revenue.
Greek newspapers are less political then they once were. However, some of the major dailies were still clearly identified in 1991 as supporters of a particular political party or ideology. The Akropolis, circulation 50,800, is an independent center-right publication. Eleftheros Typos, circulation 135,500, is a more conservative right-wing independently owned publication. Avgi, with 55,000 readers, is regarded as the official mouthpiece of the Greek Left Party, and the 40,000 circulation Rizopastis is the print voice for the Communist Party of Greece.Avriani, 51,000 readers, is a center-left publication, as are the independent Eleftherotypia with 108,000 subscribers and Ta Nea, circulation 133,000. The independent Ethnos with circulation of 150,000 is regarded as a more left-wing paper than is Avriani, Ta Nea, or Eleftherotypia. A still influential politically oriented newspaper in spite of a circulation decline is the center-right publication Kathimerini.
A wide variety of periodicals are published in Athens. General interest magazines are Economicos, Ependytis, EpohiExormissiExperimentParonPontiki,Prin, Status, and To Vima. Special interest periodicals include the women's magazine Agonas Tis Gynaekas, the English language Athenian, the political publication Anti, maritime periodical Efoplistis, economics magazineEpiloghi, and the business journal Kefalaio. The magazines Balkan News, ChristianikiGreek NewsNea Ecologia, and Politika Themata are all Athens-based publications. Papaki is a relatively new magazine created by journalism students of the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Athens.
Two percent of Greek newspapers and magazines are exported to Cyprus, the United States, Germany, and Great Britain. German and British print publications are the largest in number imported into Greece. Demand in Greece for foreign publications corresponds to the number of tourists in Greece on holiday. There are 600 newsagents and 500 subagencies in the Greek provinces for the distribution of printed media. Within Greece there are 12,000 places where the print media is sold. The number of agents, agencies, and distribution centers exceeds the demand and the general population's needs in comparison to the other nations in the European Union.
Greek radio stations ERA-1 and ERA-2 are the official government radio broadcasting stations. Athena 98.4 is a municipal radio station broadcast from Athens. There are 1200 privately owned radio stations in Greece. Top commercial radio stations, all Athens-based, are Antenna 97.1, Aristerea 90.2, Flash 96.1, Radio Athena 99.1, and Sky 100.4. Privately owned Greek radio stations include 100 FM Melodia, a Greek station based in Athens, 101.9 FM-Studio 19, 102.4 FM, 88.8 FM-STAR FM Corfu, which offers the top 10, dance, and the top 30 in Greek music, 9.59 FM-Fly, 9.61-Flash, a station broadcasting news and talk shows, 94.5 FM Radio Thessaloniki, and Radio ONE FM. The Greek government operates three television stations, ET-1, ET-2, and ET-3. The most popular commercial television stations, all broadcast from Athens, are Antenna-TV, Aristera TV, Kanali 5, Mega Channel, and SKY TV.
Greece is a mixed capitalist economy with the public sector accounting for almost half of the gross national product (GNP). Tourism is a key industry. Foreign exchange earnings bring needed revenue. Greek membership in the European Union has benefited Greece. The economy continues to improve as economic reforms take root. National deficits have been reduced, monetary policies tightened, and inflation rates are falling. High unemployment is still a problem, and many unprofitable state enterprises await privatization. The Greek labor force is divided among industry (21 percent), agriculture (20 percent), and services (59 percent). The nation's primary industries, in addition to tourism, are food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, metal products, mining, and petroleum. Historically an unstable Greek economy was the result of political unrest among the nation's political parties, rivalry between royalists and republicans, foreign interventions, wars, and military coups. In the late twentieth century, Greek political life began to mature, become less volatile, and be stabilized by membership within the European Union.
Throughout most of modern Greek history, each political party has had its own newspaper with the party leader serving as editor. Only recently have political party newspapers separated themselves from the party. During the dictatorship of the "colonels" from 1967 to 1974, many newspapers were closed, censorship prevailed, and surveillance of reporters and editors was widespread. After 1974 the media in Greece has been transformed. Advertising plays a decisive role in media revenues and a partisan press has declined, while market-oriented newspapers dominate. Entrepreneurs and ship owners are the new media barons with a few publishers dominating all media. Newspapers are currently less an extension of political parties than a business enterprise. Greece's most profitable printing and publishing empires, based on sales and profits, are the Lambrakis Press, Tegopoulos Publications, Pigasos Printing and Publishing, Press Foundation, Limberis Publications, Apogevmatini Publications, and Kathimerini Publications.
Since deregulation of the media in the 1980s, Greece has grown in television and radio stations. Each station offers more advertising, imports programming from other countries, and broadcasts more political debates. With admission into the European Union, the Greek media is required to conform to the regulations established by the Directive Television Without Frontiers. The Greek media is debating policy issues about the amount of broadcast time allocated to advertising, program quotas, protecting minors, and the private ownership of multiple forms of the media by one person or organization.
The largest daily newspapers based on circulation remain the 17 newspapers published in Athens. There are 280 local, regional, national, daily, and Sunday newspapers published in Greece. The Sunday press is exclusively published in Athens. However, readership continues to decline. To increase readership, the Greek press has resorted to redesigning the newspapers' names and layout, publishing new papers, and offering giveaways such as free trips, houses, and consumer goods. Greece publishes more than 500 popular and special interest magazines. Most magazines are published monthly. Thirty are consumer magazines. The highest circulation magazines are television based and affiliated with game shows. An increase in specialized magazines is designed to attract younger readers in fields such as music, computers, sports, business, finance, car and motorcycles, technology, history, home furnishings, and interior design. And, yet, celebrity gossip and television magazines still have the highest circulations.
Press Laws & CENSORSHIP
The Greek press is regarded as highly politicized and to gain readership is given to sensational news stories. Even though the restoration of Greek rights was guaranteed by the Constitution of 1975, the Greek government has been slow to give up monopolistic control over some media forms. The Constitution of 1975 specifically prohibits censorship in any form, and any government practice hindering freedom of the press is strictly forbidden. However, press restrictions in some form dating back to the Metaxas era of the 1930s remained in effect until August 1994.
The media played an important role in 1989 in the collapse of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's government, when the press revealed that media liberalization allowed Papandreou to use the power of the prime minister's office and political patronage to affect what was printed. Greek governments now have an official government spokesman to respond to the media's criticisms, a position similar to that of the presidential spokesmen in the United States. The prime minister's cabinet has a Minister of Press and the Mass Media. This office played a crucial role in both bringing the 2004 Olympic games to Greece and is coordinating the international communications that will be required for the games. There are no restrictions placed on foreign journalists or foreign media operating in Greece.
In 1987 the state monopoly of radio and television ended, but until 1989 government radio and television stations continued to serve as powerful propaganda tools for the political party in power. A lawsuit brought by Athens mayor Militiadis Evert challenged the use of government stations to support candidates and was accepted for hearing by the Greek courts. In April 1989 it was ruled that the state monopoly of broadcasting violated the European Council standards. The Greek Parliament legalized the private ownership of radio and television stations in October 1989. Like the press, privatization of broadcasting led to a proliferation of new radio and television stations. The media is now a frequent critic of the Greek government's forcing the state to improve its image. Although the state-sponsored Elliniki Radiofonia Tileorasi (ERT) is still the dominant force in radio and television broadcasting, an independent committee was created in 1989 to administer ERT, improve its programming, and to weaken cabinet control of ERT.
Since the deregulation of television, most Greek households watch private television. Variety shows dominate private television broadcasting. Private television stations repeat successful formats such as soap operas. If a show lacks sufficient popularity after two years, it is cancelled. With more television channels, more Greeks are watching television. The most watched television shows are news programs, films, and series. The greatest criticism of private television broadcasting is that the shows broadcast are characterized as "glorified tabloid newspapers."
With deregulation the popularity of the state television channels has drastically declined, and each government channel has accumulated a substantial debt. To attract more viewers, government television (ERT 1, ERT 2, and ERT 3) is providing more entertainment features, cultural programming, environmental series, and animal interest programming. Greek series starring major Greek actors are now broadcast on government channels. ERT 3's focus is on regional programming and culture. By investing in digital television, ERT plans to regain a larger share of the viewing audience.
The National Broadcasting Council (NBC), created in 1989, oversees radio and television broadcasting and remains the buffer between the government and the broadcasters. NBC oversees advertising practices, journalistic ethics, and programming. NBC has levied fines against stations for showing "reality" shows and for inaccuracies in news programming. Some stations were fined for failure to pay copyright fees associated with the right to broadcast a series. The National Broadcasting Council is turning its attention to radio and television stations still failing to obtain a broadcast license.
Five news agencies serve Greece: Athens News Agency (ANA), Macedonian News Agency, Athens Photo News, LocalNet News Agency, and ONA, Omogeneia News Agency. Media associations in Greece include Journalists Union of Athens Daily Newspapers (ESHEA), Foreign Press Association (FPA), Panhellenic Federation of Editor Unions (POSEY), Journalists' Union of Macedonia and Thrace Daily Newspapers, Balkan Press Center, and the Union of Editors of Periodical Press. Greece has two news "infobanks", InNews and the National Communications Network.
Greek radio began broadcasting in the 1930s during the Metaxas dictatorship. Television broadcasting began during the "colonels" dictatorship in the 1960s. Both radio and television were extensions of the state and served as propaganda instruments for the military. After 1974 Greek political parties accused the party holding the prime minister's office of using the broadcast stations for their own benefit. A state monopoly of the broadcast media continued after 1974. The Constitution of 1975 gave radio and television to the state to directly control. The state controlled the limited air frequencies and radio and television stations providing only government views and policies. Change came when the other major political party won control of Parliament. The cabinet minister in charge of the media was the nation's chief censor. Deregulation of Greek media came from outside the country when Greece applied for membership in the European Union.
In 1986 the newly elected mayors of Athens, Piraeus, and Thessaloniki were members of the opposition party. Each mayor launched new radio and television stations. Each was taken to court and won. Law 1730, approved in 1987, stated that local radio stations could belong to municipalities or local authorities or companies in which the shareholders were Greek citizens. In 1988 the mayor of Thessaloniki transmitted television programming from foreign satellite channels on UHF frequencies. The mayors of Piraeus and Athens followed suit. During the trial the Greek government realized that media reform was needed. In June 1989 a parliamentary committee was established to determine whether or not television stations in Greece should be private. Large Greek investors wanted the privatization of the broadcast media. Law 1860, approved in 1989, permitted the operation of non-state television channels and created the National Broadcast Council (NBC) to supervise the industry. Mega Channel, owned by the Teletypos publishing group, and Antenna TV, owned by a Greek ship owner, were quickly set up. Both television stations are the nation's most popular. Because there is so much unregulated broadcasting in Greece, the Greek government in July 1993 announced rules for broadcast media licensing. A change of Greek governments in October 1993 gave television licenses to Sky TV and 902 TV, whose license requests were previously denied.
The government Ministry for Press and the Media was not created until July 1994. Law 2328, approved in 1995, regulates the electronic market and determines the legal status of private television and radio stations. Only the Communist Party objected to the 1995 law. The Ministry of Press and the Media determines prerequisites for the granting and renewal of licenses to private television stations, determines programs appropriate for children, and the proper use of the Greek language in broadcasting. Licenses for radio stations must also meet the Ministry's criteria, which determines advertising parameters, and regulates the framework for private media research companies. Although the government has more strictly forced the broadcast media to obtain licenses, many are still in violation. In 1997 and 1998, 19 local stations (6 in Athens and 13 in Thessaloniki) were shut down for nonpayment of copyright fees. Over 1,200 radio stations broadcast throughout Greece. Each of Greece's 52 administrative regions has 2 or 3 local commercial stations. Many are unlicensed. The Greek government permits 3 types of radio stations to broadcast: state-owned, municipal, and private. Most Greek radio stations offer news and current events, music, Greek music, easy listening music, sports, rock music, and nostalgia music. Only one station plays classical music. News and easy listening music stations have the largest listening audiences.
With the deregulation of television, Greece went from 3 state television stations to 140 national and local stations. Mega Channel and Antenna TV control the largest share of the audience market with over 60 percent of the viewers and 65 percent of the advertising revenues. State television has a viewing audience of 8 percent and advertising revenue earned of 7 percent. Both Mega Channel and Antenna TV's popularity is based on sitcoms, satire shows, game shows, soap operas, movies, and made-for-television movies. Fewer educational and documentary programs are aired. FilmNet, the first pay-television channel, began broadcasting in 1994, showing major movies and sporting events. Super Sport and Kids TV are two additional pay-television channels that are widely popular in Greece. Cable television is currently under development. The government television channels and Antenna TV use satellites to show Greek programs to Greeks residing elsewhere. CNN, Euronews, MTV, and TV 5 are stations broadcast via satellite into Greece.
The Ministry of Press and Mass Media along with the Ministry of Transport and Communications have jointly adopted policies for digital television. Both ministries agreed that no monopoly would be permitted. A national digital platform will be a joint venture with all interested Greek parties, with the state controlling no more than 50 percent of the shareholding. It is the government's intention that the digital platform covers 100 percent of Greek territory, offers programs for Greeks living overseas, and develops domestic digital technology and industry.
Electronic News Media
Electronic publications are a part of the Greek media. Diaspora WWW Project is a bimonthly electronic publication that provides information on Hellenism. It began publication in October 1994. Matsakoni, To is a Greek nonprofit magazine about social movements for human rights and social liberation, and is against alienation and the hunt for profit. Monopoli magazine is an electronic publication about music concerts, cinema, restaurants, exhibitions, and other cultural activities. Strategy magazine centers on the Greek military and the defense industry. Hellenic Resources Network (HR-Net) is a project facilitating communication between Greeks and the exchange of news and information pertaining to Greece and neighboring countries. I-Boom finds anything Greek or Greek related on the web. Greece-News Collection provides news related to Greece. Ariadne Hellenic News Base offers news from well-known Greek radio stations and news agencies in both Greek and English. Michailidis Publications is a business and trade publication for wholesalers and retailers of consumer goods. SV2AEL-Sava Pavlidis is an electronic publication of photographs, awards information, and the history of Thessaloniki. Recent additions to Greek Internet Media are Reporters Corner on-line Magazine, Eco2Day: Economy News, NetNewsNetDailyI-noteMetapolis, andThe Media Zone.
The Greek Media offers Internet portals, which provide information online. These resources include HRI: Hellenic Directories & Portals, in.gr, Flash.gr, e-one, iboom Network (in Greek), iboom Network (in English), Pan.gr, Pathfinder, e-go, and Thea.gr. Online media directories are HRI: Newspapers and Magazines, Greek Media Index, The Reporter's Corner, The Greek Electronic Media Finder, Media Listings, Local Press, APN-report, Thea: Media Directory, Phantis: News and Media Directory, Eidiseis.net (multilingual), Rhodos Net: Media Index, and Mdataplus: Greek and World Press.
There has been a recent proliferation of online Greek newspapers and magazines. Online Greek newspapers include Kathimerini and Kathimerini-H.-Tribune in English, Ta Nea, To Vima, Athens News, in English,Eleftherotypia, Avgi Rizopastis, Agelioforos, Adesmeftos Typos, publisher K. Mitsis and Adesmeftos Typos, publisher D. Rizos, Apogevmatini, Ethnos, Express, Imerissia, Naftermporiki, Prin, and Athener Zeitung, in German. Many of these online newspapers are an electronic extension of long established newspapers already in print form. The intent is to expand readership by offering an online version. Greek online magazines, some associated with a publishing group, are HRI: Journals on Hellenic Issues (English), Thesis: Daily On-Line Journal of MFA (English), Defensor-PacisLambrakis Press, New Europe (English), Oikonomikos Taxidromos, Evropaiki Ekfrasi (Greek and English), Anti (Greek and English), Nemecis, MetroDefence and DiplomacyPegasus Publishers , Compupress Publishers (Greek and English), and Stratigiki Publishers.
Education & TRAINING
Greeks seeking a career in the media and communication attend either the University of Athens, Panteion University in Athens, or Thessaloniki University in Thessaloniki. The Department of Communication and Mass Media at the National and Capodistrian University of Athens was founded in 1990 and offers a Bachelor, a Masters, and a Doctoral Degree in Communication and the Media. Athens' Panteion University has a relatively new program in Communication and Mass Media that offers a bachelor's degree. The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was established in 1991 and offers a bachelor's degree in the Media in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Thessaloniki cooperates with a large number of European Union universities through the Socrates/Erasmus programs, enabling Greek students to attend universities in other European Union countries. Both Panteion University and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki offer radio webcasting, and each university has its own radio station and electronic media lab.
The Greek media has undergone a rapid transformation within a quarter-century. A proliferation of privately owned media exists in all forms. The media in Greece is characterized by an industry that has modern technological equipment in use, high quality printed matter, major publishing houses, a low penetration of imported printed matter in the local market, and an improved financial picture for most media owners. The Greek media is plagued with reader disinterest resulting in lower circulation for most printed matter. There is a high dependency among the printed media on imported and expensive paper and ink. Newspapers continue to experience a high percentage of unsold newspapers, which increases production costs. The print media is too dependent on advertising revenues to balance costs; there is inadequate display and promotion, a high labor cost, and an insufficient utilization of production equipment. Since 1990 advertising expenditures represent a significant decline for newspapers and magazines. Advertising expenditures for radio fluctuates, while television advertising has steadily increased.
Greek newspapers comprise political, financial, foreign language, satirical, and sports editions. Newspapers on politics represent the largest share of the print media, but their sales continue to decline, followed by newspapers on sports. Only foreign language publications among Greek newspapers witnessed an increase in circulation. Since 1992 specialized magazines are almost 63 percent of the sales. General interest and children's magazines continue to decline in popularity. Professional journals in science, literature, and politics are seeking an audience, but their subscription numbers remain small. In an attempt to increase sales, newspapers are printing supplements in their Sunday editions that are strikingly like magazines.
Radio stations, state or municipally owned, continue to decline in popularity among Greeks. Most radio stations are privately owned with some failing to file for a license to broadcast. Deregulation undermined the government monopoly once existing over radio stations. Audiences continue to view private television networks over state television stations. Advertising revenues influence what is broadcast on private television channels. The quality of television programming continues to emerge as a national problem, with viewers complaining about too much time spent on advertising instead of programming. Rebates to attract viewers are coming under closer government scrutiny with some rebates being withdrawn because of the expense incurred.
The future direction of the Greek media will be affected by the policies adopted on proper licensing of broadcast media, cable television, and digital programming. The integrity and independence of the Greek media is directly affected by Greece's membership within the European Union. Within 25 years Greece has emerged from a political system, which institutionalized censorship and suppression, to become a democracy, which deregulated the media and is experiencing many of the same issues confronting the media as its national counterparts in Western Europe and the United States.
- 1994: Creation of the Ministry for Press and the Media.
- 2004: Press coverage of the Olympic Games.
Cosmetatos, S. P. P. The Tragedy of Greece. New York: Brentano Books, 1928.
Curtis, Glenn, ed. Greece: A Country Study. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1995.
Hourmouzios, Stelio. No Ordinary Crown. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1972.
Kaloudis, George Stergiou. Modern Greek Democracy. New York: University Press of America, 2000.
Kousoulas, D. George. Greece: Uncertain Democracy. Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1973.
"Local Newspapers, Magazines' Battle to Attract Readers." Hermes February 1999: 4-14.
"Mapping the Media Revolution." Hermes October 1996: 8-17.
Nash, Michael. "The Greek Monarchy in Retrospect." Contemporary Review September 1994: 112-121.
Papadopoulos, M. George. Two Speeches. Athens: 1967.
Papandreou, Andreas. Democracy at Gunpoint: The Greek Front. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1979.
Papandreou, Margaret. Nightmare in Athens. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1970.
Papathanasopoulos, S. "Mass Media in Greece." In-About Greece. Athens: Ministry of Press and Mass Media, 2001.
Tantzos, G. Nicholas. Konstantine. New York: Atlantic International Publications, 1990.
Turner, Barry, ed. Statesman's Yearbook 2002. New York: Palgrave Press, 2001.
Vaitiotis, P. J. Greece: A Political Essay. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1974.
Woodhouse, C. M. Modern Greece, A Short History. London: Faber and Faber, 1968.
——. The Rise and Fall of the Greek Colonels. New York: Franklin Watts, 1985.
World Mass Media Handbook, 1995 Edition. New York: United Nations Department of Public Information, 1995.
William A. Paquette
COPYRIGHT 2003 The Gale Group
Magic in Ancient Greece
Magic in all of its aspects was native to the imagination and genius of the Greeks, as was the case with most ancient peoples. Evidence abounds in their theogony, mythology (essentially magical in conception and meaning), literature, sculpture, and history. The nature that surrounded them gave rise to their imaginations. The mountains and valleys, mysterious caves and fissures, vapors and springs of volcanic origin, and sacred groves were all, according to their character, dedicated to the gods. Parnassus was the abode of the sun-god Apollo; the lovely vale of Aphaca that of Adonis; the oak-groves of Dodona favored of Zeus; and the gloomy caves with their roar of subterranean waters the Oracle of Trophonius.
Innumerable instances of magical wonder-working are found in the stories of Greek deities and heroes. The power of transformation is shown in a multitude of cases, among them that of Bacchus who, by waving a spear, could change the oars of a ship into serpents and the masts into heavy-clustered vines. He could also cause tigers, lynxes, and panthers to appear amidst the waves and the terrified sailors leaping overboard to take the shape of dolphins. In the story of Circe, the enchantress took her magic wand and with her enchanted philter turned her lovers into swine.
The serpent-staff of Hermes gave, by its touch, life or death, sleep or waking; Medusa's head turned its beholders into stone; Hermes gave Perseus wings that he might fly and Pluto a helmet which conferred invisibility. Prometheus molded a man of clay and to give it life stole celestial fire from heaven; Odysseus, to peer into the future, descended to Hades in search of Tiresias the Soothsayer; Archilles was made invulnerable by the waters of the Styx.
Dedicated by immemorial belief, there were places where the visible spirits of the dead might be evoked and where men in curiosity, longing, or remorse strove to call back those who had passed beyond mortal ken. In March, when the spring blossoms appeared and covered the trees, the Festival of the Flowers was held at Athens. The Commemoration of the Dead also occurred in the spring. It was thought that the spirits of the deceased rose from their graves and wandered about the familiar streets, striving to enter the dwellings of men and the temples of the gods but were shut out by the magic of branches of whitethorn, or by knotted ropes and pitch.
Of great antiquity and eminently of Greek character and meaning were the Oracles. For centuries they ministered to that longing ingrained in human nature to know the future and to invoke divine foresight and aid in the direction of human affairs, from those of a private citizen to the multitudinous needs of the state. Divination and prophecy became the great features of the oracles. They were inspired by various means, including intoxicating fumes, natural or artificial mind-altering drugs, the drinking of mineral springs, signs and tokens, and dreams.
The most famous Oracles were those at Delphi, Dodona, Epidaurus, and that of Trophonius, but others of renown were scattered over the country. Perhaps one of the earliest was that of Aesculapius, son of Apollo and called the Healer, the Dream-sender, because his healing was given through the medium of dreams that came upon the applicant while sleeping in the temple-courts, the famous temple-sleep. This temple, situated at Epidaurus, was surrounded by sacred groves and whole companies of sick persons lingered there in search of lost health and enlightenment through divine dreams.
Famous above all was that of Apollo, the Delphian oracle, on the Southern Slopes of Parnassus, where kings, princes, heroes, and slaves of all countries journeyed to ask the questions as to the future and what it might hold for them. The temple was built above a volcanic chasm, amid a wildness of nature that suggested the presence of the unseen powers. Here the priest-ess, the Pythia, so named after the serpent Pytho whom Apollo slew, was seated on a tripod placed above the gaseous vapors rising from the chasm. Intoxicated to a state of frenzy, her mouth foaming, wild torrents of words fell from her lips. These words were shaped into coherence and meaning by the attendant priests and given to the waiting questioner crowned with laurel, the symbol of sleep and dreams, who stood before the altar.
Priests and priestesses were also crowned with these leaves, which were sacred to Apollo and burned as incense. Before the Pythias chamber hung a falling screen of laurel branches, while at the festival of the Septerion every ninth year a bower of laurel was erected in the forecourt of the temple. One writer has left strange details, such as the rule that the sacred fire within the temple must only be fed with firwood, and although a woman was chosen as the medium of the prophetic utterance, no woman might question the oracle.
The Oracle of the Pelasgic Zeus at Dodona was the oldest of all. It answered by signs rather than inspired speech, by means of lots and the falling of water, or by the wind-moved clanging of brazen-bowls, two hollow columns standing side by side.
The three priestesses or Peliades (meaning doves) were given titles signifying the Diviner of the Future; the friend of man, Virtue; and the virgin-ruler of man, Chastity. For 2,000 years this oracle existed. It was consulted by those heroes of the ancient myths struggling in the toils of Fate—Hercules, Achilles, Ulysses and Aeneas—down to the later vestiges of Greek nationality.
The Oracle of Trophonius was also of great renown. Here there were numerous caverns filled with misty vapors and troubled by the noise of hidden waters far beneath. In this mysterious gloom the supplicants slept sometimes for nights and days, coming forth in a somnambulic state from which they were aroused and questioned by the attendant priests. Frightful visions were generally recounted, accompanied by a terrible melancholy, so that it passed into a proverb regarding a sorrowful man, "He has been in the cave of Trophonius."
Magic, in the sense of secret revelations, miraculous cures, prophetic gifts, and unusual powers, had always existed for the Greeks. The oracles were a human way of communicating with their gods on earth.
Magic in the sense of sorcery was introduced into Greece from Asia and Egypt. It had to fit into a conception of Fate as inexorable and inescapable for gods, rulers, and slaves alike, a belief which warred a form of magic that had for its primary aim a certain command of the destinies of man.
Good and evil and the perpetual strife between these two principles and the belief in demonology gradually evolved within Greek thought. It was said that the first mention of good and evil demons could be traced to the Pythagorean school. Not until after the Persian War was there a word in the Greek language for "magic." As these beliefs emerged, they were ascribed to the native deities, gradually becoming incorporated with the ancient histories and rites.
Sorcery and Enchantment
After the invasion by the Persians, Thessaly, where their stay was of lengthy duration, became famous for its sorceresses and their practices, engaging in miracles and magic enough to call down the moon or to brew magical herbs for love or death. Thus Apuleius in his romance The Golden Ass stated that when in Thessaly he was in the place,
"…where, by common report of the world, sorcery and enchantments were most frequent. I viewed the situation of the place in which I was, nor was there anything I saw that I believed to be the same thing which it appeared to be. Insomuch that the very stones in the street I thought were men bewitched and turned into that figure, and the birds I heard chirping, the trees without the walls, and the running waters, were changed from human creatures into the appearances they were. I persuaded myself that the statues and buildings could move; that the oxen and other brute beasts could speak and tell strange tidings; that I should hear and see oracles from heaven conveyed in the beams of the Sun."
Homer told the tale of Circe the enchantress, with her magic philters and magic songs, but made no mention of Medea, the arch-sorceress of later times. Around her name the later beliefs clustered. All the evil arts were attributed to her. She became the witch par excellence, her infamy increasing from age to age.
The same was true of Hecate, the moon-goddess, at first sharer with Zeus of the heavenly powers, but later an ominous shape of gloom, ruler and lover of the night and darkness, of the world of phantoms and ghouls. Like the Furies she wielded the whip and cord; she was followed by hell hounds, by writhing serpents, lamiae, strygae and empusae, and figures of terror and loathing. She presided over the dark mysteries of birth and death; she was worshipped at night in the flare of torches. She was the three-headed Hecate of the crossroads where little round cakes or a lizard mask set about with candles were offered to her in propitiation, that none of the phantom mob might cross the threshold of man.
Love-magic and death-magic, the usual forms of sorcery, became common in Greece as elsewhere. Love philters and charms were eagerly sought, the most innocent being bitten apples and enchanted garlands. Means of protection against the evil eye became a necessity, tales of bewitchment were spread abroad, and misfortune and death were being brought upon the innocent and unwary by means of a waxen figure molded in their image and tortured by the sorceress.
In tombs and secret places, leaden tablets were buried with inscriptions of the names of foes and victims and pierced through with a nail in order to bring disaster and death upon them. At this time it became law that no one who practiced sorcery might participate in the Eleusinian Mysteries, and at Athens a Samian Sorceress, Theoris, was cast to the flames.
The introduction of Egyptian influences were due generally to the agency of Orpheus and Pythagoras, who, while in Egypt, had been initiated into the mysteries. The story of Orpheus shows him as preeminently the wonder-worker, but one of beneficence and beauty. To men of his time, everything was enchantment and prodigy. By the irresistible power of his music he constrained the rocks, trees, and animals to follow him; at his behest storms arose or abated. He was the necromancer, who by his golden music overcame the powers of darkness, and, descending to the world of shades, found his beloved Eurydice. They gained the upper air that brought her back to the living world.
Jealous women tore him limb from limb, and his head floated down the waters of the Hebrus and was cast on the rocky shores of Lesbos where, still retaining the power of speech, it uttered oracles that gave guidance to people. Orpheus was believed to have instructed the Greeks in medicine and magic, and for long afterward remedies, magical formulas, incantations, and charms were engraved upon Orphean tablets and the power of healing was ascribed to the Orphean hymns.
Pythagoras, a philosopher, geometrician, and magician who was tireless in the pursuit of knowledge, had an immense influence on the thought of his time. After his return from Egypt he founded a school where to those who had previously undergone severe and drastic discipline he communicated his wide and varied knowledge. He was also credited with miraculous powers such as being visible at the same hour in places as far apart as Italy and Sicily, taming a bear by whispering in its ear, and calling an eagle from its flight to alight on his wrist.
Among the greatest features of religious life were the mysteries held at periodic intervals in connection with the different deities, such as the Samothracian, the Bacchic, and, most famous of all, the Eleusinian. Their origin is to be traced mostly to a prehistoric nature-worship and vegetation-magic.
All these mysteries had three trials or baptisms by water, fire, and air, and three specially sacred emblems, the phallus, egg, and serpent, generative emblems sacred in many secret rites.
The Samothracian centered around four mysterious deities: Axieros, the mother; her children: Axiocersos, male; Axiocersa, female; and Casindos the originator of the universe. The festival probably symbolized the creation of the world and also the harvest and its growth. Connected with this mystery was the worship of Cybele, goddess of the earth, cities, and fields. Her priests, the Corybantes, dwelt in a cave where they held their ceremonies, including a wild and orgiastic weapon-dance, accompanied by the incessant shaking of heads and clanging of swords on shields.
The cult of Bacchus, it was thought, had been carried into Greece from Egypt by Melampus. He was the god of the vine and vegetation, and his mysteries typified the growth of the vine and the vintage—the winter sleep of all plant life and its renewal in spring. Women were his chief attendants—the Bacchantes, who, clashing cymbals and uttering wild cries in invocation of their god, became possessed by ungovernable fury and homicidal mania.
Greatest of all in their relation to Hellenic life were the Eleusinian Mysteries. These were the paramount interest and function of the state religion exerting the widest, strongest influence on people of all classes. The rites were secret and their details are practically unknown, but they undoubtedly symbolized the myth of Demeter, corn-goddess, and were held in spring and September.
Prior to initiation, a long period of purification and preparation was enforced. During this time the higher meaning of the myth was ingrained. The original meaning became exalted by the genius of the Greeks into an intimate allegory of the soul of man, its birth, life, death, descent into Hades, and subsequent release therefrom. After this came the central point of the mysteries, the viewing of certain holy and secret symbols; next, a crowning of garlands, signifying the happiness that arises from friendship with the divine. The festival also embodied a scenic representation of the story of Demeter, the rape of Persephone, the sorrow of the mother, her complaints before Zeus, and the final reconciliation.
Women played a great part in this, the reason being that as they themselves "produce," so by sympathetic magic their influence was conveyed to the corn, as when crying aloud for rain they looked upward to the skies, then down to the earth with cries of "Conceive!" These priestesses were crowned with poppies and corn, symbolical attributes of the deity they implored.
Besides the priests and priestesses attached to the different temples, there was an order of men called "interpreters," whose business was divining the future by various means such as the flight of birds and entrails of victims. These men often accompanied the armies in order to predict the success or failure of operations during warfare and thus avert the possibility of mistakes in the campaign. They fomented or repressed revolutions in state and government by their predictions.
The most celebrated interpreters were those of Elis, where in two or three families, notably the Iamidae and the Clytidae, this peculiar gift or knowledge was handed down from father to son for generations. There were also others who were authorized by the state, both men and women, who professed to read the future in natural and unnatural phenomena, eclipses, thunder, dreams, unexpected sight of certain animals, convulsive movement of eyelids, tingling of the ears, sneezing, and a few words casually dropped by a passerby.
In the literature and philosophies of Greece, magic in all its forms is found as a theme for imagination, discussion, and belief. In the hands of the tragic poets, sorceresses such as Circe and Medea became figures of terror and death, embodiments of evil.
Pythagoras left no writings but on his theories were founded those of Empedocles and Plato. In the verses of Empedocles he teaches the theory of reincarnation, he himself remembering previous existences wherein he was a boy, a girl, a plant, a fish and a bird. He also claimed to teach the secrets of miraculous medicine, of the reanimation of old age, of bringing rain, storm, or sunshine, and of recalling the dead.
Aristides, the Greek orator, gave exhaustive accounts of the many dreams he experienced during sleep in the temples and the cures prescribed therein. Socrates told of his attendant spirit or genius who warned him, and others through his agency, of impending danger, also foretelling futurity. Xenophon, treating of divination by dreams, maintained that in sleep the human soul reveals her divine nature, and, being freed from trammels of the body, gazes into futurity.
Plato, while inveighing against sorcery, took the popular superstitions relating to magic, demons, and spirits and used them as a basis for a spiritual and magical theory of things. On his teaching would be founded the Neo-Platonists school, which was among the most fervid defender of magic.
Aristotle stated that prediction is a purely natural quality of the imagination. Both precognition and telepathy were crucial in his reasoning. His philosophy allowed for the possibility of parapsychological phenomena even if it could not be scientifically proven. Another important figure and commentator from Ancient Greece, Plutarch gave an exhaustive account on the somnambulic states of the oracular priestess, Pythia, attributing them to possession by the divinity.
Some of the later superstitions of the Hellenic archipelago partake more of the nature of Slavonic tradition than that of the ancient inhabitants of Greece. One of the most notable circumstances in later Greek superstition relates to vampirism.
The vampire was called vroucolaca or broucolack by the Greeks, and appears to have come into Greek thought from the Slavic world in early medieval times. French researcher Augustine Calmet, author of Dissertations Upon the Apparitions of Angels, Daemons and Ghosts, and concerning … Vampires (1759) stated,
"It is asserted by the modern Greeks, in defence of their schism, and as a proof that the gift of miracles, and the episcopal power of the keys, subsists in their church more visibly and evidently than in the church of Rome, that, with them, the bodies of excommunicated persons never rot, but swell up to an uncommon size, and are stretched like drums, nor ever corrupt or fall to dust, till they have received absolution from some bishop or priest. And they produce many instances of carcasses which have been in their graves uncorrupted, and which have afterwards putrefied as soon as the excommunication was taken off.
"They do not, however, deny that a body's not corrupting is sometimes a proof of sanctity, but in this case they expect it to send forth an agreeable smell, to be white or ruddy, and not black, stinking, and swelled like a drum, as the bodies of excommunicated persons generally are. We are told, that in the time of Manuel, or Maximus, patriarch of Constantinople, the Turkish emperor having the mind to know the truth of the Greek notion concerning the incorruption of excommunicated bodies, the patriarch ordered the grave of a woman, who had lived in a criminal commerce with an archbishop of Constantinople, to be opened. Her body being found entire, black and much swelled, the Turks put it into a chest, under the emperor's seal, and the patriarch having repeated a prayer, and given absolution to the deceased, the chest was opened three days after and the body was found reduced to ashes. It is also a notion which prevails among the Greeks, that the bodies of these excommunicated persons frequently appear to the living, both day and night, and speak to them, call upon them, and disturb them several other ways.
"Leo Allatius is very particular upon this head, and says, that in the isle of Chio, the inhabitants never answer the first time they are called, for fear of its being a spectre; but if they are called twice, they are sure it is not a Broucolack (this is the name they give these spirits). If any one appears at the first call, the spectre disappears, but the person certainly dies.
"They have no way to get rid of these evil genii, but to dig up the body of the person that has appeared, and burn it after having repeated over it certain prayers. By this means the body being reduced to ashes, appears no more. And they look upon it as a clear case, that either these mischievous and spiteful carcasses come out of their graves of their own accord, and occasion the death of the persons that see or speak to them; or that the devil himself makes use of these bodies to frighten and destroy mankind. They have hitherto discovered no remedy which more infallibly rids them of these plagues, than to burn or mangle the bodies which were made use of for these cursed purposes. Sometimes the end is answered by tearing out the heart and letting the bodies rot above ground before they burn them again, or by cutting off the head, or driving a large nail through the temples."
Sir Paul Rycaut in his The Present State of the Greek & Armenian Churches (1679) observed that the opinion that excommunicated bodies are preserved from putrefaction prevails not only among the Greeks, but also among the Turks, and he gives us a fact that he had from a caloyer (monk) of Candia, who confirmed it to him upon oath. The caloyer's name was Sophronius, a man well known and respected in Smyrna.
A man, who was excommunicated for a fault that he had committed in the Morea, died on the island of Milo and was buried in a private place, without any ceremonies, and in unconsecrated ground. His relatives and friends expressed great dissatisfaction that he was treated in this manner; soon after that the inhabitants of the island were tormented every night by frightful apparitions, which they attributed to this unhappy man. Upon opening the grave his body was found entire; his veins swelled with blood and a consultation was held upon the subject with the caloyers dismembering his body, cutting it in pieces, and boiling it in wine, which, it seems, is the usual manner of proceeding there in those cases.
The friends of the deceased prevailed upon them, by dint of entreaty, to delay the execution, and in the meantime sent to Constantinople to get absolution for him from the patriarch. Until the messenger could return, the body was laid in the church, and prayers and masses were said daily for the repose of his soul. One day while Sophronius, the caloyer above mentioned, was performing the service, there was suddenly heard a great noise in the coffin and upon examination the body was found reduced to ashes, as if it had been dead seven years. Particular notice was taken of the time when the noise was heard, and it was found to be the very morning when the absolution was signed by the patriarch. Sir Paul Rycaut, who has recorded this event, was neither a Greek nor Roman Catholic, but a staunch Protestant of the Church of England.
He observes upon this occasion that the notion among the Greeks is that an evil spirit enters into the excommunicated carcass and preserves it from corruption by performing the usual functions of the human soul in a living body. They suppose that these corpses eat by night and actually digest and are nourished by their food; that several have been found of a fresh, ruddy color, with their veins ready to burst with blood, full forty days after their death; and that upon being opened there is a large a quantity of warm, fresh blood as if it were coming from a healthy young person. This opinion prevails so universally, that everyone is furnished with a story to this purpose.
Father Theophilus Raynard, a Roman Catholic author of a particular treatise upon this subject, asserted that this return of the dead is an undoubted truth and is supported by unquestionable facts. He also argued that to pretend that these spec-tres are always excommunicated persons, and that the Church of Greece has a privilege of preserving the bodies of those who die in the church, is something that cannot be affirmed. It is certain that excommunicated bodies rot as well as others, and that several who have died in the communion of the church, Greek as well as Roman, have continued uncorrupted. (In the Western Roman tradition, to die and remain uncorrupted was a sign of great sanctity.) There have even been instances of this nature among the heathens, and frequently among other animals, whose carcasses have been found unputrefied in the ground, and among the ruins of old buildings.
In his book A Voyage Into the Levant (1741), J. Pittonde Tournefort gave an account of the digging up of a believed broucolack in the island of Mycone, where he was January 1, 1701.
Psychical Research & Spiritualism
Because of the religious control asserted by the Greek Orthodox Church in the decades since modern Greece attained independence from Turkey, Greece has been one of the most hostile countries to the emergence of religious pluralism. Spiritualism, Theosophy, and other new religious impulses, occult and other aspects of the parapsychological movement have found little open support among the people of the country. In common with other European countries, Greek scientists did take an active interest in psychical studies during the 1920s and 1930s. Prominent societies included the Hellenic Society of Psychical Research and the Society for Psychical Research and the Society for Psychic Studies. The most prominent researcher was Angelos Tanagras, a high ranking naval officer who edited the Revue Psychikae Creonae of Athens from 1925 onward. He proposed a theory of precognition which involved the psychokinetic action of the percipient, thus sidestepping the issue of determinism.
At the present time, there are two active societies: The Society for the Scientific Study of Metaphysics, Rue Agathoupoleus 104, Athens; and the Psychic Society of Athens, 32 Tsiller-str., Athens 905. Both publish periodicals.
A society operating on the island of Cyprus not far from Greece in the Mediterranean, a country that was often fought over by both the Turks and the Greeks, is Psychognosis. Run by Linda Leblanc and John Knowles, it is a center for the investigation of psychic phenomena of all kinds. The society's web-site can be reached at: http://www.psychognosis.com.
Abbott, G. F. Macedonian Folklore. Chicago: Argonaut, Inc., 1909.
Apuleius. The Golden Ass. Trans. Adlington. London: William Heineman, 1935.
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.
Fontenrose, Joseph. Python: A Study of Delphic Myth and Its Origins. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1959.
Lawson, John C. Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion. 1910. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1964.
Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: An Encyclopedia of the Undead. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994.
Psychognosis Center, Island of Cyprus. http://www.psychognosis.com. June 6, 2000.
Schwab, Gustav. Gods and Heroes: Myths and Epics of Ancient Greece. New York: Pantheon Books, 1946.
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Gale Group Inc.
Greece, the birthplace of Western civilization, has a long history. Philosophy and the humanities have flourished there for more than 2,500 years. Greece is situated at the southeastern end of the European continent and has an area of 132 square kilometers. Now a modern state, it has, according to the 2001 census, approximately 11 million inhabitants. It is a member of the European Union (EU). The country's development has not always followed a clear and balanced direction, which has affected its economical, political, and social structures.
The many and variable migrations of the Greek people have left a significant mark on the country's evolution. Before World War II, Greeks migrated mainly to the United States, Canada, Australia, and countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. After World War II, Greek migration was mainly within the European continent. The majority of migrants ended up in West Germany, Belgium, Holland, and other European countries. Although large numbers of these migrants have now returned to Greece, an equally significant number have remained in the host countries. Thus, many Greek communities exist in countries such as the United States and Canada. After World War II, and especially during the 1960s, a second major migratory movement occurred. Greece lost 20 percent of its population through migration, which had serious consequences for its development. Most of those who migrated were in the most productive phase of their lives and represented the most dynamic part of the labor force.
Between 1971 and 1985, an estimated 625,000 Greeks returned to their homeland. During the same period, an influx of migrants from Third World countries into Greece began. This trend continued into the 1980s and was augmented by an additional flow of migrants from East European countries (Teperoglou and Tzortzopoulou 1996).
The economic growth and social development in Greece at the end of World War II, and especially since the 1960s, have changed the form and functioning of Greek society and the Greek family. These developments include massive international migration to the United States, Australia, Canada, and Western Europe, the exodus of rural residents to cities, and the considerable growth of the tourism industry.
The demographic profile of Greece is similar to that of other developed countries: a low birth rate and an increase in the proportion of elderly people. Fertility rates per 1,000 inhabitants are continuously falling in Greece: 18.9 in 1960, 16.5 in 1970, 15.4 in 1980, 10.7 in 1988, and 9.5 in 1998 (Statistical Year Book of Greece). According to the United Nations' population projection, Greece has one of the lowest fertility rates in Europe (1990–1995). The average number (fertility rate) of children per woman between the ages of fifteen and forty-four in Greece was 1.32 in 1995. In all European countries, fertility rates in the same year were 1.43 children per woman. The fertility rates in urban and rural areas of Greece are now the same.
The following is a summary of demographic trends in Greece:
- The average life expectancy was 75.3 for men and 80.5 for women in 1998.
- Contraceptives, especially abortion, are used as methods to interrupt unwanted or unplanned pregnancies.
- Marriage and childbirth now occur later. In 1995 the mean age at which women gave birth to their first child was 28.2 years.
- Infant mortality is dramatically lower, due to improved health conditions for mothers and newborns. In 1960, infant mortality per 1,000 live births was as high as 40.1; in 1998, it was 6.6.
- Internal and international migration are significant factors. The majority of migrants are young people at their most productive age.
The drop in fertility rates, combined with the aging population, poses a serious problem for the country. The ratio of retired people to those who are economically active has increased: In 1977 there was one retired person for every 2.97 people of working age; in 1994 the ratio was 1: 2.09 (Moussourou 1995).
The nondemographic parameters that determine family size in Greece include family income, employment status and level of education of both parents, the status and living conditions of women, and women's labor market participation and their financial independence. Women have made great progress in the various professions and occupations in Greece. They made up 37 percent of the total work force in 1990. Women's employment, however, is not a new development. Women in Greece have always worked either in rural occupations or at home as hairdressers, as dressmakers, or in other service jobs while at the same time being in charge of the household. This type of work has been officially recorded. What is new is an increase in women's occupations that are outside the home.
Women's employment has been considered one of the main causes of low birth rates. Such an inference, though, should be viewed with caution because women who are not employed outside of the home also reported lower birth rates. Families' attitudes towards having a specific number of children are explained by many factors, particularly the economic status of the families. Other factors are industrialization and urbanization (Teperoglou and Tzortzopoulou 1996).
Family income matters not only because it guarantees a family's survival, but also because it determines the social position of the family. A survey by the Consumers' Institute (INKA) has found that a Greek needs to work 18.7 hours to purchase food that a German is able to buy with 9.5 hours of work or an English person with 11.2 hours. The same survey found that the average Greek family needed 378.000 drs ($1,595) per month in 1996 to have an acceptable standard of living (Moussourou 1996).
The incidence of divorce has increased since 1970. In that year the rate was 0.4 per one thousand inhabitants; in 1980, 0.7 per thousand; in 1990, 0.6 per thousand; and in 1995, 1.1 per thousand (Statistical Yearbook of Greece). The main reason is the reform of family law and the legalization of a new form of divorce: divorce by mutual consent, whereby either spouse is entitled to apply for the dissolution of the marriage. Prior to the 1980s, the structure of the Greek family was more traditional, and governments did not approve any initiative for the reform of family law. In the early 1980s reforms were undertaken, and Greek women felt psychologically more liberated to get divorced.
Definition of Family
The term family refers to a particular social group whose members are related by blood or marriage at different levels or in different forms or combinations. Each member's role and status within the institution of the family is determined by his or her corresponding position in the family. The forms of family that prevail in Greece refer mainly to the distinction between the conjugal and the extended family. The conjugal family includes the husband and wife and their children. The extended family includes the conjugal family as well as ascendants of the husband and/or wife. Families are further distinguished in complete conjugal and incomplete conjugal families (e.g., one-parent families) and in extended complete or incomplete families (e.g., one grandparent).
The definition of the family is often confused with other terms—for example, household. The National Statistical Service of Greece considers all people who live under the same roof to be members of the family, regardless of whether they are related.
In Greece, family life and the position of children have changed substantially with the evolution of the traditional rural-agricultural life into an urban industrial-modern system (Moussourou 1994). Anthropological research on Greek rural life suggests that the importance of the Greek family was reflected in the significance attached to the role of the mother. Although the man acted as the family's outside representative, enjoying the social prestige and esteem that this role entailed, the woman was the organizer of the household, the mediator in family disputes, and the guardian of the family's cohesiveness. The family's image rested in large measure on the woman's ability to carry out her household duties properly (Kyriazis 1995).
The most important characteristic of the family in contemporary society is its fluidity, produced by a combination of three interrelated factors: a) the variety of socially acceptable family patterns according to which one may organize one's private life; b) the possibility of individuals choosing the way in which they wish to organize their private lives; and c) the increased possibility of an individual choosing different, successive patterns during his or her lifetime (Moussourou 1994).
If grandparents who live near their married children are added to families of three generations, the total percentage of daily contacts between the three generations increases. Exchange and assistance between the two adult generations and the young on the one hand, and influence of the elder relatives on the other, are common patterns (Teperoglou 1994).
Role of the Child
The most important result of the contraction of the Greek family is that children become the center of concern and of emotional and financial investment, not only for their parents but for the extended family as well.
The term child centeredness means the exclusive and all-inclusive attention that parents and other adult family members pay to the needs of the child. This attention embraces the economic, emotional, developmental, and psychological dimensions of a child's life. The child's overall development is of paramount value to the parents. During this time, family relationships are considerably influenced by the responses parents are trying to give to the problems arising from the child's upbringing.
Greek families need a new way of life and a new way to manage family relationships to address the emotional and financial needs of childhood. In the past, the extended family formed the basis for family and social relationships and the training of the young. Communication was mainly oral. Stories told by grandfathers and grandmothers about their lives and hardships, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes referred to and sustained a value system that had little to do with the modern, competitive society. This way of bringing up the young was made possible not only by the large size of the family, but also by the free time that its members had at their disposal.
Education constitutes the safest basis for social upgrading in the Greek society. Young people spend a considerable amount of time obtaining educational qualifications. School hours— depending on age—and the numerous educational activities outside school (e.g., learning foreign languages, music, or computers) create an exhausting daily schedule for teenagers. Finding a job in the future is connected with qualified knowledge— which is attested by obtained certificates—and not with the quality of knowledge. Unemployment of the young, fear of unemployment, and stiff competition create insecurity and place continuous stress on the family.
The Greek educational system is highly centralized. All decisions concerning staff and curriculum are taken by the Ministry of Education, and there is a national curriculum. Children receive nine years of compulsory education consisting of six years of elementary and three years of secondary schooling (Gymnasium). Compulsory schooling starts at the age of five years and nine months (i.e., when the child will reach the age of six by the December of the current academic year).
The Greek family is determined to suffer whatever hardships necessary to make available all resources and means that their children need for a good education. The majority of parents feel that the way the Greek educational system operates leaves many gaps in their children's education, and so most families pay for extra lessons in foreign languages and activities like ballet, music, and sports. This practice is very common and not directly related to a family's economic background; even when they have limited resources, parents spend a considerable proportion of their income to pay for these supplementary activities.
It is also usual, especially when both parents work, for them to hire private tutors to help children with their homework, or to send their children to frontistiria (private evening classes) where the lessons taught in school are repeated and further analyzed in depth; this is especially common with secondary school pupils (Davou and Gourdomichalis 1997).
The Elderly and the Family
The family continues to be very important for the Greek society. Generally, the structure of the Greek family shows a change from the extended family to the nuclear family unit, but close relationships between the two types of family units exist. The younger people respect their elders and still accept them in certain roles. The old male is the connecting bond between the younger people who have left the village in search of better circumstances and those who remain. Beyond this psychological role, he acts as supervisor of the family's wealth in the village. How frequently children visit their parents depends on where they have moved. Nevertheless, because they do not maintain as much close contact as before, parental influence inevitably declines, and with it the influence of the traditional extended family. As a result, parents are left with a feeling of emptiness.
The transition from the extended family to the nuclear family is more prevalent in urban areas than in rural areas. In the nuclear family (the couple and their children, if any), the status of elderly is important as they provide help to the young couple and vice versa. From an economic point of view, life seems better for the elderly in the urban areas, but children still help their parents since pensions are usually insufficient. The medical care offered is also better in the urban areas than in rural ones. Nevertheless, the children, if necessary, take care of their old parents at all stages of illness.
Although the old parents usually live separately from the young couple, the two pairs retain a close relationship. They visit each other often and both take part in family celebrations and festive lunches. In consequence, the elderly people do not suffer from loneliness. Also, the role of the grandmother is extremely important in urban areas. As more women are employed outside the home, related problems have emerged. One of the biggest problems is the shortage of kindergartens, which in turn creates a new role for the grandmother, that of care provider. Many working mothers leave their children in the care of the grandmother.
In conclusion, the customary family care of the elderly is still strong, a situation explained by the traditions, customs, and ethics of Greek people. The elderly must feel that they are still useful and active members of society (Teperoglou 1980).
The economic and social factors that affect Greek society affect the family as an institution and the relations among its members. The economic factors related to unemployment influence interpersonal relations, as employment of family members and the satisfaction coming from it are directly related to peace of mind and communication. The high cost of living puts a serious strain on the family budget, and the financial needs, real or imaginary, lead to additional stress with multiple consequences (Teperoglou and Tzortzopoulou 1996).
Greek society seems to be in step with more developed countries. The difficulty in communicating, which is a result of urbanization, the increasing interest in acquiring material goods, and the wish to become successful lead to isolation, which has a serious impact on the relations within the family. Greek parents are willing to provide their children with the resources that they need to succeed in life. The roles of young couples and grandparents appear to complement each other. In absence of a sufficient number of nursery schools, grandparents are taking care of their grandchildren. On the other hand, in absence of a full-fledged policy on aging, parents take care of their parents.
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lambiri-dimaki, i. (1983). social stratification in greece1962–1982. athens: ant. sakkoulas publications.
moussourou, l. (1985). families and children in athens,athens: hestia publications.
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moussourou, l. (1995). "annual report on greece." indevelopments in national family policies in 1995, ed. j ditch, h. barnes and j. bradshaw. brussels: commission of the european communities.
moussourou, l. (1999). "family crisis and crisis of values." the greek review of social research 98–99:5–20.
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teperoglou, a., and tzortzopoulou, m. (1996). "familytheory and research in greece 1980-1990." marriage and family review 23:487–516.
COPYRIGHT 2003 The Gale Group Inc.
RecipesAvgolemono (Egg-Lemon Soup) ................................. 22
Moussaka (Lamb-Eggplant Casserole) ......................... 23
Arni Souvlakia (Lamb on Skewers) ............................... 24
Lambropsoma (Greek Easter Bread)............................. 25
Melopitta (Honey Pie) ................................................. 26
Kourabiethes (Butter Cookies) ..................................... 27
Tzatziki (Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce) .............................. 28
Greek Salad................................................................. 28
Greek Salad Dressing................................................... 28
Patates Fourno Riganates (Baked Potatoes).................. 28
Frouta Ke Yaourti (Fruit Salad)..................................... 29
1 GEOGRAPHIC SETTING AND ENVIRONMENT
Greece is the southernmost country in the Balkan Peninsula, the region that includes Albania, Macedonia, and Bulgaria to the north. It has a total area of 131,940 square kilometers (50,942 square miles). About a fifth of the area is composed of more than 1,400 islands in the Ionian and Aegean seas. About four-fifths of Greece is mountainous, including most of the islands.
Oranges, olives, dates, almonds, pomegranates, figs, grapes, tobacco, cotton, and rice abound in the areas of lower elevation, primarily in the east. Among Greece's main environmental problems are industrial smog and automobile exhaust fumes in the area around the capital, Athens. The smog regularly sends Greeks to the hospital with respiratory and heart complaints.
2 HISTORY AND FOOD
Greek cooking traditions date back thousands of years. Greeks today eat some of the same dishes their ancestors did in ancient times. These include dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and many of the same fruits, vegetables, and grain products. A Greek, Archestratus, is thought to have written the first cookbook in 350 b.c.
The Greek diet has been influenced by traditions from both the East and West. In ancient times, the Persians introduced Middle Eastern foods, such as yogurt, rice, and sweets made from nuts, honey, and sesame seeds. In 197 b.c., when Rome invaded Greece, the Romans brought with them foods that are typical in Italy today including pasta and sauces. Arab influences have left their mark in the southern part of Greece. Spices such as cumin, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves play a prominent role in the diet of these regions. The Turks later introduced coffee to Greece. Potatoes and tomatoes were brought from New World after exploration of the Americas began about five hundred years ago.
3 FOODS OF THE GREEKS
Fresh fruits and vegetables play a large role in the Greek diet. With its long coastline, Greece also relies heavily on fish and seafood. Meat tends to play a less important role. It is often used as an ingredient in vegetable dishes instead of as a main dish. The islands and coastal areas of Greece favor lighter dishes that feature vegetables or seafood. In contrast, the inland regions use more meat and cheese in their cooking.
Avgolemono (Egg-Lemon Soup)
- 8 cups (4 cans) chicken broth
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 3 eggs
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons salt, or to taste
- In a large pot, bring broth to a boil over medium to high heat and add salt.
- Add rice, cover, and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a mixing bowl, beat eggs well. Add lemon juice to eggs while stirring constantly.
- Slowly pour 1½ cups of hot chicken broth into egg-lemon mixture, stirring constantly.
- Add egg mixture to rest of broth-rice mixture. Continue to stir. Heat on low heat without boiling.
- Serve with toasted pita bread.
The Greeks eat bread, grains, potatoes, rice, and pasta nearly every day. Staples of the Greek diet include olives (and olive oil), eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, lentils, and other types of beans, lemons, nuts, honey, yogurt, feta cheese, eggs, fish, chicken, and lamb. The following are some of the most famous Greek dishes: dolmades, (stuffed grape leaves); an egg and lemon soup called avgolemono ; meat, spinach, and cheese pies; moussaka (a meat and eggplant dish); souvlaki (lamb on a skewer); and baklava (nut-and-honey pastry wrapped in layers of thin dough called phyllo ). The national beverage of Greece is strong Turkish coffee, which is served in small cups. Other beverages include ouzo, an alcoholic drink flavored with anise, and a popular wine called retsina.
Moussaka (Lamb-Eggplant Casserole)
- 2 medium eggplants, thinly sliced
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onion, diced
- 2 green peppers, seeded and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ pounds ground lamb or beef
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ cup plain yogurt
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and brown the onion, peppers, and garlic.
- Add the ground meat, paprika, pepper, salt, and cinnamon.
- When the meat is crumbled and cooked, put it in a bowl and set aside.
- Sauté the eggplant slices in the skillet, adding more oil if needed.
- Brown on both sides, remove, and set aside.
- In a large casserole dish, alternate layers of the eggplant and the meat mixture.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place cover or aluminum foil over the dish. Bake for 45 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, beat together the yogurt, egg yolks, and flour. Remove the casserole from the oven and remove cover.
- Spread the yogurt mixture over the top of the moussaka.
- Return uncovered casserole to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Serve hot.
Serves 6 to 8.
Arni Souvlakia (Lamb on Skewers)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 2 pounds lamb or beef, cut into cubes
- Lemon wedges
- Measure olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into a large, flat dish. Add lamb or beef and stir to coat pieces well.
- Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let stand in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Spear the cubes of meat onto 4 long metal skewers.
- Preheat broiler or gas grill. Place skewers in a shallow broiling pan.
- If using broiler, position oven rack about 6 inches from broiler flame.
- Broil (or grill) meat for 10 minutes, then turn over the skewers and broil 10 minutes more.
- Remove meat from the skewers with a fork and serve with lemon wedges.
- Serve with white rice, accompanied by lemon wedges.
4 FOOD FOR RELIGIOUS AND HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS
Greece is a mostly Orthodox Christian country, and many Greeks observe the church's fast days. On these days, they eat either no meat or no food at all. There are strict dietary rules for Lent and Holy Week (the week before Easter). During Holy Week and on Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent, meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products are forbidden.
Roast lamb seasoned with herbs
Mayeritsa (Easter soup with lamb meat and bones and vegetables)
Lambropsoma (Easter bread)
Rice or orzo (a rice-shaped pasta)
Greeks observe feasts as well as fasts. A roasted, stuffed turkey is eaten for Christmas, and a baby lamb or goat, roasted whole, is served for Easter dinner. A soup called mayeritsa, made with lamb parts is also eaten on Easter. Many traditional cakes are served for both Christmas and Easter. These include honey-dipped biscuits called finikia and shortbread cake-like cookies called kourabiethes. There is also a special New Year's cake called vasilopitta. Before Easter, hard-boiled eggs are painted bright red and then polished with olive oil. On Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) a special holiday bread called lambropsoma is baked. On Easter Sunday, family members crack their eggs against each other for good luck.
Lambropsoma (Greek Easter Bread)
- 2 loaves (1-pound each) of frozen white-bread dough
- 4 uncooked eggs in shell, tinted red with fast-color Easter egg dye
- Egg glaze (1 egg, beaten and mixed with 1 Tablespoon water)
- Thaw the bread dough according to directions on package, but do not allow to rise.
- Put thawed loaves on floured work surface.
- With clean hands, stretch each loaf into a rope about 2 feet long.
- Hold both dough ropes together at one end and twist them around each other into one thick rope.
- On greased or nonstick baking sheet, make a circle out of the coiled rope of dough.
- Brush both ends lightly with water, pinch them together, and tuck them under the coil.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Space eggs evenly between coils of dough, tucking them in deep (but still visible) so they will not be pushed out when the dough rises.
- Cover with the towel and set in a warm place until bread doubles in size (about 1 hour).
- Brush bread with egg glaze. Bake in oven for about 1 hour, or until golden brown.
- Remove bread from oven and place on wire rack to cool.
- To eat, slice or break of chunks of bread.
- Eggs can be peeled and eaten.
Melopitta (Honey Pie)
- 2 cups cottage cheese
- ½ cup cream cheese, at to room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup honey
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ½ cup coarsely chopped almonds
- Pie crust (to cover only the bottom of the pan), frozen or prepared
- Cinnamon, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In large mixing bowl, mix cottage cheese, cream cheese, and sugar until well blended.
- Mixing constantly, add honey, eggs, and almond extract.
- Add the nuts and stir.
- Pour mixture into pie crust and bake in oven for about 45 minutes, until crust is golden brown and pie is firm.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Cool to room temperature and serve in small wedges.
Serves 10 to 12.
Kourabiethes (Butter Cookies)
- 2½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter softened
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- Powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Beat together butter, sugar, and egg in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
- Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until well blended.
- Add vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
- With your hands, form dough into balls, half-moons, or S-shapes. Place cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
- Put on middle oven rack and bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until barely brown around the edges.
- Remove cookies from cookie sheet and cool on wire rack or paper towels for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
5 MEALTIME CUSTOMS
Greeks are not known for eating big breakfasts. Typical breakfast foods include bread, cheese, fresh fruit and, for adults, coffee. In rural areas, the main meal of the day is eaten at around 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon. It is followed by a rest period when schools and businesses close, allowing people to stay home during the hottest part of the day. In the cities, however, many people do not have time to go home for a large lunch. Instead they eat a light meal at midday and a larger dinner later on.
In the late afternoon, many Greeks help themselves to light refreshments called mezethes. These may consist of bread, fresh vegetables, cheese, olives, dips, or soup. Mezethes are sometimes served as appetizers at the beginning of a big meal. Like many other Europeans, Greeks eat their evening meal late—sometimes as late as 10 p.m. In the city, dinner is the main meal. In rural areas where a big lunch is eaten, dinner is lighter. The most common dessert in Greece is fresh fruit, but the Greeks also love to eat sweets, either as a snack or dessert.
Greeks are known for their hospitality. A traditional offering for guests is glyko, a thick jam made with fruit or a vegetable such as tomato or eggplant. It is served with ice water and coffee.
Since it is warm and sunny in Greece for so much of the year, eating outdoors is very popular.
Tzatziki (Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce)
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 1 unpeeled cucumber, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed, or 2 teaspoons prepared crushed garlic
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a bowl, add the cucumber, garlic, olive oil, and salt to the yogurt.
- Blend well with a fork and refrigerate.
- Serve with toasted pieces of pita bread or fresh vegetables, such as carrots, celery, or peppers.
Makes 2½ cups of sauce.
- ½ head iceburg lettuce, torn by hand into small pieces
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 green or red bell peppers, thinly sliced into rings
- 1 cup Greek olives, pitted
- 2 tomatoes, cut into quarters, or about 10 cherry tomatoes
- ¼ to ⅓ pound crumbled feta cheese
- Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss well.
- Cover and toss with Greek salad dressing (see recipe below).
Greek Salad Dressing
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- Black pepper, to taste
- Mix all ingredients into a bowl.
- Pour over salad and serve with warm pita bread.
Patates Fourno Riganates (Baked Potatoes with Oregano)
- 4 large potatoes
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ Tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Scrub potatoes under cool running water.
- Place in a large, heavy saucepan with enough water to cover potatoes completely.
- Boil potatoes over medium heat 20 to 25 minutes, or until fairly soft but not mushy.
- Drain in a strainer, cool to room temperature, then peel.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cut potatoes into slices about ¼-inch thick and place them in a 1-quart baking dish.
- Pour olive oil over potatoes. Add lemon juice, oregano, and salt.
- Stir very gently to keep potato slices from breaking.
- Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
Serves 4 to 6.
Frouta Ke Yaourti (Fruit Salad)
- 4 cups mixed fresh fruit (grapes, melon, orange segments, peaches, berries, etc.), cut into chunks
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 1½ Tablespoons grated lemon rind
- In a mixing bowl, combine yogurt, honey, and lemon rind.
- Put fruit and almonds in serving bowl.
- Stir gently to mix.
- Pour yogurt mixture over fruit and serve in individual dessert bowls.
6 POLITICS, ECONOMICS, AND NUTRITION
Greece has an abundance of native herbs, including thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, and sage, and fruits, such as nectarines, oranges, peaches, and apples. Many Greek villagers farm, and herd sheep or goats for a living. Fish (providing protein) and other seafood are plentiful, as four seas surround the peninsula of Greece.
Many Greeks have adequate nutrition; however, there is a growing number of homeless children living and working on the streets. Laws to protect children are in place, but applied unevenly.
7 FURTHER STUDY
Beatty, Theresa M. Food and Recipes of Greece. Kids in the Kitchen: The Library of Multicultural Cooking. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 1999.
Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Halvorsen, Francine. Eating Around the World in Your Neighborhood New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1998.
Villios, Lynne W. Cooking the Greek Way. Easy Menu Ethnic Cookbooks. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1984.
Webb, Lois Sinaiko. Holidays of the World Cookbook for Students. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1995.
Ellada.com. [Online] Available http://www.ellada.com/grarr15.html/ (accessed March 29, 2001).
Greek Food Festival. [Online] Available http://ww.greekfoodfest.com/recipes.htm (accessed March 29, 2001).
COPYRIGHT 2002 The Gale Group,
GREECE. Greece is a country in the south of the Balkan Peninsula, bordering on the east with Turkey, on the north with Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia, and on the northwest with Albania. Greece is a mountainous country with ragged littoral and few plains. A large part of its territory consists of islands. The bulk of Greek lands entered early modern times as part of two states, the Ottoman Empire and the Venetian Republic.
TERRITORIES UNDER OTTOMAN RULE
Under Ottoman rule, cities were modest and of only regional importance except for a few provincial capitals and ports (Patra, Livadia, Ioannina, Larissa, Serres). The biggest city was Salonica; in the sixteenth century, it evolved into a large manufacturing center, and in the eighteenth became a major commercial port. Most of the population in the territories, especially in the country, was Orthodox Christian. Cities usually had large Christian and Muslim communities and small Jewish ones (except for Salonica, a Jewish metropolis). Some Muslims were originally settlers from Anatolia, but most were descendants of local converts. Muslims were predominantly Turkish-speaking except in Crete and Epirus, where large-scale conversions had taken place. Christian townspeople were mostly Greek-speaking; in the country, alongside ethnic Greeks (the majority in central and southern Greece, Crete, and the Islands), there also existed large Slavic, Aromunian, and Albanian populations. Jewish communities were predominantly Sephardic, but there also existed several Romaniot ones.
The Ottoman conquest of mainland Greece was essentially completed by 1460, that of the Aegean Islands by 1570. Crete was conquered in 1669. In general, the conquest of the mainland was rapid and did not cause major disruption in local life. The sixteenth century witnessed considerable demographic and economic growth. Large-scale construction projects, usually financed by imperial funds, together with religious, commercial, and learning establishments, supported by endowments, provided urban infrastructure; churches and monasteries were rebuilt and renovated. By the end of the century, a demographic decline was seen, accompanied by small-scale migratory movements. The mid-seventeenth century brought a severe economic crisis. This was followed by a large-scale demographic crisis that continued well into the eighteenth century and affected the settlement pattern. The eighteenth century witnessed major socioeconomic changes: consolidation of large estates in private—mainly Muslim—hands in the fertile parts of the country; growth of cattle breeding, manufacture, and commerce; intensification of trade with western Europe; establishment of commercial networks in central and eastern Europe; an explosion of banditry. Economic growth, together with changes in patterns of consumption, increasing mobility, and contact with Europe, led to cultural flourishing in many towns and cities.
The Greek lands were integrated in the Ottoman prebendal system and divided in provinces with a dual judicial/civil and executive/military administration. Towns were the seats of kadis, who combined judicial and administrative authority; provincial capitals were also the seats of military governors. Beneficence and welfare were provided by pious foundations, some of which were major owners of urban and rural property, while others were involved in moneylending. Craftsmen and traders were organized in guilds. The suppression of banditry was entrusted to—usually Christian—paramilitary troops (martolos/armatoloi).
Alongside the kadi, the governor and various officials, a body of "notables" (Muslim ayan; Christian prokritoi or kocabaşi ) was involved in local administration. The prokritoi were usually elected every year by the heads of households and ran the affairs of the community. During the eighteenth century wealthy landowners and guildsmen became dominant in the election process, and oligarchic community leaderships emerged in many towns. At the same time, the ayan, consisting mainly of wealthy landowners and tax farmers, brought local administration under their control and acquired an institutional role in provincial decision making.
A fundamental misconception of the role of the church together with the presence of elaborate communal institutions led to the thesis of the "autonomy" or "self-government" of the Greek Orthodox under Ottoman rule. Actually, Christians were an integral part of the Ottoman society and made full use of Ottoman institutions, including that of the kadi court, to which they did not even hesitate to take members of the clergy. Communities, irrespective of their supposed origins, were in their structure and functions a product of Ottoman institutions and socioeconomic realities and emerged mainly as a means to cope with the administration of collectively assessed taxes. Admittedly, in some places the Ottoman authority was either weak or nonexistent. These included communities that were granted "privileges" at the time of the conquest, districts without resident Ottoman authorities, and regions that the state could not effectively control. But these self-governing communities were the exception, not the rule.
The consolidation of the Ottoman Empire led to the emergence of interregional networks that enabled the movement of people, goods, and ideas and reestablished a connection between Greece and southeastern Europe and the Near East. Greeks were also actively involved in the growing export-oriented commerce with the West, either acting as local agents for European merchants or trading in European cities. During the eighteenth century, a wave of emigration began from Greek regions to western Anatolia. The same century witnessed the growth of old diaspora communities and the creation of new ones, especially in central Europe. Relations with Russia also intensified, especially after the Ottoman-Russian treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji (1774), among the ramifications of which was the emergence of a Greek commercial marine under the Russian flag transporting goods in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Commercial activity also led to cultural interaction. Constantinople (Istanbul) seat of the Ottoman sultan and the Orthodox Christian patriarch, soon after its conquest became a center of Greek culture with empirewide influence. Greek reinforced its position as the language of religion, education, and commerce, which led to its spreading among the middle and upper classes of Orthodox Christians. In the eighteenth century, Smyrna (Izmir), Bucharest, and Jassy (Iaşi) emerged as major cultural centers outside Greece, while Greek books were printed in Venice and Vienna. By the end of the century, an Enlightenment movement had evolved in the diaspora communities and filtered into the commercial towns of Greece, often confronting the reaction of "traditionalists" and the church.
In the seventeenth and especially the eighteenth century, Greece captured European imagination both because of its ancient past and as part of the Ottoman Orient. Some Western travelers were disappointed by what they perceived as the uncivilized descendants of glorious ancestors; but, in the main, Philhellenism prevailed and helped create a romanticized view of noble Greece and Greeks suffering under the barbarous Turkish yoke. European perceptions led Greeks, especially in the diaspora, to a new awareness concerning their identity and place within European nations.
Notwithstanding nationalistic interpretations, prior to the Greek revolution (1821–1830) the Ottoman rule had not been challenged in most of the mainland. The only major Christian rebellion was the involvement of several regions and bands of martolos (paramilitary troops, usually Christian) from the Morea and Central Greece in the abortive enterprise of the Russian fleet under the Orloff brothers (1770). The eighteenth century, however, had witnessed the deterioration of relations between Christians and Muslims, generated by major socioeconomic changes. Intercommunal tensions heightened after the military defeats of the empire and the emergence of Russians as protectors of Orthodox Christians. By the early nineteenth century, several vague revolutionary plans circulated in the hope of exploiting the Russo-Ottoman confrontation, and a secret society after the model of the Carbonari based in Odessa, the Philike Hetaireia (Friendly Society), established a widespread network of prospective revolutionaries. In February 1821, the fear of imminent betrayal of the society's plans to the Ottomans led to a dual insurrection in the Danubian Principalities and the Morea, which soon spread in most Greek regions. Though the rebellion was soon suppressed in the north, it gained momentum in the south, and in January 1822 the Greek Republic was proclaimed.
TERRITORIES UNDER VENETIAN RULE
In the fifteenth century, Venice held several ports and coastal areas in central Greece the Morea, and some Aegean islands, as well as Corfu, Euboea, and Crete. At the turn of the century, it annexed most of the Ionian Islands, but by 1550 it had lost most of its other possessions to the Ottomans. In 1669 Crete also passed into Ottoman hands. The Morea came briefly under Venetian occupation (1685–1715), but the only Greek territories to remain under its rule until 1797 were the Ionian Islands. The bulk of the population consisted of Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians, but among the gentry, many were of Venetian or Italian origin, professing the Catholic faith. In the towns there also existed Jewish communities.
Venetian possessions were administered by governors appointed by the metropolis under the supervision of a high official called the general provveditor for the east. Local administrative institutions were not uniform, mainly because the various territories were annexed at different times. The Venetian-held territories, however, underwent similar socioeconomic developments, which differed substantially from those in the regions under Ottoman rule. The most prominent differences include the preservation of serfdom and other feudal institutions, especially in Crete and Corfu, the inferior position of the Orthodox Church, and the division of urban population in estates: burghers (cittadini) and common people (popolani), in Crete also noblemen (nobili).
Differences between Venetian and Ottoman territories are especially obvious in the cultural domain. Venice, the metropolis, seat of a thriving Greek community, and a cultural center of the Greek-speaking world, was a mediator of Western culture to Greeks. The University of Padua became a major learning center for Greeks. Direct contact with developments in Italy led to a boost in literary, theatrical, and artistic production in Crete that bears the stamp of Renaissance and baroque, while in the eighteenth century, poetry and drama flourished in the Ionian Islands.
See also Orthodoxy, Greek ; Ottoman Dynasty ; Ottoman Empire ; Venice .
Clogg, Richard. "Elite and Popular Culture in Greece under Turkish Rule." In Hellenic Perspectives, edited by John T. A. Koumoulides, pp. 107–144. Lanham, Md., 1980.
——. "The Greek Millet in the Ottoman Empire." In Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire, edited by Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis, vol. 1, pp. 185–208. New York, 1982.
Gara, Eleni. "In Search of Communities in Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Sources: The Case of the Kara Ferye District." Turcica 30 (1998): 135–162.
Greene, Molly. A Shared World: Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean. Princeton, 2000.
Holton, David, ed. Literature and Society in Renaissance Crete. Cambridge, U.K., 1991.
Kitromilides, Paschalis M. The Enlightenment as Social Criticism: Iosipos Moisiodax and Greek Culture in the Eighteenth Century. Princeton, 1992.
Roudometof, Victor. "From Rum Millet to Greek Nation: Enlightenment, Secularization, and National Identity in Ottoman Balkan Society, 1453–1821." Journal of Modern Greek Studies 16, no. 1 (1998): 11–48.
Tsigakou, Fani-Maria. The Rediscovery of Greece: Travelers and Painters of the Romantic Era. New Rochelle, N.Y., 1981.
COPYRIGHT 2004 The Gale Group Inc.
Official name: Hellenic Republic
Area: 131,940 square kilometers (50,942 square miles)
Highest point on mainland : Mount Olympus (2,917 meters/9,571 feet)
Lowest point on land: Sea level
Hemispheres : Northern and Eastern
Time zone: 2 p.m. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 772 kilometers (480 miles) from east to west; 940 kilometers (584 miles) from north to south
Land boundaries : 1,210 kilometers (752 miles) total boundary length; Albania 282 kilometers (175 miles); Bulgaria 494 kilometers (307 miles); Turkey 206 kilometers (128 miles); Macedonia 228 kilometers (142 miles)
Coastline: 13,676 kilometers (8,498 miles)
Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)
1 LOCATION AND SIZE
Greece is located at the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula in southern Europe. Several seas surround the mainland: the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Ionian Seas. In addition, one-fifth of the country is made up of hundreds of islands, many of them uninhabited, that lie in all three of these bodies of water. With a total area of 131,940 square kilometers (50,942 square miles), Greece is almost as large as the state of Alabama. Greece is divided into fifty-one prefectures.
2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES
Greece has no territories or dependencies.
Greece has a temperate Mediterranean climate moderated by both sea and mountain breezes. Summers are hot and dry, while winters are generally cool and rainy. The weather at the higher elevations is colder and wetter. Average January temperatures range from 6°C (43°F) in the northern city of Thessaloníki, to 10°C (50°F) in Athens near the southern end of the mainland peninsula, to 12°C (54°F) at Irâklion on Crete. The average July temperature at sea level is near 27°C (80°F), with the thermometer topping 38°C (100°F) on the hottest days. Rainfall increases from south to north, ranging from 41 centimeters (16 inches) in Athens to about 127 centimeters (50 inches) on the island of Corfu.
4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS
The northern part of mainland Greece consists of a long strip of land between the northern shore of the Aegean Sea and the southern borders of Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. The Rhodope Mountains occupy most of this region. The central part of the mainland, corresponding to the bulk of the Greek peninsula, is dominated by the Pindus Mountains, Greece's most extensive mountain range. To the east, between mountain spurs, lie the plains of Thessaly and to the southeast, Boeotia and Attica. To the west lie the regions of Epirus and, farther south, Arkananía. The southern part of the mainland, located south of the Gulf of Corinth, is a large, irregularly shaped peninsula called the Peloponnese. With an area of 21,446 square kilometers (8,278 square miles), it is connected to Attica by an isthmus that is only 6.4 kilometers (4 miles) across at its narrowest point. Although mountainous, it has a narrow coastal plain around its entire periphery.
5 OCEANS AND SEAS
Seacoast and Undersea Features
Greece is bounded on the west by the Ionian Sea, on the south by the Mediterranean, and on the east by the Aegean Sea, an arm of the Mediterranean.
Greece has 13,676 kilometers (8,498 miles) of seacoast.
Sea Inlets and Straits
The Corinth Canal cuts through the isthmus connecting the Peloponnese to the rest of the Greek mainland, linking the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf and making the Peloponnese technically an island. Numerous other gulfs and straits separate Greece's islands and peninsulas in the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Ionian Seas.
Islands and Archipelagos
Greece's major island regions are the Ionian Islands, which hug the western coast from Albania to the Peloponnese; the Aegean Islands, scattered about the sea of the same name; and Crete, which separates the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. The Aegean Islands include the Cyclades, the Northern and Southern Sporades groups, and numerous individual islands. Crete, the site of the first European civilization, is the largest of the Greek islands and the fifth-largest Mediterranean island, with an area of 8,308 square kilometers (3,207 square miles).
The coast of the Greek peninsula is mostly rocky, although there are some strips of lowland along the shore. The most distinctive formation along the coast of the Greek mainland is the Chalcidice (Chalkidhiki) Peninsula in northern Greece, from which three narrow, smaller peninsulas jut into the Aegean. The port city of Thessaloníki is located on a natural harbor at the western end of this peninsula. Farther to the east, the Thracian coastline is generally smooth and uniform. The coast of central Greece has deeply indented bays about halfway down its length on both the east and west and is also indented to the south. The coast of the Peloponnese has good harbors and includes some plains areas. At its southern end, cliffs meet the sea on the capes of Akirítas, Matapan, and Maléa.
6 INLAND LAKES
Lake Korónia and Lake Vólvi mark the northern end of the Chalkidhiki Peninsula. Lake Vistonis in western Thrace, although called a lake, is actually a lagoon. Another major lake is Lake Trichonida near the southern end of the Pindus Mountains.
7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS
Greece has relatively few rivers. Those it does have are short, and none are commercially navigable. In the north, the Evros (Maritsa), Néstos, Struma, and Vardar flow across the plains of Thrace and Macedonia and into the northern Aegean Sea. With a total length of 480 kilometers (300 miles), the Evros is the country's longest river. It forms part of Greece's border with Bulgaria in the north as well as its border with Turkey in the east. The rivers of central Greece are the Aliákman, Arakhthos, Akhelóos, Piniós, and Sperkhiós. The Aliákman (320 kilometers/200 miles) is the longest river located entirely in Greece. The major rivers of the Peloponnese are the Alpheus (Alfiós) and Evrótas.
There are no desert regions in Greece.
9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN
The most extensive plains in Greece are found at the mouths of the Struma and Nestos Rivers in the northern part of the country and in Thessaly, whose lowlands constitute the country's most fertile farmland. Attica is mountainous in the north but levels off to plains that extend from Athens to the end of the peninsula. Fertile lowlands are also found in the alluvial plains of the Peloponnese.
10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES
Greece's terrain is generally rugged, with mountain ranges and their spurs running northwest to southeast through much of the mainland. Altogether, mountains cover four-fifths of Greece. The Rhodope Mountains in northern Greece rise to over 1,800 meters (7,000 feet) in many places. Their highest peak is Mount Órvilos, at 2,212 meters (7,287 feet). The Pindus Mountains, Greece's major mountain range, belong to the Dinaric mountain system that also spans Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Albania. In central Greece, the range is divided into three segments by the Métsovon Pass and, farther south, by Mount Timfristós. Its spurs extend into the eastern part of central Greece, separated by structural depressions. The mountain spur north of Thessaly is home to Greece's highest peak, the legendary Mount Olympus, mythic home of the Greek gods. The Pindus range extends southeastward through the mainland peninsula to the Gulf of Corinth, where Mount Parnassus is located. A series of ridges extending southward into the Peloponnese give the peninsula its distinctive "four-fingered" shape.
11 CANYONS AND CAVES
An extensive system of caves runs southward to the sea at the Gulf of Laconia under the southern part of the Peloponnese region. The caves include an underground river, accessible to tourists by guided boat since 1963. The caves are filled with extensive stalactite and stalagmite deposits. The first documented exploration of the caves was in 1895, when spelunkers found evidence of human bones and prehistoric fossils.
12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS
There are no major plateau regions in Greece.
13 MAN-MADE FEATURES
With a height of 160 meters (525 feet), the Kremasta Dam on the Achelos River is the tallest dam in Europe.
DID YOU KNOW?
To explain their barren, rocky landscape, the Greeks adopted the legend that the gods poured the world's soil through a sieve and created Greece from the rocks that remained.
14 FURTHER READING
Greece: Athens and the Mainland. New York: DK Publishing, 1997.
The Thomas Cook Guide to Greek Island Hopping. Peterborough, United Kingdom: Thomas Cook, 1998.
Van Dyck, Karen, ed. Greece. Insight Guides. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
Embassy of Greece website. http://www.greekembassy.org/ (accessed June 17, 2002).
Greece Now. http://www.greece.gr/ (accessed June 17, 2003).
COPYRIGHT 2003 The Gale Group, Inc.
Reference to the history of psychoanalysis in Greece lends itself to reflection along two different lines.
First, there is the history of events—that is, the diachronic line of events that, between 1915 and the 1980s and 1990s, sustained the slow (and somewhat difficult, owing to discontinuities) establishment of a framework for the psychoanalytic movement in Greece, with all of the consequences, both positive and negative, that such a framework entailed for psychoanalytic circles. This chronology shows that, around 1920, a circle of intellectuals and teachers were actively studying the works of Sigmund Freud and publishing on practices in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. However, the official medical community and the broader public remained indifferent or even hostile to these currents of thought.
The active presence of Princess Marie Bonaparte in Athens beginning in 1946 seemed to offer a way of changing things. The interest of academics and doctors was mobilized on the occasion of a visit by Anna Freud, who was invited to Athens in 1949, but this lasted only for the short duration of her stay. Only two psychiatrists, Démétrios Kouretas and Georges Zavitzianos; a poet, Andreas Embirikos; and a physician, Nicolas Dracoulides, were interested in pursuing more in-depth psychoanalytic training. These four men formed a working group, and, supported by Marie Bonaparte, were accepted as members of the Société psychanalytique de Paris (Psychoanalytic Society of Paris) in 1950. However, the group was to be short-lived: It disbanded a year later, the four analysts having chosen to settle in three different countries.
After the end of World War II and the civil war that ravaged Greece, the creation of a few institutional, psychodynamically oriented mental health centers made it feasible to organize lecture series, seminars, and group discussions in Athens; these developments seemed to portend a possible new beginning for analytic work. Colleagues from abroad—Serge Lebovici was the first—were prepared to offer assistance, beginning in 1957. Three Greek analysts working in different areas—Kouretas at the University of Athens, Pangiotis Sakellaropoulos at the Center of Thétokos, and Anna Potamianou at the Center for Mental Health and Research—provided the impetus, as hopes for a new beginning took shape. And once again, the central figures comprised two psychiatrists and one person from outside of that field.
Numerous attempts to ensure sustained and systematic collaboration did not yield results. It was not until 1982, after countless efforts and failures, and with the help of a group of analysts who had trained overseas (Athena Alexandris, Pierre Hartocollis, Stavroula Beratis), that a "Greek psychoanalytic group" gained formal recognition as a study group of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA). This group, which includes four teaching analysts, ten members, eight corresponding members, and twenty-six candidates, was designated by election as an IPA member society in 2001.
Between 1989 and 1995, two groups inspired by the work of Jacques Lacan, the Freudian Praxis, and the Athenian Circle of the European School of Psychoanalysis, as well as another group whose members wished to remain independent of any school, were formed. Still two other groups follow the teachings of Alfred Adler. Thus, the diachronic axis in Greece reveals considerable oscillation between forward movement and movements of regression-repetition, attesting to an unconscious, but definite, fidelity to Freudian thought in connection with the psychic trajectory of individuals and groups.
A second line of reflection brings out even more clearly the similarities between the course of development of psychoanalysis in Greece and the very essence of the Freudian Logos. Marked by a convergence between the Jewish soul and the Hellenistic spirit, Freud's thought engraved a path of complementary opposites and constraints that mirrors the history of psychoanalysis in Greece. That history, it seems, is the fruit of conflicts whose unexpected violence often astonished spectators; it is also the result of harsh schisms and mutilating projections, the revelatory details of which can be found in the writings of those involved in its difficult and laborious gestation.
Opposition and indifference arose within the group; analysts departed to seek training abroad. There were abortive attempts, productive convergences, jolts, and contacts. It is certain that the development of psychoanalysis was not exempt from tumultuous adventures in any country. However, it is equally certain that in this land that engendered what for Freud doubled as the alien element of the unconscious—that is, the discourse and myths of the ancient Greeks—the constraint of rejection and exclusion of analytic thought exerted its influence for too long. There are a variety of reasons for this, and they have been studied and discussed by such authors as Gerosimos Stephanotos, Athanase and Hélène Tzavaras and Anna Potamianou. Currently, this constraint has been eased somewhat. For Freud, the journey leading to Athens was not easy; the price he paid in terms of his autoanalysis was considerable. For Greek analysts today, there is certainly a price to be paid so that analysis may "be" in their country.
With regard to publications in Greek: Kouretas and Zavitzianos published numerous works, mainly concerning clinical practice and applied psychoanalysis. More recently, Greek psychoanalysts have mostly tended to publish in the language in which they received their training (English, French, or German), but numerous articles and several books, including four collaboratively written volumes, have also been written in Greek.
Potamianou, Anna. (1988). Episkepsis: Pensées autour de la visite d'Anna Freud à Athènes. Revue internationale d 'histoire de la psychanalyse, 1, 247-254.
Stephanatos, Gerosimos. (1992). Un pari sous l'Acropole. Bulletin d 'information du Quatrieme Groupe. 12, 56-63.
Tzavaras, Athanase. (1993). Psychanalyse "et" Grèce—dix ans après. IO—Revue Internationale de Psychanalyse, 4, 157-162.
Tzavaras, Hélène. (1993). Oedipe ou Ulysse? Identité et filiation de la psychanalyse en Grèce. IO—Revue Internationale de Psychanalyse, 4, 87-93.
Tzavaras, Hélène, and Tzavaras, Athanase. (1995). Au pays d'Oedipe. Panoramiques, 22, 156-158.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Thomson Gale
131,990sq km (50,961sq mi) 10,939,771
Greek 96%, Macedonian 2%, Turkish 1%, Albanian, Slav
Greek Orthodox 97%, Muslim 2%
Euro = 100 cents
Climate and VegetationLow-lying areas have mild, moist winters and hot, dry summers. The e coast has c.50% of the rainfall of the w. The mountains have a much more severe climate. Much of Greece's original vegetation has been destroyed. Some areas are covered by maquis (scrub).
History and PoliticsCrete was the centre of Minoan civilization, between c.3000 and 1450 bc. The Mycenaean civilization followed the Minoan and prospered until the Dorians settled in c.1200 bc. Powerful city-states emerged, such as Sparta and Athens. Solon established democracy in Athens (5th century bc). The revolt of the Ionians started the Persian Wars (499–479 bc). See Greece
Corinth and Thebes gained control after Athens' defeat in the Peloponnesian War (431–404 bc). In 338 bc, Macedon, led by Philip II, became the dominant power. His son, Alexander the Great, ushered in the Hellenistic Age. Greece became a Roman province in 146 bc. Greece formed part of the Byzantine Empire from ad 330 to 1453. In 1456, the Ottomans conquered Greece.
The European powers supported the Greek War of Independence (1821–27), and an independent monarchy emerged in 1832. As King of the Hellenes (1863–1913), George I recovered much Greek territory. In 1913, Greece gained Crete. Greece finally entered World War I on the Allied side in 1917. In 1923, 1.5 million Greeks from Asia Minor resettled in Greece. In 1936, Joannis Metaxas became premier. His dictatorial regime remained neutral at the start of World War II. By May 1941, Germany occupied Greece. Resistance movements recaptured most territory by 1944, and the Germans withdrew.
From 1946–49, a civil war raged between communist and royalist forces. In 1951, Greece joined NATO. In 1955, Karamanlis became prime minister. The economy slowly improved, but tension surfaced with Turkey about the status of Cyprus. In 1964 a republican, George Papandreou, became prime minister. In 1967, a military dictatorship seized power. The ‘Colonels’ imposed harsh controls on dissent. In 1973, they abolished the monarchy, and Greece became a presidential republic. In 1974 civil unrest led to the restoration of civilian government, headed by Karamanlis. In 1981, Greece joined the European Community and Andreas Papandreou became Greece's first socialist prime minister. In 1990, Karamanlis returned as president. In 1995, Constantine Stephanopoulos succeeded Karamanlis. The Panhellenic Socialist Party (PASOK), led by Kostas Simitis, won the 1996 election. Pledging to take Greece into the European single currency, Simitis was re-elected in 2000. In 2004, Costas Karamanlis' New Democracy (ND) party was elected.
EconomyGreece is one of the poorest members of the European Union (2000 GDP per capita, US$17,200). Manufacturing is important. Products: textiles, cement, chemicals. Minerals: lignite, bauxite, chromite. Farmland covers c.33% of Greece; grazing land covers 40%. Major crops: tobacco, fruit (olives, grapes), cotton, wheat. Shipping and tourism are major sectors.
© World Encyclopedia 2005, originally published by Oxford University Press 2005.
Identification. Greece, the English name for the Hellenic Republic, derives from an ancient Latin word for that area. "Hellenic" derives from the word ancient Greeks used to refer themselves, while "Romeic" comes from the medieval or Byzantine Greek term. Although Romeic was the most common self-designation early in the nineteenth century, it has declined in favor of Hellenic since that time.
The words "Greek," "Hellenic," and "Romeic" refer not only to the country but also to the majority ethnic group. Greek culture and identity reflect the shared history and common expectations of all members of the nation-state, but they also reflect an ethnic history and culture that predate the nation-state and extend to Greek people outside the country's borders. Since 98 percent of the country's citizens are ethnically Greek, ethnic Greek culture has become almost synonymous with that of the nation-state. However, recent migration patterns may lead to a resurgence of other ethnic groups in the population.
Location and Geography. The Hellenic Republic is in southeastern Europe at the point where the Balkan peninsula juts into the Mediterranean Sea and forms a land-based connection to Anatolia and the Middle East. Initially restricted to the southern mainland and a few islands, Greece grew with the addition of the Dodecanese Islands in 1948. The country is bordered by Albania, the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and the Aegean, Ionian, and Cretan seas.
Greece encompasses 50,935 square miles (131,957 square kilometers). The terrain is 80 percent mountainous, with its highest point, at Mount Olympus. Only 25 percent of the land surface is arable, and another 40 percent serves as pasture. There are more than 2,000 islands, 170 of which are inhabited, and a long coastline.
The climate is predominantly Mediterranean. Hot, dry summers alternate with cold, rainy winters.
There are nine recognized regions: Thrace, Macedonia, Epirus, Thessaly, Central Greece, the Peloponnesos, the Ionian Islands, the Aegean Islands, and Crete. Although these regions sometimes operated as separate entities in the past, they have been integrated into the state and their cultural distinctions are diminishing.
Demography. The population rose from slightly over 750,000 in 1836 to 10,264,156 in 1991, reflecting the expansion of national boundaries and the return of ethnic Greeks from the eastern Mediterranean. An even greater increase was prevented by emigration and a declining birth rate.
In the ninteenth and early twentieth centuries, Turks, Bulgarians, and others who were not ethnically Greek left the country in a steady stream that was formalized by the treaties that ended World War I. There has also been a continuing emigration of ethnic Greeks seeking employment and opportunity abroad since the mid-nineteenth century. This emigration was initially aimed at the eastern Mediterranean but was redirected toward the United States, Canada, and Australia by the late nineteenth century. The industrial nations of Western Europe joined the list of destinations in the 1960s.
Birth rates have declined since the early twentieth century. The proportion of elderly people is the highest in Europe at over 20 percent, and the overall rate of natural increase is among the lowest.
Albanians, Armenians, Bulgarians, Slavic Macedonians, Pomaks (Bulgarian Muslims), Turks, Jews, Roma (Gypsies), Vlachs, Sarakatsanoi, and several other groups have long been part of the country's cultural mosaic, although their numbers have decreased. The 1990s witnessed an unexpected influx of immigrants as refugees and labor migrants entered from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Philippines. These newcomers, especially the Albanians, estimated at between one-half million and one million, have placed minority issues at the forefront of public discussion.
Linguistic Affiliation. Greek is the official language and is spoken by nearly all the citizens. It is an Indo-European language that has been used in this area since the second millenium b.c.e., although it has undergone considerable change. A major division exists between the ordinary spoken language known as demotic and a formal version known as katharevousa, which was developed in the eighteenth century to revive elements of ancient Greek and develop a national language that did not favor any regional dialect. Katharevousa spread quickly among political leaders and the intelligentsia. Writers initially embraced it, although most turned back to demotic Greek by the twentieth century. Katharevousa was used for most state documents, in many newspapers, and in secondary school instruction until the 1970s but has been displaced by demotic Greek since that time.
Church services are conducted in koine, a later form of ancient Greek in which the New Testament is written. There are also regional dialects, of which Pontic Greek may be the most distinctive.
Most minority groups are bilingual; Arvanitika (an Albanian dialect), Ladino (a Jewish dialect), Turkish, Slavic Macedonian, Vlach (a Romanian dialect), Romani (a Gypsy language), Bulgarian, and Pomak are still spoken. Most of the population also is familiar with other European languages, most commonly English and French.
Symbolism. Several widely recognized images and celebrations invoke the identity of the republic. The country is seen as the restoration of an independent Greek civilization, and many symbols establish a strong link between past and present, between larger Greek history and the modern nation-state. National holidays stress the struggle to establish and maintain an independent country in the face of conquest and oppression. The national anthem, "Hymn to Liberty," praises those who fought in the War of Independence. The flag displays a cross symbolizing the Greek Orthodox religion on a field of blue and white stripes that depict the sunlit waves of the seas that surround the nation. Statues of war heroes abound, as do the artistic motifs of antiquity and Orthodox Christianity.
Themes of cultural continuity and endurance, the direct connection to classical antiquity and Orthodox Byzantium, the language, the Mediterranean landscape, democracy, and a history of struggle against domination are central in this imagery. The Aegean area is characterized as a national homeland, and rural villages and ancient ruins are symbolic of long-standing ties to the region. Certain foods, architectural styles, arts, crafts, music, dances, and theatrical performances also evoke the national identity.
History and Ethnic Relations
Emergence of the Nation. A strong sense of a common ethnic identity emerged among Greek speakers of the independent city-states of the Aegean area in the Bronze Age and characterized the city-states of the classical period and their colonies in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. It endured over two millennia as these lands were ruled by the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian, and Ottoman empires, and as the area became ethnically heterogeneous.
The last of these empires was run by the Ottoman Turks, who established control over much of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean after conquering Constantinople in 1453. By the late eighteenth century, the Ottoman Empire was losing ground. A military defeat at Vienna and the growing commercial power of Western Europe led Turkish overlords to institute harsher tactics toward the peasants on their agricultural estates. Increasing discontent in the countryside was matched by difficulty in keeping administrative structures functional. Several regions in which Greeks were numerically dominant developed strong local leadership, while entrepreneurial Greek merchants, sailors, and craftspeople acted as intermediaries between the expanding economies of Western Europe and the declining ones of the empire. Enlightenment ideals of ethnic self-determination were embraced by the merchant diaspora and resonated with the desire of all Greeks to end Ottoman control.
A series of rebellions against the empire led to a full-scale revolution in 1821. The War of Independence aimed at an independent, ethnically based state modeled after the nationalist political philosophies of western Europe. With the aid of armed contingents from Europe and the United States, fighting ended in 1828, when the Turks agreed to cede some lands in which Greeks formed the majority.
The shape and structure of the new country were uncertain and contentious. The desire for a parliamentary form of government was thwarted when the first president was assassinated in 1831. The foreign nations that negotiated the final treaty with the Ottomans then established an absolute monarchy monitored by England, France, and Russia. Otto, the son of Ludwig I of Bavaria, was named the first king. The boundaries of the new state were much smaller than had been hoped. Only the Peloponnesos, central Greece, and some of the Aegean Islands were included.
An 1843 coup resulted in a constitutional monarchy, and another coup in 1862 led to expanded powers for the parliament and Otto's removal from the throne. Although Otto was replaced with a Danish-born king, the powers of the monarchy steadily diminished, and the institution was abolished in 1973.
The territorial constriction of the original state was attacked through pursuit of the Megali Idea: the belief that the country should eventually encompass all lands in which Greeks were a majority, including Constantinople and western Anatolia. Through a series of wars, treaties, and agreements, most of modern Greece had been transferred by World War I. Greece fought on the side of Allies during the war. In the negotiations that followed, the possibility of allowing the Greek-majority population around Smyrna to vote on union with Greece was discussed. Greek forces were allowed to occupy the area. As Turkish nationalism arose from the ashes of the defeated Ottoman Empire, however, a revived Turkish army routed the Greek troops and destroyed the city. The Anatolian Greeks who survived the conflict fled the area. Although the Dodecanese Islands were granted to Greece after World War II, ideas of a larger state were ended by this event, which is known as the Catastrophe of 1922.
The nation also has been shaped by efforts to limit foreign involvement in its internal affairs. The direct role the original treaty granted to England, France, and Russia faded by the end of the nineteenth century, but the twentieth century was marked by the invasions that accompanied the Balkan Wars and World Wars I and II, including the German occupation of 1941–1944. The Greek Civil War of 1946– 1949 saw the forces of the left and right backed by their counterparts in the nations soon to face each other in the Cold War. The outcome of this conflict led to Greece's alignment with the West, its entry into NATO in 1951, massive American aid, and continued foreign involvement in national affairs. Public sentiment against such interference combined with the waning of the Cold War in the 1980s to limit direct foreign intervention.
National Identity. A strong sense of ethnic self-determination initially fueled the construction of the state, erased regional differences, and led to a citizenry largely composed of ethnic Greeks. Nation– state and ethnic group were seen as coterminous. Public consciousness is also characterized by the frustration of unfulfilled hopes, foreign interference, and consignment to marginal status within Europe.
The national identity generally is considered a matter of cultural continuity, with language, religion, democracy, an analytic approach to life, travel, entrepreneurship, cleverness, and personal honor and responsibility as core values that connect contemporary Greeks to the past. An intense relationship to the Mediterranean landscape also plays a role.
The War of Independence, the Catastrophe of 1922, the German occupation, and the civil war figure heavily in national memory. The relationship to the more distant past has, however, been shaped by the important symbolic place reserved for classical Greece in post-Renaissance Europe. While eighteenth-century Greeks called themselves Romeic and looked toward their Byzantine Orthodox heritage, the emphasis Western Europeans placed on classical Greek antiquity led nineteenth-century Greeks to stress European connections over Mediterranean and classical history over medieval. This shift was the source of literary and political debate in the twentieth century, with broader conceptions of Greek identity gradually emerging.
Ethnic Relations. The Balkan peninsula and the Anatolian coast were multiethnic at the start of the nineteenth century. Different groups lived side by side, and there was considerable intermingling and even intermarriage. The pursuit of ethnic nationalism over the last two centuries, however, resulted in increasing ethnic separation. The establishment of ethnically based nation-states led to warfare, territorial disputes, and massive migration. Greece became increasingly monoethnic as members of certain ethnic groups left while Greeks from outside the nation entered. Some sixty thousand of the country's seventy-five thousand Jews were executed or exiled during World War II. Recently, the influx of new immigrants since 1990 is once again creating greater ethnic diversity.
International tension over territorial boundaries and the treatment of minority populations remain high in the region, although the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the former Soviet bloc has unleashed a new dynamic. These tensions often take on an ethnic character. Relations are best with other Orthodox countries and most strained with Turkey, Albania, and the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia. The partitioning of Cyprus into Greek and Turkish sides in 1974 remains a bone of contention.
Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space
The population historically has been mobile. Sailors, shepherds, and merchants traveled as a matter of occupation, while peasants frequently moved in response to wars, land tenure policies, and agricultural opportunities. Market towns such as Corinth and Athens have endured for millennia, but smaller settlements appeared and disappeared with regularity. Over the last century, internal migration has overwhelmingly been from mountains to plains, inland to coastal areas, and rural to urban settlements. In this process, hundreds of new villages were founded while others were abandoned, and some towns and cities grew greatly while others declined.
A strongly centralized settlement system revolving around the capital, Athens, has emerged from these moves. The population became predominantly urban after World War II, with only 25 percent living in rural settlements in 1991. The concentration of economic opportunities, international trade, governmental functions, and educational and health facilities in only a few cities has led to the decline of many regional centers and the growth of Athens as a primate city. In 1991, Greater Athens contained 3.1 million people, a third of the population, while the next largest city, Thessaloniki, contained 396,000.
There are distinctive regional architectural styles, such as the pitched roofs of the Arcadian mountains and the flat, rolled ones of the Cyclades. Until recently, much housing was small and owner-built from mud brick, stone, and ceramic tile. Over the last fifty years, the use of industrially produced materials and the construction of more elaborate dwellings has accompanied a dramatic increase in commercial building. International architectural movements have also been influential.
Rural settlements are still characterized by single-family houses, but urban areas contain apartment buildings of five to ten stories. A high value is placed on home ownership, and most urban apartments are owned, not rented. Families tend to buy or remodel homes only after saving the funds needed to do so.
There is a strong public-private distinction in spatial arrangements. Homes are considered private family spaces. Single-family houses often contain walled courtyards that have been replaced in urban apartments with tented balconies. Plazas, open-air markets, shops, churches, schools, coffeehouses, restaurants, and places of entertainment are the major public gathering spots.
Food and Economy
Food in Daily Life. Grain, grapes, and olives are central to the diet, supplemented with eggs, cheese, yogurt, fish, lamb, goat, chicken, rice, and fruits and vegetables. Certain foods are emblematic of the national identity, including moussaka, baklava, thick coffee, and resinated wine (retsina ). Coffee-houses have long functioned as daily gathering places for men. Dining out has gained in popularity, with a corresponding increase in the number and variety of restaurants.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Guests must always be offered refreshment, and all major ceremonies involve food. At funerals, mourners are given koliva (boiled wheat, sugar, and cinnamon), a special cake is baked on New Year's Day, and the midnight Easter service is followed by a feast, generally of lamb.
Basic Economy. Farming, herding, fishing, seafaring, commerce, and crafts were the historical mainstays of the economy. Before the establishment of the modern state, most people were poor, often landless peasants who worked on feudal-like estates controlled by Turkish overlords and Orthodox monasteries. As the Ottoman Empire faced competition from the economies of western Europe, some peasants began producing cash crops such as currants and lumber for sale to England and France, shipbuilders carried produce from the Black Sea to the Atlantic coast, and carpet makers and metal workers sold their wares throughout Eastern and Central Europe.
After the revolution, the nation was deeply in debt to foreign creditors and lacked the capital and infrastructure needed for economic development, nor could it compete with the increasingly industrial economies of western Europe. Families produced most of their own subsistence needs, from food to housing, while engaging in a variety of entrepreneurial activities, producing everything from sponges and currants to tobacco and cotton. The weakness of the economy and the unpredictability of foreign markets led to periods of economic crisis that sparked large-scale emigration by the late nineteenth century.
In the twentieth century, industry was strengthened by the influx of urban refugees after the Catastrophe of 1922 but remained a small sector of the economy. The growth spurred by foreign aid in the 1950s and 1960s was followed by high inflation rates in the 1970s and 1980s. Governmental efforts at economic stabilization and payments from the European Union brought inflation down to 4 percent by the late 1990s. Current economic efforts are focused on industrial development, effective taxation collection, downsizing of the civil service, keeping inflation in check, and resolving the national debt and dependence on European Union payments.
Land Tenure and Property. Through legislation that distributed large agricultural estates to peasant families, most farmland came to be owned by the people who worked it by the early twentieth century. Population growth and partible inheritance practices have produced small individual holdings, often scattered in several plots at a distance from each other. Much grazing land is publicly held, although herders pay fees and establish customary use rights over particular sections.
Commercial Activities. Familial economic strategies were integrated into a market economy and subsistence activities dwindled during the twentieth century. Handmade crafts are generally aimed at the tourist trade, farming is oriented toward sale, and some basic foodstuffs are imported. Family members engage in a variety of cash-producing activities, combining commercial farming with wage labor in canneries, the renting of rooms to tourists with construction work, and sailing in the merchant marine with driving a taxi. A high value is placed on economic flexibility, being one's own boss, and family-run enterprises.
The most common commercial activities are in construction, tourism, transportation, and small-scale shopkeeping. Major cash crops include tobacco, cotton, sugar beets, grains, vegetables, fruits, olives, and grapes. Herders produce meat, milk products, wool, hides, and dung for sale. Fishing contributes little to the GDP. Mining is focused on lignite, bauxite, asbestos, and marble.
Major Industries. Industrial manufacturing contributed 18 percent to the GDP in the 1990s and employed 19 percent of the labor force. The major products are textiles, clothing, shoes, processed food and tobacco, beverages, chemicals, construction materials, transportation equipment, and metals. Small enterprises dominate.
Trade. The international balance of trade has long been negative. The country exports manufactured products (50 percent of exports), agricultural goods (30 percent), and fuels and ores (8 percent), and imports manufactured products (40 percent of imports), food (14 percent), fuels and ores (25 percent), and equipment (21 percent). In the 1990s, trade increasingly focused on European Union countries, with the major partners being Germany, Italy, France, and Britain, followed by the United States.
The negative trade balance is offset by "invisible" sources of foreign currency such as shipping, tourism, remittances from Greeks living abroad, and European Union payments for infrastructure development, job training, and economic initiatives. The merchant fleet is the largest in the world and tourism involves up to eleven million foreign visitors a year.
Division of Labor. The primary sector (farming, herding, and fishing) contributes over 8 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP), the secondary (mining, manufacturing, energy, and construction) sector contributes over 23 percent, and the tertiary sector (trade, finance, transport, health, and education) contributes 68 percent. The primary sector employs 22 percent of workers, the secondary sector 28 percent, and the tertiary sector 50 percent. Immigrants constitute 5 to 10 percent of the labor force.
Classes and Castes. Despite income differences in the population and a small upper stratum of established families in the larger cities, the class system has been marked by mobility since the establishment of the modern state. Former bases of wealth and power disappeared with the departure of the Ottomans and the dismantling of agricultural estates. A fluid class system fits the strongly egalitarian emphasis of the culture. The degree to which minority groups receive the rights and opportunities of Greeks is a topic of public discussion.
Social status is not coterminous with economic class but results from a combination of wealth, education, occupation, and what is referred to as honor or love of honor (philotimo ). While sometimes understood only as a source of posturing and argumentation, this concept refers to one's sense of social responsibility, esteem within the community, and attention to proper behavior and public decorum.
Symbols of Social Stratification. The fluidity of class and status means that symbols of social stratification are changeable and diverse, although the trappings of wealth convey a high position, as do urban residence, the use of katharevousa, fluent English and French, and the adoption of Western styles.
Government. Greece is a parliamentary republic modeled after the French system. The redrawn constitution of 1975 established a single legislative body with three hundred seats. The president serves as the ceremonial head of state, while the prime minister is the head of government. Suffrage is universal for those over eighteen years of age. A large civil service bureaucracy administers a host of national, provincial, and local agencies. Governmental functioning often is described as hierarchical and centralized. A municipal reorganization in 1998 combined smaller communities into larger ones in an effort to strengthen the power of local government.
Leadership and Political Officials. Greek political history has been marked by frequent moments of uncertainty, and there have been several military coups and dictatorships, the last being the junta that reigned from 1967 to 1974. Since the end of the junta, two major parties have alternated in power: New Democracy, which controlled parliament from 1974 to 1981 and from 1989 to 1993 and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), which controlled it from 1981 to 1989 and from 1993 to the present.
Citizens maintain a wary skepticism toward politicians and authority figures. Support in national elections often was garnered through patronage, extensive networks of ritual kin, and personal ties in the nineteenth century. The rise of the early twentieth-century politician Eleftherios Venizelos initiated a gradual shift toward ideology and policy as the basis of support.
Local-level politics operate differently from politics on the national level. Municipalities elect leaders more on the basis of personal qualities than political affiliation, and candidates for local office often do not run on a party ticket.
Dealing with the large civil service bureaucracy is seen as a matter for creativity, persistence, and even subtle deception. Individuals often are sent from office to office before their affairs are settled. Those who are most successful operate through networks of personal connections.
Social Problems and Control. The legal system is based on modified Roman law, with strong protection for the rights of the accused. There are criminal, civil, and administrative courts, and since 1984, the police force, which previously was divided into urban and rural units, has operated as a single force. There is little violent crime. Tax evasion often is considered the most serious legal concern. Peer pressure, gossip, belief in forces such as the evil eye, and the strong sense of proper behavior and social responsibility engendered by philotimo operate as informal mechanisms of social control.
Military Activity. Continuing disputes and past wars are important parts of social memory, but since the Civil War there has been a different climate, especially since the end of the Cold War and the removal of most foreign troops. The country stills spends a high percentage of its budget on defense. The Hellenic Armed Forces are divided into an army, an air force, and a navy. There is a universal draft of all males at age twenty for eighteen to twenty-one months of service, with some deferments and exemptions. There are 160,000 soldiers on active duty and over 400,000 reservists.
Social Welfare and Change Programs
There is a nationalized health care system and a state-directed system of disability and pension payments. There are over 650 different pension programs, with membership depending on type of work. The government also has a system of earthquake and other disaster compensation. Banks have been established to support particular sectors of the economy. Caring for the personal needs of the elderly, infirm, and orphaned is considered a family responsibility.
Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations
Voluntary organizations include hobby clubs, scouts, sports organizations, performance ensembles, environmental groups, craft cooperatives, and political pressure groups. Among the most common are urban-based organizations formed by people from the same rural area. These associations enroll as much as one-quarter of the Athenian population and raise funds and exert political pressure on behalf of their areas of origin. Agricultural cooperatives are widespread, enabling family-based farmers to buy and sell in bulk. Trade unions are less well established.
Gender Roles and Statuses
Division of Labor by Gender. Rural men and women traditionally shared agricultural tasks, doing some jointly and dividing others by gender. Land and property have long been owned by both men and women, with husbands and wives contributing fields to the family. As the population became urbanized, this pattern shifted. Among families that operated small shops and workshops, both men and women remained economically active. Among those who sought employment outside the home, women were more likely to work at lower-paid positions and to stop working when they had children. Open access to education and evolving child care arrangements are changing this situation, and women now constitute 45 percent of the paid workforce.
The Relative Status of Women and Men. Gender roles were relatively differentiated and male-dominant until recently. Traditionally, men were associated with public spaces and women with private, with the major exception of the role played by women in attending, cleaning, and maintaining churches. There were nevertheless many arenas in which women asserted power or operated in a female-centered world. Their economic role in the family; ownership of property; position as mother; wife, and daughter; maintenance of the household; religious activities; and artistic expression through dancing, music, and crafts all worked in this direction.
There has been a dramatic decline in gender differentiation in the last few decades. Women received full voting rights in 1956, and the Family Law of 1983 established legal gender equality in family relationships and decision making. A majority (53 percent) of students in universities are women, and the percentage of women in public office has increased. Women are now fully present in public spaces, including restaurants, nightclubs, beaches, stores, and public plazas.
Marriage, Family, and Kinship
Marriage. Families are fundamental units of support and identity, and marriage is considered the normal condition of adulthood. With the exception of monastic orders and the upper echelons of the clergy, nearly all people marry. Arranged marriages in which parents negotiated spouses, dowries, and inheritance for their children were once common but have declined. Marriages are monogamous, and the average age at marriage is the late twenties for women and the mid-thirties for men. The divorce rate is among the lowest in Europe. Until 1982, all marriages occurred in churches, but civil marriages have been legal since that time.
Domestic Unit. Although nuclear family households are the most common, stem, joint, and other forms of extended kin arrangements also exist. Postmarital residence patterns are predominantly neolocal, but rural and urban neighborhoods often contain clusters of matrilineally or patrilineally related households, depending on regional traditions and family dynamics. It is common for elderly parents to join the household of one of their adult children.
Inheritance. Equal partible inheritance is the norm by both law and custom. Sons and daughters receive roughly equivalent shares of their parents' wealth in the form of fields, housing, money, higher education, and household effects. Daughters generally received their portion at marriage, but the Family Law of 1983 made the formal institution of the dowry illegal. However, there continues to be considerable transfer of property from parents to children when the children marry.
Kin Groups. The family-based household unit is the most important kinship group. Bilateral kindreds (loose networks of kin on the mother's and father's sides) provide a larger but less cohesive source of identity and support. Ritual kin in the form of godparents and wedding sponsors retain a special relationship throughout a person's life.
Infant Care. Midwives were common until the mid-twentieth century, but most babies are now born in hospitals. Babies are showered with overt displays of affection by male and female relatives. There is special concern over feeding and a belief that children need to be coaxed into eating. The central ceremony of infancy is baptism, which ideally occurs between forty days and a year after birth. This ceremony initiates the baby into the Orthodox community and is the moment at which a baby's name is officially conferred.
Child Rearing and Education. The successful establishment of one's children is a driving goal. Parents willingly sacrifice for children, and there is a continuing emotional bond between parents and children. Both parents are actively involved in child rearing, along with grandparents and other relatives. Adults give children freedom to explore and play, cultivate their abilities to converse and perform, and participate in social occasions. Parents also stress the value of education. The public school system was established in 1833, and 95 percent of the population is literate. Schooling is compulsory and free for the first nine years and optional and free for the next three. Over 90 percent of students attend public schools.
Higher Education. Higher education is strongly valued. There is a state run university, technical, and vocational school system whose capacity is short of demand. Entrance is achieved by nationwide examinations, and many secondary school students attend private afternoon schools to prepare for these tests. In the 1990s, 140,000 students annually vied for 20,000 university seats and 20,000 technical college seats. Many ultimately seek an education abroad.
Much social life takes place within a close circle of family and friends. Group activities revolve around eating, drinking, playing games, listening to music, dancing, and animated debate and conversation. These gatherings often aim at the achievement of kefi, a sense of high spirits and relaxation that arises when one is happily transported by the moment and the company. Drinking may contribute to the attainment of kefi, but becoming drunk is considered disgraceful.
A major occasion on which people open their homes to a wide range of visitors is the day honoring the saint for whom a person is named. On those days, it is permissible to call on anyone bearing that saint's name. Guests generally bring sweets or liquor, and the honorees treat their visitors to food and hospitality.
Hospitality is seen as both a pleasure and a responsibility. Hosts are generous, and guests are expected to accept what is offered with only token protests. Hospitality is often extended to foreigners, but the deluge of travelers, ambivalence about the impact of tourism, and the improper or condescending behavior of some tourists complicate the situation.
Religious Beliefs. Close to 98 percent of the people are Orthodox Christians, just over 1 percent are Muslims, and there are small numbers of Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, Roman Catholics, and members of Protestant denominations. Greeks became involved in Christianity very early. After the Roman Emperor Constantine embraced the new religion, he moved his capital to Constantinople in 330 c.e. The new center grew into the Greek-dominated Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire. Tension between the Christian patriarchs of Constantinople and Rome ultimately led to the Schism of 1054, which divided the religion into Orthodoxy and Catholicism. The Orthodox church represented and supported the Christian population of Eastern Europe after the Ottoman conquest. In 1833, after the revolution, the Orthodox Church of Greece became the first of several national Orthodox churches in the region, each autonomous while recognizing the spiritual leadership of the patriarch in Constantinople. Today there are sixteen separate Orthodox churches and patriarchates. The Orthodox Church of Greece is officially designated the religion of the nation, its officials exert some influence in state matters, and it receives state funds.
Religious Practitioners. The Orthodox Church of Greece is overseen by the Holy Synod, whose president is the archbishop of Athens. Under this synod are regional bishops as well as monks, nuns, and priests who run specific churches and monastic institutions. Local priests are encouraged to marry, but other members of the clergy may not. Care of local churches is the responsibility of the community of worshipers, and priests are assisted by deacons, chanters, and local women who clean the buildings and bake bread for communion.
Rituals and Holy Places. Orthodoxy includes a series of daily, weekly, and annual rites, including the Sunday liturgy and the Twelve Great Feasts, of which the most important is Easter and the Holy Week that precedes it. Twenty to 25 percent of the population attends weekly services, while many more people are present at annual ones. There are four periods of fasting and saint's days in honor of the three hundred Orthodox saints. There are also rites associated with key events in the life cycle, such as funerals, weddings, and baptisms. Many people integrate religious practice into their daily lives, crossing themselves while passing a church or entering to light a candle, pray, or meditate.
Larger Orthodox churches are often constructed in a cross in-square configuration, and all contain an icon screen separating the sanctuary where communion bread and wine are sanctified from the rest of the building. Icons are pictorial representations of saints in paint or mosaic that serve as symbols of holiness. In many homes, there is a niche where icons and holy oil are displayed. Some churches and monasteries have become national sites of pilgrimage because of their association with miracles and historical events.
Death and the Afterlife. In Orthodox belief, at the time of death, a person's soul begins a journey toward judgment by God, after which the soul is consigned to paradise or hell. Relatives wash and prepare the body for the funeral, which is held in a church within twenty-four hours of death. The body is buried, not cremated, for decomposition is considered part of the process by which a person's sins are forgiven and the soul travels to paradise. The next forty days are a precarious time, at the end of which the soul is judged. Visits are paid to the relatives of the deceased, and additional rituals are held, some with open displays of grief and singing of laments. Three to seven years after burial, the bones of the deceased are exhumed and placed in a family vault or a communal ossuary. The degree to which the body has decomposed and the bones have turned white is seen as evidence of the extent to which the person's sins have been forgiven and the soul has entered a blissful state.
Medicine and Health Care
The state-run National Health Service, a network of hospitals, clinics, and insurance organizations, was established in 1983. The service provides basic health care even in remote areas, but there is an over concentration of hospital facilities, doctors, and nurses in Athens and other major cities. Private health care facilities are used by those who can afford them. The health status of Greek citizens is roughly equivalent to that of Western Europe. Western concepts of biomedicine are well accepted but are supplemented for some individuals by longstanding cultural conceptions concerning the impact that certain foods, the wind, hot and cold temperatures, envy, and anxiety have on health.
Nearly all celebrations have a religious component, and all major rites of the Orthodox church are public holidays. Among celebrations with a predominantly secular orientation are Ochi Day (28 October), commemorating the occasion when Greek leaders refused Mussolini's demand to surrender in 1940; Independence Day (25 March), when Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the flag of revolt against the Ottomans near Kalavryta in 1821; New Year's Day, when people gather, play cards, and cut a special cake that contains a lucky coin; and, Labor Day (1 May), a time for picnics and excursions to the country.
The Arts and Humanities
Support for the Arts. The Ministry of Culture supports all the arts in terms of production, education, publicity, festivals, and national centers, such as the Greek Film Center. There are provincial and municipal theaters, folklore institutes, orchestras, conservatories, dance centers, art workshops, and literary groups.
Literature. Oral poetry and folk songs thrived even under Ottoman domination and developed into more formal, written forms as the nation-state emerged. Poets and novelists have brought contemporary national themes into alignment with the major movements in Western literature. There have been two Greek Nobel laureates: George Seferis and Odysseas Elytis.
Graphic Arts. Long-standing traditions of pottery, metalworking, rugmaking, woodcarving, and textile production have been carried forward by artisan and craft cooperatives. Many sculptors and painters are in the vanguard of contemporary European art, while others continue the tradition of Orthodox icon painting.
Performance Arts. Music and dance are major forms of group and self-expression, and genres vary from Byzantine chants to the music of the urban working class known as rebetika. Distinctively Greek styles of music, dance, and instrumentation have not been displaced by the popularity of Western European and American music. Some of the most commonly used instruments are the bouzouki, santouri (hammer dulcimer), lauto (mandolin-type lute), clarinet, violin, guitar, tsambouna (bagpipe), and lyra (a-stringed Cretan instrument), many of which function as symbols of national or regional identity. The popular composers Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hadjidakis have achieved international fame.
Shadow puppet plays revolving around the wily character known as Karagiozis were very popular in the late Ottoman period. Dozens of theater companies in Athens, Thessaloniki, and other areas, perform contemporary works and ancient dramas in modern Greek. Films are a popular form of entertainment, and several Greek filmmakers and production companies have produced a body of melodramas, comedies, musicals, and art films.
State of the Physical and Social Sciences
The University of Athens was established in 1837, with faculties in theology, law, medicine, and the arts (which included applied sciences and mathematics). The national system has expanded to nearly twenty public universities and technical schools that offer a full range of academic and applied subjects. There are several state-funded research centers, such as the National Centre for Scientific Research, the National Centre for Social Research, and the Center for Programming and Economic Research. The social sciences suffered under some governments in the past but are now flourishing.
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—Susan Buck Sutton
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Gale Group Inc.
Greece■ GREEKS … 17
The people of Greece are called Greeks. Minority groups include Turks, Macedonian Slavs, Albanians, Armenians, Bulgarians, and Vlachs (a group of semi-nomads who live in the mountains of the north). See the chapters on Turkey in Volume 8, Macedonia in Volume 5, Albania and Armenia in Volume 1, and Bulgaria in Volume 2 for more information.
COPYRIGHT 1999 The Gale Group,
© Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes 2007, originally
published by Oxford University Press 2007.