What can you call a land of archaeological museums, a land that is gifted with olive trees and water in abundance, a land that is officially orthodox and the most important – a land where Santa Claus is from?...It is Greece. Greece, officially known as the Hellenic Republic, has one of the largest merchant ship fleets in the world. The country was the birthplace of democracy. Even Olympics started in Greece. Let us understand certain other features of the country.

What is the geography of Greece like?

Greece is located in the Southern Europe, consisting of eleven geographical regions namely, Macedonia, Thrace, Peloponnese, Epirus, Ionian islands, North Aegean islands, Dodecanese islands, Cyclades islands, Crete, Thessaly and Sterea Hellas. Greece has the 11th largest coastline of 13,676 km and lies between 39° 00’N latitude and 22° 00’E longitude. It stretches a total area of 1228 km and is strategically located possessing about 2000 islands, out of which 170 are inhabited. The natural resources include lignite, petroleum, iron ore, bauxite, lead, zinc, nickel, magnesite, marble, salt, hydropower, etc.

What is the topography of Greece and what kind of climate does Greece have?

As Greece is mostly covered with the islands, there are no rivers in the country. The terrain is mountainous. About 80% of the land is mountainous and rocky. Its highest point is Mount Olympus. Approximately 25% of the land surface is arable and 40% serves as pasture. Strategically located near the Mediterranean Sea, the temperature is moderate. The climate is mild, wet winters and hot or dry summers. However, this climate is constant at most of the coastal locations like Athens, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, Crete, the Peloponnese, the Ionian Islands and part of the Central Continental Greece. There is snowfall every year in both the northern and southern areas.

What kind of vegetation and wildlife does Greece consist of?

Besides the olive trees and the water from the Athens, Greece is blessed with diverse vegetation. The crops that are grown on the Greek land include oranges, dates, pomegranates, figs, cotton and tobacco. The deciduous and evergreen forests contain oak, black pine, chestnut, beech and sumac. There is a variety of species in the wildlife of Greece. Animals like boar, European black bear, jackal, deer, fox are found. The birds include the hawk, pelican, egret, pheasant, patridge, nightingale, etc. Greece’s coastal seawaters have a number of sharks.

What is the overall culture of Greece?

Despite the indifferences in the income among the individuals in Greece, the Greek culture is strongly egalitarian. Being a male dominated society, gender differences have declined tremendously since the last few decades. Greek attire, since the ancient times include dresses made of materials like linen, wool and drapery. The part of Greek fashion consists of the accessories like jewelleries, bags, cosmetics, etc. Marriages are considered as a fundamental unit of support and identity. Arranged marriages were a part of the culture wherein the parents negotiated the dowries with the respective spouses. The divorce rates are the lowest in Europe. The Greeks are socially active with their close friends and family. The group activities would involve drinking, eating, playing games, listening to music, dancing and debates and conversations. One of the very important and major occasions would include the ‘naming ceremony’ of the new born. The names are decided on the saint’s name. Hospitality becomes a very significant responsibility of the Greeks. The hosts are generous and guests are expected to accept with only token protest.

Which religion is followed by the Greeks?

Majority of the Greek population are Orthodox Christians. The other denominations include Muslims, Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, Roman Catholics and Protestants. In 330 C.E, the Roman Emperor moved his capital to Constantinople after he embraced the new religion. This led to the tensions between the Byzantine Empire and the Eastern Roman, However, ultimately in 1054, this led to Schism and divided the region into orthodoxy and Catholicism. The officially designated religion of the nation was The Orthodox Church of Greece and it exerted some influence on the matters of the state and the funds. The regional bishops include the monks, nuns, priests and others who run monastic institutions. The series of Orthodox includes the daily, weekly and annual rites, the Sunday liturgy and the Twelve Great Feasts.

What are the food habits of the Greeks?

The main diet consist of grains, grapes, olives, cheese, eggs, yogurt, fish, lamb, goat, chicken, rice, fruits and vegetables. The foods that represent the nation are moussaka, baklava, thick coffee and resonated wine. Guests are offered refreshments along with the heavy meal during the major ceremonies. Koiva, a preparation made by boiled wheat, sugar and cinnamon. On New Year’s Eve, a special cake is baked and generally, a lamb is served at the feast of the midnight Easter Service. The sweet dish of the Greeks is Galaktoboureko. The flavours of the Mediterranean cuisines are oregano, garlic, mint, onion, dill and baby laurel leaves.

Which languages are spoken in Greece?

Greek, an Indo-European language, is the official language of Greece. The division of the population on the basis of language include the ordinary spoken language, which is the demotic version, and the katharevouska, which is the formal version. The population also includes the bilingual groups with the dialects like the Arvanitika, Ladino, Turkish, Slavic Macedonian, Vlach, Romani, etc. However, a majority of the inhabitants are familiar with the European languages and English and French.

What are the economic features of Greece?

The important economic activities of Greece involve farming, herding, fishing, seafaring and commerce. According to the World Bank statistics of the year 2011, Greece is the 34th and 42nd largest in the world by the nominal GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and PPP (Purchasing Power Parity). Also, Greece is the 15th largest economy and is the 27th member of the European Union. It is the largest economy in the Balkans. Greece is an important regional investor. One of the examples is the telecommunications company, OTE, which has become a strong investor in Yugoslavia and many other Balkan countries. Greece was the founding member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). Although Greece faced hurdles after the revolution and was in debt, lacking the capital and infrastructure, the families produced their own subsistence needs, from food to housing. This lead to immigration of the Greek in search of work and livelihood. Governmental efforts for economic stabilization helped in paying off the debts and keep a check on the European Union payments. 

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