Form of Government: Republic
Area: 132 049 sq km
Population: 10 760 421 inhab. (estimate 2017)
Density: 81.49 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 42° - 35° N; long. 19° - 30° E
Capital: Athens=Athína (capital) 664 046 inhab. (2011); Greater Athens 3 168 000 inhab. (2011), urban agglomeration
Currency: euro (100 cents)
Human development index: 0.87 (rank: 31)
President: Prokopis Pavlopoulos (ND), since 13 March 2015
Prime Minister: Kyriakos Mītsotakīs (ND), since 8 July 2019
Parliament: seats based on the elections of 7 July 2019: ND (New Democracy, centre-right), 158; SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left), 86; KINAL (Movement for Change, centre-left), 22; KKE (Communist Party), 15; Greek Solution (nationalist), 10; MeRA25 (left-wing), 9
Internet: www.statistics.gr (Hellenic Statistical Authority)
Member of Council of Europe, EBRD, EU, NATO, OAS observer, OECD, OSCE, UN, WTO
International license plate code GR
International dialling code 0030
Travel vaccinations requirement none
Electricity (Voltage) 220/230
Driving side rigth
Internet code .gr
DST duration (start-end) late March-late October
Annual average temperature (°C) Athens 18.1; Irákleio (Creta) 18.5; Rhodes 18.6; Salonika 16.1
Average temperature in January/July (°C) Athens 9.5/28; Irákleio (Creta) 12.5/25; Rhodes 11/26.5; Salonika 5.5/26.5
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) Athens 11/4; Irákleio (Creta) 11/4; Rhodes 11/4; Salonika 10/4
Annual average precipitation (mm) Athens 398; Irákleio (Creta) 456; Rhodes 777; Salonika 470
Days of rainfall (annual average) Athens 58; Irákleio (Creta) 54; Rhodes 64; Salonika 65
Politics and current affairs
Alexis Tsipras’s government led the country out of the international aid program, concluded in 2018, but it suffered a heavy defeat in the European elections on 26 May 2019, losing to New Democracy. The crisis for Tsipras’s government is owed to its shift on austerity policies, as well as the historic agreement for changing the name of North Macedonia. Signed on 17 June 2018, the deal was ratified by the Greek Parliament on 25 January 2019, but it sparked strong political tensions and severe public protests. Following his defeat in the European elections, Tsipras decided to call early elections, which took place on 7 July 2019. The elections upheld New Democracy’s landslide victory, with 39.9% of the votes and 158 seats. The party launched a one-party government led by Kyriakos Mītsotakīs. Syriza is the opposition party, taking 31.5% of the votes and 86 seats. The far-left and nationalist parties have joined Parliament, while the far-right party Golden Dawn did not win any seats. Despite the 2016 EU-Turkey deal, the situation regarding the migrants blocked on the islands in the Aegean Sea remains critical.
Greece’s mainland occupies the southern region of the Balkan Peninsula and borders to the north-west with Albania, to the north with the Republic of North Macedonia and Bulgaria and to the north-east with Turkey.
Three seas surround the country: the Aegean to the east, the Mediterranean to the south, and the Ionian to the west. It is predominantly mountainous and with very irregular coastlines: the Peloponnese peninsula lies to the south of the country and the Chalkidiki peninsula lies to the north-east. The rivers on the eastern side are shallow and torrent-like: the longest is the Aliákmonas while those on the western side (the Árachthos and the Achelous) are deeper. The climate is Mediterranean.
There are numerous islands, together accounting for approximately a fifth of the country’s total area: the Ionian Islands in the Ionian Sea; Euboea, the Cyclades, the northern Sporades and the southern Sporades in the Aegean Sea; Crete, to the south of the Peloponnese; the Dodecanese and Rhodes, to the west and to the south of the Anatolian coast.
Following the occupation by Italian and German troops in 1940-41 (for which Germany was asked to negotiate possible war reparations in 2019), after liberation in 1944, Greece was the stage for a long civil war that ended in 1949 with the defeat of communist forces. The country assumed its current borders in 1947, with the annexation of the Dodecanese. On 21 April 1967, the military took power and set up the “Regime of the Colonels” that lasted until 1974. The failure of the coup d’état on the island of Cyprus, inspired by the Greek dictatorship, also brought down the regime in Athens and 1974, in a referendum, the Republic was set up. Tensions with Turkey over the matter of Cyprus continue, particularly with regards to the use of offshore gas fields. According to the 1975 Constitution, the Government is responsible before Parliament (300 members elected by direct suffrage for four years); the President of the Republic, who has powers that are, for the most part, representative, is elected by Parliament for five years.
Defence and justice.
Due to the crisis, military expenditure fell, traditionally higher, in relation to the GDP, than the EU average. The judicial system is based on European continental civil law.
|Greater Athens||3 168 000||inhab.||2011|
|Population by age and gender (% - 2018)|
|Foreigners, total||816 059||units||2018|
Greece is recovering from years of crisis and austerity: the economy grew 2.1% in 2018, driven by exports, and should strengthen in 2019 (+2.2%) thanks to the introduction of a minimum wage. Unemployment, also in decline, remains high. The country is respecting the objectives of fiscal stabilization, but its finances remain under close observation.
|Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)||92.68||index||2016|
|Balance of trade||-25 667.2||M US$||2018|
|Active population||4 743 000||units||2018|
|Active population, Females||44.2||%||2018|
|Unemployment rate, Females||55.5||%||2018|
|Expenses||65 713||M LCU||2018|
|Revenues||63 723||M LCU||2018|
|Currency in circulation||33.5||BN LCU||2018|
|International reserves||7 578.5||M US$||2018|
Agriculture & forests.
Agricultural contribution to national production is higher than the European average. The most important crops are vines, olives, cotton, tobacco, cereals and sugar beet. The main wine-producing areas are the Peloponnese coastal areas (along with the islands) and the hill areas of Thessaloníki. Both grapes and dried grapes are more important than wine production (Corinthian raisins, currants from western Morea and the Ionian Islands, sultanas from Crete and Samos, rosaki grapes); special wines are destined for export (the more famous being those from Lefkada, Kymi and Nemea) as well as that are more liqueur-like (from Samos, Santorini, Cephalonia, Naxos and Corfu). Olives are widespread throughout the country; cotton is grown in Attica and Boeotia; tobacco in Macedonia, Aetolia and Thrace; sugar beet in Thessaly, the western Peloponnese and Macedonia. Figs and citrus fruit crops are also widespread.
Livestock & fishing.
Livestock farming does not satisfy the country’s needs; beekeeping is important. Fishing is increasing; sponge harvesting is a traditional activity.
|cereals, total||3 148.997||1000 t||2017|
|roots and tubers, total||539.289||1000 t||2017|
|beans, dry||19.14||1000 t||2017|
|beans, green||60.2||1000 t||2017|
|grapes||1 012.6||1000 t||2017|
|olives||2 720.488||1000 t||2017|
|sugar beet||384||1000 t||2017|
|seed cotton||792||1000 t||2017|
|flax fibre and tow||0||1000 t||2017|
|citrus fruits||1 224.407||1000 t||2017|
|citrus fruits, nes||0.807||1000 t||2017|
|sweet potatoes||0.155||1000 ha||2017|
|beans, dry||8.018||1000 ha||2017|
|beans, green||5.6||1000 ha||2017|
|sugar beet||6.5||1000 ha||2017|
|seed cotton||262.619||1000 ha||2017|
|flax fibre and tow||0||1000 ha||2017|
|citrus fruits||42.747||1000 ha||2017|
|citrus fruits, nes||0.287||1000 ha||2017|
|Aleppo pine (resin)||1 257||t||2003|
|timber||1 432 000||m³||2017|
|cattle and buffaloes||558.702||1000 heads||2017|
|sheep||8 593||1000 heads||2017|
|goats||6 300||1000 heads||2017|
|asses and mules||26.696||1000 heads||2017|
|birds||31 395||1000 heads||2017|
|silk, raw||0||1000 t||2014|
|crustaceans and molluscs||34 170.1||t||2017|
The most important mineral productions are lignite, bauxite and nickel. Lignite is mined in western Macedonia (in Ptolemaïda), in Euboea (at Alivéri), in the Peloponnese (at Megalópoli). The main bauxite deposits are at Ámfissa, Dístomo and Lamía. Nickel is mined at Lárymna. There are mines of chromite (at Vólos), manganese (at Dráma), lead, zinc and magnesite (in the Chalkidiki) and pyrite (in the Chalkidiki and in Argolís). Small amounts of oil are extracted at Prínos (off the coast of the island of Thasos). Emery (a variety of corundum) is a valuable product from the island of Naxos, as is marble (Penteliko, Hymettus, Skýros and Paros).
Energy and industry.
Thermo-electric production predominates (linked to the lignite deposits). Hydro-electricity production has, however, increased. There is an electrical power link between Greece and Italy on the bed of the Strait of Otranto. A gas pipeline connects the country to Turkey, while work continues on the TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline), which leads to Italy. The regasification terminal on the island of Revithoussa, near Athens, was recently expanded. Renewal energies are also increasing (solar and wind).
The industrial sector is relatively behind other sectors of the economy and poorly diversified: sectors with a low added value predominate, such as food, tanning and textiles. Metallurgy is relatively well-developed (steel, nickel and aluminium). Oil refineries are at Asprópyrgos, Corinth, Eleusis and Thessaloníki. The chemical industry produces, in particular, sulfuric acid, nitric acid and nitrogen fertilizers (in Eleusis and Piraeus). Cotton mills predominate in the textile sector. The carpet industry is based, for the most part, in Thessaloníki and Piraeus. The sugar, tobacco, paper and leather industries are important. Other industries include cement and rubber.
|coal, total||36 481.8||1000 t||2018|
|lignite||36 481.8||1000 t||2018|
|bauxite||1 800||1000 t||2017|
|bentonite||1 200||1000 t||2018|
|marble - t||1 890||1000 t||2016|
|- thermal||36 957.04||M kWh||2016|
|- other renew.||9 557||M kWh||2016|
|- thermal||10 698||1000 kW||2016|
|- other renew.||5 075||1000 kW||2016|
|total net generation||52 047.04||M kWh||2016|
|total installed capacity||19 165||1000 kW||2016|
|petrol||7 775.2||1000 t||2014|
|artificial yarn||3.4||1000 t||2001|
|carpets||1 603.7||1000 m²||2017|
|cotton fabrics||0.679||M m²||2017|
|footwear||1 328 048||pairs||2017|
|beer of barley||380||1000 t||2014|
|cottonseed oil||21||1000 t||2014|
|cigarettes||25 366.8||M units||2017|
|cigars and cigarettes||25 366.8||M units||2017|
|other paper||409||1000 t||2017|
|cement||6 680||1000 t||2016|
|chemicals production||1 848.6||M US$||2016|
|food, beverages and tobacco production||5 561.9||M US$||2016|
The trade balance remains in deficit, only in part counter-balanced by the growth in exports, by income from tourism and by the chartering of the merchant fleet.
Main exports (M US$ - 2017) petroleum products 9 799, aluminium 1 814, home appliances and machinery 1 454, pharmaceuticals 1 333, plastics 1 255, electrical and electronic equipment 1 153, fruit and vegetables 1 145, fruit & vegetable juices and preserves 1 097, iron and steel 1 055, fish 745
Finance and banking.
The banking system is predominantly public. There are, however, plans for privatization.
|manufactures||34.679||% of goods exports||2018|
|fuels||34.379||% of goods exports||2018|
|Italy||4 041||M US$||2018|
|Germany||2 499||M US$||2018|
|Germany||6 559||M US$||2018|
|Iraq||5 369||M US$||2018|
Tourism. The tourist sector contributes significantly to the national revenue and is still growing strongly.
|Expenditures||3 308||M US$||2017|
|Number of arrivals||27 194 000||units||2017|
The road system is relatively well-developed, while the railway network is rather limited. Services related to maritime navigation are widespread; the ferry system between the island is very well-developed. The Corinth Canal (6 km) joins the Gulf of Corinth to the Gulf of Aegina, enabling ships to avoid circumnavigating the Peloponnese. The Corinth Canal is crossed by the Rion-Antirion road bridge, one of the longest cable-stayed bridge in Europe.
In 2016, Parliament approved an agreement to let the China Ocean Shipping Company, a massive Chinese maritime transport service, use the port of Piraeus. In 2018, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with China regarding the Belt and Road Initiative.
|Civil aviation, km flown||95 700 000||km flown||2004|
|Civil aviation, passengers carried||13 861.8||1000 units||2017|
|Broadband subscribers||338.560||per 1000 pop.||2017|
|Computers||94||per 1000 pop.||2008|
Social and welfare
Education, culture & research.
School is free and compulsory from the ages of 6 to 15. Primary education lasts six years; secondary education is divided into two three-year cycles.
Social security and health.
Health and social security have suffered from cuts on account of austerity measures.
|Expected years of schooling||17.9||years||2016|
|Teachers, primary level||69 716||units||2016|
|Teachers, secondary level||78 827||units||2016|
|Social protection spending||41.8||% of total expenses||2016|
|Social protection spending||23.5||% of GDP||2018|
|Hospital beds||4.3||per 1000 pop.||2015|
|Physicians||6.6||per 1000 pop.||2016|
|HIV||0.2||% of adults||2017|
|Archaeological sites, visitors||12 901 071||units||2018|
|Research and development spending||1.13||% of GDP||2017|
|Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking||94.29||%||2016|
|Access to electricity||100||%||2017|