GREEK Facts & Figures

Size: 50,944 square miles

Population: 11,305,118

Capital:  Athens

Currency: Euro

Weather / Climate:

Greececonsists of a mountainous, peninsular mainland jutting out into the sea at the southern end of the Balkans, ending at the Peloponnese peninsula (separated from the mainland by the canal of the Isthmus of Corinth). Due to its highly indented coastline and numerous islands, Greece has the 11th longest coastline in the world with13,676 km (8,498 mi);[37] its land boundary is 1,160 km (721 mi). The country lies approximately between latitudes 34° and 42° N, and longitudes 19° and 30° E.

Greecefeatures a vast number of islands, between 1,200 and 6,000, depending on the definition,[38] 227 of which are inhabited. Crete is the largest and most populous island; Euboea, separated from the mainland by the 60m-wide Euripus Strait, is the second largest, followed by Rhodes and Lesbos.

The Greek islands are traditionally grouped into the following clusters: The Argo-Saronic Islands in the Saronic gulf near Athens, the Cyclades, a large but dense collection occupying the central part of the Aegean Sea, the North Aegean islands, a loose grouping off the west coast of Turkey, the Dodecanese, another loose collection in the southeast between Crete and Turkey, the Sporades, a small tight group off the coast of Euboea, and the Ionian Islands, located to the west of the mainland in the Ionian Sea.

Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains or hills, making the country one of the most mountainous in Europe. Mount Olympus, the mythical abode of the Greek Gods, culminates at Mytikas peak 2,917 m (9,570 ft), the highest in the country. Western Greece contains a number of lakes and wetlands and is dominated by the Pindus mountain range. The Pindus, a continuation of the Dinaric Alps, reaches a maximum elevation of 2,637 m (8,652 ft) at Mt. Smolikas (the second-highest in Greece) and historically has been a significant barrier to east-west travel.

The Pindus range continues through the central Peloponnese, crosses the islands of Kythera and Antikythera and find its way into southwestern Aegean, in the island of Crete where it eventually ends. The islands of the Aegean are peaks of underwater mountains that once constituted an extension of the mainland. Pindus is characterized by its high, steep peaks, often dissected by numerous canyons and a variety of other karstic landscapes. The spectacular Vikos Gorge, part of the Vikos-Aoos National Park in the Pindus range, is listed by the Guinness book of World Records as the deepest gorge in the world.[39] Another notable formation are the Meteora rock pillars, atop which have been built medieval Greek Orthodox monasteries.

Northeastern Greece features another high-altitude mountain range, the Rhodope range, spreading across the region of East Macedonia and Thrace; this area is covered with vast, thick, ancient forests, including the famous Dadia forest in the Evros Prefecture, in the far northeast of the country.

Extensive plains are primarily located in the prefectures of Thessaly, Central Macedonia and Thrace. They constitute key economic regions as they are among the few arable places in the country. Rare marine species such as the Pinniped Seals and the Loggerhead Sea Turtle live in the seas surrounding mainland Greece, while its dense forests are home to the endangered brown bear, the lynx, the Roe Deer and the Wild Goat.

Phytogeographically, Greece belongs to the Boreal Kingdom and is shared between the East Mediterranean province of the Mediterranean Region and the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature and the European Environment Agency, the territory of Greece can be subdivided into six ecoregions: the Illyrian deciduous forests, Pindus Mountains mixed forests, Balkan mixed forests, Rhodope montane mixed forests, Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests and Crete Mediterranean forests.

Taken from wikipedia

GREEK languages

The official language of Greece is Greek. In addition, a number of non-official, minority languages and some Greek dialects are spoken as well. The most common foreign languages learned by Greeks are English, French, Spanish, Italian, and German.

Standard Greek is the only official language of the Hellenic Republic, and is spoken by some 99% of the population[3] (though not necessarily as a first language). Modern Greek is the officially used standard, but there are several non-official dialects and distinct Hellenic languages spoken as well.

Cappadocian Greek

Cappadocian Greek is a Hellenic language originally spoken in Cappadocia and since the 1920s spoken in Greece. It has very few speakers and was previously thought to be extinct.

Cretan dialect

Cretan Greek is spoken by upwards of half a million people on the island of Crete, as well as in the Greek Diaspora. It is rarely used in written speech, and differs much less from Standard Greek than other varieties.

Pontic Greek

Pontic Greek is a Hellenic language originally spoken in Pontus and the Caucasus, though now mostly spoken in Greece.

Tsakonian

The little-spoken Tsakonian language is used by some in the Tsakonia region of Peloponnese. The language is split into three dialects: Northern, Southern, and Propontis. The language is spoken by only 1,200 people.

Taken from wikipedia

GREEK people

The Demographics of Greece refer to the demography of the population that inhabits the Greek peninsula. The population of Greece was calculated as 10,787,690 in the 2011 census.

Greece was inhabited as early as the Paleolithic period. Prior to the 2nd millennium BC, the Greek peninsula was inhabited by various pre-Hellenic peoples, the most notable of which were the Pelasgians. The Greek language ultimately dominated the peninsula and Greece's mosaic of small city-states became culturally similar. The population estimates on the Greeks during the 4th century BC, is approximately 3.5 million on the Greek peninsula and 4 to 6.5 million in the rest of the entire Mediterranean Basin,[5] including all colonies such as those in Magna Graecia, Asia Minor and the shores of the Black Sea.

During the history of the Byzantine Empire, the Greek peninsula was occasionally invaded by the foreign peoples like Goths, Avars, Slavs, Normans, Franks and other Romance-speaking peoples who had betrayed the Crusades. The only group, however, that planned to establish permanent settlements in the region were the Slavs. They supposedly settled in isolated valleys of the Peloponnese and Thessaly, establishing segregated communities that were referred by the Byzantines as Sclaveni. Traces of Slavic culture in Greece are very rare and by the 9th century, the Sclaveni in Greece were largely eliminated. However, some Slavic communities managed to survive in rural Macedonia. At the same time a large Sephardi Jewish emigrant community from the Iberian peninsula established itself in Thessaloniki, while there were population movements of Arvanites and Vlachs, who established communities in several parts of the Greek peninsula. The Byzantine Empire ultimately fell to Ottoman Turks in the 15th century and as a result Ottoman colonies were established in the Balkans, notably in Macedonia, the Peloponnese and Crete. Many Greeks either fled to other European nations or to geographically isolated areas (i.e. mountains and heavily forested territories) in order to escape foreign rule. For those reasons, the population decreased in the plains, while increasing on the mountains. The population transfers with Bulgaria and Turkey that took place in the early 20th century, added in total some two million Greeks from to the demography of the Greek Kingdom.

Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_greece

GREEK food

Greek cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine,[1] sharing characteristics with the cuisines of Italy, the Balkans, Turkey, and the Levant. Contemporary Greek cookery makes wide use of olive oil, vegetables and herbs, grains and bread, wine, fish, and various meats, including poultry, rabbit and pork. Also important are olives, cheese, eggplant (aubergine), courgette, and yogurt. Greek desserts are characterized by the dominant use of nuts and honey. Some dishes use filo pastry.

Mezés is a collective name for a variety of small dishes, typically served with wines or anise-flavored liqueurs as ouzo or homemade tsipouro. Orektika is the formal name for appetizers and is often used as a reference to eating a first course of a cuisine other than Greek cuisine. Dips are served with bread loaf or pita bread. In some regions, dried bread (paximadhi) is softened in water.

The most characteristic and ancient element of Greek cuisine is olive oil, which is frequently used in most dishes. It is produced from the olive trees prominent throughout the region, and adds to the distinctive taste of Greek food. The basic grain in Greece is wheat, though barley is also grown. Important vegetables include tomato, aubergine (eggplant), potato, green beans, okra, green peppers, and onions. Honey in Greece is mainly honey from the nectar of fruit trees and citrus trees: lemon, orange, bigarade (bitter orange) trees, thyme honey, and pine honey from conifer trees. Mastic (aromatic, ivory coloured resin) is grown on the Aegean island of Chios.

Greek cuisine uses some flavorings more often than other Mediterranean cuisines do, namely: oregano, mint, garlic, onion, dill and bay laurel leaves. Other common herbs and spices include basil, thyme and fennel seed. Persillade is also used as a garnish on some dishes. Many Greek recipes, especially in the northern parts of the country, use "sweet" spices in combination with meat, for example cinnamon and cloves in stews.

The climate and terrain has tended to favour the breeding of goats and sheep over cattle, and thus beef dishes are uncommon. Fish dishes are common in coastal regions and on the islands. A great variety of cheese types are used in Greek cuisine, including Feta, Kasseri, Kefalotyri, Graviera, Anthotyros, Manouri, Metsovone and Mizithra.

Too much refinement is generally considered to be against the hearty spirit of the Greek cuisine, though recent trends among Greek culinary circles tend to favour a somewhat more refined approach.

Origins

Greece has an ancient culinary tradition dating back several millennia, and over the centuries Greek cuisine has evolved and absorbed numerous influences and influenced many cuisines itself.

Some dishes can be traced back to ancient Greece: lentil soup, fasolada, retsina (white or rosé wine flavored with pine resin) and pasteli (candy bar with sesame seeds baked with honey);[10] some to the Hellenistic and Roman periods: loukaniko (dried pork sausage); and Byzantium: feta cheese, avgotaraho (cured fish roe) and paximadi (traditional hard bread baked from corn, barley and rye). There are also many ancient and Byzantine dishes which are no longer consumed: porridge as the main staple, fish sauce, and salt water mixed into wine.

Many dishes are part of the larger tradition of Ottoman cuisine and their names reveal Arabic, Persian or Turkish roots: moussaka, tzatziki, yuvarlakia, keftethes, boureki, and so on. Many dishes' names probably entered the Greek vocabulary during Ottoman times, or earlier in contact with the Persians and the Arabs. Some dishes may be pre-Ottoman, only taking Turkish names later; Ash and Dalby, for example, speculate that grape-leaf dolmathes were made by the early Byzantine period.[11][12]

Typical dishes

Greek cuisine is very diverse and although there are many common characteristics amongst the culinary traditions of different regions within the country, there are also many differences, making it difficult to present a full list of representative dishes. For example, the vegetarian dish " Chaniotiko Boureki" (oven baked slices of potatoes with zucchini, myzithra cheese and mint) is a typical dish in western Crete, in the region of Chania. A family in Chania may consume this dish 1-2 times per week in the summer season. However, it is not cooked in any other region of Greece. Many food items are wrapped in Filo pastry, either in bite-size triangles or in large sheets: kotopita (chicken), spanakotyropita (spinach and cheese), chortopita (greens), kreatopita (meat pie, using minced meat), etc.

The list will present some of the most representative Greek dishes that can be found throughout the country and the most famous of the local ones:

Appetizers

Meze (appetizer; plural mezedes) is served in restaurants called mezedopoleía, served to complement drinks, and in similar establishments known as tsipourádika or ouzerí (a type of café that serves drinks such as ouzo or tsipouro). A tavérna (tavern) or estiatório (restaurant) also offers a meze as an orektikó (appetiser). Many restaurants offer their house pikilía (variety) a platter with a smorgasbord of various mezedes that can be served immediately to customers looking for a quick or light meal. Hosts commonly serve mezedes to their guests at informal or impromptu get-togethers as they are easy to prepare on short notice. Krasomezédhes (literally "wine-meze") are mezedes that go well with wine; ouzomezédhes are mezedes that go with ouzo.

  • Deep-fried vegetables "tiganita" (courgettes, aubergines, peppers, zucchini, or mushrooms).
  • Dakos, a Cretan salad consisting of a slice of soaked dried bread or barley rusk (paximadi) topped with chopped tomatoes and crumbled feta or mizithra cheese.
  • Dolmadakia(from Turkish dolma): grapevine leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables; meat is also often included.
  • Fava: purée of yellow split peas or beans; sometimes made of fava beans (called κουκι?ς in Greek).
  • Garides: shrimp.
  • Gavros: european anchovy.
  • Greek Salad: the so-called Greek salad is known in Greece as village/country salad (horiatiki) and is essentially a tomato salad with cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, and kalamata olives, dressed with olive oil. In Cyprus it contains also cracked wheat (bulgur), spring onions instead of red onions, and lemon juice.
  • Horta: wild or cultivated greens, steamed or blanched and made into salad, simply dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. They can be eaten as a light meal with potatoes (especially during Lent, in lieu of fish or meat).
  • Kalamarakia: squid.
  • Kolokythakia: zucchini.
  • Kolokythoanthoi: zucchini flowers stuffed with rice or cheese and herbs.
  • Koukies: fava beans.
  • Lachanosalata: cabbage salad. Very finely shredded cabbage with salt, olive oil, lemon juice/vinegar dressing.
  • Kroketes: croquettes.
  • Marides tiganites: deep-fried whitebait, usually served with lemon wedges.
  • Melitzanes, eggplants.
  • Melitzanosalata: eggplant (aubergine) salad; looks like potato salad.
  • Pantzarosalata: beetroot salad with olive oil and vinegar.
  • Patatosalata: potato salad with olive oil, finely sliced onions, mayonnaise, lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Saganaki: fried yellow cheese, usually graviera cheese; the word "saganaki" means a small cooking pan, is used to say "fried" and can be applied to many other foods.
  • Skordalia: thick garlic and potato puree, usually accompanies deep fried fish/cod (bakaliaro me skordo, i.e. fried battered cod with garlic dip, a very popular dish).
  • Spanakopita: spinach, feta cheese (sometimes in combination with ricotta cheese), onions or scallions, egg and seasoning wrapped in phyllo pastry in a form of a pie.

Soups

  • Bourou-bourou, a vegetable and pasta soup from the island of Corfu.
  • Fakes, a lentil soup, usually served with vinegar and olive oil.
  • Fasolada, a bean soup defined in many cookery books as the traditional Greek dish, sometimes even called "the "national food of the Greeks".[13] It is made of beans, tomatoes, carrot, celery and a generous amount of olive oil usually served with a variety of salty side dishes.
  • Kotosoupa(chicken soup), usually thickened with avgolemono.
  • Magiritsa, the traditional Easter soup made with lamb offal, thickened with avgolemono.
  • Patsas, a tripe soup, often served for breakfast.
  • Psarosoupa'fish soup' can be made with a variety of fish, and several kinds of vegetables (carrots, parsley, celery, potatoes, onion), several varieties include the classic kakavia which is drizzled with olive oil.
  • Revithia, a chickpea soup.
  • Trahanasoup, made from a dried grain-dairy substance.

Vegetarian main dishes

Very popular during fasting periods, such as the Great Lent:

  • Aginares a la Polita: artichokes with olive oil.
  • Arakas me aginares: oven-baked fresh peas with artichokes.
  • Bamies: okra with tomato sauce (sometimes with potatoes or during non-fasting times with chicken/lamb).
  • Briám: an oven-baked ratatouille of summer vegetables based on sliced potatoes and zucchini in olive oil. Usually includes eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and ample aromatic herbs and seasonings.
  • Domatokeftedes: tomato fritters with mint, fried in olive oil and typically served with fava (split-pea paste). Mainly a Cycladic island dish.
  • Fasolakia: fresh green beans stewed with potatoes, zucchini and tomato sauce.
  • Gemista, baked stuffed vegetables. Usually tomatoes, peppers, or other vegetables hollowed out and baked with a rice-and-herb filling or minced meat.
  • Gigandes plaki: baked beans with tomato sauce and various herbs.[14] Often made spicy with various peppers.
  • Horta(greens), already mentioned in the appetizers section, are quite often consumed as a light main meal, with boiled potatoes and bread.
  • Kinteata, dish made from boiled young nettles.
  • Lachanodolmades: cabbage rolls, stuffed with rice and sometimes meat, spiced with various herbs and served with avgolemono sauce or simmered in a light tomato broth.
  • Lachanorizo, cabbage with rice.
  • Prassorizo, leeks with rice.
  • Spanakorizo, spinach and rice stew cooked in lemon and olive-oil sauce.

Meat and seafood dishes

  • Apáki: a famous Cretan specialty; lean pork marinated in vinegar, then smoked with aromatic herbs and shrubs, and packed in salt.
  • Astakos: lobster.
  • Astakomacaronada: spaghetti with lobster.
  • Chtapodi sti schara: grilled octopus in vinegar, oil and oregano. Accompanied by ouzo.
  • Giouvetsi: lamb or veal baked in a clay pot with kritharaki (orzo) and tomatoes.
  • Gyros: meat roasted on a vertically turning spit and served with sauce (often tzatziki) and garnishes (tomato, onions) on pita bread; a popular fast food.
  • Kleftiko: literally meaning "in the style of the Klephts", this is lamb slow-baked on the bone, first marinated in garlic and lemon juice, originally cooked in a pit oven. It is said that the Klephts, bandits of the countryside who did not have flocks of their own, would steal lambs or goats and cook the meat in a sealed pit to avoid the smoke being seen.
  • Keftedakia, fried meatballs .
  • Macaronada: classic spaghetti.
  • Moussaka(from Arabic ?????‎ musaqqa'): an oven-baked layer dish: ground meat and eggplant casserole, topped with a savory custard which is then browned in the oven. There are other variations besides eggplant, such as zucchini or rice, but the eggplant version, melitzánes moussaká is by far the most popular. The papoutsákia ("little shoes") variant is essentially the same dish, with the meat and custard layered inside hollowed, sauteéd eggplants.
  • Mydia: mussels.
  • Oven-baked lamb with potatoes (Αρν? στο φο?ρνο με πατ?τες). One of the most common "Sunday" dishes. There are many variations with additional ingredients.
  • Paidakia:grilled lamb chops with lemon, oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Pastitsio: an oven-baked layer dish: Bechamel sauce top, then pasta in the middle and ground meat cooked with tomato sauce at the bottom.

  • Pork with celery (hirino me selino/hirino selinato).
  • Soutzoukakia Smyrneika(Smyrna meatballs): long shaped meatballs with cumin, cinnamon and garlic and boiled in tomato sauce with whole olives. Often served with rice or mashed potatoes.
  • Souvlaki: (lit: 'skewer') grilled pork small pieces or gyros, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki as sauce all wrapped with pita considered as fast food.
  • Spetsofai: a stew of country sausage, green mild peppers, onions and wine. Originates from Pelion.
  • Stifado: rabbit or hare stew with pearl onions, vinegar, red wine and cinnamon. Beef can be substituted for game.
  • Xiphias: swordfish.
  • Yiouvarlakia: meatballs soup with egg-lemon sauce.

Desserts and sweets

  • Amygdalotáor pastéli exist in many varieties throughout Greece and Cyprus, and are especially popular in the islands. They consist of powdered blanched almonds, confectioner's sugar and rose water, molded in various shapes and sizes. They are snow-white and are considered wedding and baptismal desserts.
  • Finikia, cookie topped with chopped nuts.
  • Baklava, phyllo pastry layers filled with nuts and drenched in honey.
  • Diples, a Christmas and wedding delicacy, made of paper-thin, sheet-like dough which is cut in large squares and dipped in a swirling fashion in a pot of hot olive oil for a few seconds. As the dough fries, it stiffens into a helical tube; it is then removed immediately and sprinkled with honey and crushed walnuts.[15]
  • Galaktoboureko, custard baked between layers of phyllo, and then soaked with lemon-scented honey syrup. The name derives from the Greek "gala"(γ?λα), meaning milk, and from the Turkish börek, meaning filled, thus meaning "filled with milk."
  • Halva, a nougat of sesame with almonds or cacao.
  • Karydopita, a cake of crushed walnuts, soaked or not in syrup.
  • Koulourakia, butter or olive-oil cookies.
  • Kourabiedes, Christmas cookies made by kneading flour, butter and crushed roasted almonds, then generously dusted with powdered sugar.
  • Loukoumades, similar to small crusty donuts, loukoumades are essentially fried balls of dough drenched in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.
  • Loukoumiis a confection made from starch and sugar, essentially similar to the Turkish delight. A variation from Serres is called Akanés. Loukoúmia are flavored with various fruit flavors, with rose water considered the most prized.
  • Melomakarona, "honey macaroons", Christmas cookies soaked with a syrup of diluted honey (méli in Greek) and then sprinkled with crushed walnuts.
  • Milopita, apple pie with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
  • Moustalevria, a flour and grape must flan.
  • Moustokouloura, cookies of flour kneaded with fresh grape juice (must) instead of water.
  • Rizogalo("rice-milk") is rice pudding.
  • Spoon sweets(γλυκ? του κουταλιο?) of various fruits, ripe or unripe, or green unripe nuts. Spoon sweets are essentially marmalade except that the fruit are boiled whole or in large chunks covered in the fruit's made syrup.
  • Tsoureki, a traditional Christmas and Easter sweet bread also known as 'Lambropsomo' (Easter bread), flavored with "mahlepi", the intensely aromatic extract of the stone of the St. Lucie Cherry.
  • Vasilopita, Saint Basil's cake or King's cake, traditional only for New Year's Day. Vasilopites are baked with a coin inside, and whoever gets the coin in their slice are considered blessed with good luck for the whole year.
  • Yogurt with honey or spoon sweet syrup.

Cheese

There is a wide variety of cheeses made in various regions across Greece. The vast majority of them remain unknown outside the Greek borders due to the lack of knowledge and the highly localized distinctive features. Many artisanal, hand made cheeses, both common varieties and local specialties, are produced by small family farms throughout Greece and offer distinct flavors atypical of the mass produced varieties found commercially in Greece and abroad.

Drinks

Greece's viticultural history goes back to prehistoric times,i[›] and wine production was thriving until the 11th century.[16] Viticulture significantly regressed under Ottoman rule, and, although Turkish and Western travellers reported rich vineyards in certain areas (e.g. Macedonia), production did not revive until mid-20th century.[17] After World War II, Greek winemakers imported and cultivated foreign grape varieties, especially French ones, in order to support local production.[18] In 1960s, retsina, a dry white wine with lumps of resin, was probably the most well-known Greek wine abroad. In recent years, local varieties are rediscovered and often blended with foreign ones.[19] In early 1980s, a system of appellations, modelled on the respective French one, was implemented to assure consumers the origins of their wine purchases. Today, there are 28 appellations (Appellations of Origin of Superior Quality and Controlled Appellation of Origin) throughout the country, from Macedonia to Crete.[20]

Taken from wikipedia

Places to go in GREECE

 

 

Doing business in GREECE

The Greek economy (that is gross domestic product, GDP) expanded at an average annual rate of 4% from 2004–2007 and 2% during 2008 (at constant prices of 2000), one of the highest rates in the Eurozone. However, in 2009 GDP decreased by −1.9%. In 2010, a decrease of GDP by −2.5% to −4% is estimated, due to the current economic crisis. [55] In 2011, Greek GDP fell by an estimated 6.8%.[56]

The tourism industry is a major source of foreign exchange earnings and revenue accounting for 15% of Greece's total GDP[57] and employing, directly or indirectly, 16.5% of the total workforce.

The Greek labour force totals 4.9 million, and it is the second-most-industrious among OECD countries, after South Korea.[58] The Groningen Growth & Development Centre published a poll revealing that between 1995 and 2005, Greece ranked third in the "working hours per year ranking" among European nations; Greeks worked an average of 1,811 hours per year.[59] In 2007, the average worker produced around 20 dollars per hour, similar to Spain and slightly more than half of average U.S. worker's hourly output. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, occupied in mainly agricultural and construction work.

Greece's purchasing power-adjusted GDP per capita is the world's 25th highest. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it had an estimated average per capita income of $29,882 for the year 2009, a figure slightly higher than that of Italy and Spain. According to Eurostat data, Greek PPS GDP per capita stood at 95 per cent of the EU average in 2009.[60] According to a survey by The Economist,the cost of living in Athens is close to 90% of the costs in New York City; in rural regions it is lower.[61]

In Greece, the euro was introduced in 2002. As a preparation for this date, the minting of the new euro coins started as early as 2001. However, all Greek euro coins introduced in 2002 have this year on it, unlike some other countries of the Eurozone where mint year is minted in the coin. Eight different designs, one per face value, were selected for the Greek coins. In 2007, in order to adopt the new common map like the rest of the Eurozone countries, Greece changed the common side of their coins. Before adopting the euro in 2002, Greece had maintained use of the Greek drachma from 1832.

In 2009, Greece had the EU's second-lowest Index of Economic Freedom (after Poland), ranking 81st in the world.The country suffers from high levels of political and economic corruption and low global competitiveness relative to its EU partners. The Greek economy faces significant problems, including rising unemployment levels and an inefficient government bureaucracy. Although remaining above the euro area average, economic growth turned negative in 2009 for the first time since 1993. An indication of the trend of over-lending in recent years is the fact that the ratio of loans to savings exceeded 100% during the first half of the year.[63]

Debt crisis (2010-2012)

By the end of 2009, as a result of a combination of international and local factors (respectively, the world financial crisis and uncontrolled government spending), the Greek economy faced its most-severe crisis since the restoration of democracy in 1974 as the Greek government revised its deficit from an estimated 6% to 12.7% of gross domestic product (GDP).[64][65]

In early 2010, it was revealed that successive Greek governments had been found to have consistently and deliberately misreported the country's official economic statistics to keep within the monetary union guidelines.[66][67] This had enabled Greek governments to spend beyond their means, while hiding the actual deficit from the EU overseers.[68] In May 2010, the Greek government deficit was again revised and estimated to be 13.6%[69] which was one of the highest in the world relative to GDP[70] and public debt was forecast, according to some estimates, to hit 120% of GDP during 2010,[71]one of the highest rates in the world.

As a consequence, there was a crisis in international confidence in Greece's ability to repay its sovereign debt. In order to avert such a default, in May 2010 the other Eurozone countries, and the IMF, agreed to a rescue package which involved giving Greece an immediate €45 billion in loans, with more funds to follow, totaling €110 billion.[72][73] In order to secure the funding, Greece was required to adopt harsh austerity measures to bring its deficit under control.[74] Their implementation will be monitored and evaluated by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF.[75][76]

On 15 November 2010 the EU's statistics body Eurostat revised the public finance and debt figure for Greece following an excessive deficit procedure methodological mission in Athens, and put Greece's 2009 government deficit at 15.4% of GDP and public debt at 126.8% of GDP making it the biggest deficit (as a percentage of GDP) amongst the EU member nations (although some have speculated that Ireland's in 2010 may prove to be worse).[77][78][79][80]

The austerity package put forth by the EU and the IMF has been generally rejected by the Greek people, who have expressed their dissatisfaction with many protests.

Taken from wikipedia

GREECE: useful links

www.visitgreece.gr

www.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/1009249.stm

www.lonelyplanet.com/greece

www.ancientgreece.com

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