Country code: +30
Local time: GMT + 2
Greece is a beautiful country in southeastern Europe. Situated on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula, Greece has land borders with Albania, Skopje and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the east.
The Aegean Sea lies to the east of mainland Greece, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the twelfth longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands (approximately 1400, of which 227 are inhabited), including Crete, the Dodecanese, the Cyclades, and the Ionian Islands among others.
Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest at 2,917m.
Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilisation of ancient Greece, generally considered the cradle of Western civilization. As such, it is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, university education, the first coin, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy. This legacy is partly reflected in the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Greece.
The modern Greek state was established in 1830, following a victorious uprising against Ottoman rule.
Greece is a member of the European Union since 1981, a member of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union since 2001, NATO since 1952, the OECD since 1961, the WEU since 1995 and ESA since 2005. Athens is the capital. Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Volos, Ioannina, Larissa and Kavala are some of the country’s other major cities.
The Greek weather can get quite hot in the summer, with temperatures of 35-37 degrees C or even more common in June, July and August. Such heatwaves rarely last for more than a few days. In the Aegean and Ionian Islands the temperature tends to be 2 to 4 degrees C lower than the mainland. The summer sea winds, the “meltemia,” begin in April, rise to a peak in August, and gradually abate by November. They’re characterized by winds of up to Force 9, and are experienced mainly in the Aegean Sea. These winds are especially welcome to sailors and windsurfers. The Aegean Yacht Regatta takes place every August, the same month as the Annual World Windsurfing Championship at the island of Paros. The windiest periods don’t usually exceed five days, after which the usual Force 1 to 3 breezes prevail, calming the sunny beaches. But at especially windy times, port authorities ban all passenger and pleasure boating. These weather emergencies generally do not last more than a couple of days at most.
Winter in Greece covers the period from November to April. It’s mostly mild, with the average temperature between 5 and 15 degrees C, moderate winds on the mainland and the islands, and frequent rain in the mountains. There can be considerable snow in the mountains, and even in Athens occasionally. Parts of Northern Greece, and areas of more than 800 metres in altitude, average from -5 to 10 degrees C in the coldest months. Greece’s ski centres open at this time, with the precise dates depending on the amount and quality of snow. Athens generally enjoys mild temperatures, from between 20 and 35 degrees C in the summer and 5 to 15 degrees C in the winter. Rainfall tends to be on the low side. In the high summer there can be heatwaves for a few days at a time, though in August the prevailing winds tend to cool them down.
Length of State Border: 1,228 km
Border Countries: Albania (282 km), Bulgaria (494 km), Turkey (206 km), FYROM (246 km)
Climate: Temperate, mild, wet winters, hot, dry summers
Terrain: mostly Mountains with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands
Elevation Extremes: Lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0m – Highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917m
Natural Resources: Lignite, iron ore, bauxite, lead, zinc, nickel, magnesite, marble, salt
Legal System: Based on Roman law, judiciary divided into civil, criminal, and administrative courts
Government Type: Parliamentary democracy
Legislative Branch: Unicameral Parliament– 300 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to four-year terms
Chief of State: President
Head of Government: Prime Minister
Membership in important international organizations: EU, NATO, EBRD, EIB, IBRD, IMF, IMO, Interpol, OECD, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, WHO, WTO, CERN
Major Greek Cities: Athens (3,761,180), Thessaloniki (1,057,825), Patras (191,058)
Transportation & Telecommunications: Railways total: 2,600 km – Roadways total: 117,000 km
Major highways: Egnatia Highway, PATHE Motorway, Ionian Motorway, Attiki Odos Motorway, Rion-Antirrion (Bridge)
Major Ports: [12 international ports] Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Volos, Patra, Alexandroupoli, Elefsina, Igoumenitsa, Iraklio, Kavala, Kalamata, Lavrio, Chalkida, Astakos
Major Airports: [15 international airports, 25 domestic airports, 20 million passengers annually] Athens International Airport (Eleftherios Venizelos), Thessaloniki, Iraklio (Crete), Rhodes, Corfu, Kos, Chania, Zakynthos, Samos, Mykonos, Santorini (Thira)
Telephones – main lines in use 6 million
Telephones – mobile cellular Approx.16 million
Mobile phone penetration 150+%
Mobile phone operators Cosmote, Wind, Vodafone, Q Telecom
Internet penetration 33.9%
Broadband 14% est. end 2008, EU convergence est. 2010
Thessaloniki: Thessaloniki and the other main towns of Greece, including the main islands, have bus services. A train service runs between Patra, Athens and Thessaloniki, including Larissa, Volos, and the towns up to the Turkish border. Everywhere else, the connections are bus only. Tickets can be found at the bus and train stations. Greece has a well-developed inter-city bus service with comfortable and fast vehicles that also serve many villages. Bus services are more frequent throughout the summer.
• Road Editions
• Εkdotike Αthinon
• Eleftheroudakis Bookshop
National Tourism Organization
Head Office: Τsocha 7, Athens. Tel: +30 210 8707000.
Information Office: L. Αmalias 26, Αthens. Tel: +30 210 3310392, 210 3310716, 210 3310347.
Information Office II: Athens International Airport (Spata), Arrivals Hall. Tel: +30 210 3530445.