131,957 km2 (50,949 miles2).

11.1 million (National Statistical Service of Greece, 2005).

Population Density
84.1 per km2.

Population: 750,000 (2004 estimate); Greater Athens 3.3 million (2004 estimate).


Greek (Ellenika). Most people connected with tourism and those of a younger generation will speak some English, French, German or Italian.

98% Greek Orthodox, with Muslim, Roman Catholic and Jewish minorities.

Administrative divisions

51 prefectures (nomoi, singular - nomos) and 1 autonomous region*; Achaia, Agion Oros* (Mt. Athos), Aitolia kai Akarnania, Argolis, Arkadia, Arta, Attiki, Chalkidiki, Chanion, Chios, Dodekanisos, Drama, Evros, Evrytania, Evvoia, Florina, Fokidos, Fthiotis, Grevena, Ileia, Imathia, Ioannina, Irakleion, Karditsa, Kastoria, Kavala, Kefallinia, Kerkyra, Kilkis, Korinthia, Kozani, Kyklades, Lakonia, Larisa, Lasithi, Lefkas, Lesvos, Magnisia, Messinia, Pella, Pieria, Preveza, Rethynnis, Rodopi, Samos, Serrai, Thesprotia, Thessaloniki, Trikala, Voiotia, Xanthi, Zakynthos

Greece has a capitalist economy with the public sector accounting for about 40% of GDP and with per capita GDP at least 75% of the leading Eurozone economies. Tourism provides 15% of GDP. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, mainly in agricultural and unskilled labour. Greece is a major beneficiary of EU aid, equal to about 3.3% of annual GDP. The Greek economy grew by nearly 4.0% per year between 2003 and 2007, due partly to infrastructure spending related to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and in part to an increased availability of credit, which has sustained record levels of consumer spending. Greece violated the EU’s Growth and Stability Pact budget deficit criteria of no more than 3% of GDP from 2001 to 2006, but finally met that criterion in 2007. Public debt, inflation, and unemployment are above the Eurozone average, but are falling. The Greek Government continues to grapple with cutting government spending, reducing the size of the public sector, and reforming the labour and pension systems, in the face of often vocal opposition from the country’s powerful labour unions and the general public. The economy remains an important domestic political issue in Greece and although the ruling New Democracy government has had some success in improving economic growth and reducing the budget deficit, Athens faces long-term challenges in its effort to continue its economic reforms, especially social security reform and privatization.

History, culture and religion

Classical Greece dates from the first Olympic Game in 776 B.C .and the end of the period is the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. Ancient Greece is considered the cultural foundation of Western Civilization. Even though it was invaded by the Roman, its cultural heritage was preserved by the Roman Empire, which carried a version of the Greek model to many parts of Europe, and shaped the way modern a democratic civilization performs. Ancient Greek civilization has influenced language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, religion, art and architecture, through out the Renaissance period and still to this day.

Major wars of the period

The Persian Wars (500 – 448 B.C.) against Persian Empire, 431 B.C. the Peloponnesian War led by two opposing coalitions of Sparta and Athens, and the expansion wars led by Alexander the Great.

Leonidas I, king of Sparta, in the monument of Thermopylae

Leonidas I, king of Sparta, in the monument of Thermopylae - source

Famous people of the period

The poets : Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Sappho

The politicians: Themistocles, Pericles, Lysander, Epaminondas, Alcibiades, Philip II of Macedon, and his son Alexander the Great

The philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, Heraclitus of Ephesus, Parmenides, Democritus, Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon

Hellenistic period began in 323 B.C. with the death of Alexander and ends with annexation of the Greece by Rome in 146 B.C. The importance of Greece declined and the land were separated into three main centres. The Roman conquest ended with the division of the Empire into East and West. Constantinople was declared as the new capital since the importance of Byzantium Empire had grown. The Greeks became identified with Byzantine civilization. The figures of Constantine the Great and Justinian played a very important role in the founding of Christianity. The Turkish invasion came at the hands of the Ottomans in 1453. Their rule is known as the years of darkness, in which cultural development was suppressed. The Greeks fought for independence winning in the Revolution of 1821 - 1827. Greece went through a period of cultural revival following the formation of the first Hellenic Republic in 1831. This is considered as the rebirth of the Greek nation, finally being able to form a single entity from its multi-faceted culture.


Homer - source

Historical development of Hellenic republic

Greece achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829 and until the end of the first half of the 20th century it gradually added neighbouring islands and territories with Greek-speaking populations. During World War II, Greece was first invaded by Italy and then occupied by Germany. Civil war broke out with fighting between supporters of the king and Communist rebels until 1949. Greece joined NATO in 1952. However, in 1967 a military dictatorship, which suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country, gained power. The junta ruled over Greece 7 years.

Otto, first King of modern Greece

Otto, first King of modern Greece - source

The 1974 democratic elections and a referendum created a parliamentary republic and abolished the monarchy. In 1981 Greece joined the EC (now the EU); it became the 12th member of the European Economic and Monetary Union in 2001. Currently, the Greek Republic orientates its focus toward common European economic and social security issues.

Greece is a Parliamentary Republic. The President has a ceremonial role and leader of the majority party in the Parliament is chosen as the Prime Minister. Greece has a codified constitution and a written Bill of Rights written 11 June 1975; amended March 1986 and April 2001. Two major political parties dominate the political system. In 1981, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement formed the socialist government and subsequently ruled the country for most of the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. Since 2004 it served as the main opposition party.

Greece Parliament


Contemporary political system

Executive branch

Chief of State: President Karolos PAPOULIAS (since 12 March 2005, next to be held by February 2010) Head of Government: Prime Minister Konstandinos (Kostas) KARAMANLIS (since 7 March 2004) Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister Foreign Minister: Dora Bakoyannis

Legislative branch

unicameral Parliament or Vouli ton Ellinon (300 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms, next to be held by 2011- ND 41.8%, PASOK 38.1%, KKE 8.2%)

Judicial branch

Supreme Judicial Court; Special Supreme Tribunal; all judges appointed for life by the president after consultation with a judicial council

Military branches

Hellenic Army (Ellinikos Stratos, ES), Hellenic Navy (Ellinikos Polemiko Navtiko, EPN), Hellenic Air Force (Elliniki Polimiki Aeroporia, EPA)

Helenic Navy

Helenic Navy - source  

International organization participation Australia Group, BIS, BSEC, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, EIB, EMU, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINURSO, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, SECI, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMEE, UNMIS, UNOMIG, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WEU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Political parties and leaders

Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) [Alekos ALAVANOS]; Communist Party of Greece or KKE [Aleka PAPARIGA]; New Democracy or ND (conservative) [Konstandinos KARAMANLIS]; Panhellenic Socialist Movement or PASOK [Yiorgos PAPANDREOU]; Popular Orthodox Rally or LAOS [Yeoryios KARATZAFERIS]

Political pressure groups and leaders

General Confederation of Greek Workers or GSEE [Ioannis PANAGOPOULOS]; Federation of Greek Industries or SEV [Dimitris DASKALOPOULOS]; Civil Servants Confederation or ADEDY [Spyros PAPASPYROS]

Last national elections 2007

Last national elections 2007

Last European Parliament election June 2009 See: •,_2009_(Greece)

Arts such as architecture, sculpture, pottery, weaving, music, jewellery making, and painting have a long-standing tradition in Greece, where civilisations were already established in pre-historic times.

Greek pottery

Greek pottery - source

Civilisations with impressive achievements developed during the Bronze Age (3000 – 1150 B.C. approximately) in the Northeastern Aegean, the Cyclades (its trade-mark being the large-sized marble figurines), Crete and the Greek mainland. The civilisations which flourished during the 2nd millennium in the latter two areas, known as the Minoan and Mycenaean respectively, are considered the first two major civilisations of Greece.  The architectural remnants, as well as the samples of pottery, stone carving (vessels, sealstones), metallurgy (vessels, weapons), jewellery making and painting (murals) are impressive and representative of these civilisations.

The classical works of art, with their ideal proportions and beauty, expressed the philosophical ideals of their times and were the model of the European Renaissance of the 15th century A.D.

A visit to archaeological sites, museums and monuments all over the country offers a vivid picture of the civilisations in Greece, their achievements in arts and technology from the pre-historic era to modern times.

Religion in Ancient Greece

Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs and rituals practiced in Ancient Greece in form of cult practices, thus the practical counterpart of Greek mythology. Within the Greek world, religious practice varied enough so that one might want to look into the Greek religions in detail. The cult practices of the Hellenes extended beyond mainland Greece to the islands and coasts of Ionia in Asia Minor, to Magna Graecia (Sicily and southern Italy), and to scattered Greek colonies in the Western Mediterranean, such as Massilia (Marseille). Greek examples tempered Etruscan cult and belief to influence much of the Roman religion.

There is a scholarly belief that early Greek religion came from, or was strongly influenced by, shamanistic practices from the steppes of Central Asia, brought to the Greek colony of Olbia in Scythia, on the northern shore of the Black Sea, and then all the way down to Greece. The Greeks believed in thousands of gods and goddesses with the most important gods being the gods of athletics.

Religion in ancient Greece


The Greeks invented athletic contests and held them in honour of their gods. The Isthmos Games were staged every two years at the Isthmos of Corinth. The Pythian Games took place every four years near Delphi. The most famous games held at Olympia, south west of Greece, which took place every four years. The ancient Olympics seem to have begun as early 700 B.C., in honour of Zeus. No women were allowed to watch the games and only Greek nationals could participate. One of the ancient wonders was a statue of Zeus at Olympia, made of gold and ivory by a Greek sculptor Pheidias. This was placed inside a Temple, although it was a towering 42 feet high.

Antikes Olympia stadium

Antikes Olympia stadium - source

By 472 B.C., The games at Olympia were lengthened from a one-day festival of athletics and wrestling to five days with many events. The order of the events is not precisely known, but the first day of the festival was devoted to sacrifices. During the middle of the festival 100 oxen were sacrificed in honour of a God. Athletes also often prayed and made small sacrifices themselves.

On the second day, the foot-race, the main event of the games, took place in the stadium, an oblong area enclosed by sloping banks of earth. At Olympia there were 4 different types of races; the first was stadion, the oldest event of the Games, where runners sprinted for 1 stade, which was the length of the stadium (192 m). The other races were a 2-stade race (384 m), and a long-distance run which ranged from 7 to 24 stades (1,344 m to 4,608 m).The fourth type of race involved runners wearing full amour, which was 2-4 stade race (384 m to 768 m), was used to build up speed and stamina for military purposes.

On other days, wrestling, boxing, and the pancratium, a combination of the two, were held. In wrestling, the aim was to throw the opponent to the ground three times, on either his hip, back or shoulder. In ancient Greek wrestling biting and genital holds were illegal.

Boxing became more and more brutal; at first the pugilists wound straps of soft leather over their fingers as a means of deadening the blows, but as the games progressed, hard leather, sometimes weighted with metal, was used. In the pancratium, the most rigorous of the sports, the contest continued until one or the other of the participants acknowledged defeat.

Horse-racing, in which each entrant owned his horse, was confined to the wealthy but was nevertheless a popular attraction. The course was 6 laps of the track, with separate races. The riders at that time took great risks as they did not use stirrups. It was only wealthy people who could pay for such training, equipment, and feed of both the rider and the horses, so whichever horse won it was not the rider who was awarded the Olive wreath but the owner. There were also Chariot races, that consisted of both 2-horse and 4-horse chariots, with separate races for chariots drawn by foals. There was also a race was between carts drawn by a team of 2 mules, which was 12 laps of the stadium track. - Olympics

Ancient Greek Theatre

The history of the Greek theatre began with festivals honouring their gods. A god, Dionysus, was honoured with a festival called "City Dionysia". In Athens, during this festival, men used to perform songs to welcome Dionysus. Plays were only presented at the City Dionysia festival.

Athens was the main centre for these theatrical traditions. Athenians spread these festivals to its numerous allies in order to promote a common identity throughout the regions.

At the early Greek festivals, the actors, directors, and dramatists were all the same person. After some time, only three actors were allowed to perform in each play. Later few non-speaking roles were allowed to perform on-stage. Due to limited number of actors allowed on-stage, the chorus evolved into a very active part of Greek theatre. Music was often played during the chorus’ delivery of its lines.

Panoramic view of the Greek theatre at Epidaurus

Panoramic view of the Greek theatre at Epidaurus - source

Tragedy, comedy, and satyr plays were the standard theatrical forms. Tragedy and comedy were viewed as completely separate genres. Satyr plays dealt with the mythological subject in a comic manner. Aristotle’s Poetics sets out a thesis about the perfect structure for tragedy.

Costumes and Masks

The actors were so far away from the audience that without the aid of exaggerated costumes and masks, they would not be seen. The masks were made of linen or cork, so none have survived. Tragic masks carried mournful or pained expressions, while comic masks were smiling or leering. The shape of the mask along with the architecture of the theatres, amplified the actor’s voice, making his words easier for the audience to hear

Theatrical masks of Tragedy and Comedy

Theatrical masks of Tragedy and Comedy - source


Education in Greece is compulsory for all children 6-15 years old and includes Primary (Dimotiko) and Lower Secondary (Gymnasio) Education. The school life of the students, however, can start from the age of 2.5 years (pre-school education) in institutions (private and public) called "Vrefonipiakoi Paidikoi Stathmi" (creches). In some Vrefonipiakoi Stathmoi there are also Nipiaka Tmimata (nursery classes) which operate along with the Nipiagogeia (kindergartens).

Attendance at Primary Education (Dimotiko) lasts for six years, and children are admitted at the age of 6. Along with the regular kindergartens (Nipiagogeia) and the Dimotika, there is an option of all-day primary schools, with an extended timetable and an enriched Curriculum.

Post-compulsory Secondary Education, according to the reform of 1997, consists of two school types: Eniaia Lykeia (Unified Upper Secondary Schools) and the Technical Vocational Educational Schools (TEE). The duration of studies in Eniaia Lykeia (EL) is three years and two years (a’ level) or three years (b’ level) in the Technical Vocational Educational Schools (TEE). Mutual student transfer from one type of school to the other is possible.

Along with the mainstream schools of Primary and Secondary Education, Special Nipagogeia (kindergartens), Dimotika, Gymnasia, Lykeia and upper secondary classes are available, admitting students with special educational needs. Musical, Ecclesiastical and Physical Education Gymnasia and Lykeia are also an option for students.

Public higher education is divided into Universities and Technological Education Institutes (TEI). Students are admitted to these Institutes according to their performance at national level examinations taking place at the second and third grade of Lykeio. Additionally, students when reaching the age of 23 years are admitted to the Hellenic Open University by drawing lots.

Corporate Culture

  • Punctuality is not particularly important in Greece, but foreigners are expected to be on time for business meetings, even though his/her Greek counterpart may be late.
  • Greeks want to get to know you before they will do business with you. Business meetings will usually begin with general conversation before business is discussed.
  • Trust is a major ingredient for acceptance and is much more important than qualifications, expertise or performance. Greeks and may be slow to trust foreigners.
  • Greeks distrust written communications. Put everything down on paper and get the appropriate signatures. Letters/memos are often stiff and formal.
  • Avoid telephoning unless it is impossible to meet. Personal, face-to-face contact in all matters is vital to communications.
  • There is one boss, and he/she takes complete responsibility. The boss is the owner or the owner’s most trusted employee.
  • Meetings are often forums for expressing personal opinions (usually contrary) or to inform the group about what is taking place; they seldom have a formal agenda.
  • Consensus is important and meetings may last or be reconvened until unanimity is reached.
  • The official work day starts early, ends at lunch and may start again at 5:00 p.m. Expect Greeks to ask personal questions, such as "Are you married?" or "Do you have children?" This is not considered rude, but an attempt to get to know you personally. Foreign women will find Greece a good place to do business.
  • Women’s opportunities in business depend on their connections, the same as for men.
  • It could be a problem for a foreign woman to invite a Greek man to lunch or dinner. Invite others along as well or, if for dinner, invite his wife.
  • A Greek man will always try to pay, but if you make arrangements beforehand and are insistent, he will probably give in.

Organizational structure

Greek business structures tend to be strictly hierarchical. Most organizations in Greece have been government-run or family-owned businesses and therefore, this tendency can be considered hardly surprising. It is to be expected that the organisations will most likely have an extremely centralised decision making approach, where all important decisions are being decided by a group of key individuals at the top of the company. For that reason, it is very important to spend time to study and understand the organisational hierarchy of the organisation that is being dealt with so that time is not wasted negotiating with the wrong person. Even when cooperating with the subsidiary of a multi-national company in Greece, local employee’s mindset could still veer towards a traditional hierarchical structure that might not even exist on paper.

Management style

Management styles that are usually being employed in Greece are highly directive and paternalistic in their nature. This perceived "paternalism" clearly fits into the strong sense of family and ethnic ties which binds all Greeks together. In the same way as the father is perceived being responsible for his family well-being, Greek bosses’ responsibilities are seen as paramount. Because of that, it is gravely important to give clear instructions that could be followed without any problems or hesitation. Pro-activity should not be expected as it isn’t one of the fortes of these paternalistic business cultures. Therefore, any vague instructions or requests directed to the employees will only make them feel perplexed hence should be avoided. As relationship bonds run deep in Greek culture, the manager expects loyalty. In return for this loyalty the boss will look after the interests of subordinates. The manager-subordinate relationship is viewed as reciprocal.


Foreign cultures often see Greek meetings as noisy, rambunctious or clamorous. That is especially being true for those, who come from cultures accustomed to more reserved, calm approach where every sits and politely awaits for their turn to speak. Greek meetings support lively airing of views where strong personal opinions, passionately and emotionally expressed are, in fact, appreciated. Such open debate is perceived as stimulating and essential to reach correct decisions. Formal meetings with prescheduled agendas are arranged only for the matters of key importance; common meetings are much more likely to be spontaneous, free of set agendas.


Being a member of any kind of team brings with it specific requirements. First off, one is obliged to bring to the group a notable contribution that is clearly ones’ own. Secondly, the boss should be always recognized as the leading force of the group. Greek team working can therefore be characterized as a group of individuals working on specific tasks with responsibilities to a central figure.

Communication styles

Even though the popularity of English has increased significantly, it would be unwise to expect that all business partners will be fluent in it. It is suggested to check on the language levels before meetings or conference calls because they might vary widely. Greek put much more emphasis on spoken, rather than written word. If one has a specific issue and intends it to be given a serious consideration, it is recommended to speak to people about it – not just rely on electronic or paper written word communication. Face-to-face meetings are considered the best.

Because Greeks do not really suppress their emotions in business situations, discussions might appear quite ferocious, especially to observer from culture that is not so outgoing. In Greece though, it is clearly seen as positive because it stresses engagement and involvement. On the contrary, when Greeks are quiet, it shows that something is heading wrong direction. Greeks also usually stand much closer to each other and have significantly stronger eye contact than most other cultures. It is important not to be intimidated by these cultural traits. Lack of eye contact or keeping a distance could be interpreted as untrustworthiness. In social situations, one might be asked quite personal question, which is again perceived as correct and unobtrusive.