Geography<br /><ul><li>Greece borders the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey
The entire nation is approximately the size of Alabama
Greece is mostly mountainous with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands, with over 13,676 km
The weather is temperate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers
Because of the miles of gorgeous coastline and ideal weather, Greece serves as an ideal vacation spot for many Europeans and a few lucky Americans. The country also has more than 2,000 islands, of which 170 are inhabited. </li></ul>2<br />
Population and Government<br /><ul><li>Population is 10,737,428 currently with a median age of 42. This is a slightly older population. For comparison, the median age in the United States is 36.
Government is a parliamentary republic, with a President that is elected by the Parliament (currently Karolos Papoulias), who serves for five years and is eligible for two terms. A Prime Minister (currently Yeoryios Papandreou) heads an elected cabinet.
Greece has a capitalist economy with tourism providing 15% of GDP. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, mainly in unskilled jobs. Greece is a major beneficiary of European Union aid, due to a recession in 2009 and the world financial crisis. Public debt, inflation, and unemployment are above the European average while per capita income is one of the lowest of the EU countries; debt and unemployment rose in 2009 and eroding public finances has led to increased financial instability. Athens faces challenges to reforms through opposition from the country's powerful labor unions and the general public. Greek labor unions are not afraid to strike and unrest may challenge reforms, and could possibly lead to rioting and violence.
The Greek economy depends heavily on tourism. Most of the industry is located in the Greater Athens area and is focused on agriculture, tourism, construction, and shipping. Greece adopted the Euro in 2002. There is a focus to reform Greece’s failing economy because Greece’s economic woes affect all members of the European Union. </li></ul>3<br />
Social & Economic Levels<br /><ul><li>Since the 19th century, upward mobility has been easier for Greeks with every generation. Greece does not have a rigid class system and has become even more flexible as incomes reach higher levels among the middle class.
Greek society is fairly traditional with an emphasis on family and maintaining its societal role, even in the economic sector. Many Greeks, rich and poor alike, own their own home, and real estate is almost always passed down through the generations. Non-home owners are considered impoverished, and neighbors ask questions regarding the family's inability to take care of its children and future generations.
In spite of urbanization, village life remains a strong societal influence. Small town meetings discuss topics relevant to the community, even in larger cities. Many businesses are small, family-owned and operated. Some sectors of the Greek economy, such as the shipping industry, are dominated entirely by a tight-knit group of a few families. Business operations are often run on family connections and favors.
Greece's health system provides benefits for workers, including a generous maternity-leave policy for women. New mothers returning to work they are traditionally allowed to leave work 2 hours early so they can return home to their child. Vacation leave is also generous, as it is elsewhere in Europe. April is the favorite month for taking vacations.
Pensions are a complex issue in Greece, because most, not all workers (80%) are covered under the Social Insurance Institute and the Agricultural Insurance Organization. Both workers and employers contribute to pension plans for the Social Insurance Institute, which covers professionals, laborers, and craftsmen. A separate institution, the Agricultural Insurance Organization, provides pensions for rural workers and relies entirely on funds from taxes.
Labor regulations are restrictive and apply rigid restraints on hours of allowable work. The non-salary cost of employing a worker is high. </li></ul>4<br />
TRANSPORTATION<br /><ul><li>Greece's mountainous interior and miles of coastline have made shipping an important industry. Greece's top 5 major cities—Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, and Volos—are all large ports, and there are a total of 123 ports additional throughout the country, which import and export goods throughout the world. Due to the savvy business know how of Greek ship-owners, the merchant fleet is one of the largest in the world totaling 3,358 ships in 1998.
Olympic Airways is partially state-owned, is Greece's primary airline. Olympic offers overseas flights to Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and South Africa. Air travel has passenger loads increased, but the airline has faced financial difficulty due to high costs. Greece has negotiated plans with the EU to restructure the airlineas well as many other facets of the economy.
Registrations for automobiles increased, although many buyers have postponed purchases due to the slowing economy. Roads are inadequate compared to European standards. Greece has one of the worst automobile accident levels in Europe.
The most popular way to get around in Greece is walking. Mopeds are often used, but many of the streets and walkways are so narrow, waling is your only option.
Donkeys are still used on many islands due to their efficiency on steep narrow streets. </li></ul>COMMUNICATION<br /><ul><li>Communications in Greece are modern. The telephone system reaches all areas for land lines and cell phones. Calls are transmitted by microwave radio relay and underwater cables transmit calls to the Greek islands. Computers and communications are slowly catching on in the rural areas, but Athens is not unlike any other major city technologically.
After the government dissolved its monopoly on radio and televisions stations,private television and radio stations emerged.
The Greek press is much more subjective than in the United States. Journalistic objectivity is not followed. Corruption from businesses with commercial own much of the media outlets and use newspapers, magazines, and radio and television to promote their commercial interests and capture political influence. </li></ul>5<br />
EDUCATION<br /><ul><li>Organized into three levels – primary which is available to students age five and a half to six years, secondary, and tertiary.
There is also a noncompulsory preprimary much like our kindergarten which is available at the age of three and a half.
Students attend classes five days a week for one hundred seventy five days per year.
All recognized school textbooks are provided by a single publisher, Organization of School Textbooks (OEDB).
There are no exams as part of the primary and secondary curriculums.
Tertiary education consists of both university and vocational schools and entrance is based on exams.
Education is prized in and of itself as well as a means of to financial security, entrance to universities is coveted. Private "cramming" classes (frontisteria) are common after school to prepare for the university entrance exams. Competition for a guaranteed spot is extremely.
Slightly over 50% of students that continue to attend university are female.</li></ul>HEALTH CARE<br /><ul><li>Established in 1983, the National Health System of Greece (ESY) assures every resident of Greece free health care.
There is no discrimination based on region or category of employment.
Greece’s health care system is categorized as a “mixed health care system” which includes numerous social insurance funds that operate in conjunction with the ESY to provide maximum coverage.
In many cases, free health care is extended to both EU and non-EU visitors and tourists based on international agreements.
Health is automatically extended to any foreigner employed in Greece that is making contributions to the social security system.</li></ul>6<br />
Courtship, Marriage & Family<br /><ul><li>It is customary for couples to become engaged before marriage; the man must ask for the woman’s hand and permission from the father of the bride to be. A priest will bless the engagement rings and place them on the engaged couple.
In more rural parts of Greece, the bride has a dowry made the women in her family, consisting of sheets, towels and hand made embroideries, and the father of the bride offers a furnished home to his daughter and son-in-law as a wedding gift. In the modern city Athens and other big cities, the bride doesn’t have a dowry anymore.
Almost all Greeks are married in a church, even if they are not religious.
Family is very important to Greeks, including their extended family. Traditionally the male is head of the family and historically families are large. Women enjoy equal rights, but there is separation of the sexes. Men and women often separate at social functions, with women preparing the food. Men may also spend time in cafes talking where women are not allowed.
Greek families care for their aged parents and this is seen as the children’s duty. Not to do so brings dishonor and shame is felt by family members who are placed in residential care.
Most Greeks avoid solitude and prefer to spend time in large groups, often with family, at events centered around food. </li></ul>7<br />
Work<br /><ul><li>The number of rural workers is dropping and the service industry is growing. The service and tourism industry employs the majority of Greek workers due to the natural beauty of the coast and islands.
Men tend to work in industry and women usually work in the service or agricultural industries. Women are usually paid less than men. It is not uncommon for Greeks to have two jobs, one seasonal, catering to tourism.
Greece relies heavily on an underground economy in which unreported income is not subject to taxation. This income comes from the service industry, with mom and pop businesses going unregulated. Additional income from sources like this are perhaps 50-60% higher than the country’s officially reported income. This undermines the modernization of the fiscal system and prevents development of an internationally competitive economy. </li></ul>Play<br /><ul><li>Many Greek people love to play cards and the most popular is Tavli, a form of backgammon.
Beaches and swimming are very popular with Greeks.
Soccer is very popular and can reach obsessive levels of fandom.
Greeks love spending time with family and socializing together. Food is a favorite pastime and goes along with socializing. </li></ul>Food<br /><ul><li>Meals are social events in Greece. Food is placed in the middle of the table for people to serve themselves. Fish is a staple in the Greek diet, as well as lamb. Most meals have some sort of salad with olive oil or lemon juice and vinegar. Feta cheese, olives, and fresh vegetables are popular and delicious. </li></ul>8<br />
Religion & Holidays<br /><ul><li>Greek Orthodox is the dominant religion and the Church being more than a place of religious worship. The Church is often the center of cultural activities of the local Greekcommunity.
Greece is a very religious nation, though Greeks are not zealous or fundamentalists. The majority of Greeks attend churches occasionally for a service, such as marriage, funeral, or baptism. Everyone goes to church on Good Friday.
Despite this fact, Greeks have very strong faith. Almost all Greeks will cross themselves when passing by a church and, in cases of danger and need, will cry out "help me Christ and Mary".
Name Days (or Saint Days) are the feast day of a saint who an individual is named after and are important. Birthdays may come and go without much notice, and name day is very important and will always involve a party and gifts, as well as an attendance of mass.
Easter is the most important holiday, and April is the time of year for celebrations and many Greeks will take time off from work.
New Year’s, Christmas, and Independence day are also celebrated. </li></ul>9<br />
Communication<br /><ul><li>The main language is Greek, using the Greek alphabet, which is a Cyrillic alphabet. In addition, 64% of the population speaks English.
A lot of emphasis is placed on the spoken word. If an issue is important, Greeks will always meet face to face. Hardly ever is an important issue discussed on the internet or texting.
Emotion is not suppressed by Greeks whatsoever, even in business situations. Displays of emotion are seen as positive and signify engagement. A person being subdued or quiet is a bad sign.
Greeks make eye contact and stand very close when speaking, much more so than other Europeans. Maintaining a large distance is seen as standoffish.
Not many topics are seen as off limits, so in social situations, it is common to ask personal questions regarding your family life or finances.
<ul><li>While Greece is not the first nation to spring to mind when it comes to modern fashion, clothing designers consider many of the designs that come from Greek tailors to be incredibly creative.
There is an annual fashion show known as Athens Fashion Week (sometimes referred to as Greek Fashion Week) held in the city of Athens every Spring.
Sophia Kokosalaki, a Greek fashion designer, was responsible for designing all of the clothing for the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Peter Speliopoulos, a native of Greece, is the Vice President of DKNY design.
The famous clothing designer, Giorgio Armani, is descended from Greek immigrants that made their way to Italy.
Greeks are very neat in appearance. Sloppy or overly casual clothing in public is inappropriate when attending Church it is important to be dressed appropriately out of respect to the Church. Shorts, thongs, short skirts or strapless clothing are NOT to be worn to church.
Greece was responsible recent artists such as Constantine Andreou, considered an eminent painter and sculptor of the 20th century, and the co-founder of the Metaphysical movement, Giorgio de Chirico who Salvador Dali has acknowledged as a personal influence.</li></ul>11<br />Fashion, Art and Architecture<br />