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"Hellas" redirects here. For other uses, see Hellas (disambiguation).
For other uses, see Greece (disambiguation).
Flag National emblem
Motto: Eleftheria i Thanatos, (Greek: "Ελευθερία ή
Θάνατος", "Freedom or Death") (traditional)
Anthem: Ὕμνος εἰς τὴν Ἐλευθερίαν
Ýmnos eis tīn Eleftherían
Hymn to Liberty1
Location of Greece (dark green)
– on the European continent (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union (light green) — [Legend]
(and largest city) 38°00′N 23°43′E38°N 23.717°E
Official languages Greek
Government Parliamentary republic
- President Karolos Papoulias
- Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis
Legislature The Parliament
- the Ottoman
25 March 1821
3 February 1830, in the
May 1832, in the Convention
- Kingdom of Greece
- Current constitution 1975, "Third Republic"
EU accession 1 January 1981
131,990 km2 (96th)
50,944 sq mi
- Water (%) 0.8669
- 2009 estimate 11,257,285 (73rd)
- 2001 census 10,964,020
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
- Total $341.127 billion (33rd)
- Per capita $30,535 (28th)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
- Total $357.549 billion (27th)
- Per capita $32,005 (27th)
Gini (2000) 34.32 (low) (35th)
HDI (2006) ▲ 0.947 (high) (18th)
Currency Euro (€)3 (EUR)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
- Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .gr4
Calling code 30
Also the national anthem of Cyprus.
UNDP Human Development Report 2007/08.
Before 2001, the Greek drachma.
4 The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European
Union member states.
Greece /ɡriːs/ (help·info) (Greek: Ελλάδα, transliterated: Elláda [e̞ˈlaða] , historically Ἑλλάς,
Hellás, IPA: [e̞ˈlas]), officially the Hellenic Republic (Ελληνική Δημοκρατία, Ellīnikī́
Dīmokratía, [e̞liniˈkʲi ðimo̞kɾaˈtia]), is a country in southeastern Europe, situated on the
southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. The country has borders with Albania, the Republic of
Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the east. The Aegean Sea lies to the east and
south of mainland Greece, while the Ionian Sea lies to the west. Both parts of the Eastern
Mediterranean basin feature a vast number of islands, islets and rock islands.
Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of ancient Greece, generally considered to be
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, and Western drama, including both tragedy and
Greece is a developed country, 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, a founding member of the Black Sea Economic
Cooperation and a member of ESA since 2005. Athens is the capital; Thessaloniki, Patras,
Heraklion, Larissa, Volos, Ioannina, Kavala, Rhodes and Serres are some of the country's other
Main article: History of Greece
The Parthenon in Athens.
25 March 1821: Germanos of Patras, blessing the Greek flag at Agia Lavra.Painted by Theodoros
King Constantine(center) and Eleftherios Venizelos(seated,with back to camera) in 1913,during the
Greece was the first area in Europe where advanced early civilizations emerged, beginning with
the Minoan civilization in Crete and then the Mycenean civilization on the mainland. Later, city-
states emerged across the Greek peninsula and spread to the shores of Black Sea, South Italy and
Asia Minor reaching great levels of prosperity that resulted in an unprecedented cultural boom,
expressed in architecture, drama, science and philosophy, and nurtured in Athens under a
democratic environment. Athens and Sparta led the way in repelling the Persian Empire in a
series of battles. Both were later overshadowed by Thebes and eventually Macedon, with the
latter under the guidance of Alexander the Great uniting and leading the Greek world to victory
over the Persians, to presage the Hellenistic era, itself brought only partially to a close two
centuries later with the establishment of Roman rule over Greek lands in 146 BC. Many Greeks
migrated to Alexandria, Antioch, Seleucia and the many other new Hellenistic cities in Asia and
Africa founded in Alexander's wake.
The subsequent mixture of Roman and Hellenic cultures took form in the establishment of the
Byzantine Empire in 330 AD around Constantinople, which remained a major cultural and
military power for the next 1,123 years, until its fall at the hands of Ottomans in 1453. On the
eve of the Ottoman era much of the Greek intelligentsia migrated to the Italian territories and
much of non-Ottoman occupied Europe, playing a significant role in the Western European
Renaissance through the transferring of works of Ancient Greeks to Western Europe.
Nevertheless, the Ottoman millet system contributed to the cohesion of the Orthodox Greeks by
segregating the various peoples within the Ottoman Empire based on religion, as the latter played
an integral role in the formation of modern Greek identity.
After the Greek War of Independence, successfully fought against the Ottoman Empire from
1821 to 1829, the nascent Greek state was finally recognized under the London Protocol. In
1827, Ioannis Kapodistrias, from Ionian Islands, was chosen as the first governor of the new
Republic. However, following his assassination, the Great Powers installed a monarchy under
Otto, of the Bavarian House of Wittelsbach. In 1843, an uprising forced the King to grant a
constitution and a representative assembly. Due to his unimpaired authoritarian rule, he was
eventually dethroned in 1863 and replaced by Prince Vilhelm (William) of Denmark, who took
the name George I and brought with him the Ionian Islands as a coronation gift from Britain. In
1877, Charilaos Trikoupis, who is attributed with the significant improvement of the country's
infrastructure, curbed the power of the monarchy to interfere in the assembly by issuing the rule
of vote of confidence to any potential prime minister.
As a result of the Balkan Wars, Greece successfully increased the extent of her territory and
population, a challenging context both socially and economically. In the following years, the
struggle between King Constantine I and charismatic Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos over
the country's foreign policy on the eve of World War I dominated the country's political scene,
and divided the country into two opposed groups.
In the aftermath of WWI, Greece fought against Turkish nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal, a
war which resulted in a massive population exchange between the two countries under the Treaty
of Lausanne. According to various sources, several hundred thousand Pontic Greeks died
during this period. Instability and successive coups d'état marked the following era, which was
overshadowed by the massive task of incorporating 1.5 million Greek refugees from Asia Minor
into Greek society. The Greek population in Istanbul had shrunk from 300,000 at the turn of the
century to around 3,000 in the city today. On 28 October 1940 Fascist Italy demanded the
surrender of Greece, but Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas refused and in the following Greco-
Italian War, Greece repelled Italian forces into Albania, giving the Allies their first victory over
Axis forces on land. The country would eventually fall to urgently dispatched German forces
during the Battle of Greece. The German occupiers nevertheless met serious challenges from the
Greek Resistance. Over 100,000 civilians died from starvation during the winter of 1941–42. In
1943 virtually the entire Jewish population was deported to Nazi extermination camps.
After liberation, Greece experienced a bitter civil war between Royalist and Communist forces,
which led to economic devastation and severe social tensions between its Rightists and largely
Communist Leftists for the next 30 years. The next 20 years were characterized by
marginalisation of the left in the political and social spheres but also by a significant economic
growth, propelled in part by the Marshall Plan.
In 1965, a period of political turbulence led to a coup d’etat on 21 April 1967 by the US-backed
Regime of the Colonels. On November 1973 the Athens Polytechnic Uprising sent shock waves
across the regime, and a counter-coup established Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannides as dictator. On
20 July 1974, as Turkey invaded the island of Cyprus, the regime collapsed.
Former premier Constantine Karamanlis was invited back from Paris where he had lived in self-
exile since 1963, marking the beginning of the Metapolitefsi era. On the 14 August 1974 Greek
forces withdrew from the integrated military structure of NATO in protest at the Turkish
occupation of northern Cyprus. In 1975 a democratic republican constitution was activated
and the monarchy abolished by a referendum held that same year. Meanwhile, Andreas
Papandreou founded the Panhellenic Socialist Party, or PASOK, in response to Constantine
Karamanlis' New Democracy party, with the two political formations dominating Greek political
affairs in the ensuing decades. Greece rejoined NATO in 1980. Relations with neighbouring
Turkey have improved substantially over the last decade, since successive earthquakes hit both
nations in the summer of 1999 (see Greece-Turkey earthquake diplomacy), and today Athens is
an active supporter of Turkey's bid for EU membership.
Greece became the tenth member of the European Union on 1 January 1981, and ever since the
nation has experienced a remarkable and sustained economic growth. Widespread investments in
industrial enterprises and heavy infrastructure, as well as funds from the European Union and
growing revenues from tourism, shipping and a fast growing service sector have raised the
country's standard of living to unprecedented levels. The country adopted the Euro in 2001 and
successfully organised the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.