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Greece / Ellas / Ελλας

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Greece achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, it gradually added neighboring islands and territories, most with Greek-speaking populations. In World War II, Greece was first invaded by Italy (1940) and subsequently occupied by Germany (1941-44); fighting endured in a protracted civil war between supporters of the king and Communist rebels. Following the latter's defeat in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. In 1967, a group of military officers seized power, establishing a military dictatorship that suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country. In 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. In 2010, the prospect of a Greek default on its euro-denominated debt created severe strains within the EMU and raised the question of whether a member country might voluntarily leave the common currency or be removed.

Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey

Geographic coordinates:
39 00 N, 22 00 E

Map references:

total: 131,957 sq km
country comparison to the world: 96
land: 130,647 sq km
water: 1,310 sq km

Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Alabama

Land boundaries:
total: 1,228 km
border countries: Albania 282 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Turkey 206 km, Macedonia 246 km

13,676 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Current Weather
temperate; mild, wet winters; hot, dry summers

mostly mountains with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917 m

Natural resources:
lignite, petroleum, iron ore, bauxite, lead, zinc, nickel, magnesite, marble, salt, hydropower potential

Land use:
arable land: 20.45%
permanent crops: 8.59%
other: 70.96% (2005)

Irrigated land:
14,530 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:
72 cu km (2005)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 8.7 cu km/yr (16%/3%/81%)
per capita: 782 cu m/yr (1997)

Natural hazards:
severe earthquakes

Environment - current issues:
air pollution; water pollution

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds

Geography - note:
strategic location dominating the Aegean Sea and southern approach to Turkish Straits; a peninsular country, possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands

10,749,943 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75

Age structure:
0-14 years: 14.2% (male 787,697/female 741,882)
15-64 years: 66.4% (male 3,564,399/female 3,574,922)
65 years and over: 19.4% (male 911,335/female 1,169,708) (2010 est.)

Median age:
total: 42.2 years
male: 41.1 years
female: 43.2 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:
0.106% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 186

Birth rate:
9.34 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204

Death rate:
10.6 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49

Net migration rate:
2.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 31

urban population: 61% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0.6% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.064 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 5.08 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 187
male: 5.58 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.54 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 79.8 years
country comparison to the world: 26
male: 77.24 years
female: 82.52 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.37 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 201

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
11,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 100 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145

noun: Greek(s)
adjective: Greek

Ethnic groups:
population: Greek 93%, other (foreign citizens) 7% (2001 census)
note: percents represent citizenship, since Greece does not collect data on ethnicity

Greek Orthodox 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7%

Greek 99% (official), other 1% (includes English and French)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96%
male: 97.8%
female: 94.2% (2001 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 17 years
male: 17 years
female: 17 years (2006)

Education expenditures:
4.4% of GDP (2005)
country comparison to the world: 94

Country name:
conventional long form: Hellenic Republic
conventional short form: Greece
local long form: Elliniki Dhimokratia
local short form: Ellas or Ellada
former: Kingdom of Greece

Government type:
parliamentary republic

name: Athens
geographic coordinates: 37 59 N, 23 44 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions:
51 prefectures (nomoi, singular - nomos) and 1 autonomous region*; Achaia, Agion Oros* (Mt. Athos), Aitolia kai Akarnania, Argolis, Arkadia, Arta, Attiki, Chalkidiki, Chania, 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, Lefkada, Lesvos, Magnisia, Messinia, Pella, Pieria, Preveza, Rethymnis, Rodopi, Samos, Serres, Thesprotia, Thessaloniki, Trikala, Voiotia, Xanthi, Zakynthos

1829 (from the Ottoman Empire)

National holiday:
Independence Day, 25 March (1821)

11 June 1975; amended March 1986 and April 2001

Legal system:
based on codified Roman law; judiciary divided into civil, criminal, and administrative courts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Karolos PAPOULIAS (since 12 March 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Yeoryios (George) PAPANDREOU (since 6 October 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
elections: president elected by parliament for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 3 February 2010 (next to be held by February 2015); president appoints leader of the party securing plurality of vote in election to become prime minister and form a government
election results: Karolos PAPOULIAS reelected president; number of parliamentary votes, 266 out of 300

Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament or Vouli ton Ellinon (300 seats; members elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 4 October 2009 (next to be held by 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party - PASOK 43.9%, ND 33.5%, KKE 7.5%, LAOS 5.6%, SYRIZA 4.6%, other 4.9%; seats by party - PASOK 160, ND 91, KKE 21, LAOS 15, SYRIZA 13

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

Political parties and leaders:
Coalition of the Radical Left or SYRIZA [Alexis TSIPRAS]; Communist Party of Greece or KKE [Aleka PAPARIGA]; Democratic Revival [Stelios PAPATHEMELIS]; Ecologist Greens [Nikos CHRYSOGELOS]; Fighting Socialist Party [Nikos KARGOPOULOS]; Greek Ecologists [Dimosthenis VERGIS]; New Democracy or ND [Antonis SAMARAS]; Panhellenic Socialist Movement or PASOK [Yiorgos PAPANDREOU]; Popular Orthodox Rally or LAOS [Yioryios KARATZAFERIS]; Union of Centrists [Vassilis LEVENTIS]

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Civil Servants Confederation or ADEDY [Spyros PAPASPYROS]; Federation of Greek Industries or SEV [Dimitris DASKALOPOULOS]; General Confederation of Greek Workers or GSEE [Ioannis PANAGOPOULOS]

International organization participation:

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Vassilis KASKARELIS
chancery: 2217 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-1300
FAX: [1] (202) 939-1324
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Tampa
consulate(s): Atlanta, Houston, New Orleans

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel V. SPECKHARD
embassy: 91 Vasilisis Sophias Avenue, 10160 Athens
mailing address: PSC 108, APO AE 09842-0108
telephone: [30] (210) 721-2951
FAX: [30] (210) 645-6282
consulate(s) general: Thessaloniki

Flag description:
nine equal horizontal stripes of blue alternating with white; a blue square bearing a white cross appears in the upper hoist-side corner; the cross symbolizes Greek Orthodoxy, the established religion of the country; there is no agreed upon meaning for the nine stripes or for the colors; the exact shade of blue has never been set by law and has varied from a light to a dark blue over time

Economy - overview:
Greece has a capitalist economy with the public sector accounting for about 40% of GDP and with per capita GDP about two-thirds that of the leading euro-zone economies. Tourism provides 15% of GDP. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, mainly in agricultural and unskilled jobs. 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 infrastructural 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. But growth dropped to 2% in 2008. The economy went into recession in 2009 and contracted by 2%, as a result of the world financial crisis, tightening credit conditions, and Athens' failure to address a growing budget deficit, which was triggered by falling state revenues, and increased government expenditures. Greece violated the EU's Growth and Stability Pact budget deficit criterion of no more than 3% of GDP from 2001 to 2006, but finally met that criterion in 2007-08, before exceeding it again in 2009, with the deficit reaching 10.7% of GDP. Public debt, inflation, and unemployment are above the euro-zone average while per capita income is below; debt and unemployment rose in 2009, while inflation subsided. Eroding public finances, a credibility gap stemming from inaccurate and misreported statistics, and consistent underperformance on following through with reforms prompted major credit rating agencies in late 2009 to downgrade Greece's international debt rating, which has led to increased financial instability. Under intense pressure by the EU and international market participants, the government has adopted a medium-term austerity program that includes cutting government spending, reducing the size of the public sector, decreasing tax evasion, reforming the health care and pension systems, and improving competitiveness through structural reforms to the labor and product markets. Athens, however, faces long-term challenges to push through unpopular reforms in the face of often vocal opposition from the country's powerful labor unions and the general public. Greek labor unions are prepared to strike over new austerity measures and continued widespread unrest could challenge the government's ability to implement reforms and meet budget targets, and could also lead to rioting or violence. In April 2010 a leading credit agency assigned Greek debt its lowest possible credit rating; in response, the International Monetary Fund and Eurozone goverments pledged more than $160 billion in support of Greece over the next three years.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$341 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
$347.9 billion (2008 est.)
$338 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$342.2 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
-2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
2% (2008 est.)
4% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$32,100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
$32,400 (2008 est.)
$31,600 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3.4%
industry: 20.7%
services: 76% (2009 est.)

Labor force:
4.98 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 12.4%
industry: 22.4%
services: 65.1% (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate:
9.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 113
7.7% (2008 est.)

Population below poverty line:
20% (2009 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.5%
highest 10%: 26% (2000 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
33 (2005)
country comparison to the world: 96
35.4 (1998)

Investment (gross fixed):
16.6% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126

revenues: $115 billion
expenditures: $159.8 billion (2009 est.)

Public debt:
113.4% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 7
102.6% of GDP (2008 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
4.1% (2008 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
3% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 102
5% (31 December 2007)
note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
8.65% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 119
7.71% (31 December 2007)

Stock of money:
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 16 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money and quasi money circulating within their own borders

Stock of quasi money:

Stock of domestic credit:
$394.6 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 22
$365.9 billion (31 December 2007)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$NA (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 38
$90.4 billion (31 December 2008)
$264.9 billion (31 December 2007)

Agriculture - products:
wheat, corn, barley, sugar beets, olives, tomatoes, wine, tobacco, potatoes; beef, dairy products

tourism, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, metal products; mining, petroleum

Industrial production growth rate:
3.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 38

Electricity - production:
58.79 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43

Electricity - consumption:
58.28 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42

Electricity - exports:
1.962 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:
7.575 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:
6,779 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89

Oil - consumption:
414,400 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34

Oil - exports:
151,300 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59

Oil - imports:
553,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23

Oil - proved reserves:
10 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 89

Natural gas - production:
9 million cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91

Natural gas - consumption:
3.528 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 68

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74

Natural gas - imports:
3.556 billion cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36

Natural gas - proved reserves:
1.982 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 96

Current account balance:
-$34.43 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 185
-$45.16 billion (2008 est.)

$21.34 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66
$29.14 billion (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities:
food and beverages, manufactured goods, petroleum products, chemicals, textiles

Exports - partners:
Germany 11.11%, Italy 11.05%, Cyprus 7.28%, Bulgaria 6.74%, US 4.95%, UK 4.4%, Turkey 4.23% (2009)

$64.2 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 39
$93.91 billion (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities:
machinery, transport equipment, fuels, chemicals

Imports - partners:
Germany 13.73%, Italy 12.71%, China 7.08%, France 6.1%, Netherlands 6.02%, South Korea 5.68%, Belgium 4.34%, Spain 4.08% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$5.546 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
$3.473 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$552.8 billion (30 June 2009)
country comparison to the world: 17
$504.6 billion (31 December 2008)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$43.53 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 55
$38.12 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$34.35 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 33
$37.23 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
euros (EUR) per US dollar - 0.7338 (2009), 0.6827 (2008), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005)

Telephones - main lines in use:
5.975 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 29

Telephones - mobile cellular:
13.799 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 47

Telephone system:
general assessment: adequate, modern networks reach all areas; good mobile telephone and international service
domestic: microwave radio relay trunk system; extensive open-wire connections; submarine cable to offshore islands
international: country code - 30; landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-3 optical telecommunications submarine cable that provides links to Europe, Middle East, and Asia; a number of smaller submarine cables provide connectivity to various parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Cyprus; tropospheric scatter; satellite earth stations - 4 (2 Intelsat - 1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean, 1 Eutelsat, and 1 Inmarsat - Indian Ocean region)

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 26, FM 88, shortwave 4 (1998)

Television broadcast stations:
36 (plus 1,341 repeaters); also 2 stations in the American Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (1995)

Internet country code:

Internet hosts:
2.342 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 28

Internet users:
4.253 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 47

81 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 69

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 67
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 15
1,524 to 2,437 m: 20
914 to 1,523 m: 18
under 914 m: 9 (2009)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 12 (2009)

9 (2009)

gas 1,197 km; oil 75 km (2009)

total: 2,548 km
country comparison to the world: 66
standard gauge: 1,565 km 1.435-m gauge (764 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 961 km 1.000-m gauge; 22 km 0.750-m gauge (2008)

total: 117,533 km
country comparison to the world: 38
paved: 107,895 km (includes 880 km of expressways)
unpaved: 9,638 km (2005)

6 km
country comparison to the world: 108
note: Corinth Canal (6 km) crosses the Isthmus of Corinth; shortens sea voyage by 325 km (2008)

Merchant marine:
total: 869
country comparison to the world: 12
by type: bulk carrier 260, cargo 66, carrier 1, chemical tanker 66, combination ore/oil 2, container 45, liquefied gas 10, passenger 13, passenger/cargo 115, petroleum tanker 274, roll on/roll off 15, specialized tanker 2
foreign-owned: 64 (Belgium 16, Cyprus 7, Turkey 1, UK 32, US 8)
registered in other countries: 2,357 (Antigua and Barbuda 3, Bahamas 209, Barbados 12, Belize 1, Bermuda 9, Brazil 1, Cambodia 3, Cayman Islands 16, China 2, Comoros 6, Cyprus 259, Denmark 4, Dominica 10, Egypt 8, Georgia 5, Gibraltar 6, Honduras 4, Hong Kong 22, Isle of Man 50, Italy 6, Jamaica 6, North Korea 1, Lebanon 2, Liberia 358, Maldives 1, Malta 452, Marshall Islands 269, Norway 3, Panama 510, Philippines 4, Portugal 4, Russia 1, Saint Kitts and Nevis 3, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 71, Sao Tome and Principe 1, Saudi Arabia 3, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 15, Slovakia 2, Turkey 1, UAE 3, Uruguay 1, Vanuatu 1, Venezuela 3, unknown 5) (2008)

Ports and terminals:
Agioitheodoroi, Aspropyrgos, Pachi, Piraeus, Thessaloniki

Military branches:
Hellenic Army (Ellinikos Stratos, ES), Hellenic Navy (Ellinikos Polemiko Navtiko, EPN), Hellenic Air Force (Elliniki Polimiki Aeroporia, EPA) (2009)

Military service age and obligation:
19-45 years of age for compulsory military service; during wartime the law allows for recruitment beginning January of the year of inductee's 18th birthday, thus including 17 year olds; 17 years of age for volunteers; conscript service obligation - 1 year for all services; women are eligible for voluntary military service (2008)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 2,502,268
females age 16-49: 2,486,171 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 2,050,018
females age 16-49: 2,033,450 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 53,222
female: 49,828 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:
4.3% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24

Disputes - international:
Greece and Turkey continue discussions to resolve their complex maritime, air, territorial, and boundary disputes in the Aegean Sea; Cyprus question with Turkey; Greece rejects the use of the name Macedonia or Republic of Macedonia; the mass migration of unemployed Albanians still remains a problem for developed countries, chiefly Greece and Italy

Illicit drugs:
a gateway to Europe for traffickers smuggling cannabis and heroin from the Middle East and Southwest Asia to the West and precursor chemicals to the East; some South American cocaine transits or is consumed in Greece; money laundering related to drug trafficking and organized crime


Information from the CIA's "The World Fact Book" 2010




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