OFFICIAL NAME: Hellenic Republic
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 131,951 Sq Km (50,949 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 10,346,800
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Greece is located on the southern
tip of the Balkan Peninsula in South East Europe and the
territory also includes several hundred islands in the Ionian
and Aegean Seas. It is bound by Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria
to the north, Turkey and the Aegean Sea to the east, the
Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Ionian Sea to the
west. Around 20% of the total land area is accounted for
by islands, of which the largest are Crete, Euboea, Lesbos,
Rhodes, Khios, Kefallonia, Corfu, Limnos, Samos and Naxos.
Mountains and hills dominate the landscape accounting for
nearly 80% of the total land area. In the northeast, the
Macedonian and Thrace regions are separated from Epirus
in the northwest by the Pindhos Mountains, which are a continuation
of the Dinaric Alps. The mountain range along the east coast
includes Mt. Olympus and continues through to include some
of the islands. The Pindhos Mountains continue southeast
to Giona and reappear as the islands of Kea, Kithnos, Serifos
and Sifnos. Other mountain ranges include Taiyetos in the
south and Parnon in the east. In the extreme northeast,
Thrace is separated from Bulgaria by the Rhodope Mountains.
The principal rivers include the Mesta, Strimon, Arakhthos,
Akheloos, Aliakmon, Pinios and Alfios. Major Cities (pop.
est.); Athens 772,100, Thessaloniki 384,000, Piraievs 182,700,
Patrai 152,600 (1991). Land Use; forested 20%, pastures
41%, agricultural-cultivated 27%, other 12% (1993).
CLIMATE: Greece has a Mediterranean climate with long hot dry
summers and mild winters when the majority of rainfall occurs. In the summer
the Etesian, a northerly wind, blows across the Aegean Sea while in the
mountainous areas, temperatures are generally cooler with severe winter
temperatures and heavy rainfall. Average annual precipitation in Athens
is 414 mm (16 inches) and the average temperature ranges are from 6 to
13 degrees Celsius (43 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit) in February to 23 to 33
degrees Celsius (73 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit) in August.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Greeks who account
for 96% of the population while the "Macedonians of Northern Greece"
account for 1.5%, Turks for .9% and 1% are Vlach, Slav, Albanian or Jewish.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 78 persons per sq km (202
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 62.5% urban, 37.5% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 49.0% male, 51.0% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
74.6 years male, 79.8 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 19% under 15,
22% 15 to 29, 20% 30 to 44, 19% 45 to 59, 14% 60 to 74, 6% 75 and over
(1990). Birth Rate; 10.1 per 1,000 (1992). Death Rate; 9.5 per 1,000 (1992).
Increase Rate; 0.6 per 1,000 (1992). Infant Mortality Rate; 8.2 per 1,000
live births (1992).
RELIGIONS: The official religion is Greek Orthodox Christianity
which accounts for 98% of the population and there is also a small minority
of Muslims which account for 1.5% of the population.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Greek with 98% of the population
speaking it, although English and French are also widely understood.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
11.4%, incomplete primary 16.8%, primary 44.1%, lower secondary 6.0%, upper
secondary 13.5%, higher 7.4% (1981). Literacy; literate population aged
15 or over 7,550,000 or 93.2% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: From 1941 to 1944 the German and
Italian Axis forces occupied Greece during World War II. In Aug. 1949 communist
rebels known as the National Liberation Front (EAM) were defeated in northern
Greece by Marshal Alexander Papagos with the support of the Allies. In
1952 Greece joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In 1954
Pagagos signed the Balkan Treaty with Yugoslavia and Turkey. In 1964 George
Panadreou won a parliamentary majority and resigned in July 1965 after
a clash with King Constantine II over constitutional changes. In April
1967 a military coup led by Col. George Papadopoulos seized power, suspended
the constitution and dissolved the Parliament. In Dec. 1967 an abortive
countercoup led by King Constantine forced the King into exile and a new
constitution was approved by Greek voters in 1968, in which Papadopoulos
abolished the monarchy and proclaimed Greece a republic. Later, military
leaders overthrew the Papadopoulos government which precipitated the Turkish
occupation of Cyprus in July 1974. In Nov. 1974 Greece held its first parliamentary
elections in more than 10 years and a civilian government was formed under
Constantine Karamanlis who in protest of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus
withdrew Greek military participation in NATO. In Dec. 1974 Greece held
a referendum which voted against the restoration of the monarchy and a
new constitution in June 1975 declared Greece a presidential parliamentary
republic. In May 1980 Karamanlis was elected President. In Oct. 1980 Greece
rejoined NATO militarily and in 1981 became a member of the European Community
(EC). In Mar. 1985 Pres. Karamanlis resigned and was succeeded by Christos
Sartzetakis. During 1988 a major financial affair known as the Koskotas
Affair alleged the involvement of parliamentary ministers and officials
in massive fraud and embezzlement of the Bank of Crete. In Aug. 1988 Greece
technically ended its war with Albania which existed since 1940 and in
the same month the closure of the US air base at Hellenikon was announced.
In July 1990 a co-operation agreement was signed which allowed for a reduced
American presence in Greece and in mid 1990 Karamanlis was again re-elected
President. During 1991 relations with Turkey were further strained over
the treatment of Turkish-speaking Muslim minority in Thrace as well as
the continuing diplomatic problems over Cyprus. On Mar. 11, 1991 a trial
linking the former Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou to a $200 million
Bank of Crete scandal began in Athens. In July 1991 the Communist-led Alliance
for the Left and Progress when the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) formed
its own parliamentary group. In Sept. 1991 Greek anxiety escalated over
the independence of the former Macedonian republic of Yugoslavia, raising
fears that old hostilities over claims of oppressed Slav-Macedonian minorities
in northern Greece would re-appear. As a result Greece has refused to recognize
the new state under the name of Macedonia. Also during 1991 there has been
a massive increase in illegal Albanian immigrants, although the government
has dealt with the problem through mass expulsions. On Oct. 7, 1991 Prime
Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis signed a 20-year Treaty of Friendship
and Cooperation with Bulgaria. In Jan. 1992 the former Prime Minister Papandreou
was exonerated of any charges relating to the Bank of Crete scandal, although
two of his former ministers were convicted with heavy prison sentences.
On January 3, 1992 and April 30, 1992 unsuccessful bilateral meetings were
held in an attempt to settle the dispute of the use of the name Macedonia
by the former Yugoslav republic while in June 1992 as a result of Greek
pressure the EU reluctantly agreed to withhold recognition of the former
Yugoslav state, although Turkey, Bulgaria and Russia extended diplomatic
recognition of the new republic. Also in April 1992, the foreign affairs
minister, Antonis Samaras was dismissed after Mitsotakis held him responsible
for the insurgence of nationalism due to his hard line policy of no compromise
on the Macedonian issue. On July 31, 1992 the Greek Parliament ratified
the EU's Maastricht Treaty with a 286 to 8 vote, following which public-sector
wages were frozen, appointments in the public administration were suspended,
new taxes were levied and privatization of state enterprises were hastened.
As a result there were violent street demonstrations, strikes, mass protest
rallies and numerous strikes, although the unrest gradually diminished
after the Parliament passed the austerity reforms. During 1993 diplomatic
strains continued between Greece and its Balkan neighbors with Albania
deporting a Greece priest accusing him of attempting to instigate the union
of southern Albania (Epirus) with Greece. On Oct. 10, 1993 elections were
held that brought Andreas Papandreou's Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK)
back to power, following which Mitsotakis resigned as leader of the New
Democracy party, a position he had held for 9 years. Following Papandreou's
election win he announced his intention to scrap the former Prime Minister's
privatization program which had brought down inflation to under 13% and
enabled foreign reserves to reach their highest level of over US $6 billion.
Also during 1993 the EU provide Greece with funds for public works that
included a subway system in Athens, a new international airport, vital
highway networks and large irrigation projects.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Euro divided into 100
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $76,679,000,000 (1993).
Public Debt; USD $16,193,000,000 (1993). Imports; Dr 5,050,531,000,000
(1993). Exports; Dr 1,933,432,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $3,293,000,000
(1993). Balance of Trade; Dr -2,113,500,000,000 (1992). Economically Active
Population; 4,118,400 or 39.7% of total population (1993). Unemployed;
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA,
other EU countries as well as the Middle East and North African countries.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Barytes, Bauxite, Chrome, Cotton, Crude Oil,
Fruit and Vegetables, Grapes, Iron Ore, Lead, Lignite, Livestock, Marble,
Magnesite, Nickel, Olives, Salt, Sugar Beets, Tobacco, Wheat, Zinc.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Aluminum Smelting, Cement, Chemicals,
Fertilizers, Food Processing, Steel, Textiles, Tobacco Products.
MAIN EXPORTS: Aluminum, Cement, Chemicals, Clothing, Fruit and Vegetables,
Iron and Steel, Metal Ores, Petroleum Products, Pharmaceuticals, Textiles,
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 2,479 km (1,540 mi) (1988),
passenger-km 1,512,000,000 (940,000,000 passenger-mi) (1989), cargo ton-km
660,000,000 (452,034,000 short ton-mi) (1989). Roads; length 103,306 km
(64,191 mi) (1985). Vehicles; cars 1,691,070 (1990), trucks and buses 781,320
(1990). Merchant Marine; vessels 1,814 (1990), deadweight tonnage 37,205,340
(1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 8,016,000,000 (4,981,000,000 passenger-mi)
(1989), cargo ton-km 114,144,000 (78,177,000 short ton-mi) (1989).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 144 with a total circulation
N/A (1993). Radio; receivers 4,085,492 (1993). Television; receivers 2,300,000
(1993). Telephones; units 5,571,293 (1993).
MILITARY: 159,300 (1994) total active duty personnel with 70.9%
army, 12.3% navy and 16.8% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 5.5% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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