greece guide

A valuable source of information on Greece facts


Name of the country: Hellas – Republic of Greece (Elliniki Dimokratia) (in Greek Ellas, Ellada)
People: Ellines (Hellenes – Greeks) Women: Ellenides Men: Ellines
Size: 131.940 sq. km (land 99%, sea 1%)
Coastline: 13,676 km
Population: just under 11000000 (46% men, 54% women)
Language: Greek (Ellinika)
Coordinates: 39 00N 22 00E
Borders to: Albania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey
Highest mountain: Mt Olympus, 2917 m
Capital: Athens
Natural resources: petroleum, marble, hydro power, magnetite, lignite, bauxite (and gold)
Natural hazards: earthquakes
Currency: EURO €

Greek Government

The President of the Republic is hierarchically at the top of the executive, he is involved in the law by issuing and publishing the laws and the possibility of returning to the House of a passed bill or a draft law, while he is defined by the Constitution as regulator of the government.Executive power is exercised by the Government, whose head is the Prime Minister, in fact the strongest person in the Greek political system. The Government defines and guides the general policy of the country, implements the policy that Parliament adopts through legislative acts, but at the same time takes part in the legislative process through the drafting and promotion of draft laws (legislative initiative). The Government, on the basis of the stated principle, has to enjoy the confidence of the House, to have received a vote of confidence from the majority of MPs. In the context of modern party democracy, the government also dominates in the legislative function, as it comes from the Party that controls the majority of Parliament, thus making the passage of laws a typically formal process. Because of the frequent and abusive invocation of party discipline, the possibility of a government member’s disagreement with the government he supports is considered a rare phenomenon. In exceptional cases the
Government may propose to the President of the Republic the adoption of Acts of Legislative Content, which have the force of law and must be approved in principle within 40 days by the House.

Army Forces of Greece

greek army forces Facts about the Greek Armed Forces consist of the Land Forces, the Navy and the Air Force. Military service in Greece is compulsory and concerns Greek male citizens and has a duration of 24 months, which is usually limited by a decision of the Minister of National Defence. Thus, by 2009, Greece had a mandatory 12-month mandate for all men over the age of 18. Even though women’s requests for service are accepted, their commitment is not mandatory. In February 2009 the Minister of Defence announced that from 2010 that those responsible for military service will be classified only in the Army and for a term of 9 months, which means that the Navy and the Air Force will be staffed exclusively by professional soldiers.Finally, as of 14 August 2009, the military service was 9 months, and there were similar reductions in the length of time for those serving a reduced term. Also, there is a full Navy and Aviation manning plan only by professionals by 2012.

Greek National Health System facts

NATIONAL HEALTH SYSTEM The Greek NHS (ESY) is free and covers all Greeks and EU citizens. Non-EU citizens can obtain services only in cases of emergency. Private doctors and surgeries however are not expensive in Greece, particularly dentists and General Practitioners. A visit will cost you around 50 euro. Some medicines, such as antibiotics do not require prescriptions in Greece.Smoking: Smoking is totally banned in public places as is the case in many other European countries. Smoking is not allowed in hospitals, buses, trams, trolleys, the metro, ferries, airports, and all public buildings. You can smoke only in restaurants, cafes and bars that have an open air space.



Employment: All EU citizens are able to work or carry out their businesses in Greece. Other laws apply to non-EU citizens

Passports and Visas:

Greece belongs to the European Union and is part of the Segen countries. All EU citizens can enter Greece with or without passports but must show their EU Identity Cards. Non-EU citizens need passports and some nationalities will require to obtain a visa. This includes travellers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan, and other countries.


The climate of Greece is generally Mediterranean, with rains that are limited mainly in the semester of October-March. However, it presents in places great diversity, depending on the land formation, the position regarding the sea and other factors.In Western Greece it is hot and humid, in Eastern Greece and the islands dry and cold. Inland, and in fact in the mountains of Sterea, Epirus and Macedonia, it is rather continental. The average annual temperature is between 14 ° and 19 ° Celsius, while the humidity is between 65% -72%.

The clouds are relatively small and the snow is rare, except in the mountainous areas, while the eternal snow is almost non-existent.Indicatively we mention that the average temperature of January and July are respectively 8.2 ° C and 29.1 ° C in Athens, 5 ° C and 26.6 ° C in Thessaloniki, 9.7 ° C and 27 ° C in Patras, 3 , 8 ° C and 25.6 ° C in Alexandroupolis, 11.2 ° C and 26.2 ° C in Heraklion and 4.7 ° C and 25.4 ° C in Tripoli.

In the same cities the annual height of rainfall in 1993 was in Athens 314.5 mm, in Thessaloniki 261.1 mm, in Patras 599.7 mm, in Alexandroupolis 342 mm, in Heraklion 301.8 mm and in Tripoli 679.3 mm . The most frequent winds blow from north and south (sirokos, livas).

Flora and fauna


Typically a Mediterranean country, Greece is rich in evergreen and hardwood trees and shrubs and aromatic plants. The total plant world amounts to 4,045 species, of which the olive, the poplar, the plane tree, the cypress, the fig, the laurel, the pine, the fir, the oak, the chestnut, the citrus, the vine dominate. , locust bean etc.

Numerous species of flowers, most of which are ornamental, floricultural and fruit-bearing have been imported from other countries, such as persimmon (N Asia), arokaria (Norfolk Islands), jasmine (Malaysia), hydrangea (China), hyacinth (Central America), basil, marjoram etc. Naturally occurring vegetation is adapted to the climate and consists largely of xerophyta, which are plants that are able to withstand the summer drought by the storage of water. Spring is the primary growing season, and flowering plants make a brilliant show during this time, before withering under the summer heat. The mountains are mostly clothed with a relatively dense scrub brush (called maquis). Evergreen forests may once have covered much of the land but have been largely destroyed in southern Greece. Extensive forest is found only in the mountains of northwestern Greece, where large stands of fir occur. About 19% of the total area is forested.Finally, more than 1,200 endemic species grow in the country, most of them in Crete, the Cyclades and Mount Athos.


The animal world of Greece has a Mediterranean character, with the most numerous coastal and marine animals. 50 species of mammals, 362 birds, 300 species of fish and many other marine species and reptiles have been counted. A total of 1,500 species of animals have been recorded.
The expansion of human activity has greatly limited wildlife: wildlife, such as wolves, bears, wild boars, deer, ibex and jackals, are rare today. Sheep, horses, cattle, goats and various other pets are common during the day.

Birds are mainly migratory (swallows, mallards, herons, storks, quails, turtles, etc.). However, there are also endemic predators (vulture, eagle, hawk, owl) and ants. Species of reptiles are especially abundant. Read more about the plants and animals of Greece


GREEK INDUSTRIES Greece is poorly endowed with minerals and fuel. Although some lignite (a soft coal) is produced, no economically significant coal deposits exist. Oil has been found in northwestern Greece and on the floor of the Aegean Sea. The Pinos oil field, off the island of Thasos, has been producing petroleum since 1981. Reserves of hydroelectric power are slight because of the small size and seasonal flow of most rivers. Iron ore and bauxite are the most important mineral resources; bauxite is quarried to the north of the Gulf of Corinth, and most of it is exported. Small amounts of pyrites (used in making sulfuric acid), lead, zinc, magnesite, manganese, chrome, and silver are also mined. In most cases the ore is exported for smelting elsewhere.

greek roadsRoad network: During the last 20 years the road and rail network of Greece has been modernised in such a degree that offers fast and secure access from almost every part of Greece to the other.
The road and highways network has been upgraded and new modern highways are connecting the Greek cities. One of the major works was the Egnatia highway that connects north west Greece (Igoumenitsa) with northern and north west Greece. The bridge of Rio Antirio (the longest suspension cable bridge in Europe) connects the western Peloponnesus from Rio (7 km from Patras) with Antirion in the central west Greece. Until the year 2014 it will be ready the new Pyrgos-Patras-Athens highway witch will be replace the old Patras Athens national motorway.

The new road to Tripolis from Corinth makes the journey from Corinth to Tripolis in only one hour. Most of the parts of the highway Athens-Lamia-Thessaloniki has been also upgraded making the journey to Thessaloniki only a 4 hours drive.
One of the biggest infrastructure works that have improved the transport in Athens was the creation of Attiki odos, the Athens metro, the tram and the suburban railway. Getting around in Athens has been enormously improved since then.
total: 117 000 km
paved: 107 406 km (1030 km of motorways – 2006 estimate)
unpaved: 9594 km (1996)

The Rion-Antirion bridge linking the Peloponnese to mainland Greece. The Suspension bridge is the world’s longest (2250 m long). It crosses the Gulf of Patras in five spans of 500 m supported by four huge piers supported on the seabed.

greek railwaysRailways: The Greek railway network has been also upgraded with double lines in many parts of the 2500 km network and new and faster trains of the latest technology (Intercity) make the train journey faster and confortable.The Greek railways connecting many cities of Greece as well as Greece with the rest of Europe, the Balkans, Russia and Turkey.Total: 2548 km
standard gauge (1435 m): 1565 km (83 km electrified AC 25 kV 50 Hz, 408 km double track, 23 km double standard gauge and metric)
narrow gauge: 961 km gauge metric mainly in the Peloponnese, 22 km gauge of 0750 m (mountain railway to Diakofto to Kalavrita).

Railway company Hellenic State Railways SEK
City with a subway system: Athens, Thessaloniki under construction.
City with a tram network: Athens.

Air transport: The new airport of Athens is one of the most modern airports in Europe it start operating a few years ago and serves thousands of flights to Greece from all over the world. Most of the Greek islands and many main cities of Greece are connecting by air mainly from the two major airlines of Greece Olympic and Aegean air. The air connection of many smaller Greek island has improved their tourism industry making the journey from Athens in less than an hour. Many major Greek island have long runways where during the summer season have hundreds of charter and direct flights from many European countries.

Airports in Greece
airport of athensTotal 80: Airports with paved runways:
Total: 64
over 3000 m: 6
2500 3000 m: 15
1500 2500 m: 18
from 1000 to 1500 m: 17
under 1000 m: 8.

The Athens International Airport-Eleftherios Venizelos at Spata, is located 27km south-east of downtown.
National airline: Olympic Airlines with Aegean

Airports with grass runways:
Total: 16
over 3000 m: 1
1500 2500 m: 1
from 1000 to 1500 m: 2
under 1000 m: 12

Heliports: 2

The sea travel has been also enormously upgraded within the last decades with super fast ferries, high-speed boats, hydrofoils and catamarans that reduced in many cases the journey from Piraeus to 50% . Today the journey to Crete takes only 6 hours with the fast ferries and the journey from Patras to Ancona in Italy has been reduced from 36 hours to 19-20 hours. The Greek vessels like Greek ferries, passenger ships, cruise ships, are modern and they are build according the international and EU regulations with the latest standards for safe navigation, fire safety, marine environment protection and health regulations with many non smoking areas onboard.
The passengers can enjoy their journey with all comforts that the Greek shipping companies offer on their ships.
From the ports of Piraeus,Rafina and Lavrion depart the ferries for all the islands of the Aegean while the ports of Patras, Igoumenitsa and Kylini are connecting with the Ionian islands. From the ports of Volos and Agios Konstantinos you can get to the Sporades islands while from the ports of Thessaloniki, Kavala and Alexandroupolis to the North Aegean islands.

Alexandroupolis, Eleusis, Heraklion (Crete), Kavala, Corfu, Chania(Crete), Igoumenitsa, Laurion, Patras, Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Volos (there are many other ports in all the Greek islands some small and some big like those in Rhodes, Kos, Limnos etc.)

Merchant Marine (under Greek flag)

greek fleetTotal: 779 ships (1,000 tons or more gross tonnage) totaling 24 744 872 tons (43 734 138 dead weight tonnes).
Vessel categories: bulk 273, cargo 60, chemical 22, combined bulk 5, ore 8, container carriers 43, liquefied gas 5, multi-purpose cargo 1, passenger 12, mixed cargo 2, oil 245, refrigerated cargo 3, RoRos 19 , Short-distance passengers 75, vehicle 2 (1999)

Greek shipowners have a very large fleet (about 20% of the commercial fleet globally, 40% at European level) in fact the larget fleet in the world, but only a small part is registered in Greece and travels under the Greek flag. The largest share is travelling under foreign flags registered in countries like Liberia, Panama, Cyprus, Malta etc.

The Greek coasts

The main peninsula is Halkidiki in the Aegean Sea.
It is divided into three smaller peninsulas: Mount Athos or Mount Athos (arch. Akti), Kassandra (arch. Pallini) and Longos (arch. Sithonia).
The Peloponnese is essentially also a peninsula, because it is connected to the trunk of mainland Greece with the Isthmus of Corinth.


Numerous and deep bays are formed along the coasts.
The main ones in a row from the eastern borders of the country (Thrace) is the bay of Alexandroupolis (Dede Agats), a bay formed at the mouth of the river Evros, the gulf of Kavala, Strymonikos between Halkidiki and Eastern Macedonia, the gulf of Mount Athos and Kassandra, between the peninsulas of Halkidiki,
Thermaikos between Halkidiki and Central Macedonia, into which the rivers Axios, Aliakmonas, Gallikos and Loudias flow, Pagasitikos, opposite Northern Evia, Evoikos, between Evia and Central Greece, Malliakos Evoikos gulf, the Saronic Gulf between Sterea and Northeast Peloponnese, the Corinthian Gulf, which is a maritime dividing zone between Sterea and Peloponnese and communicates with the Ionian Sea with the Strait of Rio (minimum width 1,850m) and the South , opened in 1893.

The south coast of the Corinthian Gulf is smooth, but the north forms three smaller gulfs, Itea, Antikyra and Aigostheni.
The Peloponnese from east to west also forms the following gulfs: the Argolic, the Laconic, the Messinian, the Kyparissian and the Patraic.
In Western mainland Greece, the main bay is Amvrakikos, between Epirus and Sterea. It is connected to the Ionian Sea through the strait of Preveza, which has a minimum width of 400m. Three large gulfs are formed in Crete, Souda, Mirabello and Messara. The gulf of Kalloni is formed in Lesvos, in Kefalonia of Argostoli and in Zakynthos the homonymous gulf. To these bays must be added some natural ports and bays, such as Piraeus, Vathios Samos, Milos, Moudros and Pylos.


The largest capes are:Rio, Akritas, Tainaro and Maleas in the Peloponnese, Aktio opposite Preveza, Sounio in Attica, Artemisio and Kafireas in Evia, Trikeri in Thessaly and Athos in Halkidiki.

Straits, canals

The most important straits and canals are:
the strait of Evripos with a minimum width of 40 m.,
the Strait of Rio-Antirio with a minimum width of 1,920 m.,
the Lefkada canal with a minimum width of 20 m and a length of 3.4 miles,
the Corinth Canal with a minimum width of 21 m and a length of 6.3 km,
the channel of Preveza with a minimum width of 60 m and a length of 2,650 km,


In terms of commercial traffic, but also transport, the most important ports in Greece are
1: Piraeus: It is very wide and deep and has a suitable entrance, so that all kinds of ships can easily anchor in it, without being affected by turbulence. It is also a transport hub with many ports in Europe and other continents.
2 Thessaloniki:
It is the largest in the Balkans and serves the maritime transport of many Balkan countries, as it is their only exit to the Aegean and the Mediterranean. Other major ports of the country are Volos, Heraklion, Rhodes, Syros, Elefsina, Kalamata, Mytilene, Kavala, Preveza etc.