50 Fascinating Facts about Greece

Greece is located in Southeast Europe, and is comprised of 11 different geographical areas. The country is home to 11 million people, and its capital city of Athens is populated with 3.7 million people. Greece is surrounded by Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey to the north, the Aegean Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The country also has the 11th longest coastline in the world, which is approximately 13,676 km long. Greece’s 11 million citizens live on 50,949 square miles (131,957 square kilometers), making the country the 97th largest country in the world by land mass. Since they are a part of the European Union, they use the Euro as their main form of currency, and have since 2006. The Greek flag is comprised of blue and white stripes, with a white cross on a blue background in the left hand corner. The official language of the country is Greek, and its official religion is Greek Orthodox Christianity. The country is one of very few European countries to declare an official religion.

Greece Facts

1
The country’s total nominal GDP is $249.2 billion, while its nominal per capita GDP is $22,055.
2
Tourism comprises approximately 16% of Greece’s total nominal GDP. Over 16 million people visit the country each year.
3
85% of Greece’s economy is due to the service sector, while 12% of their GDP comes from industry, and only 3.0% comes from agriculture.
4
The country’s main exports include food and beverage products, manufactured goods, oil, chemicals and textiles. They have good trading relationships with Italy, Germany and Bulgaria.
5
Greece’s main imports include machinery and automobiles. They import much of their goods from Germany and Italy.
6
Greece follows a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic, and they elect a President and a Prime Minister every five years.
7
Their current constitution was adopted in 1975, and has been revised in 1986, 2001 and 2008.
8
Greece’s official name is the Hellenic Republic.
9
The Olympics originated in Greece, and were first held in Olympia to honor the Greek God of Zeus.
10
Every man in Greece over the age of 18 must serve in the Greek National Forces for at least one year.
11
The national anthem of Greece has 158 different verses.
12
250 days of each year are sunny in Greece.
13
Ancient Greece was not a unified country. It was comprised of 1500 city-states that were each governed by a separate government and army. Athens was the largest city-state, and is the largest city in the country today.
14
The country is home to more archaeological museums than any other country.
15
Feta cheese is the national cheese of the country, and Greeks with eat it on almost anything. It is eaten so much, that Greeks eat more feta cheese than any other country.
16
Everyone over the age of 18 is required to vote in governmental elections.
17
Whenever a couple gets engaged, it is custom that the future groom asks the bride’s father for her hand in marriage. Once the couple is engaged, they both wear wedding rings on their left hands, and once they are married, they switch the rings to their right hands.
18
Clean Monday is the first day of Lent each year. During this day families celebrate the Easter season by picnicking in the park and flying kites.
19
Many Greeks believe that spitting can shoo the devil and evil spirits away. Whenever someone brings bad news to the family, members of the family will often spit three times in order to make the misfortune go away.
20
In Greek culture, Tuesday the 13th is considered bad luck whenever it comes around.
21
Many Greeks name their children after religious saints. Whenever the saint’s day comes around, people visit the child and offer them gifts and good wishes.
22
Many doors, window frames and furniture are painted a turquoise blue. This is because ancient Greeks believed that turquoise would keep evil spirits and bad news away.
23
In 500 B.C. the first city dump was organized in Greek. It was the first city-wide trash collection in the world.
24
The Greek language has been spoken for over 3,000 years. It is one of the oldest spoken languages in Europe.
25
After someone gives a compliment to another person in Greece, they will blow a small puff of air on them in order to ward off any evil spirits.
26
The Greek people are highly superstitious.
27
Before Greece adopted the Euro in 2002, they had used the drachma as their currency for approximately 2,650 years.
28
Greece has the longest coastline in Europe.
29
One of the deepest gorges in the world, Vikos Gorge, is located in Greece. It is 3,600 feet deep.
30
Olive trees have been grown in Greece for over 6,000 years.
31
Approximately four-fifths of Greece is mountainous.
32
According to mythology, Mt. Olympus in Greece was home to ancient gods.
33
The official language is Greek, and it is spoken by approximately 99% of the population.
34
The official religion of Greece is Greek Orthodox, and it is practiced by about 98% of the population.
35
Approximately 7% of the world's marble comes from Greece.
36
Greece produces over 300,000 tons of olive oil per year.
37
Even though there are over 2,000 Greek islands, less than 200 are inhabited.
38
Greek's capital, Athens, has been standing for over 7,000 years, making it one of Europe's oldest cities.
39
About 98% of the population is native Greek.
40
The literacy rate exceeds 95%, a dramatic increase from the 30% recorded during the 1950s.
41
Over 40% of the population lives in Athens.
42
Waving with an open palm is considered an insult in this country.
43
Greece has two political parties that were founded in 1974: the Socialists and the Democrats.
44
The unemployment rate in Greece is about 10%. Even those with a college education find it difficult to get a job.
45
Greece is often considered to be the world's first democracy.
46
This country does not have a legal drinking age, although there are laws prohibiting minors from purchasing alcohol.
47
While Americans believe that Friday the 13th is bad luck, Greeks believe that Tuesday the 13th is an unlucky day.
48
Over 60% of Greeks between the ages of 18 and 34 live with their parents. The Greeks are very family-oriented.
49
Ancient Greeks invented theater, and the comedy and drama genres were first seen in this country.
50
The first civilization in Greece occured around 2000 B.C. by the Minoan culture.

Greece has a thriving culture and economy. The country has had a turbulent yet successful history, which has offered financial security to many of the citizens of Greece. Today the Greeks have a very high standard of living, and are a very relaxed group of people. Greece’s economy has also had a few flubs in recent years, however today it is thriving, and is continuing to grow. As of now, it is considered the biggest economy in the Balkans.

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