Greece. Background information

Greece achieved its 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 with Greek-speaking populations. Following the defeat of communist rebels in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. A military dictatorship, which in 1967 suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country, lasted seven years. Democratic elections in 1974 and a referendum created a parliamentary republic and abolished the monarchy; Greece joined the European Community or EC in 1981 (which became the EU in 1992).

Location: Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey.   
Area total: 131,940 sq km 
Population:  10,623,835 (July 2001 est.).
Religions: Greek Orthodox 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7% 
Languages: Greek 99% (official), English, French 
Country name: Hellenic Republic.
Capital: Athens
Government type: parliamentary republic; monarchy rejected by referendum 8 December 1974
National holiday: Independence Day, 25 March (1821) 

Greece has a mixed capitalist economy with the public sector accounting for about half of GDP. Tourism is a key industry, providing a large portion of GDP and foreign exchange earnings. Greece is a major beneficiary of EU aid, equal to about 4% of GDP. The economy has improved steadily over the last few years, as the government has tightened policy in the run-up to Greece's entry into the EU's Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) on 1 January 2001. In particular, Greece has cut its budget deficit to below 1% of GDP and tightened monetary policy, with the result that inflation fell from 20% in 1990 to 3.1% in 2000. Major challenges remaining include the reduction of unemployment and further restructuring of the economy, including the privatization of some leading state enterprises. Growth, 3.8% in 2000, may fall off to 3%-3.5% in 2001. Currency: drachma (GRD); euro (EUR) note: on 1 January 1999, the EU introduced the euro as a common currency that is now being used by financial institutions in Greece (which entered the European Monetary Union on 1 January 2001) at a fixed rate of 340.750 drachmae per euro and will replace the local currency for all transactions in 2002 
Currency code: GRD; EUR

Greek Marinas