Greece is a country in southeastern Europe consisting of 2 mainland peninsulas and thousands of islands dotting the blue Aegean Sea to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Ionian Sea to the west.
The official name of Greece is the Hellenic Republic.
The official language of Greece is Greek.
As of 1 January 2016, the population of Greece was estimated to be 11,129,645 people.
It’s often called the birthplace of Western civilization, and Athens, its capital, retains ancient landmarks including the fifth century BC Acropolis citadel and Parthenon temple.
Other major cities include Thessaloniki, Patras and Heraklion.
Around two thirds of the Greek population live in urban areas.
The country is divided into three geographical regions: the mainland, the islands, and Peloponnese, the peninsula south of the mainland.
Greece has around 6.000 islands in total, scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, of which only 227 are inhabited.
The largest Greek island by area is Crete, located at the southern edge of the Aegean Sea.
Greece has 13,676 kilometers (8,854 miles) of coastline, the 13th longest in the world.
The mainland has rugged mountains, forests, and lakes.
Mount Olympus has 52 peaks, deep gorges, and exceptional biodiversity. The highest peak Mytikas, meaning “nose”, rises to 2,918 metres (9,573 feet).
The Pindus mountain range contains one of the world’s deepest gorges, Vikos Gorge, which plunges 1,100 meters (3,600 feet).
The mountainous regions of the country, particularly the forests of Greece, host bears, wild cats, brown squirrels, jackals, wolves, foxes, deer and lynxes (especialy the northern foresta). A rare species of wild goat, known as kri-kri, inhabits the mountainous regions of Crete island.
The monk seal has been a part of Greek’s natural and cultural heritage and is described in The Odyssey. The head of a monk seal was even found on a coin dated 500 B.C. Now, however, only 250 monk seals are left.
Thousands of birds stop in Greece’s wetlands on their migrations. As many as 100,000 birds from northern Europe and Asia spend their winters there.
Greeks live long lives and it is thought that their varied diet of olives, olive oil, lamb, fish, squid, chickpeas, and lots of fruits and vegetables keep them healthy.
People of Greece are the largest consumers of cheese worldwide. An average person from Greece consumes around 27.3 kilograms (60.1 pounds) of cheese every year, about 3/4 of which is feta cheese.
The world’s 3rd leading producer of olives, the Greeks have cultivated olive trees since ancient times
The one of oldest olive tree in the world is on the island of Crete. The tree is about 4,000 years old and is still producing fruit.
Greece is the “sunniest” country In Europe with more than 250 days of sunshine or 3,000 sunny hours a year.
Approximately 17 million tourists visit Greece each year, more than the country’s entire population.
Greece has more international airports than most countries because so many foreign tourists want to visit.
Greece has more archaeological museums than any other country in the world.
Greece is the leading producer of sea sponges.
Many Greek structures such as doors, windowsills, furniture, and church domes are painted a turquoise blue, especially in the Cyclades Islands. The preference comes from an old belief of man, that the sky-blue shade had the power to keep Evil away. The radiation of the color composed an invisible shield, which prevented the approach of bad spirits.
Thousands of English words come from the Greek language, sometimes via the Roman adaptation into Latin and then to English. Common English words from Greek include “academy,” “alphabet,” “apology,” “marathon,” “siren” and “typhoon.”
The saying “taking the bull by its horns” comes from the Greek myth of Hercules saving Crete from a raging bull by seizing its horns.
Greek has been spoken for more than 3,000 years, making it one of the oldest languages in Europe.
The first written records of the ancient Olympic Games date to 776 B.C., when a cook named Coroebus won the only event–a 192-meter footrace called the stade (the origin of the modern “stadium”)–to become the first Olympic champion.
The Meteora is one of the largest and most important complexes of Greek Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos.
Mount Athos or Agion Oros, as it is locally known, is the oldest surviving monastic community in the world. It dates back more than a thousand years, to Byzantine times. It is a unique monastic republic, which, although part of Greece, it is governed by its own local administration. Today there are 20 monasteries of which 17 are Greek, one Russian, one Serbian, and one Bulgarian.
The majority of Greek people who are religious are Greek Orthodox (98% of the country).
A popular Greek tradition is called ‘name day‘. Each name that come from a religious saint has a given
day each year which is celebrated by the church. People who share the same name also celebrate the day,
often receiving gifts from their friends and family. Name days are even more important than birthdays in Greece!