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GREECE Hellenic Republic

Vital Statistics Population: approximately 11 million citizens Capital: Athens, with a metropolitan population of approximately 4 million Land Size: 131,990 square kilometers Government: Parliamentary Republic. The president is the ceremonial head of the state, but the prime minister is the head of government. Religion: 97 percent Greek Orthodox (Muslim, Roman Catholics and Jewish minorities) Currency: Euro (previously Drachmas)

Historical Highlights

• Greeks were under Ottoman Empire occupation for

• • • • •

400 years. Southern Greece was liberated in 1821 and in the following 100 years Greece defined its borders as they are today (Balkan Wars). Took part in WWII, fought against german and italian forces and fell under German occupation until 1944. Civil War between Royalists and Communists lasted until 1949. In 1967 the government was overthrowed by a military junta that lasted up to 1974. The Democracy was restored in 1975. Greece joined European union 1981.

The Greek Flag The Greek flag has its current form since 1822. The blue color represents the Greek sky and sea. There are many versions about what the white color stands for, some of which are: 1 – the foam of the waves, 2 – the snow on the mountaintops, 3 – the purity of the fighters of 1821. It consists of 9 stripes, as many as the syllables of the motto of the Greek Independence struggle "Freedom or Death“. The cross stands for Christianity and states the deep-rooted connection between the country and Christianity.

• Interpersonal relationships are very important in •

• • •

Greece. Family is the most important institution in Greece and no one should ever dishonor it. The parents care and provide for their children everything, as they spend most of their income for their needs. Elders are greatly respected in the Greek society and the children usually take care of their elderly parents. Friendships are also highly valued. Decision making takes into consideration the well-being of the family and the friends. Parental support (financial, emotional) does not stop as soon as the child becomes an adult.

Meeting and Greeting The most formal greeting is a handshake and it is expected that you shake hands with everybody present while maintaining direct eye contact. Among friends hugging and kissing are more usual forms of greeting. Upon departure you are expected to greet again or at least inform the others about it.

Names and Titles Last names are the formal way to call somebody, accompanied by the proper titles, until/unless you are invited to call him/her in a different way. Among friends, or even close acquaintances, first names are the most common form of addressing someone. Greeks will add the title of “Kyrios” (Mr.), “Kyria” (Mrs.) and “Despinis” (Miss) as a sign of respect either to the first or to the last name. If you do not know a person’s name it is normal to use “Kyrios” or “Kyria” to address him/her. Greeks are proud to carry professional titles (doctors, lawyers, professors).

Language and Education Greek is the official language and it is written in the Greek alphabet. There is a great variety of dialects spoken all over Greece. Greek students are taught ancient Greek, Latin, English and they are able to choose French or German as a second language. Greeks are flattered when a foreigner learns or tries to speak their language. Compulsory education lasts 9 years. The universities are public and free (without fees).

Body Language Greeks are very expressive, have no concept of “personal space� and are physically demonstrative. Interpersonal communication includes a lot of facial expressions and movements of the body. Waving your hand with your palm outwards and your fingers spread is an obscene gesture.

Concept of Time Greece has a flexible-time culture. Punctuality is not extremely important. The duration of an event cannot be defined before it starts. Social events always begin later than the appointed time. Scheduled meetings are kept in formal situations.

Business Senior members are respected and usually hold the authority for decision-making. Negotiating and bargaining are acceptable processes in Greece and Greeks are often very skilled in these domains. Personal relationships and trust are important when doing business. Foreigners might be treated suspiciously so a local partner can be useful in many ways. Business cards are usually exchanged between associates.

Habits and Manners

Drinking coffee is a daily and revered

habit. Going out for a meal can be a social event and it is strange to see someone eating alone. When you are invited to a place always bring a gift with you. Flowers or sweets are the best choices. Dressing code is according to the European standards. Greeks love to entertain themselves as often as possible.



• Show appreciation and respect to Greek culture • • • • • • •

and history. Interpersonal relationships are very important. Try to speak at least a little bit of Greek. Always accept food and drink when it is being offered to you. When you are invited to someone’s home always bring gifts to the hosts. Maintain eye contact while speaking. Take into consideration the issues of traffic and parking in most of the cities. Be prepared for smoking in all locations.

• Get an approximation of the fare before you

get into a cab. • Do whatever a host insists upon several times (eat more, stay longer) • Compliment the food, home and the children of your hosts. • It is greatly appreciated if you try to show interest and join Greek dances. • Expect Greeks to ask personal questions (e.g. “Are you married?”, “Do you have children?”) • Pay attention while joining a political discussion. (Greeks are very sensitive about their political affairs)

“Don’ts” • Do not forget to show respect to the elders. • Greeks love to complain about the various problems of the country, but they do not like to listen to any criticism by a foreigner. • Do not expect to do business during the months of July, August, the national days and local holidays. • Do not be overly punctual for social gatherings (15-30 min. of delay is accepted). • Do not call FYROM or “Democracy of Macedonia” just Macedonia.

• Do not stay in lines without pushing or

shoving (or you will never get anywhere). • Do not forget to be careful and watch your purse while being on a crowded bus. • (For women): Do not wear pants or shorts when visiting a monastery. • While doing business do not use first names until you are invited to do so.

Useful Words

• • • • • • • • •

Good morning = Kalimera Good evening = Kalispera Good night = Kalinihta Hello/Goodbye = Ya Please/You are welcome = Parakalo Thank you = Efharisto Yes = Ne No = Ohi Excuse me/Sorry = Signomi

• Pleased to meet you = Hero poli • How are you = Ti kanis? • My name is.. = Me lene.. • What’s your name = Pos se lene? • Cheers! = Yamas • How much does it cost? = Poso kani? • Good luck = Kali epitihia

Thank you for your attention!!

My Country - Greece  

A short presentation of my country: Important facts, geographical information, historical places, customs, everyday life, food, useful words...