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The Greek Supplement was brought to you by The Copenhagen Post in association with the Greek Embassy
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n 25th March, Greeks around the world commemorate the declaration of the War of Independence of 1821, and pay tribute to all those who contributed to the establishment of the Modern Greek State. Among them, our special gratitude goes to the Philhellenes, who fought, died or supported the struggle of our nation to regain its freedom after four centuries of Ottoman yoke. In Denmark, the main forum of Philhellenism was the Students’ Association of the University of Copenhagen. The Greek nation will always be grateful to Danish Philhellenes, such as the famous poet Steensen Blicher, the well-known scientist Hernik Nicolai Kroyer and his fellow students who fought in the Greek War of Independence.
In the 19th century, great Danish personalities, such as architect Theophilus Hansen, author Hans Christien Andersen and composer Carl Nielsen, were attracted to Greece and inspired by the exceptional natural beauty, the rich cultural heritage and the joy of life that abounds the country. Since then, Denmark and Greece have shared a close relationship; allies in NATO for six decades and partners in the European Union (EU) for 33 years, the two countries have contributed to the shaping of our continent. Greece has always been known to the Danish people: It is in their history books, in the curriculum of classical studies and in their summer holiday plans. Likewise, Denmark is considered in Greece as a close friend and a progressive, stabilising and benevolent factor in Europe and an excellent destination for tourism and studies. The warmth
existing between the peoples of these two counties cannot be overemphasised. In a globalised environment, these strong ties are important when faced with swift changes. The recent global economic crisis which affected, though in different degrees, all European states, posed – as all crises – both challenges and opportunities. In Greece, where the crisis was particularly harsh, the challenges were extremely demanding and the need for adjustments urgent. Over the past four years, the Greek people have shown incredible stamina, determination and commitment to lead the country out of the economic crisis. After four years of adjustment programmes, the hard efforts and sacrifices of the Greek people are starting to pay off. According to the latest estimates, 2014 will mark the exit of the country from the six-year recession while in the following years Greece will experience robust, gradually rising growth rates that will be based on sustainable factors such as exports, tourism, innovation, entrepreneurship and foreign direct investment. Simultaneously, major structural reforms are underway within the product market, the business environment and the public administration sectors. Greece is changing in all areas of economic activity. Innovation, technology, energy and green and blue growth are now in the forefront of efforts along with the more traditional sectors of tourism, shipping, agriculture, construction and minerals. The traditional sectors are also diversifying and expanding.
Being the second most mountainous country in Europe, Greece has developed its infrastructure for winter tourism, with excellent ski facilities in areas of stunning beauty, unique architecture and exclusive food products. Athens and Thessaloniki, with multiple air-connections, excellent shopping, eating and recreation opportunities, rich cultural activities and easily accessible clean beaches are ideal city-break destinations, all year round. In areas known since antiquity for their mineral springs, state-of-art wellness and spa facilities combine a 3,000-yearlong tradition with modern technology and equipment. The food industry has also been transformed, with the production of more bio and eco-friendly produce of excellent quality, thanks to the mild climate and the 250 sunny days per year. Europe is also changing. During the current semester, Greece exercises the rotating Presidency of the EU Council in a time of what can be described as a transitional phase for Europe. The debt crisis and the associated recession and unemployment undermined the confidence of EU citizens to the very idea of European integration. Greece will be representing a European Union that must show its commitment to great values such as solidarity, the European social state and the value of a European model for competitiveness and growth that can reaffirm the European project at the hearts and minds of the peoples of Europe. The European Union is not, and should not become, a mere set of regulations drafted by bureaucrats. It is a community of peoples sharing a common heritage and shaping together their common future while maintaining and cherishing their distinctive national and cultural identities. And in this community, the commitment of the Greek people is unwavering. Greece’s inextricable link to Europe was masterfully summarised by ex French President Valerie Giscard d’ Estaing’s famous saying “Europe without Greece is like a child without a birth certificate.” I hope that this special Supplement in the Copenhagen Post, on the occasion of our National Day, will offer readers the opportunity to discover or re-discover Greece, a country that changes by drawing strength from its roots, and a nation proud for its past, determined for its present and confident in its future.
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business in greece
In 2012, the economy of Greece ranked 42nd largest in the world according to World Bank statistics. As of 2013, Greece is the 13th largest economy in the 28-member European Union. In terms of per capita income, Greece is ranked 37th or 40th in the world at $22,083 and $25,331 for nominal GDP and purchasing power parity, respectively.
developed country, the economy of Greece is based on the service sector (80.6%), mainly tourism and shipping, and industry (16%), while agriculture made up an estimated 3.4% of the national economic output in 2012. With 17.5 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, Greece was the seventh most visited country in the European Union and sixteenth in the world. With an economy larger than all the Balkan economies combined, Greece is an important regional investor: Number-two foreign investor of capital in Albania, number-three foreign investor in Bulgaria, and among the topthree foreign investors in Romania and Serbia and the most important trading partner and largest foreign investor of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The country is also a significant agricultural producer within the EU. Greece is the European Union’s largest producer of cotton and pistachios, ranks second in the production of rice and olives, and third in the production of figs, almonds, tomatoes and watermelons. Greece is also the world’s third largest producer of edible olives and olive oil, with a 16% share of the global olive oil market.
Did you know? 75% of olive oil production is extra virgin, which is considered the best type. Greece produces agricultural products of high-quality and unique taste. Between 2000 and 2007 organic farming in Greece increased by 885%, the highest change percentage in the
EU. Numerous Greek products have received PDO and PGI status, showcasing the quality and diversity of Greek farming. Greece produces around 150,000 tons of fish and seafood every year, most of which is caught in the Aegean Sea. Fish is the second largest food export after olive oil, with 85% of total production exported. Greece’s commercial aquaculture sector is equally dynamic, ranking first among European Union and Mediterranean countries. Sardines, anchovies, sea bream, sea bass and Mediterranean mussels are trademark products of Greek waters.
Did you know? Almost half of the sea bream and sea bass consumed in the EU come straight from Greek seas. Along with agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, minerals, furs and petrochemicals top the list of Greek exports. Greece is also ranked third in the European Union in the production of marble after Italy and Spain. In 2012, the value of Greek exports totalled €27.6 billion, accounting for 14.2% of Greece’s GDP, while, despite the crisis, there was a significant increase in volume. Exports to the European Union (EU) reached 44% in 2012, highlighting the importance of the EU market for Greek trade. From food and beverages and beauty products to agriculture, doing business in Greece is filled with endless opportunity.
BEAUTY MADE IN GREECE Greece is home to approximately 60% of Eu-
rope’s vertebrate fauna and, thus, Europe’s most biodiverse country in endemic herbs and medicinal plants. It is also home to more than 6,000 plant species, of which 750 can only be found on Greek land, and figures among the world’s top 10 countries in sea biodiversity. Greek natural cosmetics brands are conquering European and international mainstream markets by taking advantage of the Greek land’s treasures. When it comes to skincare, there is so much to discover in the Greek market; most companies incorporate natural, local ingredients into high-tech products.
GREEK INNOVATION Innovation and entrepreneurship are key words for Greece to boost its growth and employment. Thanks to some great minds and ideas, Greece boasts admirable potential in innovation. According to the EU Commission Innovation Union Competitiveness Report 2011, Greek researchers stand out in scientific publications and the country ranks ninth in terms of participants and funding from the EU seventh Framework Programme for Research. Sources: http://gr2014.eu/greece/business; http://blog.visitgreece.gr/, Wikipedia.com
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Rebalancing the financial sector
uring the run-up to the global financial crisis, prior to 2009, Greece’s financial sector was particularly strong. High credit growth was achieved and sustained, Greek banks were expanding abroad, and, in contrast to the experience of other European countries, domestic financial institutions were largely unaffected by the international financial crisis. The Greek economy was thrown out of balance post-2009, resulting in fiscal instability and economic recession. However, as a result of thoroughgoing fiscal and structural reforms, the Greek economy is finding its feet again.
non-performing loans increased considerably. The above factors aggravated the already tight credit conditions in the economy. As a result, annual rates of growth of credit to the domestic private sector have been negative since the beginning of 2011, contributing to a further slowdown in economic activity. As of 2012, the situation has started to improve noticeably. Decisive steps have been taken to stabilize the financial system and create a sound and competitive banking sector. The articles in this supplement comprise a summary of the steps that the Greek Government and the Greek financial sector have taken to rebalance the Greek economy.
From financial woes to stability The deep recession that followed the 2009 financial downturn, along with the ensuing uncertainty, had a huge impact on the country’s financial sector, especially the banking system. Uncertainty was starkly reflected in the large outflows of bank deposits that took place up until June 2012. Furthermore, Greek banks incurred losses from the private sector involvement (PSI) bond write-off programme, while the number of
Throughout the crisis, strong bank-liquidity support measures have been provided by the Greek state. In particular, state guarantees that do not carry a cost for the state budget have been used to obtain Eurosystem liquidity.
banking sector. It was provided with €10 billion to back capital support. Following the PSI bond write-off, the amount was raised to €50 billion. Since then, the recapitalisation of Greece’s four core banks has been completed, and the HFSF has become their largest shareholder. Three of these banks remained under private control after fulfilling the prerequisite of raising at least 10% of their capital needs from private participation, while one was fully recapitalised by the HFSF. All four core banks are expected to eventually re-enter the international capital markets. In addition, the banking system has been consolidated and is currently under restructuring, with domestic mergers resulting in stronger institutions. Confidence is gradually being restored both within Greece and in the international investment community. Since June 2012, net inflows of deposits have been recorded, and a continu-
ing return of deposits will contribute to the im-
In 2010, the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) was established as a safety net for the
provement of liquidity conditions, giving a vital boost to the real economy.
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Towards a more integrated Europe:
Greece’s second Economic Adjustment Programme Greece is changing, and as such the country has introduced new reforms and investment opportunities so to reignite growth in its economy.
FISCAL CONSOLIDATION In 2010, the Greek government agreed with its European Partners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a multiannual package providing the necessary funding to Greece. This, as Greece was then facing a debt crisis due to a high fiscal deficit and an accelerating loss of competitiveness that had led to its cut off from the international capital markets. The financial support reached approximately 200 billion Euro and was followed by a strong conditionality with respect to the necessary structural reforms that Greece had to implement in order to return to a sustainable growth track. After almost four years of reforms and fiscal consolidation, the level of adjustment is impressive by any means of comparison. In terms of fiscal consolidation, the general government deficit declined sharply from 15.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009 to a projected 2.2% of GDP in 2013, thus, producing for the first time after almost a decade, a primary surplus of 1.2%. Greece’s fiscal consolidation effort was the largest ever recorded by a developed country, and remarkably, it was achieved despite a sharp decline in output. The negative gap in the current account, which reached 14.9% of GDP in 2008, has been almost entirely eliminated and is expected to reach a surplus of 0.9% in 2013. This was due to strong gains in competitiveness (Unit Labour Cost is now lower than at the time Greece joined the Euro), a sharp decline in imports and a gradual rebound in the export activity. The rebalancing of the financial sector which was hit hard during the financial crisis of 2009 is currently underway. The four systemic Greek banks have been recapitalised, while smaller ones were restructured or resolved. Also savings are gradually returning to the banking system.
STRUCTURAL REFORMS In line with the fiscal consolidation, Greece also implemented a series of reforms that helped to close the competitiveness gap and create an investment-friendly environment. Important re-
forms were undertaken in almost all areas of economic activity, with the most significant of them implemented in the labour market, the pension system, the health system and tax administration system. As a consequence of these reforms, in recent years the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) consistently ranks Greece as the most responsive of its member countries in adopting its growth-friendly recommendations. Greece’s competitiveness gains as well as the recently provided investment incentive offer significant investment opportunities. Thus, foreign direct investment in Greece shows already a positive trend upwards. Going forward, major structural reforms are planned for the product market, the business environment and the public administration. As a result of these reforms, it is predicted that one of the most worrying macroeconomic figures, the debt to GDP ratio, will radically de-escalate, while unemployment is also expected to enter a downward path.
LOOKING FORWARD TO SUSTAINABLE GROWTH After four years of adjustment programmes, the hard efforts and sacrifices of the Greek people are starting to pay off. According to the latest estimates, 2014 will mark the exit of the country from a six-year recession, whilst it is forecast that in the following years Greece will experience robust, gradually rising growth rates that will be based on sustainable factors such as exports, tourism, innovation, entrepreneurship and foreign direct investment.
Greece’s structural reforms at a glance ■ Pension reforms: The average pension income has been cut by 21% and high-end pensions by over 40%. The statutory retirement age has been pushed up to 67 years across the board, and 40 years of work is required for full pension. This pension system is amongst the most viable in the EU according to European Commission peer review, as pension benefits are tightly linked to lifetime contributions. ■ Labour market reforms: There has been a 22% reduction in the minimum wage (32% for young workers) and new minimum wage setting mechanism. The average public sector salary was cut by 23% between the years 2010-12, and there is a reduced length of collective contracts, the removal of “tenure” in all existing legacy contracts, primacy of firm level agreements over other collective agreements as well as a cut in severance payments. ■ Public Administration reforms: Public sector employment has been cut from over 950 000 in 2009 to less than 750 000 in 2012, and is projected to fall by further 90 000 (13%) by 2016, according to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimate. In addition there has been introduction of a unified wage grid and staffing plans for the entire public sector with evaluation of all employees by end-2013. There has been an establishment of a mobility scheme and mandatory exit targets have been put in place. ■ Health Care reforms: Eight social insurance funds have been merged into one, covering almost the entire population (nine million insured and dependents). The introduction of automatic claw-back mechanisms for pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and private clinics have been put in place to ensure compliance with spending ceilings, monitoring of hospital performance and wider use of generics/off-patent pharmaceuticals, as well as the establishment of an e-prescription system. ■ Social Protection reforms: There has been a rationalisation of social benefits, increased use of means testing for the provision of social protection benefits, and the introduction of policies targeted at the long-term unemployed. ■ Fiscal Structural reforms: A strengthened fiscal framework, as well as automatic corrective mechanisms when targets are missed has been put in place. This will ensure that Greece remains on a sound fiscal path to future growth.
■ Tax reforms and Tax Administration reforms: Extensive use of IT systems (compulsory electronic submission of tax declarations, new IT system interconnecting all tax offices) and code simplifications are the main achievements to the tax system reform. A series of measures have also been introduced to fight tax evasion and enhance the efficiency of the tax offices. ■ Business environment: The most significant reform in this respect has been the establishment of a “one-stop-shop” to set up a business in one day. Other reforms include the removal of the 30 most important barriers to entrepreneurship and a fast track process for investments. ■ Regulated professions: The elimination of minimum fees for services and the abolition of cabotage (home porting) rules related to cruise vessels flying non-EU flags, the liberalisation of road haulage sector, the repeal of unnecessary restrictions in retail (sanitary, labour, and transport) and the liberalisation of fuel and energy markets, are the main reforms regarding regulated professionals. ■ Privatisations: Immense infrastructure work has been concluded that will safely lead the development of privatisation projects to the next level, some 29 privatisation projects have either been completed (with a total value of four billion Euro) or been put to track resulting in the following developments: ◗ More than 80 000 properties have been initially accessed. ◗ More than 3 000 properties have been pre-selected for development. ◗ 84 of regulatory, administrative and technical barriers, slowing down privatisations, have been lifted. ◗ Implemented electronic auction e-publicrealestate.gr for medium and small real estate assets.
the history of
greece The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern state of Greece, as well as that of the Greek people and the areas they ruled historically.
Neolithic: 10th millennium B.C. - about 2100 B.C. Some Neolithic communities in southeastern Europe, such as Sesklo in Greece, were living in heavily fortified settlements of 3,000–4,000 people. In about 2100 B.C, the Proto-Indo-Europeans overran the Greek peninsula from the north and east. These Indo-Europeans, known as Mycenaeans, introduced the Greek language to present-day Greece.
Bronze Age Cycladic and Minoan civilisation (2700 B.C. - 1450 B.C.) One of the earliest civilisations to appear around Greece was the Minoan civilisation in Crete. They were primarily a mercantile people engaged in overseas trade, taking advantage of their land’s rich natural resources.
Mycenaean civilisation (1600 B.C. - 1100 B.C.) The Proto-Greeks arrived in the Greek peninsula during the late 3rd to early 2nd millennium B.C., and by the 16th century B.C. Mycenaean Greece was established. Mycenaean Greece lasted from the arrival of the Greeks in the Aegean around 1600 B.C. to the collapse of their Bronze Age civilisation around 1100 B.C. It is the historical setting of the epics of Homer and of most Greek mythology. The Mycenaean period takes its name from the archaeological site Mycenae in the north-eastern Argolid, in the Peloponnesus of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites.
Early Iron Age (ca. 1100 B.C. - 800 B.C.) The Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of Greek history from the Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean civilisation in the 11th century B.C. to the rise of the first Greek city-states in the 9th century B.C. and the epics of Homer and earliest writings in alphabetic Greek in the 8th century B.C.
Archaic Greece (8th century B.C. - 6th century B.C.) From about the 9th century BC, written records begin to appear. Greece was divided into many
small self-governing communities, a pattern largely dictated by Greek geography.
Classical Greece (6th century B.C. - 323 B.C.) The basic unit of politics in Ancient Greece was the polis, sometimes translated as city-state. “Politics” literally means “the things of the polis”. Each city was independent, at least in theory. Two major wars shaped the Classical Greek world. 500–448 B.C.: The Persian Wars (are recounted in Herodotus’ Histories). The notable battles of this war include Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea. 458 B.C.-404 B.C.: The Peloponnesian War between the allies of Athens and those of Sparta, while the Persian Wars were still ongoing. The war had left devastation in its wake and a tremendous political dispute among the city-states that some of them called upon Philip II of Macedon for aid. He forced the city states into being united by the League of Corinth which led to the conquering of the Persian Empire by Philip’s son Alexander the Great. Under the leadership of Alexander the Greeks conquered the Persian Empire and reached India.
Hellenistic Greece (323 B.C. - 146 B.C.) The Hellenistic period of Greek history begins with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. and ends with the annexation of the Greek peninsula and islands by Rome in 146 B.C. Although the establishment of Roman rule did not break the continuity of Hellenistic society and culture, which remained essentially unchanged
until the advent of Christianity, it did mark the end of Greek political independence. That period set the foundations for the millennium-long rise of Greece, in the form of the Eastern Roman Empire, as a major power in Europe and the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages.
Byzantine Empire (4th century – 1453) The division of the empire into East and West and the subsequent collapse of the Western Roman Empire were developments that constantly accentuated the position of the Greeks in the empire and eventually allowed them to become identified with it altogether. The leading role of Constantinople began when Constantine the Great turned Byzantium into the new capital of the Roman Empire, from then on to be known as Constantinople, placing the city at the centre of Hellenism a beacon for the Greeks. The Empire stood as a defensive wall against the numerous efforts of various peoples to invade Europe (Arabs, Persians, Lombards, Avars and Slavs).
Ottoman rule (15th century – 1821) When the Ottomans conquered Constantinople (1453), two Greek migrations occurred. The first migration entailed the Greek intelligentsia migrating to Western Europe and influencing the advent of the Renaissance. The second migration entailed Greeks leaving the plains of the Greek peninsula and resettling in the mountains. The Ottomans ruled Greece until the early 19th century.
After the Italian defeat and in order to secure his strategic southern flank, Hitler was compelled to send his troops to invade Greece. The German forces succeeded in occupying Greece, after facing heavy resistance, which delayed the Nazi assault against the Soviet Union and was a decisive contribution to the Allied efforts to the final victory. During the Nazi Occupation (1941-1944), hundreds of thousands of Greeks died in direct combat, in concentration camps, in massive executions or of starvation, while the economy of Greece was devastated.
Greek Civil War (1944–49) After liberation from Nazi occupation, the country was plunged into a bloody Civil War between the Governmental forces, supported by Britain at first and later by the U.S., and the Democratic Army of Greece, the military branch of the Greek communist party. Eugene Delacroix, The massacre at Chios (1824). The massacre took place during the War of Independance (Louvre Museum in Paris)
Modern Greek state (1821–today) 1821-1829: War of Independence In the early months of 1821, the Greeks declared their independence but did not achieve it until 1829. The Great Powers first shared the same view concerning the necessity of preserving the status quo of the Ottoman Empire, but soon changed their stance. Scores of non-Greeks volunteered to fight for the cause, including Lord Byron. On 20 October 1827, a combined British, French and Russian naval force destroyed the Ottoman armada in Navarino, the most crucial moment for Greek independence. The minister of foreign affairs of Russia, Ioannis Kapodistrias, himself a Greek, returned home as President of the new Republic. After his assassination, the European powers helped turn Greece into a monarchy; the first King, Otto, came from Bavaria and the second, George I, from Denmark.
Post-war era The first post-war decades are characterised by rapid economic growth initially with the help of the U.S. Marshall Plan’s grants and loans, and later through growth in tourism, shipping and small industry. In 1952, Greece acceded to NATO and, in 1961, became the first associate member of the European Economic Community. In 1967, the Greek military seized power in a coup d’état that established the Greek military junta of 1967-1974. After the collapse of the regime, in 1974, and the restoration of democracy, a referendum confirmed the abolition of the monarchy and a democratic republican constitution came into force. Since the restoration of democracy, stability was entrenched and economic prosperity of Greece remarkably increased. The country joined the European Community as a full member in 1981, became a member of the Economic and Monetary Union in 2001 and adopted the common European currency, the Euro, in 2002. Advertisement
During the 19 and early 20 centuries Greece sought to enlarge its boundaries to include the ethnic Greek population of the Ottoman Empire. The Ionian Islands were returned by Britain upon the arrival of the new King George I in 1863 and Thessaly was ceded by the Ottomans. As a result of the Balkan Wars of 1912–13 Epirus, southern Macedonia, Crete and the Aegean Islands were annexed into the Kingdom of Greece. Another enlargement followed in 1947, when Greece annexed the Dodecanese Islands from Italy. th
1914-1923: World War I and Greco-Turkish War Greece participated in World War I, in the side of the Allies (Entente Powers). Following victory the war, the Great Powers agreed that the Ottoman cities of Smyrna (Izmir) and its hinterland, both of which had large Greek populations, be handed over to Greece. Greek troops occupied Smyrna in 1919, and in 1920 the Treaty of Sevres was signed by the Ottoman government, which stipulated that in five years time a plebiscite would be held in Smyrna on whether the region would join Greece. The overthrow of the Ottoman government resulted in the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922). The war was concluded by the Treaty of Lausanne, according to which there was to be a population exchange between Greece and Turkey on the basis of religion. Over one million Orthodox Christians left Turkey in exchange for 400,000 Muslims from Greece.
1940-1945: World War II Despite the country’s numerically small and ill-equipped armed forces, Greece made a decisive contribution to the Allied efforts in World War II. At the start of the war Greece sided with the Allies and refused to give in to Italian demands. Italy invaded Greece by way of Albania on 28 October 1940, but Greek troops repelled the invaders after a bitter struggle, marking the first Allied victory in the war.
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Blue economy: Shipping and Greece
Greece is a traditional maritime country. Its commercial shipping, one of the most globalised industries in international trade, is a source of national pride and a bulwark of the national economy, accounting for 7.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In addition to the economic benefits it provides, Greek shipping plays a key role in the country’s social development, raising the country’s international profile and bolstering social cohesion.
A seafaring nation
What’s more, Greek shipping keeps an eye on the future. By the end 2012,
Shipping is the second largest contributor to the Greek domestic econ-
Greek interests had ordered 304 new vessels, and the 2013 Greek shipping
omy. Together with tourism, it accounts for almost a quarter of total
order book continued to indicate diversification into specialised ships like
LNG vessels, containerships, as well as offshore platforms and drilling ships. So the outlook for Greek shipping is as impressive as its storied past.
A growing fleet The merchant fleet under Greek flag ranks sixth in the world and second
The business of shipping
in the EU (in terms of dry weight and gross tonnage, respectively). Boast-
From 2002 to 2012, shipping contributed a total of €140 billion to the
ing over 4,000 cargo vessels, of which more than 3,700 are oceangoing,
Greek Economy. The foreign exchange input from shipping activities
Greek ship owners lead the global merchant marine market: of over one
reached an impressive €13.28 billion in 2012. Maritime transport provides
trillion tons of global capacity, the EU fleet totals 199.12 million tons, of
over 192,000 jobs, both directly (1,352 shipping management companies
which 133.21 million tons are accounted for by Greek-owned vessels. This
are active in the Greek shipping sector) and in shipping-related activities.
is mirrored by Greek ship owners’ equally commanding presence in the
This is an impressive number at a time when unemployment is at very
global tanker, bulk, and chemical product carrier fleets.
Greece promotes a national port policy through the improvement of port infrastructure and port management, and is also in the process of consolidating its maritime offerings into a cohesive transit hub, thus strengthening and improving the pivotal position of Greek ports in maritime transport and services.
Shipping, Maritime policies and the Hellenic Presidency As a traditional merchant marine power, Greece plays an important role in the shaping of all EU policies on maritime transport, which is a vital component the European economy and world trade. The shipping sector contributes significantly to sustainable economic development while strengthening the strategic position of the European Union, and Shipping and sea-related issues are a high priority for the Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the EU. Maritime policy, blue growth and maritime transport comprise a horizontal priority for the Hellenic Presidency, which has programmed a number of relevant actions and initiatives, one of which is the Informal Maritime Ministerial Council being hosted in Athens, on 7 May 2014, to review EU maritime transport policy.
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The gateway to Europe, Africa and Asia Reaching out west to the Ionian Sea, east to the Aegean Sea, south to the Mediterranean Sea, and standing at the crossroads of three continents, Greece is a true gateway to Europe, Africa and Asia..
reece is located in south-eastern Europe, on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula (Haemus peninsula); it lies at the meeting point of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa. Greece borders to the North on Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M.), to the Northwest on Albania, to the Northeast on Turkey; to the West it is washed by the Ionian Sea; to the South by the Mediterranean Sea and to the East by the Aegean Sea.
World-class transport infrastructure Greece’s unique location offers the country access to many and diverse trading partners, as well as a destination for peoples of the world to meet. Greece has always been the focal point of civilisations meeting and interacting with each other, leaving an indelible mark on the country. Thessaloniki, the country’s second biggest city, is historically the ultimate urban meeting point, where Europe meets the Middle East and the Balkans meets the Mediterranean. Access to Greece is made easy through its many, and impressive transport infrastructure network of road, sea and air. Greece boasts 39 ports, with Piraeus being undoubtedly the crown jewel. The country’s main port has and continues to achieve impressive growth rates, rendering it a major gateway for European Union (EU) commerce. By air, Greece has 82 airports, many of them handling international flights; Athens International Airport alone handled 13 million people in 2012. The state-of-the-art Egnatia motorway stretches from Greece’s westernmost edge close to Italy to its easternmost borders close to Turkey, connecting the EU with Asia.
EU and Asian exchange Greece is evolving into an energy hub for the whole of the European Union (EU). The Trans
Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) was selected to transport natural gas from Azerbaijan via Greece, Albania and Italy to Europe. It is estimated that it will provide enough energy for as many as seven million EU households. The Euro-Asia Interconnector, an underwater electric cable, connecting Israel, Cyprus and Greece, is expected to change the energy agenda in the Southern Mediterranean region. Border security is also a top priority for Greece and the European Union, as its South-eastern border receives major migration flows. Since 2010, Greece has been cooperating with Frontex (EU border monitoring agency), in surveying the EU’s external borders and confronting cross-border crime.
Africa and the Middle East The countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are a vital zone for Greek trade and entrepreneurship, since antiquity. MENA is the fourth most important trade region for Greece, based on the trade volume of the past years. While trade with MENA usually lags behind trade with Europe (EE and the Balkans) and North America, in the last couple of years there has been impressive progress in boosting the trade volume between Greece and the MENA countries. In the first half of 2012 Greek exports in the Middle East increased by 37.86% compared with the first half of 2011. In North Africa Greek exports increased by 28.41% compared with the first half of 2011.
an emerging regional
reece is capitalising on its geographical position, upgrading its energy infrastructure, and emerging as an up-and-coming regional energy hub that can contribute to European energy security, an issue brought to the fore once again by the current crisis in Ukraine. The Shah Deniz II Consortium’s June 2013 decision in favour of the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) – which will carry Azeri natural gas to Italy and Central Europe, via Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea – was a major turning point on Greece’s path to becoming a regional energy hub. The choice of the TAP as the conduit for carrying Caspian natural gas to European markets significantly upgraded Greece’s status on the energy map and was a vote of confidence in a recovering Greek economy, contributing to the improvement of the economic climate. With an annual capacity of 10 bcm, the TAP represents a foreign direct investment of €1.5 billion and, as part of the European strategy for creating a southern natural gas corridor, will strengthen Greek and European energy security. In addition to promoting regional synergy between Greece, Italy, Albania, Turkey and Azerbaijan, other countries in the region will benefit from the TAP, as a cooperation platform, as they are linked to the project in the future, via planned branch pipelines. These countries include; Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Another major energy infrastructure project, set to begin construction in 2015, is the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), a reverse-flow pipeline that will supply Bulgaria and Central European countries with natural gas from the TAP and Greek LNG imports.
Greek-owned tankers are already carrying natural gas to Greece’s state-of-the-art liquefied natural gas terminal at Revithoussa, a small island near Athens. Revithoussa has significant strategic advantages, located only 650 nmi from the Suez Canal, through which Qatari natural gas is transported to Europe. The current upgrading of the Revithoussa facilities and of LNG storage facilities in Northern Greece is aimed at making Greece a major European gateway for LNG and a vital supply link in Europe’s Central Corridor, which will give the country another key role in the diversification of energy supplies for the Balkans and Central and Eastern Europe. A further development with the potential to alter the regional energy landscape decisively – following the recent discoveries of large offshore hydrocarbon deposits by Israel and Cyprus – is the Greek government’s intention to move ahead with exploration for and exploitation of its offshore mineral wealth. Norway’s PGS has already carried out the initial seismic surveys in the maritime regions of western Greece and southern Crete, and the Greek government has now made the resulting “Greece MegaProject” database available for purchase by prospective investors, before it moves ahead with the next round of licensing for exploration and exploitation of offshore fields. The Greek government is optimistic, and Energy Minister Maniatis stated in January that “it arises from the initial evaluation of the data that there are interesting geological structures that exhibit significant similarities with corresponding structures in neighbouring countries that are already producing hydrocarbons.” All of these developments – construction of the TAP and IGB, operation and upgrading of Revithoussa, efforts to confirm and exploit Greek hydrocarbon deposits – indicate that energy may well have a key role to play in Greece’s recovery, as the country emerges as a regional energy hub while making an important contribution to European energy security.
From prehistoric times to the establishment of the Modern Greek state, Greek culture is a continuum of a unique civilisation evolving over thousands of years, not only on Greek soil, but wherever the Greeks have lived and prospered. Arts such as architecture, sculpture, pottery, weaving, music, jewelry making and painting have a long tradition in Greece, from Prehistoric Times till now.
Language Alphabet, democracy, philosophy, academy, theatre, physics, astronomy, athletics: Is it all Greek to you? Well, maybe because it is… Thousands of words used in European languages come from the Greek language; it is estimated that 12% of the English vocabulary is of Greek origin, while 25% is borrowed indirectly from Greek. Words and concepts of modern Europe derive from the Greek language, even down to the very name of the continent itself! The continent was named after the mythical Europa, who was abducted by Zeus and carried to Crete, a well known story of Greek mythology. Europe’s core values can also be traced back to classical Greece. The Enlightenment, the essence of
modern European civilisation, is also founded on Greek classical heritage: Reason, Humanism, Democracy, Liberty – the very basis of many modern European countries.
Cultural life Daily cultural life is very vivid in Greece and representative with the joy of simple and natural life. The Greeks are particularly proud of their culture and speak of their country with an intense passion, feeling that their Greek culture is a definition of their national and ethnic belonging. Traditions, religion, music, language, food and wines are the major composites of the culture of Greece and constitute the base for those who wish to visit and understand today’s Greece. Since 1985, three Greek cities, Athens (1985), Thessaloniki (1997) and Patras (2006) have been selected European Cultural Cities, a choice that reflects their significance for Europe’s cultural identity, but also Greece’s vibrant contemporary arts scene, with avant-garde theatre and cinema, a lively music scene, frontline visual arts, and some of the world’s most pioneering museums. In 2014, Thessaloniki is the EU Youth Capital. Greece has more archaeological museums than any other country in the world. The sheer number of museums and sites are testament to Greece’s
Constantinos Volonakis, Moored ships (1895), at the National Gallery, Athens
Nikiphoros Lytras Expectance 1895-1900 Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Greece
George Iakovidis Grandma’s favourite 1893 Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Greece
immense cultural heritage, a cornerstone of European civilisation. The new Acropolis Museum ranks among the 10 best museums in the world, while its restaurant among the top five. A large number of monuments from a variety of periods are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Many cultural events take place in Greece all year round. Particularly famous is the Athens Epidaurus Greek Festival, with events in the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, the Herodeion Theatre in Athens and other venues. Such festivals with music concerts, theatre performances, lectures and custom revivals take place in all Greek islands and towns, usually in summer, presenting the local culture and occasionally hosting international participations.
Modern Arts After the emergence of the new independent Greek state and throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, painting, sculpture and literature flourished in the every corner of the country. Earlier examples of Greek art, in the period between 14th and 18th centuries can be found mainly in Greek islands such as Crete, and the Ionian Islands as well as in the Greek diaspora. Modern Greek art began developing around the time of Romanticism. Both academic and personal bonds developed between early Greek painters and Munich artistry giving birth to the Greek “Munich School” of painting, whose most representative Greek painters were Nikolaos Gysis Ioannis Altamouras, Theodoros Vryzakis, Nikiphoros Lytras, Georgios Jakobides, Georgios Roilos and Konstantinos Volanakis. At the beginning of the 20th century landscape painting held sway and the interest of painters turned toward the study of light and colour. Demetrios Galanis, Nikos Engonopoulos, Dimitris Mytaras and Yiannis Psychopedis, Konstantinos Parthenis, Konstantinos Maleas, Yiannis Tsarouchis, Yiannis Moralis, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, Spyros Vassiliou, Alekos Kontopoulos all achieved international recognition. In literature, two Greek poets were awarded the Nobel Prize: Giorgos Seferis, in 1963, for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture, and Odysseus Elytis, in 1979, for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear-sightedness modern man’s struggle for freedom and creativeness. Sources: http://gr2014.eu/greece/culture
Theatre of Epidaurus
➊ smaLL CYCLades Between Naxos and Amorgos, a small island complex referred to as the Small Cyclades is a small piece of paradise in the Aegean. Its beautiful waters are best explored on a sailing boat.
➋ meTeora (CenTraL greeCe) Meteora is an area in Thessaly (Central Greece) and Kalampaka is the city under the rock towers of Meteora. What makes Meteora so special are the monasteries at the top of the rock towers. The monasteries, the climbing possibilities and the hiking paths make this a very unique destination.
➌ sounio (aTHens)
About one hour’s drive from the centre of Athens, you will reach Sounio where the famous Temple of Poseidon is located, built during the Golden Age of Pericles. A temple at the most southern point of Athens, offering magical golden sunsets on a site where the Ancient Greeks worshiped Poseidon, God of the Sea.
➍ oTHonoi (ionian) An island in the Ionian Sea with a pure beauty, worth visiting if you travel to one of the big Ionian Islands. A cave, near the Aspri Ammos (white sand) beach, is traditionally believed to have been the place where Calypso kept Ulysses captive.
➎ THe eXCaVaTions aT aKroTiri (sanTorini)
Santorini’s geomorphology is the result of hundreds of thousands of years of volcanic activity. The ongoing excavations at Santorini have uncovered one of the most prehistoric settlements of the Aegean. Worth a visit for any Santorini visitor.
➏ ZagoroCHoria (CenTraL greeCe) Zagorochoria constitutes a unique residential, historical and cultural unity of villages north of the basin of Ioannina. Today Zagorochoria maintains their cultural heritage in an effort to continue the traditions and customs of the region. The particular architecture, the traditional music, the natural beauty, the wild beauty of the mountains and rich flora and fauna of the region are those characteristics that distinguish it.
➐ masTiCHoHoria (CHios isLand) Masticha or Mastic is an agricultural product removed by chipping mastic bushes. Masticha looks like rock candy and has a distinctive taste and chewiness. It is a 100% Greek product, and as such is registered by the European Union as PDO (PGI) name. Chios Mastic, popular since ancient times, was and still is a highly commercialised product due to its cosmetic, pharmaceutical and industrial applications. It is only produced on the island of Chios, in the Aegean Sea, and especially in the Southern part in the Mastic villages or the so called ‘Mastichohoria’. Even though people tried to take mastic to different countries in the past, amazingly enough mastic is impossible to grow in any other part of the world except Chios.
➐ CHios isLand
➑ eLaFonisos (peLoponnese) Elafonissos is a very small island, just 19km2, on the Southern Eastern Tip of Peloponnese. The distance from the mainland is a mere 570 meters of crystal clear turquoise water on top of thin gold-coloured sand. Frango (Simos) - Saracenico are the majestic twin beaches, the small and large bays on the south eastern tip of the island, opposite the Kythera and the Spathi tip.
➒ diros CaVes The Diros Caves are perhaps the most important natural site in Greece and in their own way as spectacular as the caldera of Santorini. Enjoy a half hour boat tour inside the caves with stalactites and stalagmites where the tourguide uses just a long pole to journey through the caverns and tunnels. An experience not to be missed.
➓ CHaLKidiKi One of the most fertile and beautiful regions of Greece. Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos are the three peninsulas that make up the prefecture of Chalkidiki. A tranquil combination of beaches, unique coves and picturesque villages. After a stay in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second biggest city in the north, take a trip and explore what Chalkidiki has to offer. You will not be disappointed.
on a Plate
e n i w d n a d o o F d n a l e h from t
greek gastronomy has a rich history, dating back some 4000 years, with its especial characteristics based on pure and unique quality goods. in fact, it was archestratos who wrote the ﬁrst cookbook in history (330 b.c.). today greece is famous for its simple yet ﬂavoursome cuisine, made with the best produce from the fertile land – produce such as grapes used to blend the country’s many top-quality wines.
naTuraL, simpLe Foods and FLaVours
in the Lefka Ori mountain range of western Crete, this winery has re-ab-
The Greek diet is the perfect example of traditional Mediterranean eating. It’s based around a variety of colourful and flavoursome foods that are high in nutrients and low in animal fats. It is said that Greek cuisine has four secrets: Good quality fresh ingredients, correct use of flavourings (herbs) and spices, the famous Greek olive oil and simplicity.
sorbed the quiet cycle of life for thousands of the islands wild flowers
Most of the Greek produce, including its vegetables are cultivated in natural ways and they therefore maintain their aroma and their flavour. The Greeks will tell you that after tasting a Greek tomato, cabbage, carrot, onion, parsley and garlic, your palate will be content. Some of the other natural Greek ingredients you will find in most traditional dishes include fruits, such as grapes, apricots, peaches, cherries, melons, watermelons, honey, legumes and not forgetting olives. Kalamata olives have a rich and fruity flavour and are one of the most popular eating olives in Greece.
and herbs; carefully cultivating their vines to allow them to absorb these unique aromas and essence of the terroir, filling the grape clusters with their unique character, thus capturing and preserving the incredible Lefka Ori of Crete in each bottle of their Nostos Wines. What makes Greek wine so unique are the more than 300 indigenous grape varieties grown there, some of which have been cultivated since ancient times. Many of the world’s best wine critics agree that the distinct flavors that come from these native grape varieties are a strong marketing advantage for the Greek wine industry. Many well-known international grape varieties are also used in Greek wine making. This extensive variety of grapes together with the moderate Greek climate, plentiful sunshine, low average rainfall and soils of moderate fertility combine to provide an excellent environment for the production of high quality wines. Maria Tsalapati, from Oinofilia says that her company
Greek olive oil deserves a special note. It accompanies almost all Greek dishes, it is used abundantly in most of them, it is of excellent quality and Greeks will tell you it is good for your health.
CLassiC greeK disHes These are the dishes that are at the top of the request list for lovers of Greek food. From simple to elaborate, they are the classic dishes that delight Greek food enthusiasts the world over. Come explore the rich culinary traditions of Greece as you sample the best of Greek food. MOUSSAkA Perhaps the most widely recognised of all Greek dishes, this oven-baked casserole of layered eggplant and spiced meat filling topped with a creamy bechamel will be the highlght of any Greek meal. BAkLAVA A perennial favorite, this classic Greek pastry is made with flaky phyllo dough layered with a cinnamon-spiced nut filling, and bathed in sweet syrup. It’s crunchy and sweet and very decadent. TZATZIkI A tangy cucumber dip flavoured with garlic is the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats and vegetables. It’s served on the side with warm pita bread triangles for dipping, and is also used as a condiment.
CLeanse Your paLaTe Although wine producing in Greece dates back thousands of years, in recent years, the Greek wine industry has undergone tremendous improvements with serious investments in modern wine making technology. The new generation of native winemakers is being trained in the best wine schools around the world and their efforts are paying off as Greek wines continue to receive the highest awards in international competitions as well as the recognition they deserve throughout the world. Once such winery, that produces wines of high quality and sold internationally including in Denmark, is Manousakis Winery. Located
makes available high quality Greek wines to the Danish public. Made of indigenous varieties, organic and biodynamic, by dedicated highly educated oenologists and winemakers, Greek wine she says is a good alternative to the top wine producing countries. “You get very good value for money, and important, also, Greek wine can be enjoyed not only with Greek food, but with all kinds of foods,” she explains. In the wine world, they say, Greece is one of the most interesting wine countries in Europe - so why not give Greek wine a whirl. Dane’s can buy Greek wine from Maria’s company, and can contact her on email@example.com or +45 27160069. Sources: http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/gastronomy; http://www.allaboutgreekwine.com/; http://www.mediterrasian.com/; http://www.justaboutcyprus.com/
Did you know? Feta, which is made from goat milk is Greece’s national cheese.It dates back to Homeric ages and the average per capita consumption of feta cheese in Greece is the highest in the world.
! s e d a C y cl In Greece, you are at a crossroads of colours and cultures. A country with a uniquely affluent historical past, a country of beautiful contradictions, a constant journey in time, from the present to the past and back again.
hether you have travelled to Greece before or you are considering it now, an amazing cluster of islands will make it worth your while. Some of the oldest European civilisations developed on the Greek islands (Cycladic, Minoan civilizations, etc.), so therefore the islands have unique archeological sites, a distinctive architectural heritage and the fascinating local traditions of a centuries-old and multifaceted civilisation. Many of these Greek beaches have been awarded the blue flag under the Blue Flags of Europe Program, providing not only swimming, but also scuba diving, snorkeling, water skiing, sailing and windsurfing. Most of the islands are found in the Aegean Sea with the most well-known being the Cyclades Who hasn’t heard of the amazingly romantic sunsets on Santorini, or seen the mesmerising deep blue from Amorgos? If you are looking for a heavenly spot, the “Small Cyclades” cluster of islands will take your breath away. One visit to Greece is never enough. Every time one visits there is more and more that is discovered. The idea of exploring new coves, new tastes, new experiences is a temptation in itself. Here are only a few ideas of what the Cyclades have to offer.
aCTiViTies in THe isLand oF amorgos When it comes to hiking, there are many signaled pathways on the island as Amorgos is considered to be one of the most organised Cycladic islands for trekking. Swimming in Aigialis bay is bound to leave you breathless. Finally, one should definitely not miss out on visiting Hozoviotissa Monastery built in the mountain and providing the most magical sea view
BeaCHes in KouFonisia The southeastern coasts of the island include most of the island’s beaches
such as Finikas, Fanos and Platia Pounta and are the most visited. Continuing you will see small gulfs between rocks where you can swim in quiet. You will also see Pori which is considered to be the most beautiful beach in the island. The rocky caves in the north coasts of Koufonisi and Kato Koufonisi are ideal fishing places for amateur fishermen. There are also small boats departing from Chora which can take you to the far away beaches of the island, as well as in the nearby islets of Prasoura, Glaronisi, Voulgari, Tsouloufi, Lazaros and Megali Plaka in reasonable prices. All these islets have been announced places of unique natural beauty.
sigHTseeing miLos A walk through the town will give you the chance to visit its main sights: The Venetian castle dating back to the 13th century and offering a great view and an enchanting sunset. Don’t forget to visit the Archaeological Museum, hosting a replica of the famous statue “Aphrodite of Milos”, the masterpiece discovered during the 19th century on the island. Also of cultural interest is the Folklore and History Museum, situated in a 19th-century mansion and hosting traditional objects, a collection of minerals extracted in Milos and photographic material. Last but not least, a must-see on Milos is Sarakiniko, a coast of unique natural beauty, with white smooth rocks, 5km east. Irakleia – Schoinousa – Donousa – Koufonisia: these Lilliputian islands, along with uninhabited Keros Island, make up the magic group of the Minor Eastern Cyclades. Golden sand beaches washed by turquoise pellucid waters, lee coves, amazing geological formations, white cube-shaped little houses with flowerbeds in their yards, open-hearted people, fun and merry-making, special delicacies, fish that’s always fresh and above all a relaxed rhythm of life. In short: everyone’s dream of a summer vacation.
KOUFONISIA Koufonisia islands are a beloved destination for those seeking to enjoy the original laid-back Greek lifestyle: peaceful and relaxed atmosphere, sun-drenched beaches with azure waters and…plenty of tavernas with fresh fish! Koufonisia is a small group of two islands, Pano Koufonisi (Upper Koufoníssi) and Kato Koufonisi (Lower Koufonisi), that are separated by a narrow strait. They are located southeast of Naxos and west of Amorgos; Pano Koufonisi is inhabited, with a land area of 5.5 sq. km and a population of 366 residents. Their name comes from the numerous caves the waves have shaped along their shores, which, when seen by pirates, gave them the impression that the islands (in Greek “nissia”) were hollow (in Greek “koufio”) – therefore Koufionisia and later Koufonisia. The deserted island of Keros lies next to Koufonisia and is a protected archaeological site as major finds of Cycladic art have been unearthed here , such as the figure of Big Mother (1.40 m tall), and the famous statuettes “the Piper” and “the Harpist”, now exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Swimming: On Pano Koufonisi, the best beaches are at Loutro, Parianos, Foinikas, Fanos, Italida, and Pori where you can windsurf as well. On Kato Koufonisi, visit the solitary paradise sandy beaches at Panagia, Detis, and Nero. You can also tour the island by boat (either yours or an excursion boat) and admire the sea caves as well as the nearby islets Glaronisi, Prasoura, Voulgari, Tsouloufi, Lazaros and Megali Plaka; all of them have been designated as areas of great natural beauty. Must see: The white windmill which stands at the harbour entrance as if welcoming visitors. Chora is further up: a typical Cyclades village with white-washed houses and picturesque alleys. In the centre you will see Agios Georgios church, the island’s patron saint. Rent a bicycle and tour the island following the shoreline. Visit the inland area and hike along the paths from Chora to Pano Meria. Feasts: Locals simply love a good feast. On April 23 (Agios Georgios feast day), the ‘feast master’ takes the Saint’s icon around and is escorted by fishing boats which sail along the shoreline. The “fisherman’s feast” takes place on June 24 and delicious kakavia soup is offered to all. On August 15 the locals sail to Kato Koufonisi for the big feast in honour of Panagia (Virgin Mary).
DONOUSA ISLAND The northernmost island of the Minor Eastern Cyclades group lies between Naxos and Amorgos. Donousa or Stavros is the capital town and a tourist destination. Mersini, Charavgi (Mesaria) and Kalotaritissa villages are picturesque and definitely worth a visit. Tourists will enjoy hiking across the countryside that is sweet-smelling with herbs, as the island area is just about 13 km2. Swimming: A lovely golden sand beach lies next to the harbour: start your beach exploration from there. In the south shores you will find amazing sandy beaches such as Kedros – with a German shipwreck lying at the bottom of the sea – Vathy Limenari, Livadi and Fykio, where underwater life and seabed are particularly impressive; in the north shores you will see three pebble beaches in Kalotaritissa, resembling a turquoise aquarelle amidst transparent waters. Must see: Head NW for the impressive Cave of the Wall and its marvellous stalactites; Fokospilia is located in the east shores and the natural beauty within is exceptional as the light blue reflections on the seabed are truly impressive. There is access to the caves only by excursion boats. Feasts: Enjoy yourself and dance till dawn on August 15 (Panagia’s feast), on September 14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross feast), and on September 17 (Saint Sophia’s feast). You will then taste the famous patatato dish (kid with potatoes, cooked with tomatoes and herbs).
IRAKLEIA ISLAND Located between Ios and Naxos, with a ring of islands around it, Irakleia is endowed with rolling hills, picturesque coves, a particularly interesting flora and old stone-
paved pathways which make it the ideal place for relaxed summer holidays. Populations of monachus monachus, the Mediterranean monk seal, and caretta – caretta, the sea turtle, live by the island’s shores. Life follows a particular pattern here on its two villages – both pretty as a picture: Agios Georgios (where the island’s harbour is) with a lovely sea view and Panagia with white cube-shaped little houses. Swimming: Try the following sandy beaches: Agios Georgios with the shady tamarisks, Vorini Spilia with an impressive underwater life and seabed, Livadi and Alimia where you will see a World War II plane wreckage. Other options include pebble beaches such as Tourkopigado, Ammoudi tou Mericha, Karvounolakkos and Merichas cove; or the rocky shores at Xylompatis and Trimpounas and the steep and rugged beaches at Vala, Strongylos, Kavos tou Thodorou and Kathreptis. Must see: The fortress (rising above Livadi beach), which was built on the ruins of the ancient temple of Zeus; the towering Merichas boulders against the infinite blue sea; Agios Ioannis cave – the biggest one in Cyclades - where geological formations are remarkable; Agios Athanasios, an old village with a few traditional stone-built houses; Agios Georgios church (1834), Taxiarchis church with a superb iconostasis, Profitis Ilias church on Papas which is the highest peak on the island offering a panoramic view of the Major and Minor Cyclades and the impressive Panagia church, dedicated to the Entry of the Virgin Mary to the Temple. Feasts: A great feast takes place on August 15 in Panagia with violin playing and scrumptious titbits on offer. On August 28, the eve of Agios Ioannis Prodromos feast day, an evening service is held inside Agios Ioannis Prodromos cave and hundreds of candles light up the place creating a spectacular sight. A feast takes place later on. Greece is a country blessed with incredible history, culture, a very rich cultural background that goes centuries back but also continues to develop in the most extraordinary way, amazing nature and landscapes that can offer moments of adventure and harmony depending on what the traveler seeks. Greece is far from being just a “sun and sea” destination as it has been known for years. Challenge your sense of exploration by travelling to Greece and discovering it over and over again. WELCOME HOME!