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Zoran Pavlovic´ Series Consulting Editor

Charles F. Gritzner South Dakota State University

Frontispiece: Flag of Greece Cover: Greek houses and windmill, Santorini Island, Cyclades, Greece. Greece Copyright © 2006 by Infobase Publishing All ri ghts re s erved. No part of this book may be reprodu ced or utilized in any form or by any means, el ectronic or mechanical, including ph o tocopyi n g, recording, or by a ny inform a ti on stora ge or retri eval sys tem s , without perm i s s i on in wri ting from the publ i s h er. For inform a ti on con t act : Ch elsea Ho u s e An imprint of In fobase Pu bl i s h i n g 132 West 31st Street New York NY 10001 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Pavlovic, Zoran. Greece / Zoran Pavlovic. p. cm. — (Modern world nations) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-7910-8797-2 (hard cover) 1. Greece—Geography—Juvenile literature. I. Title. II. Series. DF720.P38 2005 914.95—dc22


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Table of Contents

1 Introducing Greece


2 Physical Landscapes


3 Greece Through Time


4 People and Culture


5 Government and Politics


6 Greece’s Economy


7 Regions of Greece


8 Greece Looks Ahead


Facts at a Glance History at a Glance Bibliography and Further Reading Index

94 96 98 99


1 Introducing Greece


top the hill overlooking Athens, Greece’s capital city, lies the Acropolis. This famous cultural relic is more than simply one of the country’s best known archaeological monuments. It also serves as a majestic reminder of an era when Greek civilization dom i n a ted the known worl d . The influ en ce of the ancient Greek culture reached from the Straight of Gibraltar to as far east as the Himalaya Mountains. Zeus and other gods from Greek mythology were well known throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. Both warriors and merchants, with sword and gold, were spre ading Greek knowl ed ge , inventions, and philosophy. For their accomplishments in learning and the spread of their knowledge, the ancient Greeks were known by other cultures as the “people of the book.” Roots of many modern scien tific disciplines, including geography, are found in ancient Greek civilization. Before what we recognize tod ay as “geography” existed, Greeks were actively practicing the science.


Introducing Greece

Athens, pictured here from atop Lycabettus Hill, east of the city, is the capital of Greece and regarded by many as the birthplace of Western Civilization. The Acropolis, the center of ancient Athens’s chief religious and municipal buildings, can be seen in the center of the photo.

(It was not until 200 B.C. that the Greek scholar Eratosthenes first used the word geography, meaning “writing about the earth”.) These early people, tucked away in a distant corner of Europe, had long studied changes taking place on the earth’s surface. They analyzed differences and similarities between pl aces and won dered why certain things were happening in



Greece certain locations. In essence, they were interested in the importance of location and spatial patterns—the foundations of modern geographic thought. Fortunately for us, much of their early thoughts were pre s erved in manuscripts for thousands of ye a rs . In recent cen tu ries, this information served as the fou n d a tion from which modern geography and most other sciences grew. Today, we re s pect the works of Greek scholars su ch as Herodotus and Eratosthenes for their observations about the land and people. The same can be said for Greek observations on philosophy, physics, mathematics, and many other disciplines. One must not for get con tri buti ons from Plato and Ari s to t l e , Arch i m edes, Pythagoras, and many others. These names are recognized in classrooms around the world. Most scholars give generous credit to the Greeks for their role in building the springboard that launched Western Civilization. Greece then and now is not the same, h owever. Con temporary Greece is far from the worl d ’s leading civi l i z a ti on . It holds a place as a small nati on - s t a te in sout h e a s tern Europe, created through many years of cultural struggle. The gods of Mount Olympus are long gone. To most modern Gree k s , s occer stars are much more important than the stars studied by the ancient cosmographers (who studied the cosmos, or universe). Winning European ch a m p i onships in soccer and basketb a ll take preceden ce now ad ays. The Greek world and cultu re are va s t ly changed from what they on ce were . THEN AND NOW Times and the Greek culture (way of life) have changed. What has not changed is the beauty of the Aegean Peninsula and surrounding islands; the area of the world that we now call the country of Greece. Mountains rising abruptly out of the sea, crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean, and hundreds of islands are postcard images of Greece. Quite often, however, pos tcard photogra phs are not accurate depictions. Th eir primary

Introducing Greece purpose is to portray idyllic pictures of foreign places. They show what the place should be like in our dreams, rather than what the place is like in reality. In the case of Greece, postcards do not need Photoshop enhancement. Towering Mount Olympus, seawater the color of the most precious sapphires, the greenness of delicious olives, and the redness of wine are a Greek reality. Add to the natu ral sp l endor the hu n d reds of arch i tectural and arch aeological treasures the country offers and Greece is a place that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime! Most Greeks, of course, are extremely proud of their co u n try; to them, it is much more than a tourist destination. They are proud that after many centuries of foreign domination, Greece is now an independent country. In this part of the world, peace is a relative term. Historically, war has broken out on many occasions in the region. Boundaries have changed many times, and there have been w ide-scale human migrations resulting from political conflict. Greeks have suffered their share of hardships. Because of these historical circumstances, many Greeks have left their homeland. Today, people of Greek descent live in places throughout the world and number in the millions. Sharp cultural con trasts are another factor that make s Greece su ch a won derful co u n try to stu dy geogra phically. There is the ongoing transformation from a sleepy traditional rural and village agricultural way of life into a rapidly growing urban culture and modern lifestyle. The culture change occurring in countries such as Greece is, perhaps, what leads to the creation of a modern world nation. Trad i ti on-bound folk c u l tu re is being rep l aced by a new type of popular cultu ral lifestyle marked by change. The rapid transformation of society f rom ru ral into urban of ten marks uneven progress. L a ter in this boo k , we will ex p l ore some of the major difficulties for Greece: the large gaps in economic growth among its different regi on s . These differen ces con tribute significantly to other aspects of Greek lifestyle.



Greece Greeks share their love of life and of fer open hospitality. No matter what part of the country a person visits, he or she can always count on a warm greeting from local people. This is one of those traditional traits that hopefully will not disappear with expanding urban popular cultu re. Cel ebra ti on of life— the need for good food, friendship, and strong family ties—are traits deeply entrenched in Greek culture. This book is not inten ded to be a detailed, statistical, encyclopedic survey of Greece. Rather, it focuses on the main aspects of Greek culture—those things that make the country and its people unique. In order to fully understand Greek (or any other) culture, one must first understand its background. The following chapter is devoted to the physical geography of the Aegean Peninsula and surrounding islands. The natural environment sets the stage on which cultural activities take place. Nature provides opportunities but can create obstacles. It is up to people, based on their culture, to adapt to, use, and modify the lands in which they live. We will then move on to a bri ef su rvey of the co u n try’s historical geogra phy. A prom i n ent geogra ph er, Erhard Rostlund, once noted that “the present is the fruit of the past and contains the seeds of the futu re .” In essen ce , without looking to the past, it is difficult if not impo s s i ble to understand the pre s ent or ga ze into the futu re . Current cultu ral geogra phy is the re sult of historical devel opm en t . Ch a pter 4 portrays Greek cultu re as it is tod ay. E con omics and po l i tic s are two el em ents of cultu re that w arrant our atten tion. Stu dy of these disciplines is essential to the well-being of both humans and the countries in which they re s i de. They also provide a pictu re of d ay - to - d ay l i fe of a co u n try’s peop l e . Because of their importance, a ch apter is devo ted both to econ omic and to po l i tical geogra phy. Finally, before con cluding and proj ecting the futu re geography of Greece , you will be taken on a tour of the co u n try’s d iverse regi on s .

Introducing Greece You are now beginning a process of filling in your “mental map” of Greece, by learning about the country’s geog raphic conditions and patterns. Individuals who possess a detailed mental map of a region can much easier imagine what places are like. Albert Einstein once noted that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Imagination, after all, does not adh ere to any boundaries. Are you re ady to begin your imagi n a ry journey of discovery to the fabled land of Greece?


2 Physical Landscapes


eography can be defined as the science involved in the study of “What is where, why there, and why care?” Whatever one studies—whether it is the physical or human features of the earth’s su rf ace—it becomes geogra phical the mom ent a spati a l methodology (loc a ti on) is used to explain certain phen om ena. Geographers try to understand how places and the various features that make them unique are similar to or different from one another. They want to know why differences exist from place to place. The loc ation of a place often provides clues to its unique physical and cultural development. These are the foundations of geographic study. Culture is the way that humans ad a pt . That is, by using knowl ed ge , tools, and skills, they are able to develop a way of life best suited to a pa rticular loc a ti on and environ m en t . Kn owing wh ere people live can often tell us a great deal about their culture. For example, fertile soils acc u mu l a te in the immediate vicinity of certain vo l c a n oes.


Physical Landscapes If agriculture is important to a cultu re, it will take advantage of this natural condition, and farming will be a major economic activity. With productive farming on the rich soils, the area also will experience a higher population density than other, less fertile, areas. Almost all early civilizations developed in areas that were well su i ted to agriculture, su ch as river valleys. Greece is located on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula. In practical terms, the region is not really a peninsula. Rather, “Balkan� more correctly refers to the cultural region located in southeastern Europe southward from the Sava and Danube rivers. It includes countries of the former Yugoslavia ( Sl ovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, and Macedonia), Bulgaria, Albania, and Greece. Some scholars include Romania and European Turkey in this group, as well. Greek tri bes moved into sout h e a s tern Europe as early as 2,000 B.C. Th ere, t h ey devel oped a thriving civilizati on in on e of the most attractive corn ers of the Med i terranean. It was an area with a very pleasant cl i m a te , va ri ed terrain con s i s ting of mountains and fertile va lleys , and seas with hu n d reds of islands scattered around the mainland. From this loc a ti on at the sout h ern tip of the Balkans and sandwi ch ed bet ween the Ionian and Aegean seas, the Greeks ex p a n ded to settle mu ch of the rest of the Med i terranean realm. Greece, itself, rem a i n ed the Med i terranean cultu ral cen ter for many cen tu ri e s . Bec a u s e almost three - fo u rths of Greece is mountainous, the co u n try has alw ays loo ked out w a rd . O f ten, this led to em i gra ti on (migra tion out of a country). It also hel ped tu rn the Greeks tow a rd the sea. Eventually, the center of cultural dominance and political power shifted from the eastern Mediterranean to northwestern Europe. Today, culturally, Greece remains somewhat outside mainstream European centers. The importance of location has changed, as has the spatial distribution of power.




Greece is located on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula, in southeastern Europe. In addition to Greece, the nations of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, A l b a n i a , and sometimes Romania and European Turkey are recognized as part of this peninsula.

Physical Landscapes It was not until the twentieth century that Greece finally assumed its current geographic area and shape. In addition to the country’s territory o n the European mainland, there are numerous islands in the surrounding seas, including most of the islands in the Aegean Sea. Greece occupies an area of 51,146 square miles (131,468 square kilometers), making it about the size of Alabama or Louisiana. By European standards, it is a midsized country, but in global terms, it occupies a small area. Most of Greece lies roughly between 35 and 42 degrees north latitude. Athens is located at approximately the same latitude as San Francisco, St. Louis, or Washington, D.C. THE LAND As noted earlier, the topography of Greece is primarily made up of h i lls and mountains—both on the mainland and islands— the highest of which are loc a ted in the nort h ern and we s tern part of the co u n try. Lowlands of any size are found on ly in the northeast, bordering Tu rkey and Bu l ga ria. Rugged terrain is the direct re sult of geo l ogical events spanning mill i ons of ye a rs. A look at a map of Europe reveals the gen eral east-we s t and northwest-southeast direction of mountain ranges. The form a ti on of s o ut h e a s tern Europe’s mountains began abo ut 60 m i ll i on ye a rs ago, and the process con ti nues tod ay. Mountain building begins when the movement of tectonic plates causes them to collide. During this process, one tectonic plate slides beneath another, forcing it upward and creating mountains. This violent process often generates earthquakes and can also cre a te volcanoes. These processes can be seen cl o s er to hom e, in California. Land conditions in Greece are the result of a collision between Europe and Africa—that is, the process in which the African tectonic plate is slowly pushing into the European plate. Although the clash of plates is less violent than in some other parts of the world, active volcanoes scattered throughout the Mediterranean serve as a reminder that it is still very much




With the exception of the northeastern portion of Greece, which is predominantly lowlands, the topography of the country consists primarily of mountains and hills. Greece is surrounded on three sides by water and includes approximately 2,000 islands in the Aegean, Ionian, and M e d i t e r ranean seas.

Physical Landscapes alive . On the Greek mainland, the on ly volcanic activity is found on the Pel opon n e sus Pen i n su l a . The Greek islands, however, are home to some of the world’s best known volcanoe s . Loc a tion again proves to be important. The vo l c a n oe s are located in an area known as the Aegean Volcanic Arc of the eastern Mediterranean. It follows the subduction zone, or deep sea tren ch, formed where the Af rican and Eu ropean p l a te s collide. This zone, just off the Greek coast, is also the deepest point in the Mediterranean Sea, with a depth of almost 15,000 feet (4,572 meters). One of the volcanic islands, Sa n torini (also historically k n own as Th era ) , bel on gs to a famous group of vo l c a n oe s . It is still active and represents a potential danger to people living nearby. Its fame, though, dates to around 1,650 B.C., when a violent eruption and resulting tsunami (tidal wave) devastated early cultures in the eastern Mediterranean. The eruption was so strong that many hundreds of miles away, in Asia and Africa, people felt its effects and recorded the event in their historical annals. Many scholars even believe the story of the mythical island of Atlantis, to which the ph i l o s oph er Plato famously referred in his wri tings, was in fact a de s c ri ption of the Santori n i eru pti on . P l a to noted that a well - devel oped civi l i z a ti onex i s ted on the island of At l a n tis, but disappeared when the island va n i s h edbeneath the sea because of violent natural forces. Even if not true , the legend of At l a n tis is a fascinating story that has p u z z l ed gen era ti ons of s ch o l a rs and laypeople alike . About 2,000 islands scattered about the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean seas be long to Greece. They vary in size from little more than small rocks protruding from the water to Greece’s largest island, Crete. Islands generally are rugged and quite dry, without major streams. Most of their settlem en t s are oriented toward the sea. The Greek coastline measures almost 8,500 miles (13,676 kilometers) in length, which for such a small country is impressive. One might imagine that at one point, Greece, like Norway, had many alpine-type glaciers



Greece sliding into the sea and sculpting spectacular valleys. That was not the case, however. During the Ice Age, Greece was too far south to have major glaciers. Rather, its rugged coast was the result of tectonics (earth-building forces). The Peloponnesus Peninsula, which accounts for a large portion of the mainland, s erves as a good example of h ow these forces shaped the country. The peninsula is connected to the mainland by a thin sliver of land that today is severed by the Corinth Canal (which technically makes Peloponnesus an island). Greek topography is dom i n a ted by mountains sep a ra ted by short valleys. In some places, mountains rise spectacularly straight out of the sea. Elsewhere , natural forces cre a ted small plains or valleys, especially in areas near the coast. Coastal plains were utilized from the beginning of the human occupation of Greece. Through time, a number of large settlements, including the capital and the largest city, Athens, were established on flat, low-lying, coastal lands. Inland, the Pindus Mountains are the country’s most significant mountain range. As a southern extension of the Dinaric Alps, the Pindus spread from Macedonia through the center of Greece, all the way to its southern margi n . Famous Mount Olympus, with all its mys ti c a l spirits, is the country’s highest point, reaching an elevation of 9,570 feet (2,917 meters). CLIMATE Cl i m a te is a lon g - term avera ge of weather con d i tions, whereas weather is the current atmospheric condition we talk about on a daily basis. Except for higher elevations, the climate in Greece is pr edominantly Mediterranean. This mild and pleasant climate takes its name from the con d i tions that surround much of the European Mediterranean Basin. Major characteristics of this climate type are long, warm summers and mild winters. This climate, regarded by many people to be the world’s most pleasant, also occ u rs in southern coastal California. Most precipitation falls during the winter months,

Physical Landscapes

The nation’s principal mountain range is the Pindus (Píndhos in Greek), which run south from Macedonia and Albania to central Greece. A southern extension of the Dinaric Alps, the Pindus divide the Greek provinces of Thessaly and Epirus.

December to February, and is generally in the form of light and continuous rain, rather than snow. Snowfall does occur at higher elevations in the interior, however. Temperatures during these mild wi n ters ra rely fall below free z i n g, and avera ges are in the upper 40s and lower 50s (degrees Fahrenheit, or 10°C). Summer temperatures are considerably warmer. Daily highs often average in the 80s (mid-to-upper 20s°C) and occasionally will reach into the upper 90s (mid-30s°C). On very ra re occ a s i on s , tempera tu res climb to and above a scorching 100°F (38°C). During recent ye a rs, Europe has experienced unusually severe heat waves. In some Mediterranean



Greece countries, including Greece, the weather took a serious toll, killing many people. One reason for the hardship and suffering is the European attitude about air-condition i n g.For some unkn own reason, Europeans have never accepted air- conditioning. This dislike, of co u rse, is qu i te the opposite of Am ericans, who have enjoyed the comfort of artificially cooled air for decades. Perhaps it is because of the European myth that being exposed to air con d i tion ers prom o tes sickness and gen era tes poor health. This provides a wonderful example of the way in which culture, not the physical environment, influences our beh avi or and dec i s i on s . Tod ay, the atti tu de is ch a n gi n g, parti a lly in response to growing tourism. Visitors to Greece and othe r Med i terranean countries now of ten have the lu x u ry of an air-conditioned room when they rent an apartment, or house, for their summer vacation. With increasing elevation, cl i m a te gradually changes, becoming more continental. Winter temperatures are lower, precipitation is somewhat high er, and seasonal ch a n ges are more noti ce a ble than along the coast. Because of its small size, no place in the co u n try is more than about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the sea. This means that the con tinental conditions men ti on ed earl i er occur only in the nort h ern mountainous regi ons. One ch a racteri s tic of mountainous countries su ch as Greece is that they have con s i derable variations in cl i m a te , wh i ch re sults in va ri a ti ons in plant life . Tem pera tu re s , of co u rse, drop with increased el evation and moi s tu re of ten increases. One can experience these changes by driving even short distances from coastal tourist resorts into the countryside and higher elevation. In the mountains, it can often become unpleasantly chilly even during summer evenings. ECOSYSTEMS Eco s ys tems—a regi on’s plant and animal life and water feature s — a re influ en ced by climate more than any other natu ra l factor. All life - forms have a natu ral habi t a t ; an environ m en t

Physical Landscapes in which they can survive. Therefore, each plant and animal species is found in certain climatic conditions and absent in others . In terms of vegetation, the Med i terranean climate is characterized by a lack of continuous forests; rather, flora is dominated by shrubs, brush, and grasslands. In Greece, as elsewhere throughout most of Europe, native vegetati on was heavily distu rbed by human activities. Cl e a ring land for agriculture, cutting woodlands for timber, and extensive overgrazing by livestock all took their toll. In fact, because of these and other ch a n ges introduced by hu m a n activity, little if any of the original “natural� vegetation exists anywhere on the continent today. Today, the Greeks are beginning to pre s erve their remaining vegetation; they are more concerned with income gained from tourism, and few tourists want to see barren hillsides! Greece’s flora is well ad a pted to the ex i s ting cl i m a tic conditions, wh i ch inclu des high tempera tures and long periods of severe drought du ring su m m er mon t h s . Because of these con d i ti on s , plant life in the Mediterranean cl i m a te is su bj ect to scorching f i res on a fairly regular basis. In order to su rvive, plants must become invu l n era ble to damages from direct ex po su re to reoccurring wildfires. This adaptation process among some plants is very intere s ting. For ex a m p l e , some s pecies, su ch as va rious pines, must be expo s ed to fire in order to reprodu ce. Th ey are known as pyrophitic (fire resistant) plant species. Other species successfully preserve water du ring summer months in order to avoid fatal expo su re to drought. These plants, found in Greece as well , are known as xerophytes. The co u n trys i de landscape also inclu des a va ri ety of c u l tiva ted plants. Greece is known for its citrus fru i t s , wine produ cing vi n eya rds, and olive trees that produ ce olives from wh i ch olive oil is ex tracted . At high er el eva ti on s , the landscape changes to uncultiva ted species of pines, beech , cypress, and other tree s and shrubs. Ma ny plant species found in this co u n try are en dem i c , meaning they are found on ly in Greece .



Greece For the most part , animal species inhabi ting the co u n trys i de a re rel a ted to other fauna com m on ly found in Eu rope, although some Asian species are pre s en t , as well. As is true in many other parts of the world, econ omic developm ent and expansion of settlement drastically redu ced the habitat of many large mammals. Bears, for example, exist but are limited in distribution to more mountainous and isolated northern a re a s . Few species pose a hazard to humans, although there a re poisonous snakes. Vi pers, the deadliest snake in the Med i terranean region, thrive here and can often be seen warming up or re s ting on limestone rocks on a su n ny day. In order to prevent furt h er reduction of endangered animal s pecies, the govern m ent has cre a ted con s erva ti on programs and establ i s h ed nati onal parks. Ten nati onal parks curren t ly occupy more than 100,000 acres (4,050 hectares) of land. The surrounding seas contain a bounty of marine life, including many edible species of fish and shellfish. ENVIRONMENTAL PRESERVATION AND HAZARDS Humans must be stewards of the natural environment. A close correlation exists between the quality of the environment and the quality of human life. Geographers have long recognized that most severely degraded environments also are home to people experiencing a very poor quality of life. A clean and protected environment, some scholars believe, is a luxury that only an affluent society can afford. Careful management of an environment and its resources requires a considerable amount of formal edu c a ti on (environ m ental awaren e s s ) , environ m ental ethic (a desire to preserve, rather than exploit), time, and financial resource s . E con omic development som etimes acts as a do u bl e - ed ged sword : An expanding econ omy hel p s peop l e live bet ter initi a lly, yet at the same time fast econ omic and population growth may damage the environment. Athens, one of the largest European cities, has been the destination of many Greeks searching for a bet ter life. Because one in every

Physical Landscapes three citizens of Greece curren t ly lives in the quick ly growing At h ens area, the city battles choking air po lluti on. Haziness overrunning the city and famous classical arch i tectu ral landscape s can be seen from miles away. This is a problem common to many large urban areas worldwide and is difficult to overcome. Na tu ral hazards are the va rious dangers natu re pre s ents to humans. At least that is how they are defined. Yet geogra ph ers recogn i ze that in reality it is cultu re, ra t h er than natu re, that ex poses people to natu ral hazards. It may be difficult to grasp t his philosophical con cept at first, but begin by imagining for a mom ent two different cultu res living in a “treach ero u s” envi ron m en t . Based on beliefs, c u s toms, traditions, and so forth, each of them will develop different envi ronmental percepti on s . One may see floods as a perm a n ent danger and decide to reloc a te in order to avoid their recurring damage. Ano t h er may simply accept flooding as som ething over which they have no influence. Their belief s ys tem explains such events as an act of god(s); something that will occur rega rdless of where they live. We choose where to live , of ten knowingly put ting ours elves in poten tial danger (for example, living along active fault zones in Californ i a ) . Tod ay, m a ny h a z a rdous events can be forecast and damage preven ted by taking appropri a te acti on . O f ten su ch warnings are simply ign ored, though. Na tu re can be destructive , but it is hum a ns , acting as cultu ral agents within their respective bel i ef sys tem s , that el ect to place them s elves in harm’s way or rem ove themselves from poten tial hazards. Greece faces the om n i present threat of t wo poten tially devastating hazards: volcanic eru ptions and eart h qu a ke s . Currently, six of the country’s volcanoes are active (can erupt at any time), and these are located on islands in the Aegean Sea. They pose a potential threat to everyone living within at least a 100-mile (160-kilometer) radius. Volcanic eruptions can eject huge amounts of scorching lava, ash, and gases. Earthquakes are earth movements that occur deep below the surface. They




Earthquakes are one of the most prevalent natural disasters that occur in Greece. Pictured here is the destruction left by the country’s most devastating earthquake in recent years; one that hit Athens in September 1999 and registered 5.9 on the Richter scale.

can be devastating to land and structures built by humans, and they often take a heavy toll on life and property. Greece’s most destructive earthquake struck near the outskirts of Athens in September 1999. About 150 people died, more than 35,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, and property losses soared to billions of dollars. Wildfires present a clear and present danger for every Mediterranean country, including Greece. They happen during bone - d ry su m m er months and can deva s t a tenatu ral veget a ti on , cultivated fields, and even settlements. Most of the fires are caused by humans, and many are set deliberately. Lightning occurs very rarely in the Mediterranean climate. One of the

Physical Landscapes problems that affects the spread of fires is a limited amount of available water during the months of summer drought. Except for the Axios (Vardar) and Strimon (Struma) rivers, whose headw a ters are deep in Macedonia and Bu l garia, few large streams flow thro u gh Greece’s hilly co u n trys i de. It is not unusual to see dry riverbeds or smal l streams disappear into the rocky limestone-based g round and then reappear with autumn rains. In summary, the natural environment sets the stage for human activities. G en era lly spe a k i n g, Greece has rugged terra i n with little flat land, poor soils, little surface water, and a variety of potentially devastating hazards. In the following chapters, you will see how Greek culture overcame these obstacles to become a leading civilization of antiquity and how it earned a place among today’s modern world nations.


3 Greece Through Time


uman beings have occ u p i ed sout h e a s tern Eu rope since prehistoric times. Various human groups roamed the area for thousands of ye a rs , s e a rching for good hu n ting grounds and places to gather food and establish settlements. Initially, these set t l em ents were tem pora ry stati ons for migra tory gro u p s . When people began raising plants and keeping animals, h owever, con d i tions changed drasti c a lly. The abi l i ty to produce and store foodstuffs in one place contri buted to the cre a ti on of perm a n ent set t l em en t s . This devel opm en t , b a s ed on plant and animal dom e s ti c a ti on (the Agri c u l tu ral Revo luti on ) , gre a t ly improved people’s qu a l i ty of life. It also provi ded the foundation on wh i ch early civilizations were bu i l t . By 6,000 to 4,000 B.C., the mainland and islands of pre s en t - d ay Greece su pported a sign i f icant pop u l a tion. Hi s torically, this period correl a tes with the rise of early settlem ents in Mesopotamia and Egypt, and essentially the


Greece Through Time beginnings of what were to become the gre a test of ancient Western civilizati on s . At first, set t l em ents were small and isolated and faced many geogra phic ch a ll en ges. On the mainland, ru gged terrain presented a serious ob s t acle to mobility. Mountain ridges made it difficult to establish transportation ro utes. Early re s i dents of the Aegean coast natu ra lly chose the sea as thei r primary means of connecting with people in other areas. Th ey devel oped trade ro utes along seaboa rds and bet ween islands. From early times, Greeks began tu rning to the sea, ra t h er than the land, as their pri m a ry source of wealth and mobi l i ty. G eogra phers and other scien tists intere s ted in the diffusion ( s pre ad) of material cultu re have traced early trade ro utes in the eastern Med i terranean. Th ey have been able to do so by a n a lyzing the spatial distributi on of po t tery, j ewel ry, and other arch aeo l ogical arti f act s . Su ch re s e a rch stron gly su ggests that to the Greeks and many other early peop l e s , the sea was a link ra t h er than a barri er. The events just de s c ri bed took cen tu ri e s to devel op. Fu rt h ermore, people bel on ging to early cultu res residing around the Aegean Sea were not of Hellenic (Greek) stock. Although they inhabited the region long before Greek tribes migrated southward, scholars are still working on trying to fit them into the right context. FIRST CIVILIZATIONS The earliest highly developed culture in what is now Greece was that of the Minoans, whose civilization flourished on the island of Crete during much of the second millennium B.C. Crete was well positioned to be the early crossroad of maritime trade routes in the eastern Mediterranean. It was the exchange place for goods from Egypt, the Aegean area, and Asia Minor. By 1,800 B.C., the Minoan civilization was the strongest naval power in the Med i terranean Se a . Abundant arch aeological evidence suggests a high level of a f f lu ence in places like Knossos, a leading settlement. Lavish palaces, various types of




One of the first major civilizations that developed in Greece was that of the Minoans. Pictured here are ruins from a palace in Knossos, which is located on the island of Crete and once was the center of Minoan society.

pottery, jewelry with sophisticated ornaments, and a domestically created alph a bet all provi de eviden ce of a high ly devel oped civilization. The Minoans even had the world’s first indoor plumbing and roads that are still in use today! History teaches us that no civ ilization, no matter how developed, survives forever. Even though the Minoan civilization was powerful, it was not powerful en o u gh to recover completely from natural disasters such as earthquakes and the effects of nearby volcanic eruptions. Devastating earthquakes s tru ck the island repe a tedly, l e aving en ti re cities in ru i n . However, the ulti m a te decline of Mi n oan civilization came not from natural events but from cultural causes. The Minoans were victims of their own success. Because of their strategic

Greece Through Time location and tremen dous we a l t h , they became a target for invasions by out s i de force s . One invading group responsible for the Minoan decline was the Mycenaeans. This early Greek tribe built fortified c i ties and establ i s h ed a powerful civi l i z a ti on on the mainland about the same time the Minoan civilization was at its height. Eventually, their interests clashed and a conflict for dominance began. The Mycenaeans had a stronger and better organized military. By the mid-fifteenth cen tury B.C., they had largely destroyed the Minoan civilization and its tangible landmarks. Ci ties lay in ruin, and the Minoan fleet was essentially de s troyed, but many important Mi n oan cultu re traits, su ch as their art and alph a bet , were adopted by those on the mainland. Mycenae (the Mycenaean fortified city) became the leader of the early Greek cultural realm and also held military control over much of the region’s other cities and trade routes. L a ter on , wh en other Greek-speaking peoples moved sout hward, they found well-established urban set t l em ents. These early c ivilizati on s , with their well - devel oped urban cen ters , provi ded the seeds from which Greek culture and civilization grew. Greeks would soon become the dominant force on the pen i n sula and thro u ghout the Aegean regi on . As is true of a ny civilization, the evoluti on of ancient Greek civilization was a len g t hy proce s s . In reality, it lasted m ore than 1,000 years, from the glory days of the Mi n oan civilization to the meteoric rise of the powerful city-states of Athens and Sparta. Migrations from the north happened in several stages. The best known movement of people was from 1,100 to 900 B.C., wh en the last wave of Greek tribes settled in their present-day homeland. It occurred as part of a larger migra ti on , a chain re acti on that even tually affected even rem o te areas of the Mi d dle East and Egypt. This event was even recorded in the Bible as the “invasion of sea people� who permeated and settled coastal areas of Palestine. New arrivals meant changes in population and military capability. Despite



Greece technological supremacy and grandiose defensive walls around its cities, the Mycenaean civilization was even tu a lly overpowered and gradually replaced. For the next few cen turies, Greece underwent a peri od of decline of ten referred to as the regi on’s “ D a rk Age .” Ot h er than what is su gge s ted by material arti f act s , little is known abo ut this period of Greek history. The situ a tion is qu i te similar to the collapse of i n s ti tutions in Western Eu rope beginning in the fifth and sixth cen tu ries A.D. The recupera ti on peri od, recognized historically as the “Mi d dle Age s ,” l a s ted severa l cen tu ries. From what is known, Greece underwent a peri od of stagnation lasting from 900 to 700 B.C. In some re s pects, though, this should be vi ewed as a peri od of recovery rather than decline. For example, du ring this time, the Hell enic ex p a n s i on began. The results of c u l tu ral interacti on are tangi ble, p a rticularly in pre s erved bu i l d i n gs and temples from that era built in Dori a n architectu ral style (named after Dorian tri bes, wh i ch led what became the Greek migra ti on and occupation). An o t h er even more important Dorian con tri buti on was that they indirect ly initiated the beginning of the gradual spre ad of Greek cultu re out s i de the Aegean regi on. Population growth in the homeland enco u ra ged furt h er migra ti on into new lands. GREEK CULTURAL EXPANSION Around 700 B.C., Greeks began co l onizing all sectors of the Med i terranean Sea and beyond. Pop u l a ti on growth, com bined with unsu s t a i n a ble agri c u l tu ral practi ce s , were driving forces behind the form a ti on of hu n d reds of set t l em en t s , stretch i n g from pre s ent-day Spain to what is tod ay the co u n try of Geor gia. Greek city - s t a tes would send co l onists to establish set t l em ents overs e a s . O n ce they had ga i n ed a foothold in a new land, the Greeks initi a ted agri c u l ture and trade with locals. Th ey also en ga ged in many other aspects of cultural i n teracti on and exch a n ge. Du ring the next two cen turies, these colonies gre a t ly expanded the Greek cultu ral regi on and

Greece Through Time Hell enic way of l i fe , reshaping the lives of many native pop ul a ti on s . For the first time in Eu ropean history, many different geogra phic areas en j oyed a form of co s m opolitan life s tyl e u n der the umbrella of Hell enic cultu re. Rel i gion was one of the most su ccessful tools used by the Greeks to peacefully spre ad their cultu ral influen ce . Geographer Dan Stanislawski noted that in order to establish better economic connections throughout the Mediterranean, Greeks would introdu ce a cult of the wine god Di onysu s whenever they made contacts with local merchants. Gradually, worship of Dionysus became widespread among not just those involved in trade, but many others. Eventually, worship of the god of wine brought Greeks and non-Greeks closer together. Of all colonies, those in Asia Minor (peninsular Turkey) were the most developed. Coastal areas of present-day Turkey were in close proximity to Greece, and the environments were very similar. One new settlement was built in 667 B.C. on the European side of the Bosporus Strait by c olonists from the Greek mainland. They named it Byzantium, but it would eventually become known as Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey)—the world’s greatest city for 1,000 years. Toward the end of the sixth century B.C., the political fortunes of Asia Minor began to change. Increasingly powerful Persian kings were determined to conquer the known world. After gaining control of the Middle East, they turned their attention toward Asia Minor and Greece. For the next several decades, a Persian threat hung over the Greeks. Huge Persian military for ces, often numbering se veral hundred thousand troops, defeated weaker Greek forces and pushed ever deeper into Greek territory. At this time, however, Greece was not one continuous empire. Rather, it was a large number of widely scattered, autonomous city-states (polis). The Greeks managed to regroup their forces for a final defensive stand against the Persians. In 490 B.C., at the Battle of Marathon (on the Greek peninsula), and later in the Battle of Salamina, the Greeks were




This map depicts Greece and the colonies it held circa 500 B.C. During this era, Greece held sway over parts of present-day Turkey and Italy, and repeatedly turned back threats from the mighty Persian Empire.

victorious. The tide began to turn, and soon the Persians were expelled from European soil for good. A century and a half later, when their forces collided again, the roles were reversed. The Greeks, led by Alexander the Great, marched toward the Persian capital and eventually conquered their empire. Before Greece became a part of the Macedonian Empire of Philip II and his son Alexander III (also known as Alexander the Great), a century and a half of the most interesting period in ancient Greece’s history would pass. It was the period during which art and science flourished. Cosmographers (early geographers) such as Herodotus recorded their observations about the ecumene (inhabited world). Artisans built palaces, temples, and exqu i s i te statues of gods. P l ay wrights wrote won derf u l

Greece Through Time dramas. Philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle produced classical works that are still considered masterpieces. Much of what we ch erish tod ay as the legacy of ancient Greece was created in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. Athens, which eventually overpowered all political competitors, including its main rival Sparta, became a center of the Hellenic world. THE AGE OF EMPIRES Success and wealth attracts those who want it for them s elves. In the case of the Greeks, it was a man whose appetite for conquering the rest of the world was greater than any in previous history. Many consider Alexander the Great of Macedonia to be the greatest conqueror in the history of the world. Macedonians led by Alexander’s father, Philip II, conquered and unified Greece. Alexander (356–323 B.C.) continued on this path, and by the time of his death he was ruling over the vast lands between southeastern Europe, Egypt, and India. With every military expedition, Greek culture followed. Alexander was in many ways not just a conqueror but a unifying force, as well. His policies were to incorporate lands into his empire and have people benefit from Greek culture. Like no one before or after, Alexander had a habit of establishing cities named after him. Many of those cities still bear his name, the best known being the Egyptian city of Alexandria. Greeks were known as “people of the book.” They respected and appreciated learning, which is why they were welcomed almost everywh ere as merchants and scholars. The Greek lang u a ge was one of the earliest forms of intern a ti onal com munica ti on. It was an ancient lingua fra n c a, a language spo ken by peoples of d i f ferent language back grounds who need a common language for diplomatic and economic purposes. The Greek pre s en ce was felt in places as distant as the mountains of Afghanistan and India, where the memory of Greek culture and even some Greek cultu ral traits lingered for cen tu ries. British military com m a n ders reaching Afghan villages from



Greece India in the nineteenth century were su rprised to learn that in some of them, re s i dents traced their lineage to the Greek residents of ancient Bactria (an old kingdom in Afghanistan). Not long after the decline of Macedonian rule, Greece became a part of another empire, which would rule for many centuries. By the mid-first century B.C., well-organized military units of the Roman Empire were alre ady contro lling most of the Greek hom eland. This marked the beginning of an interesting relationship; one in which political power and organization came from Rome, but most other aspects of culture were being accepted from Greeks. In fact, Romans eagerly and effectively integrated many elements of Greek culture into their own. This exchange is evident in “Roman” art, literature, and architectu re, wh i ch were all heavi ly influ enced by Greek culture. The Greeks, meanwhile, were content to be members of the cosmopolitan Roman Empire, the boundaries of which encompassed the Mediterranean world. For the next four and a half centuries, Greece was a part of the Roman Empire. Beyond the feeling of belonging to a vast empire, however, the Greeks did not really benefit from their role in the alliance. All roads led to Rome, not to Athens. Greece grad ually became a remote province that was fast losing its charm and glory. By the fourth century A.D., the Roman Empire experienced i n ternal struggles and a general decline in its power. A few strong rulers su ch as Constantine managed temporarily to keep a ti ght grip. As an em peror, Con s t a n tine made two major con tributions. He made Ch ristianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Al s o, in 330 A.D., he rel oc a ted the empire’s capital, moving it to the city of Constantinople, thereby shifting the source of power and wealth into a Greek-speaking region. With these two decisions, Constantine single-handedly changed the course of Greece’s people and culture for the next 16 centuries. The relocation of the capital from Rome to Constantinople re su l ted in a great increase in the organizati on , power, and

Greece Through Time

In the fourth century A. D., Roman emperor Constantine established Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) as the Eastern Roman Empire’s capital. Over the next millennium, the city was not only the center of the Greek-speaking world but also was the richest and most powerful city in Europe during the Middle Ages. Pictured here is Hagia Sophia, which was built in the sixth century A.D. and is the city’s most famous structure.

i n f lu en ce of the eastern half of the empire. Wh en the Rom a n Empire finally bro ke into eastern and western sections 65 ye a rs later, Greece became part of the stron ger Eastern Rom a n Empire, wh i ch in va rious forms su rvived until the fifteen t h cen tu ry. For most of that time, it was a strong player on the geopo l i tical scene of s o ut h e a s tern Eu rope and Asia Mi n or, while pre s erving Greek cultu re there. The We s tern Rom a n E m p i re was we a k . In fact , a cen tury after the split, it was destroyed by advancing German tribes. Because of its ability to prevent perm a n ent intru s i on and set t l em ent of Sl avic and G ermanic tri bes into Greece, the Eastern Roman Empire (k n own incorrect ly as the Byzantine Empire) pre s erved



Greece Greek cultu ral dom i n a n ce and their national iden tity on the Aegean Pen i n su l a . The rise of Constantinople also generated a power struggle bet ween the pope of Rome and the patri a rch (arch bishop) of Con s t a n ti n ople. This stru ggle con ti nu ed for cen tu ries unti l Christianity finally bro ke into two sep a rate groups, in 1054: Roman Catholic and Eastern Ort h odox . All lands under the influ en ce of the Eastern Roman Empire, wh i ch inclu ded Greece, became a part of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. If anyone knows anything abo ut the history of s o ut h e a s tern Eu rope, he or she certainly knows how important rel i gi on is to people living there. In the po l i tical con tex t , for example, Ea s tern Ort h odox rel i gi on was of ten used as a tool for Russia to generate support from Greeks, Serbs, and others against its en emies. In recent ye a rs , Greeks publ i cly su pported Eastern Orthodox Serbs during the Yugoslav ethnic wars. MIDDLE AGES AND TURKISH OCCUPATION During the turbulent Middle Ages, when much of Europe was in disarray for sev eral centuries, Greece was the place where successful preservation of knowledge took place. During its zenith, Constantinople was the richest and one of the largest cities in the world. At a time when Rome and Paris were surrounded with swamps and peasantry, Greek cities managed to preserve ideas and te ach i n gs of great classical sch o l a rs. Cen tu ries later, this knowled ge even tually found its way to It a ly and Western Europe, where it helped inspire the dawn of the Renaissance period. During much of the Middle Ages, prior to falling under Turkish control, Greece and the Eastern Roman Empire were the bellwether of European civilization. By the eleventh century, another danger appeared. It came from the directi on from wh i ch Persian armies had march ed 15 centuries earlier. Turks, a group of nomadic tribes originally from Cen tral As i a , had begun migra ting westward, all the way to Asia Mi n or. F i rs t , Sel juk Turks and later Osman Turks

Greece Through Time gradu a lly we a ken ed the Eastern Roman Empire until 1453, wh en even Constantinople fell into Turkish hands and was renamed Is t a n bul. Tu rks con ti nu ed marching westward, ulti m a tely occupying all lands in southeastern Europe. All Greek lands, mainland and islands, became a part of the Turkish cultural sphere. Although Turks accepted many Greek cultural traits, the basic difference was religious. The Turks were Muslim and the Greeks were Christian. Muslims were hardly wel come in a Chri s tian land, and being Ch ri s tian in the Ot toman Empire (as the Tu rkish state was known) was not wi t h o ut its difficulties, either. As Christians, Greeks had to pay higher taxes and their children had to serve in the Turkish army. There were many other regulations that generated ill-feelings; after four centuries of Turkish occupation, these grew to be substantial. Under Turkish rule, Greek development remained rather stagnant. As elsewhere in southeastern Europe, the economy was dwindling ra t h er than developing. During this time, Western Europe was on the brink of the Industrial Revolution, an event that would once again move the center of civilization westward. Fortunately for Greeks in the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, the Ottoman Empire was not the force it once was. Its power was rapidly declining, wh i ch made room for nations to push for independen ce . Foll owing the example of other nati ons in their search for independence, Greeks started an uprising against Turkish rule in the 1820s. In 1832, after substantial bloodshed, they broke free of Turkish rule. At that time, not all present-day Greek lands were included in the new ly independent state. Although decades later, the Greeks had to fight new wars to regain portions of their former territory, it was the beginning of a modern Greek state. INDEPENDENT GREECE The goal of uniting all Greek territories into one state was not an easy task. In this instance, geographical location was in



Greece many ways a curse. World powers had alw ays wanted to gain a foothold in this extremely volatile and strategic corner of Europe. Great Britain and France did not want Russia to gain access to the Mediterranean region. Russia, meanwhile, was co u n ting on its Greek fri ends to help them oust the Turks from Constantinople. Toward the end of the nineteenth cen tu ry, Bulgaria and Serbia were both independent and eyeing their own territorial expansion southward toward Greece. Conflict once again loomed just over the horizon. The early twentieth century brought exactly that—conflict. First Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria went to war against the Turks and defeated them in 1912. A year later, Greeks and Serbs joined forces against the Bulgarians, resulting in the acquisition of additional territories. In 1914, World War I broke out with Greece and the Ottoman Empire on different sides. Vast numbers of ethnic Greeks still lived outside the Greek homeland, a majority of them residing in Asia Minor. For joining anti-German forces, Greece was promised western Anatolia, but instead it ended up in an unsuccessful war with Turkish revo luti on a ry forces (under the command of Kemal At a tu rk ) that lasted from 1918 until 1922. As a re sult of this con f l i ct , the Greeks lost an opportunity to incorporate their compatriots f rom Asia into one country. Most ethnic Greeks in Turkey (as well as Turks from Greece) experienced vo luntary and “recom m ended” rel oc a tion that was little more than ethnic cl e a n s i n g. Af ter the war with Turkey, Greece’s current geographic boundaries were established.

4 People and Culture


ll geog raphy is essentially cultural geograph y. Geographers, af ter all, stu dy the spatial distri buti ons and patterns of who is is doing what, where, and why. They also are interested in knowing and interpr eting the results of the human imprint on Earth’s surface, the cultural landscape. Why people do certain things in certain ways (which are of ten unique to the particular group) is a pri m a ry interest of cultu ral geogra ph ers . The most important aspects shaping the lifestyle of each cultural group are its peoples’ sense of bel on ging (et h n i c i ty, rel i gi on , society, and so fort h ) , language, edu c a ti on , d i et , and dem ogra phic factors (also, po l i tic al sys tems and economic activity, both of which are important enough to treat in separate chapters). Once you are familiar with major cultural characteristics of Greece’s residents, you can decide for yourself what it is that makes Greeks similar to other people in some ways and



Greece much different in others. It is these aspects of their way of life that make them a distinct culture. ETHNIC GROUPS As emphasized in the previous ch a pter, for a vari ety of his torical reasons Greece is a rel a tively hom ogenous co u n try in ethnic terms (most of the people are from the same ethnic back ground). Considering that the Aegean Peninsula has served as a bridge linking Europe and Asia since ancient times, one might expect greater ethnic diversity. The tremendous ethnic diversity of its northern neighbors in the former Yugoslavia is well known. There, many groups share living space in close proximity. In Greece, ethnic diversity occurs on a region-toregion basis. The Greeks have a very strong sense of nationalism (of “being Greek”). Because of this feeling, ethnic issues are often a matter of heated political debate. Ninety-eight percent of the co u n try’s people are ethnic Greeks (that is, of Greek c u l tu ral heritage). In order to preserve ethnic hom ogen ei ty in t h eir co u n try, Greek public opinion of ten is very cri tical of other people who ex press a de s i re to be som ething other than ethnic Gree k . Th ey are afraid that if people are all owed to assume a non-Greek (that is, t h eir own trad i ti onal) iden ti ty, it may cause problems. They may even seek to become po l i ti c a lly independent, as was the case with the many et h n i c i ties in the form er Yugo s l avia. Con s equ en t ly, trying to su ppress the recogn i ti on of ethnic Macedonians, in the eyes of some people, for example, means not having to deal with potential ethnic separatism. This view, of course, certainly is not uniquely Gr eek. In fact, it is found elsewhere in Europe. Just across the border in Bulgaria, a similar “solution” was introduced to prevent the country’s Turkish minority from officially beco ming ethnic non-Bulgarians. These forms of extreme nationalism are cruel and discri m i n a tory. Yet it is important to understand why they occur and how they affect a co u n try’s citi zens. This is particularly true for Greece . A strong sense of n a ti on a l i s m

People and Culture


For a nation in which 98 percent of its citizens are ethnic Greek, the preservation of Greek culture is extremely important. For example, members of the Greek infantry who guard the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in Athens’s Syntagma Square wear traditional Greek clothing.


Greece (self-identity as a nation of peoples) should be expected in a country that has a history of turbulence, civil wars, dictatorial governments, and territorial disputes with neighbors. THE PEOPLE So who are the people living in Greece today? What is their back ground? How do the co u n try’s citi zens differ from on e another in terms of culture and self-identity? Ethnic Greeks Today, Greeks are really a mixtu re of many peoples who, throughout thousands of ye a rs , came to and left their mark on the Aegean Pen i n su l a . Originally, h owever, Greeks were an In do - Eu ropean tri be , a stock having ancestry com m on to many peoples dispers ed through o ut mu ch of Eurasia. Peop l e iden tified as Indo-Europeans are gen erally believed to have come from Asia Mi n or (pen i n sular Turkey) during the Neolithic period (perhaps 7,000 B.C.). From there , they migra ted in many directi ons, eventu a lly reaching the Russian steppes in the north and India in the east. S ch o l a rs were able to track these migra ti ons by fo ll owing the evo luti on and s pre ad of the In do - Eu ropean language . Even though no on e speaks ori ginal In do - European, of co u rs e , the linguistic roo t s were pre s erved. This is how Greeks were iden ti f i ed as peop l e of In do - Eu ropean stock. Intere s tingly, the Greeks are not ethnically rel a ted to any of t h eir nei gh bors , most of wh om migra ted to sout h e a s tern Europe long after the Greeks were already establ i s h ed there . In i ti a lly, the languages spoken by Greek tri bes settling the Aegean Peninsula were used to identify common ancestry; the same met h od was used to iden tify non - Greek peoples living in the region. Because they did not migrate as one single gro u p, but thro u gh the series of m i gra ti ons over ti m e , a n c i ent Greeks had to figure out who they re a lly were . An o t h er cultural indicator that helped iden tify Greeks was

People and Culture their religi on . O n ly Greeks wors h i ped the pantheon of god s l ed by Zeus, the su preme god in ancient Greek myt h o l ogy. Contemporary Greeks do not question their direct lineage f rom their ance s tors . Most Greeks will argue, and righ tf u lly so, that they are direct de s cendants of a n ce s tors who fought Persian or Roman invaders 25 cen turies ago. Greeks take great pride in their heri t a ge and ethnicity, no matter wh ere they l ive . Ma ny Greeks have lived outside their homeland for gen era ti on s , yet their sense of ethnic bel on ging remains as strong as that of Greeks living in Greece . This strong attach m ent to their trad i ti onal cultu re can be seen in many large North American cities. One only needs to visit a Greek restaurant that has been in the hands of a single family for several generations to witness the strong attachment to the hom eland and its cultural traditi on s . Because of various circumstances, ranging from wars to widespread poverty, Greeks have long experienced one of the highest emigration rates in Europe. In descending order based on percentages of national population, Greeks, Irish, Italians, and Croats have produced the gr eatest number of migrants. Most of those sharing Greek ancestry today live in traditional emigrants’ havens of the New World such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. After the military conflict with Turkey ended in 1923, large numbers of displaced Greeks found new homes in the New World. Perhaps the best known of these refugees was Aristotle Onassis. After leaving Turkey, his family moved to Argentina, where he eventually became one of the world’s richest men, with a fortune built primarily on shipping, oil, and the airline industry. In the decades following World War II, thousands of ethnic Greeks left the country to search for better jobs in Western Europe, primarily Germany. War-ravaged Germany demanded more labor than its own population was able to support. For most immigra n t s , t h eir jobs were su ppo s ed to last on ly tem pora rily. Tod ay, h owever, m a ny times two or even three



Greece gen era ti ons of German-born Greeks reside in this country. Th is is of ten the case among migrant gro u p s . Even though nostalgia and a strong de s i re to retu rn home are important, the opportu n i ty for econ omic su ccess is an even stron ger m o tiva ti on. In the regi on around Greece , most ethnic Gree k s l iving out s i de of t h eir hom eland re s i de in two co u n tri e s , Albania and the island of Cypru s . Ethnic Non-Greeks In Greece’s northwestern provinces, Albanians are the main ethnic minority. Some of t h em have been living in mountainous areas for cen turies. Ot h ers arrived more recen t ly as immigrants searching for better paying jobs than those ava i l a ble in their hom el a n d . ( Albania is the poorest Eu ropean country.) Even though Albanians and Greeks are immed i a te neigh bors , ethnically they are unrel a ted. Their on ly link is that at some time in the distant past, both groups had In doEuropean ancestors. Albanians, however, are one of southeastern Europe’s oldest inhabi t a n t s . It is believed that they de s cen ded from the Illyri a n s , who in a series of migra ti on waves set t l ed in what is now Albania around 1,200 B.C. In tern a lly, Al b a ni a ns are divided into two main groups. The Ghegs re s i de mainly in the north, whereas the Tosks are southern Albanians and make up the majority of Albanians who live in Greece. Greece’s et h n i c Albanian population, e s pec i a lly those who have been living in t he co u n try for gen era ti ons, is mostly Ort h odox Christian. It is estimated that perhaps a half-million Albanians curren t ly live i n Greece. Precise numbers are difficult to determine because of h i gh and con s t a n t ly rising ra tes of i ll egal immigration. Th ere are also ethnic Tu rks in Greece . The ance s tors of modern - d ay Tu rks came from near the Altai Mountains, a region bordering Mongolia, Russia, China, and Kazakhstan. Turks were not just one ethnic group, either, but rather many groups of related tribes. Over a span of several centuries during the medieval period, several different tribes migrated westward

People and Culture and even tually establ i s h ed military con trol over local ru l ers . Th eir nu m bers were small at the beginning, but the Turks m a n a ged to incorpora te many other peoples into thei r culture, thereby increasing their nu m erical strength through a process known as acculturation. People were willing to become “Tu rk s” because of rel i gi on and other perceived cultural advantages. They do not share common ancestry with Indo-European peoples, but in Eu rope they are rel a ted to Hungarians and Finns. In As i a , they are rel a ted to most ethnicities in Cen tral As i a . During the time of the Ottoman Empire, Turks were spread t h ro u gh o ut the eastern Mediterranean and sout h e a s tern Europe. Once the empire declined in power, however, many ethnic Turks migrated back to Turkey. Between the time o f Greek independence in 1829 and the beginning of World War I in 1914, a large Turkish minority lived in northeastern Greece. Pre s ent nu m bers are dra s ti c a lly lower, h owever, bec a u s e of both voluntary and pre s su red pop u l a ti on migrati on since 1923. Al t h o u gh official numbers are vague, it is bel i eved that some 100,000 Turks still live in the Th race region of Greece. Ethnic Greeks and Turks share — or, more re a l i s ti c a lly, do not s h a re!—the living space on the island of Cyprus. Although this small island is now a sep a ra te co u n try, it long had been traditionally Greek in terms of ethnicity and history. Af ter Turkish military interven ti on in the early 1970s, Cyprus was d ivi ded into two ethnic and political zon e s , one Greek and one Turk. For official government purposes, Greece is the country of Greeks (cl a i m ed to repre s ent 98 percent of the population). Ethnic minori ties are gen era lly ign ored , or of f i c i a lly decl a red to be Greeks. This is the case with the many Macedonians who l ive in the nort h ern part of the country. Some Macedon i a n s are of Slavic origin and related to those living in the country’s neighbor to the north, the Form er Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Because Greece does not recognize their minority



Greece sta tu s , however, these citi zens “of f i c i a lly � do not exist. In addition, major urban centers are home to increasingly growing numbers of immigrants (legal and illegal) from African and Asian countries. As a member of the European Union, Greece is the first stopover on the road toward Western Europe. The country is an attractiv e first destination for many of those looking for a better life. RELIGION Most people travel to Greece for three reasons. The first group searches for a pleasant and scenic place to spend the ir summer vacations. The second group comes because of their interest in ancient Greek culture and its many artifacts. Finally, Greece is also a destination for those interested in religious landscapes and history, particularly those relating to Greek Eastern Ort h odox Christianity. The majori ty of Greeks con s i der themselves Eastern Orthodox Ch ristians. Their chu rch is independent of any larger ruling body, although it is loosely tied to other Orthodox faiths and the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople. The patri a rch is the nominal leader of all Ort h odox Ch ristians. This is the primary differen ce bet ween Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics, who recognize the pope of Rome as their spiritual leader. The country’s cultural landscape displays a rich religious heritage. Even the smallest village in the remote countryside has a place of worship with dom e - l i ke roof tops and Gree k crosses. Famous mon a s teries perch ed on top of s teep hills a n d rocks in the provi n ce of Th e s s a ly are well known . Mon k s h ave occupied them for 1,000 years. Today, these humble yet spectacular mon a s teries are a main to u rist attracti on in that part of Greece . A mill en n ium ago, however, their main role was to provide solitu de - s e a rching monks with a ref u ge from the world. Monasteries of Meteora are tremendous architectural achievements. In early days, the only way to gain access was to wait for ladders to be brought down. Another option

People and Culture

Religion is an important part of Greek culture; more than 95 percent of the nation’s citizens are members of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Pictured h e r e are worshippers making their way into a traditional Orthodox church, which typically includes a dome-like rooftop and Greek crosses.



Greece was to attempt to scale the steep cliffs, re sulting in almost certain death for all but the most experienced climbers. In northern Greece , a n o t h er famous Eastern Orthodox l an d s c a pe exists. The complex of almost two dozen monasteries located on the Mount Athos Peninsula is a rem a rk a ble scen e . These mon a s teries do not belong exclu s ively to the Greek Ort h odox Chu rch . Some belong to other Eastern Orthodox faiths su ch as Russian, Serbi a n , or Rom a n i a n . Mount Athos, loc a ted not far from Thessaloniki, is a major pilgrimage site . Here, one can of ten see dign i t a ries from other Ort h odox countries. In 2005, Vladimir Putin became the first Russian president to visit this loc a ti on and pay his re s pects to Mount Athos. A small number of Greeks belong to the Greek Catholic Church. All religious ceremonies and traditions in this church are of Eastern Orthodox origin. Because of historical conflicts, h owever, this faith is officially affiliated with the Rom a n Catholic Church and looks to the pope of Rome for leadership. Most Turks living in Greece are Muslims and follow the Islamic teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. In their case, practicing a different religion is a way of preserving their own ethnic identity. Some Albanians living in Greece are Orthodox Christians, whereas others are Muslims. The latter group was relatively small throughout history, but in recent decades it has begun to grow rapidly because of increased immigration from Muslim Albania. Ma ny Albanians, especially those who arrived from tribal areas of cen tral and nort h ern parts of their homeland, are only nominally religious. Many of them follow ancient tribal codes of honor. As is true el s ewh ere in Europe, Greece has become incre a singly secular during recent dec ades. Most con temporary Greeks rarely visit a church outside important religious h o l i d ays. Younger gen era tions appear to be less rel i gious than t h eir parents or gra n d p a ren t s . Urbanization, popular cultu re, and growing indivi dualism are some of the re a s ons for the adva n ce of agnosticism and athei s m . More and more peop l e

People and Culture seem to con s i der religi on more as a form of cultural heri t a ge and cel ebra te it that way. The Greek cultural heritage is significantly symbolized by the many temples built by ancient Greeks. Today these remnants are mainly of i n terest to arch aeo l ogists and touri s t s. Yet these temples remind us of pre - Christian times, when Greeks practiced different religious beliefs. Their religion was polyt h ei s tic, meaning they believed in many gods inste ad of a single unifying god . Di f ferent gods had different roles that people would respect and celebrate. Apollo was a sun god, Ares the god of war, Aphrodite the goddess of love, and so forth. POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS Demographic (demography is the statistical study of the human pop u l a tion) trends in Greece are the reflection of gen eral trends shared by most European countri e s . Al t h o u gh many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America experience pop u l a tion growth, a majority of Eu ropean postindustrial societies face the prospect of population decline. In terms of dem ogra phic ch a n ge s , co u n tries pass thro u gh several stage s . At the begi n n i n g, both birth- and death ra tes are high, which keeps populations from expanding rapidly. This is a characteristic of rural agricultural (preindustrial) societies. Then, when society enters the indu s trial phase, death ra tes become mu ch l ower, but birthrates remain high. This is the stage most of the developing world is experi encing tod ay. Finally, societies in the postindustrial stage (developed countries) experience low death ra tes and very low bi rthra te s . Wh en the final stage is re ached, population growth is slow and can even decline if m ore people die than are born . Rapid urbanization, increased formal education of women, and change from an industrial to postindustrial (ser vice- and information-based economy) are some of the factors influencing Greece’s current demographic trends. Younger people tend to marry late, or not marry at all, and have fewer children than



Greece previous gen erations. L i fe s tyle changes from agri c u l tural (where children were considered the form of family capital) to postindustrial (cash economy) are directly affecting Gr eece’s dem ographic pictu re. As elsewh ere in the We s tern world, pursuing edu c a ti on, c a reers, and econ omic opportunities, rather than having larger families, are becoming a priority for females. Young Greeks understand that in toda y’s world, having more children also means a greater economic burden. Another important factor is migration from the countryside. Birthrates in rural areas are traditionally much higher than those of urban cen ters . In urban cen ters su ch as At h ens and Th e s s a l on i k i , population growth resulting from births has become stagnant. Ci ties grow because of m i gra ti on into them . Almost half of Greece’s population, for example, l ives in the At h ens metropolitan are a , but nearly all of the growth has resulted f rom in-migration. The Greek pop u l a ti on, like that in most of Eu rope, is becoming older. Today, the con ti n en t’s life expectancy at bi rth is 80 ye a rs. If these trends con ti nue du ring the next couple of decades, Greece will join those European co u n tries that are battling population decline. Cu rrent fertility rates (the nu m ber of ch i l d ren to wh i ch the avera ge woman will give birth) are below 2.1, which is the minimum to prevent natu ral pop u l a ti on decl i n e . It is obvi o u s , t h en , that in order to manage pop u l a ti on issu e s , Greece must find a soluti on that will all ow it to avoid serious econ omic and po l i tical probl em s . Having too few young people cre a tes a lack of laborers to su pport econ omic growth. One possibi l i ty is to en co u ra ge immigrati on to the co u n try and to all ow large nu m bers of n on ethnic Greeks to find homes and work there. This will not be an easy task, however, because of the Gree k s’ strong de s i re to retain their co u n try’s ethnic puri ty. Life expectancy at the time of birth continues to increase, wh i ch is why nearly 20 percent of the current pop u l a ti on is ov er 65 years of age. Cu rrently, the average age of life

People and Culture

Like many European countries, Greece has an aging population, but perhaps more troubling is the nation’s low birthrate, which stood at 9.7 per every 1,000 persons in 2005. If the birthrate continues to trend downward, Greece won’t have enough laborers to support economic growth in a country that has had a difficult time developing its rural economy.

ex pectancy is 79 ye a rs; although with further improvem en t s in medicine and in gen eral qu a l i ty of l i fe , we can ex pect that number only to keep climbing upward. As elsewhere, females live a few years longer than males. DIET It has been said that people’s diet represents one of their most important cultural indicators. What people eat and the way they eat can provide a tremendous amount of information about local lifestyles. People eat what they are. Many customs and manners are reflected in diet, especially in rural areas where changes occur slowly. Diet is a great example of cultural



Greece dif f u s i on; that is, a spre ad of food preferences from one c u l tu re group to another. In parts of Europe, Christians will eat different types of food than Muslims, who avoid pork. In some areas, beer drinkers are in the majority, whereas in others wine is the drink of ch oi ce. A similar situati on exists in the difference between coffee and tea consumption. Those living in con ti n ental areas aw ay from the sea consume mu ch more red meat and hearty meals. The Med i terranean diet, on the other hand, consists primarily of grains, fresh veget a bl e s , fish and other seafood , and gen ero u s amounts of olive oil. This diet is very healthy; few Greeks or oth er Med i terranean people have diet - rel a ted ill n e s s e s or suffer from obesity. Greece is well known for its fabulous cuisine, and the West is familiar with many Greek dishes. Most Am eri c a n s , for example, would recogn i ze pita bread, cucumber sauce , ri ce roll ed in gra pe leaves, kalamata olives, va rious eggplant-based dishes including moussaka, and many other Greek delicacies. In additi on to fish and other seafood, lamb is con s i dered a staple meat. S h eeph erding is a millennia-long trad i tion on both the mainland and Aegean islands, so it is not difficult to u n derstand why lamb is Greece’s favorite red meat. One fine illustration of cultural association is baklava. This famous de s s ert is popular throughout sout h e a s tern Eu rope and the eastern Mediterranean, as well as in the United States. Although basically a pastry of flaky structure covered with a honey-based syrup, baklava is prepared in many different ways based on regional differences and dietary preferences. It is a wonderful example of how food shapes regional identities! Because of t h eir Med i terranean diet , Greeks gen era lly avoid heavy meals that can cause high bl ood pre s su re and h eart disease, a leading cause of death in the West. Olive oil and wine are known for having substances that, while consumed in modera ti on , provi de substantial health ben efits. Greeks love t h eir olive oil and wine, both of which are consu m ed du ring

People and Culture nearly every meal. Th ey also bel i eve that good food pro l on gs l i fe . Scien tists who have stu d i ed the lon g - l iving pop u l a ti on of the island of Crete agree. Cretans boast one of Eu rope’s lon ge s t l i fe spans, wh i ch nutri ti onal scien tists attri bute to a good diet . Th ey believe that there and on other Aegean islands, hu m a n l on gevi ty and low ra tes of heart attacks are direct ly rel a ted to what people eat and drink. A typical Greek dinner includes delicious appetizers, salads, and a few main co u rses accom p a n i ed by a glass of wine and s om ething sweet to finish the meal. In the Mediterranean region, people tend to enjoy late dinners and not hurry while dining. So many of us in the West consume food just to satisfy hunger, rapidly chewing large bites of deep-fried fast food of questionable nutritional quality, but G reeks “dine.” Dinner, most Greeks bel i eve , is a cultu ral and social ex peri en ce ; i t is a festival for on e’s mouth, ra t h er than the fulfillment of biological needs.


5 Government and Politics


em oc rac y, a term of Greek ori gin de s c ri bing the spec i f i c po l i tical sys tem of rule by citi zen s , was som ething con temporary Greece acquired rel a tively late . It is rather paradoxical that the cradle of dem oc racy was of ten the site of u n democ ra tic regimes. The modern po l i tical history of Greece is ra t h er com p l ex. Af ter a len g t hy time of political turmoil, foll owed by periods of relative calm, the co u n try is today a rep u blic with a progre s s ive democracy. Lon gstanding geopolitical issu e s , parti c u l a rly with Greece’s nei gh bors , seem to have subsided . In the past, Greece lived u n der the om n i pre s ent threat of ex ternal, or even intern a l , military con f l i ct. Tod ay, these con cerns are fading aw ay, and Greece can con cen tra te its po l i tical atten ti on more on econ omic issues and o t h er ways of improving the life of its citi zens. This is not to say that h a rdships of previous times are for go t ten. In this part of the worl d , m em ories fade slowly wh en it comes to po l i tics.


Government and Politics POSTWAR POLITICAL HISTORY Greece came out of World War II shaken , but gen era lly in much better shape than many other countries that experienced trem en dous deva s t a ti on and loss of l i fe . Unfortu n a tely, the co u n try was experiencing mounting internal problems bet ween opposing po l i tical facti on s . Short ly after Greece had been libera ted from German occ u p a ti on and the mon a rchy h ad been topp l ed , c ivil war eru pted. As was the case in nei ghboring Yugoslavia, it was a confrontation between Communists and Nationalists. E ach side believed it could lead the co u n try i n to a better futu re ; although in terms of po l i tical ori en t a ti on , t h ey were va s t ly differen t . In Yu go s l avia, the internal political con f l i ct and World War II occurred simu l t a n eo u s ly. In Greece , the civil con f l i ct eru pted in 1946, a f ter the Na ti onalists won the majori ty of vo tes in the electi on s . Both Greek facti ons received out s i de su pport . Th e Com munists were supported by Yu go s l avia and the Soviet Union, wh ereas the Nati onalist govern m ent received help f rom the West. Com munist forces lost the civil war mainly because they received less internal su pport from the Gree k s themselves. In ad d i ti on , the atten tion of Yu go s l avia and the Soviet Union was diverted from Greece by their own seri o u s po l i tic al con f ron t a ti on . In the aftermath of the 1946–1950 c ivil war, Greece was left as the on ly non - Communist country in sout h e a s tern Eu rope (if Turkey is con s i dered to be As i a n ) . Its nei gh bors — Al b a n i a , Yu go s l avia, and Bu l garia—all spen t the next half cen tury under va rious Com munist regimes. No t su rpri s i n gly, Nati onalist supporters of the Greek mon a rchy e st a bl i s h ed strong ties to the We s t , wh i ch con ti nu ed to provi de help. Soon after, in 1952, Greece joi n ed the new North At l a n tic Treaty Orga n i z a tion (NATO), form ed on ly t h ree years earl i er. The co u n try nevert h eless rem a i n ed som ewhat divi ded, e s pec i a lly among those who had been direct ly invo lved in the c ivil war. Su ch polarization affected Gree k s’ d a i ly lives du ring



Greece the 1950s and 1960s, c re a ting a difficult po l i tic al situ a tion. The probl em with civil wars is that their ef fects are felt for a l ong time. Ra rely does their outcome provide su ccessful lon g - term solutions that satisfy all parties invo lved. In Greece’s sequ en ce of govern m ents foll owing World War II, political antagonisms prevailed, despite gradual improvements in the co u n try’s econ omic base. Gree k s , just as their Italian n ei gh bors , of ten tend to reform govern m ents and exec utive bod i e s . Som etimes ch a n ges happen thro u gh el ecti ons and other times through military co u p s . Greece remained a kingdom until 1967, wh en a group of military of f i cers or ga n i zed to resist el ectoral ch a n ges. Th ey rem oved young King Con s t a n tine II from power, who proved to be the last king to rule over the Greek peop l e . The military took con trol of the govern m ent and ru l ed as a dict a tors h i p that lasted until 1974. This dict a tors h i p, as any other, was u n a ble to lead the co u n try in a po s i tive directi on for econ om i c growth. Ra t h er, military leaders su pported what they know the be s t : prep a ra tion for arm ed con f ron t a ti on in order to keep the country and people “u n i ted.” In this case, it did not work . Even tu a lly, military rule came to an en d , l e aving behind a sour n o te in Greek history and also a lon g - l a s ting po l i tical probl em rel a ting to the futu re of n ei ghboring Cypru s . MODERN POLITICAL CHANGES Af ter gen era l s , co l on els, and other of f i cers finally dec i ded t hat it was time to retre a t , Greeks were eager to re s tore dem ocrac y. Few people wanted a retu rn to mon a rchy, so soon a f terward, a republic was proclaimed. One might question how a co u n try su ch as Greece could become invo lved in a military dictators h i p. The answer lies in placing dom e s tic events in a gl obal con tex t . During the 1960s, the Cold War was making many people, including the Greeks, a bit anxious and paranoid. The military bel i eved the co u n try was being led in a directi on that was

Government and Politics “s of t” on communism. Some saw po l i tical intervention as the only way to en sure the co u n try did not drift furt h er to the left. History has proven time and time again that military leaders who become unel ected civil heads of state rarely if ever place the well - being of the co u n try’s people as their top pri ori ty, however. Officers rule with force, make poor po l i tical dec i s i on s , and of ten are rem oved by force. A leader of Greece’s military junta and later (in 1973) the co u n try’s president, G eor gios Pap adopoulos serves as an ideal example of su ch a leader. He tri ed to tra n s form the country into a rep u blic and become a presiden t , yet he eventu a lly was overthrown and impri s on ed for life . As a new democratic republic in the 1970s, Greece rapidly began building a political structure that remains in place today. Distribution of power was divided among legislative, executive, and judicial bra n ches of govern m en t . Lef t - wing parties that previously opposed each other emerged as serious contenders in a free electoral process. One of those was the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), which dominated Greek politics during the 1980s and was led by Andreas Papandreou. Greece achieved one of its primary economic goals in 1981 when it joi n ed the Eu ropean Un i on (then call ed the Eu rope a n E conomic Community). That same year, the socialist government, led by PASOK, was elected to power for the firs t time. These changes were milestones in Greece’s politics and economy. For the last two decades, PASOK has remained the country’s most influential and powerful political party. It won the most elections and formed most go vernments in this period, even after Papandreou’s death in 1996. Distribution of Power The Parliament As for distribution of power in the government, Greece is structured similarly to most democracies, including the United S t a te s . Legislative , executive , and judicial bra n ches basically s ha re equal powers . The Hellenic Parliament repre s ents the




The Hellenic Parliament represents the legislative branch of the Greek government and meets in the parliament building in Athens. Constructed in the 18 30s, the building today also houses the offices of the president of parliament, the office of the prime minister, and the secretariat of the cabinet, among others.

legislative branch; it creates new laws and expands existing laws. Members of parliament serve as representatives of their electoral districts and are affiliated with political parties, which nom i n a te them as el ectoral candidates. The el ectoral procedu re, however, is different than in the United States, because Greeks use a type of proportional system. The U.S. system is designed on the winner-takes-all principle. That is, in order to win all seat s , a candidate needs on ly one more vote than his com peti tor. Whoever comes second receives no mandate whatsoever. The proportional system not only allows the winning party’s candidates to enter parliament, but also those parties whose

Government and Politics m em bers received a small er nu m ber of votes. This sys tem all ows many more voi ces to be heard, because parties with a small er number of m em bers can com pete , as well . Although the system may seem to be ideal, because it prom o tes gre a ter participati on of smaller parti e s , this is not nece s s a ri ly the case. In the U.S. sys tem, anyone can become a c a n d i d a te for of f i ce rega rdless of the status of his or her po l i tical p a rty. The European model does not all ow su ch flexibi l i ty, because candidates are nominated by their party leaders and put on the long list of candidates. Cri teria for being nom i n a ted may be som ething less than fair and obj ective; the result bei n g candidates are of ten sel ected on the basis of popularity, rather than experti s e . Proportional sys tems ra rely genera te el ection victories of more than 50 percent. In order to form a government, political parties most of ten form com prom i s i n g coalitions, whether at the national or local level. In the 2004 el ections, the Nea Dimokratia (New Dem ocracy) party won , with 45 percent of the vo tes, just ahead of PASOK, wh i ch had 40 percen t . As a member of the European Union, Greece also provides del ega tes to its legislative body, the Eu ropean Parliament. Based on its population, each member country is permitted to provide a certain number of delegates to this legislative body. Compared to German, British, or Italian delegations, Greece has a relatively small, though nonetheless still influential, voice in shaping European political policies. Executive Branch Although Greeks elect their president, the prime minister holds the real executive power. Greeks still remember times when power was held by a single individual. Therefore, they prefer a sy stem of leadership in which the president holds ma i n ly cerem onial powers. These inclu de appoi n tm ent of ministers already confirmed by the legislature and call for new elections if the parliament needs to be dissolved in case of



Greece political deadlock. Everyday operations are in the hands of the country’s prime minister, who nominates ministers and oversees the work of various ministries. In order to function properly and have a successful impact on the devel opm ent of the co u n try, Greece’s govern m ent creates mi n i s tries with the purpose of coord i n a ting their dom a i n s . The council of m i n i s ters presided over by the prime minister is call ed a cabi n et. For example, the Mi n i s try of Tourism is in ch a r ge of prom o ting to u rism and reg u l a ting po l i tic al and economic dec i s i ons in that rega rd . All ministries report back to the prime minister, who then reports to parl i a m en t . If parliament is unsatisfied with the government’s performance, it can cast a vote of confidence on the prime minister’s performance. If the vote is negative, the president may then call for new elections. For such a procedure to be approved, parliament must be overwhelmingly against the prime minister. This is difficult to accomplish, considering that prime ministers are usually the leaders of the party with the highest numbers of del ega te s . A vo te against the prime minister is, for many members, a vote against their own party. Judicial Branch The distri buti on of power is incom p l ete without a stron g and ef f i c i ent judicial bra n ch . If co u rts are su ccessful in overs eeing the inequ a l i ties and abstractions of law, t h en a legal system functi ons well. The judicial bra n ch is a body that can exercise control over the other branches of government in order to limit their ability to overstep their political authority. In daily political life, it is com m on for any gro u p to attempt to “s h a pe” the understanding of the con s titution for its own ben efit. The Su preme Co u rt serves as the main reg u l a tor of correct interpretation of Greek laws. On lower levels, the judicial bra n ch is organized thro u gh the stru cture of regular and appeals co u rts, wh i ch provi de ex pertise on va rious issues not nece s s a rily rel a ted to the con s tituti on.

Government and Politics FOREIGN AFFAIRS As has been noted previously, Greece’s geographical and historical circumstances have contributed to complications in foreign policy, some of which still linger today. Hopefully, all issues with Turkey will finally be resolved in peaceful ways. Although the two countries have not engaged in an open conflict for a long time, the potential for conflict is always present. Both sides recognize the peril of conflict, but in this corner of the world, foreign policy is sometimes conducted with the full flame of nationalistic feelings, rather than with compromising tones. Turkey feels uneasy that Greece’s islands are only a few miles from the Turkish mainland, and Greece feels uneasy that Turkey’s territory is located on ly a few miles from Greece’s islands. Then there is the extremely complex political issue of Cyprus; without a doubt the biggest political obstacle between Greece and Turkey and one that is a concern of the European Union. Since the mid-1970s, when this previously independent eastern Mediterranean island was split p olitically on Greek ( s o uth) and Turkish (north) sides, unity was de s i ra ble but never achieved. For all prac tical purposes, Greek and Turkish Cyprus function independently and ethnic animosities have played a large role in the island’s recent history. Trad i ti on a lly, Cyprus has mainly been pop u l a ted by an ethnic Greek majority, and Greek Nationalists have clung to the belief that the island is an integ ral part of Greece. Neither Cyprus’s ethnic Turkish minority nor Turkey agrees. After three dec ade s , the island is sti ll divi ded into two po l i tical en ti ti e s sep a rated by a forti f i ed bu f fer zone under Un i ted Na ti on s’ control. The Greeks have often asked for reunification, an idea the Tu rks have repe a tedly rej ected . However, in recent ye a rs , the Turks, under pressure from the European Union (it wants Cyprus unified ) , n ow su pport unification. Greeks recen t ly rejected this option, however—they do not want to share the land with the poverty-stricken Turkish north. The future of Cyprus continues to be uncertain.




Cyprus is divided into Turkish and Greek sections: The Greek-controlled and internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus occupies the southern two-thirds of the island, while the Turkish Republic of Cyprus makes up the northern one-third of the island (a map of which is displayed on the building on the right). Pictured here is the boundary between the two states at Lidras Street in Nicosia.

The future relationship between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is another ongoing problem. Greece has opposed its northern neighbor’s claim to use the term Macedonia, because it has a northern p rovince of the same name. More importantly, however, the name change could create separatism and future land claims by the Republic of Macedonia against Greek territory. There are also burning issues between Greece and Albania. The rapidly rising numbers of illegal Albanian immigrants and the low status of the ethnic Greek minority in Albania are among the reasons for a strained relationship between the two countri e s . Gree k s , bel i eving that they have learn ed a lesson from

Government and Politics the events in Serbia, a re wary abo ut the po ten tial po s s i bi l i ty for futu re Albanian po l i tical demands against their terri tory. The relationship between Greece and the United Sates is productive and without major difficulties. Differen ces and disagreements do, of course, exist. Because of opposing public opinion, Greece did not suppor t the United States–led war a gainst Iraq. On the other hand, Greece is a member of NATO and high ly coopera tive with the United States and other Western powers , e s pecially in the preven ti on of terrorist activities.


6 Greece’s Economy


con omy is an important el em ent of cultu re . In order to survive and progre s s , e ach co u n try must con s i der econ omy its highest priority. We all want to live better than did previous generations. Improving the quality of life of its people and transforming soc i ety from folk (trad i tional, l a r gely ru ral) to pop u l a r (contemporary and largely urban) culture is, has been, and continues to be a major task for the Greek govern m en t . The pathw ay to econ omic devel opment, however, is of ten full of ob s t acles that are difficult to overcom e . How did Greece accomplish its curren t level of devel opment? Wh i ch of the nation’s goals were achieved and wh i ch were not? Questi ons su ch as these are answered in the foll owing overview of Greece’s econ omic geogra phy. DEVELOPING ECONOMY De s p i te numerous political issues (see Chapter 5), Greece


Greece’s Economy ben ef i ted substantially from the Cold War con f ron t a ti on between the East and West. Western Europe did not want a regime change that would shift the balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean. It was firm in its stand against the Sovi et Union gaining an exit to the Med i terranean. Su pporting Greece ec onomically meant better political ties as well. Pra gmatists in the Eu ropean Union (at that time known as the Eu ropean Econ omic Com mu n i ty, or EEC) decided that Christian Greece would be a more acceptable member than Muslim Turkey. Even today, many of Western Europe’s officials value potential membership on the basis of the “Europeaness” of potential candidates for membership. After a po l i ti c a lly tu rbulent peri od du ring the first part of the 1970s, Greece finally ach i eved internal pe ace du ring the second half of the dec ade . Soon after, in 1981, it became a full mem ber of the EEC. For the first time in its history, the EEC accepted a country that did not directly border any of its existing members. At the time, Greece was sep a ra ted from its nearest mem ber, It a ly, by the Ionian Se a , and for all practical purposes it was on the European periphery. In terms of geopolitical strategy, however, it was in the ri ght location. Before joining this organization, Greece’s economy was stagnating. A series of attempts at econ omic reform had been largely unproductive. It took decades to transform a traditi on a lly agri c u l tu ral soc i ety into a modern indu s trial soc i ety. In the aftermath of World War II, Greece and other countries in the region faced an awesome challenge. To avoid falling into even greater lack of development and resulting poverty, Greeks had to modernize. Initially, the economic growth rate was significantly high er than that thro u gh o ut most of Eu rope (boosted primari ly by out s i de investors), but this was som ewhat misleading. During the 1950s and 1960s, it was more a reflection of the fact that the starting point itself was much lower than that of Western Europe. In order to provide an economic stimulus, the government relied on borrowing from international sources. This, combined with political unrest in the late



Greece 1960s and early 1970s, caused Greece to move dangerously far from the right econ omic path. Fortu n a tely, this downw a rd spiral was reversed in 1981, when Greece became integrated with most developed European economies. What Greece needed was an open door (and open bounda ries) to a large market , but adequate direct land con n ecti ons with the remainder of Europe were sti ll unavailable. Having an opportu n i ty to participate in this econ omic (and now increasingly po l i tical) integra ti on was qu i te a boost for the co u n try, yet mem bership was also som ewhat of a do u bl e - ed ged sword. On one hand, Greece’s economic produ ctivi ty increased, and the servi ce sector ex p a n ded con s i dera bly. Su b s t a n tial financial su pport was received from the Eu ropean Union for econ om i c i m provem en t s . On the other hand, because Greece had borrowed heavi ly to fuel its econ omic growth, its internal and ex ternal debt incre a s ed su b s t a n ti a lly over several decades. ECONOMIC SECTORS Following World War II, agriculture gradually declined in economic importance. Today, although it is still important, it accounts for less than 10 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Primarily because of its rugged terrain, Greece is not ideally suited to large-scale agricultural production, unless it is a typical Med i terranean type of farm i n g. Most of Greece’s agricultural land is owned by small landholders who inherited their ancestral properties. The main products are fruits, olive oil, wine, and vegetables, which can be cultivated on small plots of land. In addition, because of the generally small scale of its farming opera ti on s , Greece is not in a po s i ti on to com pete successfully with Spain, Italy, and other Mediterranean agricultural competitors. Agriculture has suffered for another reason. Young people are increasingly unwi lling to work in traditional ru ral (including a gri c u l tu ral) roles. Ra t h er, t h ey move to cities that offer more amenities and excitement, as well as jobs in serv ice-related

Greece’s Economy

Olives are a staple among Greece’s agricultural products and over the last decade are the only crop whose production has increased. In recent years, Greece has supplied between 5 and 8 percent of the world’s olives; two-thirds of which is sent to European Union countries.

industries. As a result, the amount of land under cultivation has constantly decreased since the mid-1900s. Among agricultural products, only olives have increased in production during the past decade. On the positive side, ongoing developments in the food - processing indu s try may help revi t a l i ze at least some type s of agriculture. Today, most countries strive to develop a strong postindustrial or ser vice sector, an indicator of technological progress and econ omic stren g t h . Po s t - In dustrialism invo lves a major econ omic transiti on : trad i ti onal econ omic activi ti e s such as farming, fishing, forestry, and mining aren’t as important as t h ey on ce were ; n ei t h er are the secon d a ry indu s tri e s , su ch



Greece as manufacturing. Rather, most people are engaged in providing services. The service sector mostly requires people who are well educated, highly skilled, and able to work in a number of highly spec i a l i zed fields su ch as te aching, m a n a gement, medicine, law, and many other “white collar” trades. Today, about two-thirds of the Greek workforce is employed in the servi ce sector, almost twi ce the number sti ll working in primary or secondary industries. Greece is cu rren t ly moving tow a rd ach i eving its goal of becoming a well - devel oped , po s ti n du s trial co u n try. Ob s t acles rem a i n , of co u rs e . One major probl em is the unequal devel opm ent of ru ral and urban areas. Mu ch of the cou n tryside remains poorly developed and impoverished. But even here , t h ere is hope. Ru ral Greece holds great po tential for furt h er devel opm ent of the country’s to u rist indu s try. Be a utiful scen ery, ru s tic landscape s , ru ral fo l k w ays and a s l ow pace of life draw many vi s i tors aw ay from the hustle and bustle of the co u n try’s urban cen ters . Mi ll i ons of tourists are already attracted to the country’s coastal and island scen ery and its rich cultu ral heri t a ge. In recent decades, to u rism has become one of the leading sources of income from foreign ca p i t a l , which totals about $10 bi llion annually, or about on e - fo u rth of the servi ce sector econ omy. Greece is also trying to capitalize on sport to u ri s m , in which it has had a long and su ccessful ex peri en ce . For dec ade s , m a j or sporting events, i n cluding the 2004 Su m m er Olympics, have been con du cted in Greece , u su a lly in Athens. As has been noted , both the pri m a ry and secon d a ry sectors of the Greek econ omy are we a ken i n g. The country has very few natu ral re s o u rce s , and mining and en ergy produ cti on from domestic resources are unable to meet even Greece’s own need s . However, one area of the secondary econ omy is ex periencing growth. The co u n try’s need to expand and otherwise improve on its infra s tru ctu re has gen era ted con s i dera bl e investm ent in the constru cti on indu s try. Urban cen ters are in

Greece’s Economy de s pera te need for the creati on of bet ter tra n s port a ti on network s . Rural areas also requ i re better transportation ro utes if they are to capitalize on their to u rism po ten tial. TRADE AND LABOR Membership in the Eu ropean Union helped incre a s e Greek ex ports to We s tern Europe, which is the main con su m er of Greece’s produ ct s . Du ring the 1990s, civil con f l i cts in the terri tory of the former Yugoslavia severely disrupted the su rf ace tra n s portati on of goods from Greece to We s tern Europe . Fortu n a tely, the co u n try’s shipping fleet ranks amon g the worl d ’s large s t , and tra n s port a ti on by sea was not interru pted. Outside of Europe, Greece’s major econ omic partn er is the Un i ted States, which accounts for ro u gh ly 15 percent of both its ex ports and import s . Every co u n try strives for a positive trade balance by ex porting more than it imports. Wh en the balance of trade is po s i tive , the excess capital can be used to su pport govern m ent proj ects su ch as increasing public services, ( re ) building the n a ti on’s infra s tru ctu re , or simply saving it for the futu re . One of the probl ems devel oped co u n tries of ten face , h owever, is that they som etimes spend more than they can afford. Th ey import more than they export and have to find ways to provide en o u gh cash to pay for that differen ce . This is call ed nega tive trade balance . Because countries can survive on credit, they often borrow m on ey from out s i de source s . Su ch a policy cre a tes government and public debt that contributes to additional problems. Unfortunately, Greece suffers from a negative trade balance. The difference in 2004 was significant, with $15.5 billion of exports compared to a whopping $54.28 billion of imports. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $198 billion in 2004 and experiencing steady growth. In the same year, however, the overall debt rose to over 10 percent high er than the actual GDP. The existing financial deficit is having a direct negative effect



Greece on Greece. As a member of the European Union, the euro is Greece’s official currency and the country also must abide by EU rules. The body stri ct ly con trols (and punishes) governments that overspend and show a lack of fiscal discipline, and Greece is no exception. Greece has been affected by the econ omic slowdown that most of Europe has ex peri en ced in recent ye a rs . Over the years, the co u n try had redu ced its unemployment ra te , but by 2005, it once again climbed to a level of a bo ut 10 percent of the work force . By EU standard s , this is one of the Un i on’s highest ra tes of unem p l oym en t , but com p a red to all of Europe ( i n cluding form er Sovi et bl oc East European countri e s ) , the number is avera ge . O f p a rticular con cern is the gen der ga p in unem p l oyment: For women, the figure stands at about 16 percent, wh ereas it is on ly 5 percent for men. This dispari ty cl e a rly points to the need for econ omic reforms that will i n c rease female representati on in Greece’s labor force. Essentially, the wide gap in gender employment illustrates the difficulties created by Greece’s traditional male-dominated sociocultural system. Women remained at home and wer e involved only in traditional domestic a ctivities. On the other hand, men worked outside the home to provide resources to support their family. Only during the twentieth century did this system begin to change, yet such changes can be painfully slow in happening. Today, wom en are still paid less than men and have a harder time finding bet ter paid po s i ti ons (a situ a ti on com m on to many Eu ropean countri e s ) . Why is gen der so important wh en analyzing a country’s economic indicators and labor for ce? The answer is simple: More than half of Greece’s population and potential labor force are wom en. Theodore Schultz, a Nobel Pri ze – winning Am erican economist, reminded us how investing in human capital is the single most important investment any country can make. If Greece is t o prosper, it must rid itself of male social dominance and fully integrate its women into the workforce.

Greece’s Economy

Although Greece’s unemployment rate stood at 10 percent in 2004, the rate for women was much higher (16 percent). Another ongoing problem is that Greek women are paid substantially less and are often not integrated into a workforce still largely dominated by males. Pictured here are female Greek workers in Athens protesting the rate of unequal pay.

Another serious obstacle to economic development is the lack of full privatization of industry. Many large companies remain state owned, and they operate under str ict control. When governments control businesses and industries, progress and expansion are often blocked by bureaucratic barriers. In the United States, nearly all business is owned by the private sector. By contrast, European co u n tries, including Greece , tend to have a tighter control over some industries. The reason Europeans practi ce su ch a policy is because of the region’s dedication to a welfare state. Governments, rather than private en terpri s e s , provi de many public servi ce s . Abo ut two - t h i rds of the co u n try’s 4.3-mill i on - pers on workforce hold jobs in the service sector. It is hardly surprising that



Greece more than a mill i on of t h emare employed in professions rel a ted to to u rism, hotel management, trade, and leisu re activities. With the ex p a n s i on of to u rism in the fore s ee a ble futu re , these numbers will certainly rise. ENERGY, TECHNOLOGY, AND TRANSPORTATION Per-capita energy consumption is the main indicator of a country’s economic strength. The United States, for example, has only 5 percent of the world’s population but consumes a quarter of the world’s overall energy, far more than any other cou n try. The U.S. econ omy is also the worl d ’s large s t , by a considerable margin. Greece’s en ergy con su m pti on has grown hand-in-hand with its econ omic devel opm en t . The co u n try, h owever, faces s ome serious en er gy - rel a ted ob s t acl e s . The recent skyrocketing fossil-fuel pri ces are gen erating serious con s equ en ces worldwide. Greece has few en er gy re s o u rces and must import over 90 percent of its petro l eum from international suppliers . Curren t ly, most of it is obt a i n ed from the Mi d dle East, but the f uture prospect of receiving oil and gas from the form er Sovi et Un i on appe a rs bri ght. Russia, a natu ral ga s - producing giant, has been working on a European natural gas distributi on net work in order to become a leading su pp l i er through o ut the con tinent. Trad i ti on a lly fri en dly with Russia, Greece seeks to ease its dependence on Arab oi l , d iversify its sources, and become less vulnera ble to unexpected disru ptions in su pp ly. Russian natural gas is alre ady flowing to Turkey through a pipeline loc a ted deep in the Bl ack Se a . Oil from the Ca s p i a n Sea is being tra n s ported through another pipeline to Tu rkey’s port, Ceyhan. In both cases, Greece seeks an ex ten s i on of these ro utes to its soi l , whet h er by pipeline or tanker. Ad d i ti on a l p ipelines also are being built to con n ect Greece with its northern neighbors , Bu l ga ria and Macedonia. One of the proj ects in the works is a pipeline con n ection with It a ly, ac ro s s the Ionian Se a .

Greece’s Economy Most electricity is produced by plants powered by coal or natural gas. Greece has little if any hydroelectric potential and the govern m ent is not intere s ted in ven turing into nu clear en ergy. Ma ny Eu ropean co u n tries, i n cluding Greece , are searching for ways to implement large-scale alternative means of gen era ting el ectri c i ty. In Greece , however, proj ects to develop solar and wind power are still in their infancy. In the areas of transportation and technology, Greece lags far behind most of Western Europe and much of the rest of the world: Railroads and most highways are in need of upgrades and expansion, large urban centers suffer from massive traffic con ge s ti on , and in many com mu n i ties, p u blic tra n s port a tion is inadequate. Here , on ce aga i n , the pri m a ry ob s t acle is the slow transformation of governmental bureaucracy and statecon trolled business operations. In telecom mu n i c a tions, the co u n try’s net works are in serious need of upgrading and expansion. If this trend continues, the information network could become well developed. In s te ad of trying to upgrade outdated networks, the emphasis is now on laying new fiberoptic cables and building a mobile telephone infrastructure. However, this is not an easy or inexpensive task in a country with so many islands and isolated places.


7 Regions of Greece


s a country of rel a tively small size and inhabi ted by peop l e wh o, for the most part, share the same ethnic and religious backgro u n d , Greece is certainly less diverse than many o t h erEuropean countries. Regi onal differen ces here perhaps are not as sharp, yet they are noticeably significant. To many re aders , it may seem odd that a co u n try the size of an avera ge U.S. s t a te can actu a lly have any notewort hy regi onal differen ce s . In Europe, however, the array of cultural characteristics can ch a n ge gre a t ly from one side of a mountain to another. The explanation lies in a long history and the accumulati on of c u l tu ral traits over a span of thousands of ye a rs. In Ch a pter 4, for example, it was noted that diet and cuisine can ref l ect regi onal differen ces and ch a n ge s . Perhaps the greatest regi onal differen ces stem from the va rying ra te of soc i oecon om i c ch a n ge occ u rring in the co u n try. Ch a n ge comes slowly in ru ral areas that are dom i n a ted by people sti ll practicing folk cultu re . Urb a n


Regions of Greece areas, on the other hand, ex peri en ce a more modern way of l i fe . These cultu ral differen ces are soc i a l , economic, po l i tical, and dem ogra phic. EASTERN MACEDONIA AND THRACE Eastern Macedonia and Thrace is located in the extreme northeastern part of the country. It represents one of the latest additions to Greece’s territory. Located closer to Istanbul, Tu rkey, than to Athens, this provi n ce has trad i ti on a lly been culturally linked more so to the former than the latter. At least that was the case until Greece and Turkey swapped some territory and exchanged ethnic populations in the years immediately following World War I. At one point in ancient history, Thrace was a kingdom that spread across much of southeastern Europe (including pre s en t - d ay Bu l garia and the Eu ropean part of Turkey). Ma ny ancient Greek sources mentioned Thracians and their kingdom . They, h owever, even tually became acculturated (assimilated) into Greek culture. Today, Th race occupies the pictu re s que eastern peri ph ery of the provi n ce . ( It is important to add that Ea s tern Macedonia is the province’s we s tern part and ad jacent to Central Macedonia.) It lies between Bulgaria and the shore s of the Aegean Sea and is the co u n try’s “f l a t te s t” provi n ce , a lt h o u gh even here some mountain landscapes rise above the plains. In the past, agri c u l ture and fishing were the main economic activities. Today, however, it is a region of emigration (out-migra ti on ) , as many people migrate to cities in search of bet ter jobs and high er wage s . Thrace is also one of the most ethnically diverse regions of Greece . Even here, Greeks are predom i n a n t , but Tu rks and Pomaks (a Sl avic pop u l a ti on who are Muslims but speak a Bu l ga rian language) are also pre s ent in large nu m bers . In terms of c u l tu ral geogra phy, this is important, because the cultural landscape of ru ral Th race reminds one of the lon g h i story of the local people. Vi s i tors can notice differences in



Greece cu s tom s , manners , relationships, and so forth, just by taking a walk in ethnically mixed villages. Even though Thrace h ad previously experi en ced its fair share of c u l tu rally based atroc i ties, tod ay ethnic harm ony predominates. CENTRAL AND WEST MACEDONIA O n ly in this ch a pter on regi ons does the reader becom e aw a re of the import a n ce of the name Macedonia in this part of the worl d . Macedonia(s) exists on several different political bo u n d a ries. Greeks, FYR (Former Yugo s l avian Republic) Macedon i a n s , and Bu l ga rians all bel i eve that their Macedon i a is the ri ght on e . The reality is that they are all the ri ght on e s and could not exist without each other. Greece divi ded its Macedonia into three provinces; Cen tral Macedonia is the l a r gest and best devel oped . Previ o u s ly the core of Al ex a n der the Gre a t’s kingdom and an important cen ter of the Eastern Roman Empire, today this region is Greece’s northern counterpa rt to At h ens. Its physical landscape is a com bi n a tion of h i lls and the river va ll eys of t wo of the largest streams flowing to the Aegean Se a , the Axios and Stri m on . Geogra phic loc a tion played a vital role in the cultu ral evoluti on of Cen tral Macedon i a . Both Greeks and Sl avs left an impressive cultural imprint on the region. Nowhere is this imprint more obvious than in Thessaloniki, the cosmopolitan capital of northern Greece and, with a half-million residents, the country’s second-largest city. Located on the shores of the Aegean, not far from the mouth of the Axios River, the city’s location played a large role in helping it develop as a political and econ omic cen ter in ancient times. Because of this role, however, the city was always a target for invaders. Romans, Slavs, Turks, and others plundered the city and left their own cultural imprint. Their presence can still be seen in the city’s architecture and in displays in its many museums. Today, Thessaloniki is an important seaport and transportation center of goods for northern Greece and neighboring

Regions of Greece

An important industrial and commercial center, Thessaloniki is the secondlargest city in Greece. The city’s harbor opened in 1901 and it serves as a distribution point for Greek agricultural products and raw materials.

areas of the former Yugoslavia and even central European countries. Economic prospects and other opportunities drove many rural Central Macedonians to Thessaloniki, where the ma j ority of them reside. The co u n trys i de is less devel oped, with only a few larger urban areas, all of them remote from Th e s s a l oniki. A good part of Central Macedonia is under agricultural cultivation, especially in lowlands created by the two rivers. There, one can see fields covered with fruit trees or tobacco plants, much of which is exported. The West Macedonia provi n ce , a predom i n a n t ly hilly and ru ral co u n trys i de of n orthwe s tern Greece , is the we s tern ex ten s i on of Cen tral Macedon i a . It is one of the less devel oped



Greece are a s , with small er municipalities, most notably Kozani, and a stagnating econ omic base. Some of the major ob s t acles in its development were its distance from leading Greek urban cen ters and proximity to even less productive regions of Albania and FYR of Macedonia. It has on ly abo ut 300,000 re s i dents, one of the lowest pop u l a ti ons of a ny Greek regi on . THESSALY Fart h er south from West Macedonia is wh ere the “re a l ” Greece begins. Th e s s a ly has been a well-known and important regi on since ancient times. It lies close en o u gh to At h en s to have benefited from its cultural and political re ach. It s mountains were the home of gods: Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece , was a vital place in ancient Greek myt h o l ogy, because it was the place where the su preme god, Zeu s , and his fell ow gods resided. Mountains, however, a ren’t the on ly geogra phic fe a tu re of Th e s s a ly. Actually, this area of Greece is known for its plains, which attracted settlers from the dawn of mainland Greek civilizations. Mountains can best be thought of as defining the province’s borders , whereas plains form the cen tral core . These plains are well su i ted for agri c u l ture, wh i ch is an i m portant con tributor to the local econ omy. Because of its geogra phic loc a ti on in cen tral Greece, the flatlands of Thessaly receive above - average prec i p i t a ti on in the su m m er, an essential f actor for cultivating fruit and grain. The region is better devel oped than its northwe s tern nei ghbors , West Macedon i a a nd Ep i rus. An o t h er ben efit of its geogra phic loc a tion is that it s erves as a transportation crossroad bet ween Greece’s s o ut h ern and nort h ern regi on s . Main highways and ra i l roads from At h ens to Th e s s a l oniki pass thro u gh Thessaly. This is e s pec i a lly ben eficial for Lari s s a , the regi on’s capital, econ om i c hu b, and largest city and its 140,000 re s i dents, or abo ut half of the provi n ce’s pop u l a ti on . The we s tern boundary fo llows the Pindus Mo u n t a i n s , wh i ch form a natu ral bo u n d a ry

Regions of Greece bet ween Th e s s a ly and Ep i ru s . Th ere , in the peaceful co u n trysi de , is one of Greece’s main to u rist destinations, Meteora, with its famous monasteri e s . EPIRUS In terms of acce s s i bi l i ty, the provi n ce of Epirus lies fart h er from At h ens than any other regi on of Greece . It is sep a ra ted from the capital by the Pindus Mountains and historically has been rel a tively isolated from Athens. Cultu ra lly, of co u rs e , it was alw ays Greek. In fact, it was home to Greece’s secon d most important oracl e , a f ter Del ph i . The region’s pictu re s qu e landscape holds many remains, te s tifying to its historical import a n ce . Much of the province is mountainous and it is also the co u n try’s most fore s ted are a . The com bi n a ti on of ru gged terrain, ample moi s tu re , and forests has produced be a utiful natu ral landscapes that many Greeks and forei gn ers come to ad m i re . Because of its high er el eva ti on s , Epirus has also become a wi n ter to u rist desti n a ti on , wh ere visitors can en j oy downhill skiing. In terms of cultural landscapes, the province is predom in a n t ly ru ral, with a few small urban cen ters . Recent econ omic em phasis has been on the devel opm ent of to u rist fac i l i ties, although it will take time to catch up with the rest of Greece . The life s tyle in Epirus is very provincial, e a s ygoi n g, and laidb ack—in a very ref reshing and po s i tive way. A serious ob s t acle to econ omic growth in Ep i rus is that n ei gh boring Albania remains econ om i c a lly underdevel oped. This not on ly limits econ omic coopera ti on but also incre a s e s the nu m ber of immigrants crossing the border in search of jobs. A substantial Albanian ethnic minori ty has lived in Ep i rus for cen tu ries, adding to the cultu ral divers i ty of nort hwe s tern Greece. With the sharp increase in Albanian immigra n t s , however, the regi on’s econ omy is being stretch ed. Ma ny re s i dents are also becoming con cern ed abo ut what they perceive to be unwel come social ch a n ge s . The leading city is



Greece Ioannina, a regi onal econ omic and edu c a ti onal cen ter with a l ong and ri ch cultu ral heri t a ge . CENTRAL AND WESTERN GREECE Moving sout hward from Epirus, one noti ces the landscape ch a n ge to stri ct ly Mediterranean limeston e - dom i n a ted mountainous terrain of t wo provi n ce s — Central and We s tern Greece . Here, mountains rise abru pt ly from the sea, re su l ti n g in sharp ch a n ges in cl i m a te and ecosys tems within very short distances. Central Greece is a tra n s i tional zone that reach e s f rom the Ionian Sea to the Aegean coast, thereby dividing the co u n try into two parts. To the north lies slower paced nort h ern Greece , and to the south is the Greek cultu ral hearth of Athens and su rrounding are a s . Cen tral Greece even functi ons as a transiti onal place in s ome re s pect s . For example, l i ke the North Am erican Great Plains, people usu a lly pass through en route to som ewh ere else. One re a s on to stop is the regi on’s arch aeo l ogical treasu re s . The provi n ce is best known for having one of the most significant arch aeo l ogical sites in Greece , the ruins of the famous Oracle of Del ph i . In ancient Greece , people would go to the Oracle of Del phi to hear advi ce abo ut their futu re . The s i te was highly respected and pro tected by gods and hu m a n ru l ers, t hus being a place of peace . Ma ny em perors wo u l d come to ask the Oracle abo ut their de s ti ny. Som etimes a n s wers were po s i tive and som etimes they were not, because it depen ded on interpret a tion. The most famous story abo ut a misinterpreted message h a ppen ed wh en Lydian em peror Croe sus asked for advi ce a bo ut the war against the Persians. Lydia at that time was a powerful em p i re in presen t - d ay Turkey. The message he received said that in the event of an attack on Pers i a , one gre a t em p i re could end up being de s troyed . E n co u ra ged with the advi ce , Croe sus attacked the Pers i a n s , and ulti m a tely a gre a t empire was, i n deed , de s troyed—his own. After the introdu cti on

Regions of Greece

Located in the province of Central Greece on Mount Parnassus, the ruins of Delphi were designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations E d u cational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNES CO ) in 19 87. According to legend, Delphi was the home to the Oracle of Apollo, which ancient Greeks consulted to learn of their future.

of Christianity to Greece, the Oracle was terminated, because the tradition was considered an element of pagan culture. If, by some miracle, the Oracle of Delphi had remained in business until the present day, without any doubt its largest customers would be Am erican stock-market speculators lining up to hear good news. At the same time, they would greatly increase Greece’s income from tourism! Gen erally speaking, this part of Greece is one of rural landscapes, with small and wi dely scattered small urban areas that serve as local econ omic cen ters . Here , as in other provinces, it was difficult to escape Athen s’s econ omic and pol i tical dominance and independently develop a strong



Greece econ omy. Unless they are loc a ted on main traffic ro ute s , regi onal cen ters grow slowly. The leading city is Lamia, the regi on’s econ omic cen ter, with a pop u l a ti on of a bo ut 75,000. We s tern Greece differs little from Central Greece , both in terms of physical geogra phy and cultu ral landscape. If one is intere s ted in ex p l oring the remnants of folk cultu re , this is the place to go. The co u n trys i de is a tapestry that reveals mu ch a bo ut the historical past and cultural pre s ent of the local pop u l a ti on . Ti ny roads leading to pictu re s que vill a ges wind lazily around the hills that sep a ra te quaint settlements that in some cases are thousands of years old. These charming l a n d s c a pes so ri ch in history are particularly abundant on the Pel opon n e sus side of We s tern Greece . PELOPONNESUS At one point in history, when the Greek city-state of Sparta was a tremendous military power, the island of Peloponnesus was the place to be. That was 2,500 years ago. Since then, most of Peloponnesus has fallen into provincial obscurity. Rapid industrialization and urbanization in the post-World War II peri od bypassed most of the provi n ce , and many people left the region. Although it is not far from Athens, Peloponnesus appears to have benefited from this progress less than it should have, at least in theory. It often seems as though the four-milelong Corinth Canal, which separates Peloponnesus (therefore making it an island) from the rest of Greece, is more than just a physical barrier. Clearly, being close to Athens, but not close enough, can mean stagnation rather than growth in Greece. Only one city, Patra, has 100,000 residents. Nevert h eless, Pel opon n e sus has plenty to of fer, espec i a lly to u ri s m , but com peti ti on with other provi n ces is keen . Despite having many ancient city-states, fortre s s e s , and a rch aeological site s , to u rist fac i l i ties are poorly developed on the island. With careful planning and investm en t , this regi on m i ght become a significant to u rist de s ti n a ti on , h en ce , a

Regions of Greece gre a ter con tri butor to Greece’s econ omy. The coastal zone is a marine paradise, and rural to u rism in rem o te vill a ge s , wh ere people can wander through orchards, olive trees, and vi n eya rd s , can be equally prof i t a bl e . One ob s t acle to devel opm ent is the trad i ti on of con s erva tism. Ma ny people on Pel opon n e sus cling to the past and a re reluctant to ch a n ge their way of l i fe . This situation is com m on in areas wh ere the transiti on from folk to pop u l a r culture has been slow. Ru ral people often fear changes to the ex i s ting cultu ral sys tem , because ch a n ge thre a tens the “trad i ti on a l ” l i fe s tyle. In Greece , this con s erva tism hinders economic development. This is not exclusively a Greek cultural trai t , h owever. It is common to most trad i ti on a lly ru ral place s. To pictu re this con s erva tism in the Un i ted States, we can think of the ch a racteri s tics of “small town Am eri c a .” ATTICA During antiquity, it was said that “all roads lead to Rome,” even those in Greece. In present-day Greece, the same can be said about Athens. To Greeks, Athens is a city of overwhelming importance, both historically and today. Its sprawling metropolitan area is home to half of a ll Greeks. The city is also Greece’s econ omic, political, and social hu b, as well as its center of popular culture. Athens and the port city of Piraeus make up most of Attica Province. Athens has a very long and celebrated history. Established almost 3,000 ye a rs ago, the city has enjoyed an influ en tial political and econ omic prominen ce thro u ghout most of its ex i s ten ce. That ex i s ten ce was en d a n gered many times by va rious invaders, yet Athens survived. During the Peloponnesus Wars against Sparta in the fourth century B.C., it was almost destroyed, but Sparta eventually lost and disappeared from the main stage of history. This is one reason why Peloponnesus declined in importance, whereas Attica rose to become Greece’s leading region.



Greece In recent times, e s pec i a lly after World War II, At h en s boomed in terms of populati on and economic growth. S hi pping links with the outside world are thro u gh the port of Piraeus, the artery through which goods are su pp l i ed to At h ens or ex ported from the city to worl dwi de de s tinati on s . Wh en most people think of Athens, though, the city’s gl orious past is what is most apt to come to mind. This en ti re book could easily be devo ted to At h en s’s cultural heritage and other aspects of its rich historical past. Wh ereas history is ex trem ely important, in order to understand con temporary Greece, it is more important to think geogra ph i c a lly, that is, spatially. At h ens is a node (core) of a f u n cti onal regi on . Its role in Greece is even more important than what Los An geles means to So ut h ern Ca l i fornia or Dall a s means to Tex a s . Econ omy, edu c a ti on , politics, and all other a s pects of culture affecting At h ens tod ay wi ll influ en ce the rest of Greece tom orrow. Having su ch a prom i n ent capital city can be co u n terprodu ctive to the rest of the nati on , s i m p ly because the city receives the majori ty of atten ti on . Political ben efits, econ om i c ben efits, edu c a ti onal opportu n i ti e s , and social amen i ties focus on Athens. In a country with limited resource s , little is left to share with out lying provinces. At h ens cert a i n ly ranks amon g the worl d ’s great capital cities. This was con f i rm ed du ring the 2004 Su m m er Olympic Games hosted by the Greek capital in m a gn i f i cent fashion . In prepara ti on for the even t , du ring the preceding dec ade the city underwent dra s tic improvem ent and modern i z a ti on thro u gh large con s tru cti on proj ects. Th e s e , of course, furt h er diverted re s o u rces from the countrys i de . THE GREEK ISLANDS In some respects, the Greek islands define the co u n try, at least in the mind of m a ny non - Greeks. Hu n d reds of islands, e ach of t h em som ewhat uniqu e , surround the mainland. To an intern a ti onal travel er, island hopping is perhaps the most

Regions of Greece i n teresting way to ex peri en ce Greek cultu re. Even tod ay, on ma ny islands one can step back in time by leaving tourist vi ll a ges and visiting small com mu n i ties that have ex peri en ced l i ttle ch a n ge for cen turies except, perh a p s , for paved roads and el ectri c i ty. Cu s toms and manners are sti ll part of the s l owly ch a n ging cultu ral sys tem designed in ancient times. A d ay or two later, a ferry takes you to another island and an o t h er vill a ge , which almost certainly will have its own ch a racteri s tics and ch a rm. Greece’s islands have been popular de s tinati ons for many gen era ti ons of We s tern artists and wri ters in search of inspirati on . Th ey were drawn to the islands by their idyllic landscape s and the genuine simplicity of the Med i terranean lifestyle. These spect acular yet quaint landscapes are peaceful and breathtaking, but they also ref l ect cen tu ries of econ om i c h a rdship and cultu ral isolati on en du red by previous gen erati ons to whom the isolated islands were hom e . In his famous n ovel Zo rba the Gre e k, Ni kos Kazantakis, one of the greatest Greek wri ters , de s c ri bes the cumu l a tive ex pression of l i fe on the island of Crete and its good and bad aspects. Po l i ti c a lly, the Greek islands do not bel ong to a single administra tive provi n ce. Ra t h er, s ome of t h em bel ong to mainland provi n ces, but most others, su ch as Crete, the North and So ut h Aegean Islands, and the Ionian Islands, are self-administered. The first major island group re ach ed on the ferry tri p f rom Piraeus (At h en s’s port) are the Cyclades. In this gro u p is the famous volcanic island of Sa n torini (Thera ) , whose caldera (crater) sti ll reminds us of the vi o l ent and catastroph i c eru pti on that took place there more than 3,000 ye a rs ago. The Cycl ades, occ u pying the main water route bet ween Greece and Asia Mi n or, were among the first Aegean islands to be in h a bited. Con ti nuing sout hw a rd from Cycl ades is Crete , the ea s tern Mediterranean’s largest island, standing alone in the sea and reminding everyone of the bo u n d a ries of the Greek c u l tu ral sph ere .



Greece Continuing eastward from the Cyclades, one encounters the Dodecanese island group. Geographically, the islands are in immediate proximity to Turkey and Asia, but culturally they are Greek. At one point in history, the largest island in the group, Rhodes, was the headquarters of the Knights of St. John, who fled Palestine in the aftermath of the Crusades and settled there. Later, the Turks kept control of this easternmost island in Greece. During their long occupation, they tried unsuccessfully to destroy Greek culture and replace it with their own. Traveling nort h , almost all islands from Rh odes into the North Aegean and up to Thrace’s coast are under Greek po ssession. Some are loc a ted just a few miles from the Turkish coast, and the majority of them were incorpora ted into Greece du ring the 1940s. The proximity of Tu rkey’s coast a ll ows for first-ra te ex p l ora ti on into different life s tyles. Bre a kfast in a Greek cof fee shop in Eu rope can be fo ll owed by a Tu rk i s h din n er in Asia after a short ferry ri de . What a m a gn i f i cen t cultural experien ce! The northern Aegean Sea has fewer islands, but they are equ a lly intri g u i n g, e s pec i a lly Sporades and the large island of Evvia. The form er has a lon g h eri t a ge and to u rism trad i tion, wh ereas the latter is known for its u n ref i n ed be a uty, l eft rel a tively undistu rbed by the modern age of tourism. Finally, of ten for go t ten is the Ionian group of severa l islands loc a ted of f Greece’s we s tern coast. Especially well known is Corf u , a first stop on the ferry voyage from Greece to It a ly and vi ce vers a . In this re s pect , it is as import a n t tod ay as it was du ring ancient times wh en the Ionian Islands s erved as bases for the Greek co l onial ex p a n s i on thro u gh the Med i terra n e a n . One of these islands, It h ac a , was home to the legendary Odysseus. According to the Hom eric legend, O dys s eus parti c i p a ted in the war against Troy, a f ter wh i ch he spent ten ye a rs on a seaborne odys s ey en ro ute to his hom e .

8 Greece Looks Ahead


reece is a fascinating co u n try. It of fers a unique bl end of trad i ti on and modern i ty, con s erva tivism and liberalism, Eu rope and As i a . In this final ch a pter, we will make an attempt to see what the future holds for Greece and its people. Politically, the hardships of past times, when the country was governed by dictators or the military, appear to have come to an end. Intern a lly, Greece is prep a red to face the ch a ll en ges of the twen ty - f i rs t century. Externally, however, a number of political issues involving neighboring countries, particularly Turkey, remain unresolved. With Turkey’s desire for membership in the Eu ropean Union, these challenges will need to be met soon. In reality, many of these issues, such as a politically divided Cyprus, exist because of the longstanding mistrust between Greeks and Turks. Traditions change slowly in this part of the world. To achieve the status of a highly developed country, Greece will have to transform



Greece its cultural system. Too many people expect the government to support them in a cradle-to-grave welfare system. Although the welfare state is an important part of European political tradition , it imposes a trem en dous econ omic burden on the co u n try and its people. In order to provide welfare, the government must collect more taxes. Eventually, the tax burden can limit economic growth and cause a perilous rise in unemployment. Future socioeconomic changes must focus on adjusting unequal employment rates. The current gender imbalance is counterproductive: Female unemployment rates are twice that of Greek males. Working at the same jobs, women also earn much lower salaries than their male counterparts. This imbalance results from a slowly changing cultural system in which a male-dominated society is not willing to accept the fac t that times are changing: Women are as capable as men in many areas. They deserve equal compensation for equal work, and they should be en ti t l ed to ch oose their own life professions. In rural areas, women are still expected to engage only in traditional female professions, or to dedicate themselves exclusively to being wives and mothers. Rural areas are not transforming rapidly enough. In the future, wealth and power must be spread throughout urban and rural areas. The country can no longer allow the major urban centers, Athens and Thessaloniki, to develop at their expense. The countryside, although beautiful and inviting, requires serious attention. Greece cannot affor d to allow its rural peoples and environments to languish as living museums of times past. Futu re proj ects design ed to revitalize rural Greece should emphasize its two most important potentials: agriculture and tourism. Both activities can be highly c ompetitive; Greece simply has to further develop its potential and find ways to promote them in today’s world. Unfortunately, many rural people, because of their folk culture, strongly resist change. It may be difficult, for example, to introduce and implement the latest technologies of organic agriculture. Even though it would

Greece Looks Ahead be far more profitable than traditional agriculture, changes in farming practices would require doing things differently in the context of a deeply entrenched lifestyle. Elements of a traditional lifestyle are rapidly vanishing in Athens, where popular culture dominates. Cultural diffusion from the West has affected Greece’s capital city, and it dominates the country’s economy. Its citizens enjoy new technologies and economic practices, and the service sector has been g reatly expanded. Because of this rapid expansion, however, Athens will face difficulties com m on to many other metropolitan cen ters . Polluti on and traffic probl em s , in particular, a re a price that must be paid. In order to prevent pollution, which ranks among Europe’s wors t , At h ens will need to implem en t s tringent envi ronmental regulations. More high - s peed highways will provide better and faster intra- and intercity connections. In order to revi t a l i ze the countrys i de and bring At h ens som e population relief, the government will have to improve living conditions in and accessibility to rural areas. Demographic issues are be coming increasingly alarming throughout aging Europe. Greece, no doubt, will follow the rest of Europe with a declining birthrate, resulting in an aging and ultimately shrinking population. If , indeed , this occ u rs, the on ly option is for the country to open its doors to immigration. This poses a serious political and potential social problem, however, in a country that is 98 percent ethnically homogeneous. Few immigrants share Greek ethnicity; rather, they come from Africa, Asia, or neighboring Albania. Immigrants are willing to take jobs that are less desirable and pay less. Th ey also tend to re s i de in nei gh borh ood s surrounded with others of their race and ethnicity. How an increase in immigration and the creation of such neighborhoods will affect Greece politically, econ om i c a lly, and soc i a lly is anyon e’s guess. The on ly certainty is that under ex i s ting demographic conditions, changes will undoubtedly occur in the foreseeable future.




Children wave Greek flags in anticipation of the arrival of the Olympic torch, shortly before the opening of the Athens Olympics in August 2004. Like many European countries, Greece’s low birthrate and aging population have led to minimal population growth, which ultimately may force Greece to open its doors to immigrants to fill available jobs.

A growing population (even if by migration) means a larger labor force for the growing economy. Assuming social issues can be resolved, the positive impact of immigration will be continued economic growth. Despite its many regulations, integration into the European Union will continue to stimulate economic growth in Greece. With future EU expansion eastward, Greece will be in a splendid position to further benefit economically. If Turkey is accepted into the Union, it will add 70 million consumers to the common European market. This will be ben eficial to many Greek companies and perhaps will also help improve rel a ti ons bet ween the two co u n tri e s . E s t a blishing a good econ omic rel a ti onship is a gi ga n tic step

Greece Looks Ahead toward en suring a successful po l i tical rel a ti on s h i p. The primary economic challenge in the near future is for Greece to balance its budget. Past governments have borrowed much more than they earned. A budget deficit burdens a nation’s economy and can lead toward potential crisis and destabilization. One of the best ways to fulfill budget obligations is through income from to u rism. Greece’s tourism has increased ste ad i ly during recent decades. With properly managed expansion of the tourist sector, the country can easily become one of the worl d ’s leading to u rist de s ti n a ti on s . It of fers unmatch ed natu ra l and cultural landscapes. A marvelous heritage, spectacular islands and seascapes, and rugged terrain can attract tourists. So, too, can sharp ly con tra s ting folk and popular cultu re s , quaint ru ral vi ll a ges, and a worl d - class capital city. These, p lu s won derful cuisine on ly add to the co u n try’s to u ri s t - lu ring potential. On the other hand, Greece is on a long trip between the past and the future. Today, the country is at a crossroads. It can continue its journey into a modern and prosperous future, or turn back to the obscurity of the European periphery. It will be interesting to see which route Greece follows.


Facts at a Glance Physical Geography Country name Capital city Location

Area Climate and ecosystem Terrain Elevation extremes

Long form: Hellenic Republic; Short form: Greece Athens Southeastern Europe; the southernmost country on the Balkan Peninsula. Shares boundaries with four European countries: Albania, 175 miles (282 kilometers); Bulgaria, 306 miles (494 kilometers); Turkey, 128 miles (206 kilometers); Macedonia, 152 miles (246 kilometers). Total borders with other countries: 763 miles (1,228 kilometers). Coastal boundaries: 8,497 miles (13,676 kilometers) Total: 51,146 square miles (131,468 square kilometers) Mediterranean: hot, dry summers; mild, wet winters Mountainous interior with coastal plains; 2,000-plus islands Mount Olympus reaches 9,570 feet (2,917 meters); the lowest elevation is sea level

People Population Population Density Population Growth Rate Net Migration Rate Fertility Rate Life expectancy at birth Median Age Ethnic groups Religions Language Literacy

10,668,354 (July 2005 est.); males, 5,237,413 (July 2005 est.); females, 5,430,941 (July 2005 est.) 80 per square kilometer 0.19% 2.34 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.) 1.33 children born/woman (2005 est.) Total population: 79 years; male, 77 years; female, 82 years (2005 est.) 40.5 years Greeks 98%, others 2% (Turks, Albanians, Macedonians) Greek Orthodox, 98%; Islam, 1.3%; other, 0.7% Greek 99% (age 15 and over can read and write) Total population, 97.5%; males, 98.6%; females, 96.5% (2003 est.)

Economy Land Use

Arable land, 21.1%; permanent crops, 8.78%; other, 70.12%


Irrigated Land Natural Hazards Environmental Issues Currency GDP (purchasing power parity) PPP GDP per capita (PPP) Labor Force Unemployment Labor force by occupation Industries Leading trade partners

Exports Export Commodities Imports Import Commodities Transportation

5,490 sq. miles (14,220 sq. km) (1998 est.) Earthquakes, volcanoes Air pollution; water pollution Euro $242.8 billion (2005 est.) $22,800 (2005 est.) 4.72 million (2005 est.) 10.8% 68% services, 20% industry, 12% agriculture Tourism, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, metal products, mining, petroleum Exports: Germany, 13.1%; Italy, 10.3%; UK, 7.5%; Bulgaria, 6.3%; U.S., 5.3%; Cyprus, 4.6%; Turkey, 4.5%; France, 4.2% (2004) Imports: Germany, 13.3%; Italy, 12.8%; France, 6.4%; Netherlands, 5.5%; Russia, 5.5%; U.S., 4.4%; UK, 4.2%; South Korea, 4.1% (2004) $18.54 billion (2005 est.) Manufactured goods, food and beverages, petroleum products, cement, chemicals $48.2 billion (2005 est.) Basic manufactures, food and animals, crude oil, chemicals, machinery, transport equipment Highways: 72,700 miles (117,000 kilometers); 66,738 miles (107,406 kilometers) paved; Railroads: 1, 597 miles (2,571 kilometers); 474 miles (764 kilometers) electrified; Waterways: 3.72 miles (6 kilometers) of Corinth Canal; Airports: 80

Government Type of government Head of State Independence Administrative divisions Communications

Republican parliamentary democracy Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis 1829, from the Ottoman Empire 51 prefectures and 1 autonomous region TV stations: 36 (1995); Phones (including cellular): 14,141,300 (2003); Internet users: 1,718,400 (2003)


History at a Glance 6,000—4,000 B.C.

Evidence found of a significant presence of population in present-day Greece.

2,000—1,500 B.C.

Minoan civilization on Crete is at its zenith.

1,000—900 B.C. 776 B.C. 700—500 B.C. 667 B.C.

Most recent wave of migration of Greek peoples. First Olympic Games are held. Mediterranean cultural realm is colonized extensively during this period. Colonists from Megara establish Byzantium, a colony on Bosporus that later becomes Constantinople.

Fifth century to fourth century B.C.

Greece wages victorious wars against Persians; Athens rises to power.

Third century B.C.

Alexander the Great makes Greece part of his Macedonian Empire.

Second century B.C. to Greece is a part of Roman (later Eastern Roman) Empire. fifteenth century A.D. 330 A.D. 1054

Constantine I moves capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople. After the Great Schism, Greece is integrated into the Eastern Orthodox world.


Fall of Constantinople in 1453 marks the beginning of the Ottoman Empire’s nearly 400-year occupation of Greece.


Greece becomes independent from the Ottoman Empire.


First modern Olympic Games begin in Athens.


First Balkan War is waged against the Ottoman Empire.


Second Balkan War is waged against Bulgaria.


Greece enters World War I.

1918—1922 1923

Greece enters conflict with the Turks. Treaty of Lausanne serves as basis for territorial exchange, as well as forced migrations of Greeks from Turkey and Turks from Greece.


Greece is involved in World War II.


Royalist and Communist factions in Greece wage a civil war; the Communists lose.



Greece joins North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).


Greek military organizes a coup to overthrow the government.


The country is led by military junta.


The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) wins elections and holds power for most of 1980s and 1990s.


Greece joins the European Economic Community, which is later renamed the European Union.


Greece enters Eurozone; the euro replaces drachma as official currency.


Summer Olympic Games held in Athens for second time.


B i b l i o g raphy and Further Reading Campbell, John Kennedy, and Philip Sherrard. Modern Greece. New York: Praeger, 1968. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook: Greece. 2005. Curtis, G.E., ed. Greece: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1994. Dubin, Marc S. The Greek Islands. New York: DK Publishing, 1997. Frankland, E. Gene. Gl obal Studies: Europe. Guilford, CT: Dushkin/McGrawHi ll , 2002. Harrington, Lyn. Greece and the Greeks. New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1962. Jordan-Bychkov, Terry G., and Bella Bychkova-Jordan. The European Culture Area. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001. National Statistical Service of Greece (NSSG). Greece in Figures. Pireas: NSSG, 2005. Pavlovic´, Zoran. Turkey. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004. Stanislawski, Dan. “Dionysus Westward: Early Religion and the Economic Geography of Wine.” The Geographical Review, 65, no. 4 (1975), 427–44. Toynbee, Arnold J. Greeks and Their Heritage. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981. Tozer, Henry Fanshawe. Geography of Ancient Greece. Chicago: Ares Publishers, 1974. U.S. Department of State. Background Notes. 2005.


Index Bulgaria, 27, 57, 74 ethnic gro u p s , 42 indepen dence, 40, 77–78

Ac ropolis a rchaeological monu m ents, 8 religious and municipal buildings, 9 Aegean Peninsula, 10, 12, 38, 42, 44 Aegean Sea, 15, 17, 82 islands in, 18–19, 29, 31–32, 54–55, 77–78, 87–88 Agricultu re , 23, 32, 52 produ cts, 67–69, 79–80, 90–91 Albania, 21, 57, 80–81 and Greece, 64–65 immigrants, 50, 91 Alex a n der the Gre a t , 34–35, 78 An c i ent Greece artifacts, 29, 48, 51 dom i n a ti on of , 8, 15, 29, 31, 38 i n f lu en ce of, 8, 44, 77–78 i nventions, 8 military, 35, 45 s ch o l a rs, 10 scientific disciplines, 8–10, 29 set t l em ents, 15, 19, 29, 35 Archimede s , 10 Aristotle, 10, 35 At a tu rk, Kemal, 40 At h ens, 31, 77–78, 81 air polluti on, 25, 91 capital city, 8–9, 17, 35–36, 60, 73 culture and econ omy of , 24, 82–83, 85–86, 90 eart h qu a ke , 26 Olympics, 70 politics, 80, 85, 92 pop u l a tion, 52 Sy n t a gma Square, 43 At l a n tis, 19 At tica, 85–86 Axios (Va rdar) River, 27, 78

Caspian Sea, 74 Christianity in Greece , 36, 38–39, 46, 48, 54, 67, 83 Civil wars, 57–58 Cold War, 58, 67 Con s t a n tine, 36–37 Con s t a n tine II, 58 Con s t a n ti n op l e , 33, 37–40 Corfu, 88 Crete , 19, 29–30, 55, 87 Croe sus, 82 Cu l ture celebration of life and family, 12, 45 changes and con trasts, 10–12, 45, 77, 88–89, 93 characteristics, 41, 76–77 diet, 53–55, 76 ethnic gro u p s , 42–48, 76 expansion, 32–35 geography, 41, 77, 84 influ en ces, 22, 29–30, 33, 35–36, 38–39 language, 35, 44 and religion, 33, 45–46, 48–51, 54, 76 struggles, 10, 25 traditional, 11, 15, 45, 76, 85, 87, 89–91, 93 Cycl ades, 87–88 Cyprus, 46–47, 58, 63–64, 89 D a nu be River, 15 Dark Age , 32 Dinaric Alps, 20–21 Dionysu s , 33 Dodecanese island gro u p, 88

Balkan Peninsula, 15–16 Ba s ketb a ll, 10

Earthquakes, 25–26, 30


Index E conomy, 12 developm ent, 24, 35, 46, 56, 59, 66–68, 74, 79–81, 83–85, 90, 93 energy, technology and transportati on , 71, 74–75, 84, 90 gaps in growth, 11, 52–53, 58, 70–71, 81–82, 86–87 reform, 67, 76 s ectors, 68–71 trade and labor, 29, 31–33, 71–74, 91–92 u n em p l oyment, 72–73, 90 Egypt, 28, 31, 35 Ei n s tein, Albert, 13 Epirus, 21, 80–82 Erato s t h en e s , 9–10 Eu ropean Un i on and Greece, 59, 61, 63, 67–68, 71–72, 89, 92 Ev via, 88 Fra n ce , 40 Futu re , 89–93 geography, 12 G ermany, 45–46, 57 G overn m ent and politics, 12, 75, 77 conflicts, 11, 33, 42, 44, 52, 56–58, 63, 66–68, 89, 91 conservation programs, 24, 85 con s ti tution, 62 dem oc rac y, 56, 58–59 distri buti on of power, 59–62 foreign affairs, 63–65, 70, 89 m odern ch a n ge s , 58–62, 87, 93 postwar history, 57–58 power, 15, 36, 38, 73, 90 Great Britain, 40 Greece central and we s tern, 82–84 facts at a gl a n ce , 94–95 h i s tory at a gl a n ce , 96–97 independen ce , 11, 39–40, 42, 47

introducti on, 8–13 nationalism, 42–44, 63 t h ro u gh time, 28–40 wars, 11, 57–58, 82 Greek islands, 86–88 Ha gia Sophia, 37 Hellenic Pa rl i a m en t , 59–62 Herodo tu s , 10, 34 Hi m a l aya Mo u n t a i n s , 8 In dustrial Revoluti on, 39 Ionian Sea, 15, 67, 74, 82 islands in, 18–19, 87–88 It h aca, 88 Ka z a n t a k i s , Ni ko s Zorbo the Greek, 87 Kn o s s o s , 29–30 Koz a n i , 80 Lyc a bettus Hi ll, 9 Lyd i a , 82 Macedon i a , 27 central, 20–21, 77–80 eastern, 77–78 empire, 34, 36 and Greece, 42, 47, 64, 74 west, 78–80 Mara t h on , Battle of, 33 Mediterranean Se a , 10, 17 islands in, 18–19, 88 settlements alon g, 15, 20, 29, 32–33, 36, 40 Me s opotamia, 28 Meteora, 81 Minoan civilization decline, 30–31 developments, 30–31 n av y, 29 Mount Athos Peninsula, 50 Mount Olympus, 11, 20, 80 gods of , 10


Index Mount Parnassus, 83 Mycen aean civilization, 31–32 Mythology gods, 8, 10, 45, 51, 80, 83 North At l a n tic Treaty Organization ( NATO), 57, 65 Onassis, Ari s to t l e , 45 Ot toman Empire , 38–40, 47, 82 Pa n h ellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), 59, 61 Pa p adopoulos, Geor gios, 59 Pa p a n d reou, An d re a s , 59 Pa tra, 84 Pelopon n e sus Peninsula, 19–20, 84–85 Peop l e , 41–55 clothing, 43 ethnic Greeks, 44–46, 63–64, 76, 78, 91 ethnic non - Greeks, 46–48, 52, 86 hospitality, 12 lifestyle, 11–12, 52, 57, 85, 87–88, 91 pop u l a tion, 28, 32, 51–53, 86 Persian Empire , 33–34, 38, 45, 82 Philip II, 34–35 Physical landscapes, 14–16, 48 be a uty of , 11, 70, 81, 83, 87, 90 cl i m a te , 15, 20–22 ecosys tems, 22–24 land, 17–20, 77, 82 pre s ervation and hazards, 24–27 P i n dus Mo u n t a i n s , 20–21, 80–81 Piraeus, 86 P l a to, 10, 19, 35 Puti n , Vladimir, 50 Pythagoras, 10

Regions At tica, 85–86 Central and Western Greece, 82–84 Central and West Macedon i a , 77–80 d ivers e , 12, 76–77 Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, 77–78 islands, 86–88 Renaissance period, 38 Rh odes, 88 Roman Empire , 36–37, 39, 45, 78, 85 Rostlund, Erh a rd , 12 Salamina, Battle of , 33 Santorini (Th era), 19, 87 Sava River, 15 Schultz, Th eodore , 72 Serbi a , 40, 65 Soccer, 10 Sparta, 31, 35, 84–85 Sporade s , 88 Stanislaws k i , Dan, 33 Straight of G i braltar, 8 S tri m on (Struma) River, 2 7 , 7 8 Thessaloniki, 52, 78–80, 90 Thessaly, 21, 48, 80–81 Thrace, 77–78, 88 Tourism, 11, 22 incom e , 23, 70–71, 74, 81, 83–85, 87, 90, 93 mon a s teries, 48, 51 Turkey, 57, 74, 77, 88 ancient, 38–40, 47, 82 con f l i cts with Greece, 45, 63–64, 89 Turks, 46–47, 88 Muslims, 50, 54, 67 Un i ted Nations, 63, 83 Vo l c a n oe s , 17, 19, 25, 30, 87


Index Wi l d f i re s , 26–27 World War I, 40, 47, 77 World War II ef fect on Greece, 45, 57–58, 67–68, 84, 86

Yugoslavia, 42, 57, 71, 79 Zorbo the Greek (Kazantakis), 87


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About the Contributors ZO RAN “ZOK” PAV LO V IC´ is a cultural geographer currently working at Oklahoma State Un iversity in Stillw a ter. Greece is Zok’s seventh book a ut h ored or coa ut h ored for the Ch elsea House geogra phy series MODERN WORLD NATIONS. He also aut h ored Eu rope for the MODERN WORLD CULTURES series. Within the field of geography, his interests are culture theory, evoluti on of geogra phic thought, and geogra phy of vi ti c u l tu re. Wh en not writing, Zok en j oys go u rm et cooking and lon g - d i s t a n ce motorc ycle travel. He was born and ra i s ed in sout h e a s tern Eu rope .

CHARLES F. “FRITZ” GRITZNER is Distinguished Professor of G eogra phy at So uth Dakota State Un ivers i ty in Brookings. He is now in his fifth dec ade of co ll ege te aching, scholarly re s e a rch, and wri ti n g. In ad d i ti on to te ach i n g, he enjoys traveling, writing, working with te ach ers, and sharing his love of geogra phy with stu dents and re aders alike. As Con su l ting Editor and f requ ent aut h or for the Ch elsea Ho u s e M O D E R N WO R L D NAT I O N S a n d MO D E R N WO R L D C U LT U R E S s eri e s , he has a won derful opportu n i ty to com bine each of these “h obbi e s .” Profe s s i onally, Gritzner has served as both pre s i dent and executive d i rector of the Na ti onal Council for Geogra phic Edu c a ti on . He has received nu m erous aw a rds in recogn i ti on of his ac ademic and te ach i n g ach i evem en t s , i n cluding the Na ti onal Council for Geogra phic Edu c a ti on’s Geor ge J. Mi ll er Aw a rd for Di s ti n g u i s h ed Servi ce to geogra phy and geogra phic educati on .