/grees/, n.
1. Ancient Greek, Hellas. Modern Greek, Ellas. a republic in S Europe at the S end of the Balkan Peninsula. 10,583,126; 50,147 sq. mi. (129,880 sq. km). Cap.: Athens.
2. a city in W New York. 16,177.

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Introduction Greece -
Background: Greece achieved its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, it gradually added neighboring islands and territories with Greek-speaking populations. Following the defeat of Communist rebels in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. A military dictatorship, which in 1967 suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country, lasted seven years. Democratic elections in 1974 and a referendum created a parliamentary republic and abolished the monarchy; Greece joined the European Community or EC in 1981 (which became the EU in 1992). Geography Greece
Location: Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey
Geographic coordinates: 39 00 N, 22 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 131,940 sq km water: 1,140 sq km land: 130,800 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Alabama
Land boundaries: total: 1,228 km border countries: Albania 282 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Turkey 206 km, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 246 km
Coastline: 13,676 km
Maritime claims: continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation territorial sea: 6 NM
Climate: temperate; mild, wet winters; hot, dry summers
Terrain: mostly mountains with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917 m
Natural resources: bauxite, lignite, magnesite, petroleum, marble, hydropower potential
Land use: arable land: 22.12% permanent crops: 8.47% other: 69.41% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 14,220 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: severe earthquakes Environment - current issues: air pollution; water pollution Environment - international party to: Air Pollution, Air
agreements: Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Antarctic- Environmental Protocol, Antarctic- Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: strategic location dominating the Aegean Sea and southern approach to Turkish Straits; a peninsular country, possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands People Greece -
Population: 10,645,343 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 14.8% (male 814,605; female 765,613) 15-64 years: 67.1% (male 3,579,945; female 3,564,068) 65 years and over: 18.1% (male 851,087; female 1,070,025) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.2% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 9.82 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 9.79 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 1.96 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/ female total population: 0.97 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 6.25 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.74 years female: 81.48 years (2002 est.) male: 76.17 years
Total fertility rate: 1.34 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.16% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 8,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 100 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Greek(s) adjective: Greek
Ethnic groups: Greek 98%, other 2% note: the Greek Government states there are no ethnic divisions in Greece
Religions: Greek Orthodox 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7%
Languages: Greek 99% (official), English, French
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 97% male: 98.5% female: 96% (1999) Government Greece -
Country name: conventional long form: Hellenic Republic conventional short form: Greece local short form: Ellas or Ellada former: Kingdom of Greece local long form: Elliniki Dhimokratia
Government type: parliamentary republic; monarchy rejected by referendum 8 December 1974
Capital: Athens Administrative divisions: 51 prefectures (nomoi, singular - nomos)and 1 autonomous region*; Agion Oros* (Mt. Athos), Achaia, Aitolia kai Akarmania, Argolis, Arkadia, Arta, Attiki, Chalkidiki, Chanion, Chios, Dodekanisos, Drama, Evros, Evrytania, Evvoia, Florina, Fokidos, Fthiotis, Grevena, Ileia, Imathia, Ioannina, Irakleion, Karditsa, Kastoria, Kavala, Kefallinia, Kerkyra, Kilkis, Korinthia, Kozani, Kyklades, Lakonia, Larisa, Lasithi, Lefkas, Lesvos, Magnisia, Messinia, Pella, Pieria, Preveza, Rethynnis, Rodopi, Samos, Serrai, Thesprotia, Thessaloniki, Trikala, Voiotia, Xanthi, Zakynthos
Independence: 1829 (from the Ottoman Empire)
National holiday: Independence Day, 25 March (1821)
Constitution: 11 June 1975; amended March 1986 and April 2001
Legal system: based on codified Roman law; judiciary divided into civil, criminal, and administrative courts
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: President Konstandinos (Kostis) STEPHANOPOULOS (since 10 March 1995) elections: president elected by Parliament for a five-year term; election last held 8 February 2000 (next to be held by NA February 2005); prime minister appointed by the president head of government: Prime Minister Konstandinos SIMITIS (since 19 January 1996) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister election results: Konstandinos STEPHANOPOULOS reelected president; percent of Parliament vote - 90%
Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament or Vouli ton Ellinon (300 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: elections last held 9 April 2000 (next to be held by NA April 2004) election results: percent of vote by party - PASOK 43.8%, ND 42.7%, KKE 5.5%, Coalition of the Left and Progress 3.2%; seats by party - PASOK 158, ND 125, KKE 11, Coalition of the Left and Progress 6; note - seats by party as of January 2002 - PASOK 156, ND 122, KKE 11, Coalition of the Left and Progress 6, independents 5
Judicial branch: Supreme Judicial Court; Special Supreme Tribunal; all judges appointed for life by the president after consultation with a judicial council Political parties and leaders: Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) [Nikolaos KONSTANDOPOULOS]; Communist Party of Greece or KKE [Aleka PAPARIGA]; New Democracy or ND (conservative) [Konstandinos KARAMANLIS]; Panhellenic Socialist Movement or PASOK [Konstandinos SIMITIS] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization Australia Group, BIS, BSEC, CCC, CE,
participation: CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EIB, EMU, EU, FAO, G- 6, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MINURSO, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNOMIG, UPU, WEU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Alexandros PHILON; note - expected to be replaced by Yeorgios SAVVAIDHIS in 2002 consulate(s): Atlanta, Houston, and New Orleans consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco FAX: [1] (202) 939-5824 telephone: [1] (202) 939-5800 chancery: 2221 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas
US: J. MILLER embassy: 91 Vassilissis Sophias Boulevard, GR-10160 Athens mailing address: PSC 108, APO AE 09842-0108 telephone: [30] (10) 721-2951 FAX: [30] (10) 645-6282 consulate(s) general: Thessaloniki
Flag description: nine equal horizontal stripes of blue alternating with white; there is a blue square in the upper hoist- side corner bearing a white cross; the cross symbolizes Greek Orthodoxy, the established religion of the country Economy Greece
Economy - overview: Greece has a mixed capitalist economy with the public sector accounting for about half of GDP. Tourism is a key industry, providing a large portion of GDP and foreign exchange earnings. Greece is a major beneficiary of EU aid, equal to about 3.3% of GDP. The economy has improved steadily over the last few years, as the government tightened policy in the run-up to Greece's entry into the EU's Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) on 1 January 2001. Major challenges remaining include the reduction of unemployment and further restructuring of the economy, including privatizing several state enterprises, undertaking social security reforms, overhauling the tax system, and minimizing bureaucratic inefficiencies. Economic growth is forecast at 3%- 3.5% in 2002.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $189.7 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3.7% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $17,900 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 8.3% industry: 27.3% services: 64.4% (1998) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 3%
percentage share: highest 10%: 25.3% (1993 est.) Distribution of family income - Gini 32.7 (1993)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.4% (2001)
Labor force: 4.32 million (1999 est.) Labor force - by occupation: industry 21%, agriculture 20%, services 59% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 11% (2001 est.)
Budget: revenues: $45 billion expenditures: $47.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1998 est.)
Industries: tourism; food and tobacco processing, textiles; chemicals, metal products; mining, petroleum Industrial production growth rate: 7% (2000 est.) Electricity - production: 49.581 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 91.53% hydro: 6.6% other: 1.87% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 46.099 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 1.74 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 1.729 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: wheat, corn, barley, sugar beets, olives, tomatoes, wine, tobacco, potatoes; beef, dairy products
Exports: $12.5 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
Exports - commodities: food and beverages, manufactured goods, petroleum products, chemicals, textiles
Exports - partners: EU 44% (Germany 12%, Italy 9%, UK 6%), US 5% (2000)
Imports: $30.3 billion (f.o.b., 2001)
Imports - commodities: machinery, transport equipment, fuels, chemicals
Imports - partners: EU 59% (Germany 13%, Italy 13%, France 7%, Netherlands 6%, UK 5%), US 3% (2000)
Debt - external: $57 billion (2000 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $5.4 billion from EU (1997 est.)
Currency: euro (EUR); drachma (GRD) note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
Currency code: EUR; GRD
Exchange rates: euros per US dollar - 1.1324 (January 2002), 1.1175 (2001); drachmae per US dollar - 380.21 (December 2000), 365.40 (2000), 305.65 (1999), 295.53 (1998), 273.06 (1997) note: in January 2001, the drachma became a participating currency within the Eurosystem, and the euro market rate became applicable to all transactions
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Greece - Telephones - main lines in use: 5.431 million (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 937,700 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: adequate, modern networks reach all areas; good mobile telephone and international service domestic: microwave radio relay trunk system; extensive open wire connections; submarine cable to offshore islands international: tropospheric scatter; 8 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Eutelsat, and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region) Radio broadcast stations: AM 26, FM 88, shortwave 4 (1998)
Radios: 5.02 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 36 (plus 1,341 low-power repeaters); also two stations in the US Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (1995)
Televisions: 2.54 million (1997)
Internet country code: .gr Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 27 (2000)
Internet users: 1.33 million (1999) Transportation Greece -
Railways: total: 2,571 km standard gauge: 1,565 km 1.435- m gauge (36 km electrified) narrow gauge: 961 km 1.000-m gauge; 22 km 0.750-m gauge (a rack-type railway for steep grades) dual gauge: 23 km combined 1.435- m and 1.000-m gauges (three rail system) (2001 est.)
Highways: total: 117,000 km paved: 107,406 km (including 470 km of expressways) unpaved: 9,594 km (1996)
Waterways: 80 km note: system consists of three coastal canals including the Corinth Canal (6 km) which crosses the Isthmus of Corinth connecting the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf and shortens the sea voyage from the Adriatic to Peiraiefs (Piraeus) by 325 km; there are also three unconnected rivers
Pipelines: crude oil 26 km; petroleum products 547 km
Ports and harbors: Alexandroupolis, Elefsis, Irakleion (Crete), Kavala, Kerkyra, Chalkis, Igoumenitsa, Lavrion, Patrai, Peiraiefs (Piraeus), Thessaloniki, Volos
Merchant marine: total: 802 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 27,998,523 GRT/49,458,125 DWT note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Ireland 1, Japan 1, Liberia 1, Norway 1, Panama 2, Russia 1, Saudi Arabia 1, United Kingdom 1 (2002 est.) ships by type: bulk 294, cargo 54, chemical tanker 25, combination bulk 7, combination ore/oil 5, container 45, liquefied gas 7, multi- functional large-load carrier 1, passenger 13, petroleum tanker 265, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 23, short-sea passenger 54, specialized tanker 4, vehicle carrier 2
Airports: 79 (note - new Athens airport at Spafa opened in March 2001) (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 65 over 3,047 m: 6 2,438 to 3,047 m: 15 914 to 1,523 m: 16 under 914 m: 9 (2001) 1,524 to 2,437 m: 19 Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 14 914 to 1,523 m: 4 under 914 m: 10 (2001)
Heliports: 4 (2001) Military Greece -
Military branches: Hellenic Army, Hellenic Navy, Hellenic Air Force, Police, National Guard Military manpower - military age: 21 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 2,668,872 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 2,034,192 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching males: 77,976 (2002 est.)
military age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $6.12 billion (FY99/00 est.)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 4.91% (FY99/00 est.)
GDP: Transnational Issues Greece - Disputes - international: Greece and Turkey have resumed discussions to resolve their complex maritime, air, territorial, and boundary disputes in the Aegean Sea; Cyprus question with Turkey; dispute with The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over its name
Illicit drugs: a gateway to Europe for traffickers smuggling cannabis and heroin from the Middle East and Southwest Asia to the West and precursor chemicals to the East; some South American cocaine transits or is consumed in Greece

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officially Hellenic Republic

Country, Balkan Peninsula, southern Europe.

Area: 50,949 sq mi (131,957 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 10,994,000. Capital: Athens. The people are mainly ethnic Greek. Language: Greek (official). Religion: Greek Orthodoxy (official). Currency: euro. The land, with its 2,000-odd islands and 2,500-mi (4,000-km) coastline, is intimately linked with the sea. Less than one-fourth of this mountainous country consists of lowland, much of this as coastal plains along the Aegean or mountain valleys and small plains near river mouths. The country's interior is dominated by the Pindus Mountains, which extend from Albania on Greece's northwestern border into the Peloponnese. Mount Olympus is the country's highest peak. Among its islands are the Aegean and Ionian groups and Crete. Greece has a Mediterranean climate. It has an advanced developing economy, mainly private-enterprise, based on agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism. Greece is a multiparty republic with one legislative house; the chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. The earliest urban society in Greece was the palace-centred Minoan civilization, which reached its height on Crete с 2000 BC. It was succeeded by the mainland Mycenaean civilization, which arose с 1600 BC following a wave of Indo-European invasions. About 1200 BC a second wave of invasions destroyed the Bronze Age cultures, and a Dark Age followed, known mostly through the epics of Homer. At the end of this time, Classical Greece began to emerge (с 750 BC) as a collection of independent city-states, including Sparta in the Peloponnese and Athens in Attica. The civilization reached its zenith after repelling the Persians at the beginning of the 5th century BC (see Persian Wars) and began to decline after the civil strife of the Peloponnesian War at the century's end. In 338 BC the Greek city-states were taken over by Philip II of Macedon, and Greek culture was spread by Philip's son Alexander the Great throughout his empire. The Romans, themselves heavily influenced by Greek culture, conquered the Greek states in the 2nd century BC. After the fall of Rome, Greece remained part of the Byzantine Empire until the mid-15th century, when it became part of the expanding Ottoman Empire; it gained its independence in 1832. It was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II. Civil war followed and lasted until 1949, when communist forces were defeated. In 1952 Greece joined NATO. A military junta ruled the country from 1967 to 1974, at which time democracy was restored and a referendum declared an end to the Greek monarchy. In 1981 Greece joined the European Community (see European Union), the first eastern European country to do so. Upheavals in the Balkans in the 1990s strained Greece's relations with some neighbouring states, including the former Yugoslav entity that became the Republic of Macedonia. Greece revised its constitution in 2001. The 2004 Olympic Games were scheduled to return to Athens.

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▪ 2009

131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 11,239,000
Chief of state:
President Karolos Papoulias
Head of government:
Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis

      Throughout 2008 the government of Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos (Kostas) Karamanlis was shaken by a series of scandals that undermined the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's public standing and led to dissatisfaction within the ND, including among prominent politicians. The suicide attempt in late December 2007 of former Culture Ministry secretary-general Christos Zachopoulos stayed in the news in the early months of 2008. Zachopoulos had tried to commit suicide after allegedly being blackmailed by his former assistant Evi Tsekou over their extramarital affair. The prime minister's office and a newspaper had received copies of incriminating video footage. There were also accusations by prosecutors that Zachopoulos had let a number of illegal deals go through that allowed protected archaeological sites to be developed. Tsekou and several others were arrested but were later released on bail.

      In the context of the bribery scandal surrounding German electronics giant Siemens, evidence suggested that over a 17-year period the German company paid more than €100 million (€1 = about $1.40) in bribes to secure Greek state contracts. During a trial in Munich, a former Siemens executive testified that Greek politicians and senior executives received an 8% commission on such deals. In addition, documents suggested that Siemens had paid the two main parties some €17 million between 1998 and 2005.

      On September 12, Merchant Marine Minister Georgios Voulgarakis resigned and was succeeded by Anastasios Papaligouras. Voulgarakis had come under pressure for co-owning with his wife—and during his tenure as a government minister—at least two real-estate companies that were transferred offshore and for having appointed the manager of one of them head of the Seamen's Pension Fund. His wife was also the notary in a controversial land exchange between the state and the Vatopedi monastery. In this and other land deals between the two sides, the monastery's land was apparently overvalued while the state land was undervalued. In September the monastery's assets were frozen, and one of the deals was revoked. Two deputy prosecutors investigating the land deal resigned on October 14, claiming that their work was hampered by superiors, but their resignations were not accepted. On October 22 the parliament unanimously voted to set up an inquiry commission to investigate the deal. Theodoros Roussopoulos, a minister of state and the government spokesman, resigned the following day, saying that he wanted to be free to fight allegations of corruption. On December 15 the parliamentary parties presented separate reports on the inquiry.

      The killing of a 15-year-old boy, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, by a police officer in central Athens on the evening of December 6 triggered the worst riots in decades in Athens and other cities, which lasted for several weeks and caused considerable damage to property. The police officer who fired the shots was charged with murder, and a fellow officer was charged as an accomplice.

      In March the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) held its eighth party congress. Following the congress, many leading politicians were dropped from PASOK's Political Council, including Evangelos Venizelos and Kostas Skandalidis, who had challenged the party chairman, Georgios Papandreou, in the 2007 leadership vote. Ioannis Ragoussis was elected the new party secretary. At the party congress of the Coalition of the Radical Left, 33-year-old Alexis Tsipras was elected its new chairman on February 10; he succeeded Alekos Alavanos, who did not seek reelection.

      In January, Karamanlis became the first Greek prime minister since 1959 to pay an official visit to Turkey, where both sides pledged to “open a new page” in their relations. Foreign policy was dominated, however, by the ongoing dispute with Macedonia over that country's name. Before the NATO summit in Bucharest, Rom., in April, intense negotiations failed to produce results, and Greece was prompted to veto Macedonia's accession to NATO. Talks later in the year were characterized by both sides' immobility, with Macedonia also trying to raise issues of language, ethnicity, and the restitution of property of Greek Civil War refugees.

      The Greek economy continued to improve, although at a slower pace than in previous years. GDP growth was expected to drop below 3%, with inflation climbing toward 5%. The budget deficit was expected to remain just below 3%. In March the government pushed through Parliament a pension-reform package that was strongly opposed by the opposition and by trade unions, which staged large-scale strikes. A no-confidence vote tabled in connection with the reforms was rejected. In August the government approved new measures aimed at curbing tax evasion. Under this legislation self-employed people would pay a 10% tax on the first €10,500 of their income, which was previously exempt from taxation.

      On September 17 the European Commission agreed to a government plan under which ailing Olympic Airlines would repay old debts, be broken up into three entities, and be privatized. Under this plan a new company called Pantheon would take over the flight services but would be able to keep the Olympic name and logo.

      Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos died on January 28 at the age of 69. On February 7 the Holy Synod elected Metropolitan Ieronymos of Thebes as his successor. Ieronymos pledged to avoid interfering in politics and to improve relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Stefan Krause

▪ 2008

131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 11,190,000
Chief of state:
President Karolos Papoulias
Head of government:
Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis

      Six months ahead of schedule, Greeks elected a new parliament on Sept. 16, 2007. Prime Minister Konstantinos (Kostas) Karamanlis and his New Democracy (ND) party were returned to power with 41.8% of the vote, albeit with a reduced majority of 152 of the 300 seats in the parliament. The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) received 38.1% and 102 seats; the Communist Party of Greece, 8.2% and 22 seats; the Coalition of the Radical Left, 5% and 14 seats; and the populist-right Popular Orthodox Rally, 3.8% and 10 seats.

      Following the elections, Karamanlis reshuffled his government extensively, reducing the number of ministries from 18 to 16. Of the 40 ministers and deputy ministers in the new government, 17 were newcomers. Ministers in key portfolios retained their positions, however, including Foreign Minister Theodora (Dora) Bakoyannis, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Defense Minister Evangelos (Vangelis) Meimarakis, and Finance and Economy Minister Georgios Alogoskoufis.

      PASOK's defeat in the elections led to an immediate challenge of party leader Georgios Papandreou by former culture minister Evangelos Venizelos. PASOK's Political Council set a leadership vote for November 11. In the balloting Papandreou was confirmed with 55.9% of the votes, against 38.2% for Venizelos and 5.7% for former party secretary Konstantinos (Kostas) Skandalidis.

 In the summer Greece was hit hard by the most devastating series of forest fires in decades, especially in the Peloponnese and Euboea (Evia). The fires claimed 63 lives during the worst blazes on August 24–26 alone. Wildfires also threatened the site of ancient Olympia, destroying the surroundings. Around Athens, forests on Mounts Parnitha, Penteli, and Hymettos were burned. Several people were arrested on suspicion of arson. Partly as a consequence of the inadequate response to the fires, Karamanlis merged the Public Order Ministry with the Interior Ministry. Despite calls from many quarters to break up the Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works, the establishment of a separate Environment Ministry did not occur.

      In mid-March the government was rocked by a major scandal when it became known that pension fund managers appointed by the ruling party had bought state-issued structural bonds at inflated prices and that in the process banks and brokers had earned hundreds of millions of euros. On April 28 Karamanlis dismissed Employment and Social Protection Minister Savvas Tsitouridis in connection with the scandal. In December the new government's employment and social protection minister, Vasilis Magginas, resigned following press reports alleging that he had built a house illegally. He was replaced by former tourism minister Fani Palli-Petrali.

      The Greek economy continued to perform well. GDP was expected to grow by about 3.7% in 2007, while the budget deficit was anticipated to remain below 3%. Unemployment dropped to 7.7% in May 2007 (from 8.8% in the second quarter of 2006), and inflation was expected to fall to 2.6%. On August 8 the government approved the creation of a cohesion fund, with the aim of pulling some 500,000 people above the poverty line. The number of foreign tourists was thought likely to grow by about 10%.

      The education sector was affected by monthlong strikes and protest actions by teachers and students who objected to the government's reform plans for the sector. The demonstrators were particularly upset over planned constitutional changes that would allow for the establishment of private universities.

      No major developments or changes occurred in Greek foreign policy or in the country's relations with its neighbours. The dispute with Macedonia over its name remained unresolved. Theodora Grosomanidou, Greece's ambassador to Macedonia, was recalled after she said in an interview with the Financial Times newspaper that “Greece has to face the new reality, as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been recognised under its constitutional name by more than half the members of the United Nations.” On November 1, UN mediator Matthew Nimetz submitted new proposals to both sides, and in December Greece and Macedonia agreed to a new round of talks.

      On January 12 a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the U.S. embassy in Athens, causing minor material damage. The extremist Revolutionary Struggle group claimed responsibility for the attack. No suspects could be identified or arrested. On May 3 an appeals court upheld the sentences passed in 2003 against 13 members of the November 17 terrorist group but overturned the verdicts against two defendants and reduced the sentences of others. Two of the defendants were released on parole on July 10, having served three-fifths of their sentences. In other legal news, on February 15 the European Court of Justice ruled that the town of Kalavrita, where German soldiers murdered at least 670 men and boys in 1943, was not entitled to compensation from Germany.

      On March 29 one man was killed in a mass brawl outside Athens between supporters of rival sports clubs. In response, and in an attempt to stamp out hooliganism, the government on April 4 outlawed some 300 association football (soccer) fan clubs.

      On April 6 the cruise ship Sea Diamond sank off the harbour of Thera (Santorini) after having run aground the previous day. Of the 1,547 passengers and crew on board, 2 French tourists were reported missing.

Stefan Krause

▪ 2007

131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 11,130,000
Chief of state:
President Karolos Papoulias
Head of government:
Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis

 On Feb. 14, 2006, Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos (Kostas) Karamanlis comprehensively reshuffled his government. Key changes included the appointment of Athens Mayor Theodora (Dora) Bakoyiannis as foreign minister and of New Democracy (ND) Secretary Evangelos (Vangelis) Meimarakis as defense minister. Vyron Polydoras became public-order minister in place of Giorgios Voulgarakis, who moved to the Culture Ministry. Fani Palli-Petralia took over the Tourism Ministry from Dimitrios Avramopoulos, who replaced Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis and thereby allowed the latter to concentrate on his bid for mayor of Athens. Former agriculture minister Savvas Tsitouridis returned to the cabinet as employment and social-protection minister.

      Major scandals rocked the country during the year. In early February news broke that some 100 mobile phones—including those of Karamanlis and members of his government, as well as of top military and police officers—had been tapped for about a year in 2004–05. It remained unclear who was behind the operation, although foreign intelligence services were widely suspected. Vodafone, the mobile-phone service provider in question, denied that the alleged suicide in 2005 of a network manager two days after the tapping was uncovered was connected to the scandal. On December 14 Greece's telecommunications watchdog group fined Vodafone €76 million (€1 = about $1.27) for tapping and for obstructing the investigation. In the first of several trial-fixing cases, a former judge was sentenced in August to 25 years' imprisonment for corruption. The director of the Hellenic Competition Commission, Panayotis Adamopoulos, was arrested in September on charges of attempting to extract a €2.5 million bribe from MEVGAL, a major dairy firm. He denied any wrongdoing and claimed that he had tried to get information from MEVGAL to uncover price fixing in the milk market, but he was put in pretrial detention.

      On October 15, municipal and prefecture elections took place under new rules that provided for mayors and prefects to be elected in the first round if they received at least 42% of the vote, down from 50% in previous elections. Under these new rules, most races were decided in the first round. Second-round voting was held in 247 towns and 7 prefectures on October 22. Overall, ND won 30 prefectures, while the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) came out on top in 22. ND also maintained its overall dominance at the local level, including Athens and Thessaloniki. PASOK won some other major cities, notably Piraeus, where it regained control after eight years, and it also managed to keep control of the important supraprefecture of Athens-Piraeus. Several contests were won by independent candidates and smaller leftist parties.

      In foreign policy, relations with Turkey were fractious, especially after Greek and Turkish fighter jets collided over the island of Karpathos on May 23, killing the Greek pilot. On September 4 Karamanlis, Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin, and Bulgarian Pres. Georgi Purvanov announced in Athens that they had agreed to sign a deal by the end of 2006 on the construction of an oil pipeline from the Bulgarian port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis, Greece. In February Moshe Katsav became the first Israeli president to visit Greece.

      The government maintained its reform program, especially concerning the economy and education, despite widespread protests and strikes against what many perceived as neoliberal policies. The economic picture continued to improve; GDP was expected to grow by about 3.5% in 2006, while the budget deficit was anticipated to drop below 3%. Unemployment fell to 8.8% in the second quarter, from 9.6% one year earlier, while inflation stood at 3.3%. Tourist arrivals were estimated to have increased by about 10–11% compared with 2005.

      As in previous years, the government struggled to find a lasting solution for the ailing national carrier, Olympic Airlines. On April 26 the European Commission announced that it would sue the Greek government for failure to recover illegal state aid from Olympic. The government prepared a business plan that would replace Olympic with a completely new, stripped-down airline in which the country would maintain a stake, but Karamanlis on September 10 said that the plan was being held up by negotiations with the European Commission.

      Greece was hit hard by several big forest fires over the summer, including one on the Chalcidice Peninsula that killed at least one person. Seven people were killed in two train accidents in northern Greece in March and April.

      Reigning European champion Greece finished second in the Fédération Internationale de Basketball men's world championship in Japan in September. The Greek team eliminated the United States with a thrilling come-from-behind 101–95 victory in the semifinals but lost to Spain 70–47 in the final.

      PASOK leader Giorgios Papandreou was unanimously elected chairman of the Socialist International on January 30 at that organization's council meeting in Athens. On March 15 former prime minister (1980–81) and ND leader Georgios Rallis died at age 88.

Stefan Krause

▪ 2006

131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 11,088,000
Chief of state:
Presidents Konstantinos Stephanopoulos and, from March 12, Karolos Papoulias
Head of government:
Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis

 On Feb. 8, 2005, the parliament elected Karolos Papoulias the new president of Greece. The 75-year old Papoulias, a veteran politician of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and former foreign minister, received 279 votes in the 300-member parliament and became the first Socialist to accede to the Greek presidency. Papoulias's candidacy had been put forward by Prime Minister Konstantinos (Kostas) Karamanlis of the centre-right New Democracy (ND) party and was supported by ND and PASOK. Papoulias took office on March 12.

      On March 3–6 PASOK held its seventh congress, adopting a new manifesto and new party statutes. Following the congress the PASOK National Council on March 16 elected as its secretary Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou, the first woman to hold this post. Throughout the year dissatisfaction was voiced at what was widely perceived as meek and ineffective opposition by party leader Georgios Papandreou, but there were no serious challenges to his leadership. In February the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) held its 17th congress, reelecting Secretary-General Alexandra (Aleka) Papariga.

      Major scandals rocked the Greek Orthodox Church and the judiciary in 2005. Senior members of the church hierarchy were accused of corruption, embezzlement, the smuggling of antiquities, sexual harassment, and other misdeeds. Several bishops, including the patriarch of Jerusalem and the metropolitan bishop of Attica, were deposed or resigned. While Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos publicly apologized for the scandals, he said he did not intend to step down. Both church and government rejected calls for the complete separation of church and state. Within the judiciary several judges and prosecutors were dismissed for unprofessional and unethical conduct, partly in connection with the scandals involving the church.

      On April 19 the parliament ratified the EU constitution by a vote of 268–17. A proposal by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz regarding the name of Macedonia was assessed as a basis for further talks by Greece; the Macedonian government, however, rejected the proposed compromise of using the name Republika Makedonija–Skopje without translation in international relations. Greece's relations with Turkey remained stable despite repeated violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter planes, and Athens continued to support the opening of EC membership talks with Turkey and the prospect of eventual Turkish accession.

      The government vowed to press ahead with its economic-reform course despite numerous protests against its perceived neoliberal policies. On June 13 the government won a vote of confidence, which Karamanlis had requested in connection with his fiscal and economic policies. Throughout the summer numerous strikes were held in protest against the government's plans for labour and social security reforms. The Finance Ministry announced that GDP was expected to grow by 3.5–3.6% in 2005, while the budget deficit would drop below 4%. Unemployment dropped to 10.4% in the first quarter, from 11.3% one year earlier, while inflation stood at 3.7% in August. Tourist arrivals were estimated to have increased by more than 10% over 2004.

      The parliament on January 20 passed the so-called Main Shareholder Law, which would prevent companies “interconnected” with Greek media businesses from participating in procedures for the awarding of public contracts, starting June 14, 2005. The European Commission in April requested changes to the law, arguing that it violated the EC treaty and Commission directives. Although the government defended the law, saying it was in line with the Greek constitution and was in the “national interest,” it was suspended.

      Throughout 2005 the government unsuccessfully tried to find a lasting solution for the country's ailing national carrier, Olympic Airlines. Attempts to sell the company failed to produce the desired results. Olympic's future was further cast in serious doubt after the European Commission in September demanded the return of €568 million (about $700 million) in what it considered illegal state subsidies and gave the government two months to take necessary measures regarding Olympic. In December Greece announced that it was preparing a privatization plan, expected to be presented to the Commission in early 2006.

      On August 14 a jetliner of the budget Cypriot carrier Helios Airways en route from Larnaca, Cyprus, to Athens and Prague crashed north of Athens, killing all 121 people on board. Initial investigations suggested that cabin depressurization was the likely cause of the crash, the worst ever to occur on Greek territory.

      One year after winning the European football championship, Greece again scored a major sports success as the men's national basketball team on September 25 won the Eurobasket 2005 championship. On May 21 Greek singer Helena Paparizou became the first Greek artist to win the Eurovision Song Contest.

      Former archbishop of North and South America Iakovos , who headed the Greek Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere for 37 years until his resignation in 1996, died on April 10, aged 93. (See Obituaries.) On May 22 veteran Communist Party politician and former KKE secretary-general Harilaos Florakis died, aged 90.

Stefan Krause

▪ 2005

131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 11,015,000
Chief of state:
President Konstantinos Stephanopoulos
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Konstantinos Simitis and, from March 10, Konstantinos Karamanlis

      In 2004 Greece not only saw significant political developments at home but was also in the international limelight as the host of the 2004 Olympic Games. On March 7 parliamentary elections brought an end to 11 years of rule by the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and the return to power of the centre-right New Democracy (ND). With 45.4% of the vote, ND won 165 of the 300 mandates in the parliament, compared with 40.6% and 117 seats for PASOK. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) won 5.9% and 12 seats, and the Alliance of the Left of Movements and Ecology (SYN) won 3.3% and 6 seats. Other parties, including the rightist-populist Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), failed to pass the 3% threshold.

      Pres. Konstantinos (Kostis) Stephanopoulos asked ND leader Konstantinos (Kostas) Karamanlis (see Biographies (Karamanlis, Kostas )) to form a new government. The new government was sworn in on March 10. In presenting his government's program, Karamanlis stated that the priorities were education and culture, economic policy, agricultural policy, and a more transparent and effective state administration. Although the opposition, the media, and part of the public accused his government of inaction and lethargy, Karamanlis ruled out a reshuffle. He did, however, have to replace Agriculture Minister Savvas Tsitouridis, who resigned in September after having been charged with nepotism. ND's dominant position was underlined by its success in the elections to the European Parliament on June 13, when it won 43% of the vote, compared with PASOK's 34%. KKE won 9.5%, while SYN and LAOS each received just over 4%.

      The year also brought changes within several political parties. Even before the parliamentary elections, then prime minister Konstantinos Simitis on January 7 resigned as PASOK president and announced that he would not stand for reelection as prime minister. He was succeeded by Foreign Minister Georgios Papandreou, who was the only candidate in direct elections by the party's members and “friends” on February 8. It soon became apparent that some leading PASOK members were at odds with Papandreou's political vision and strategy, and the party at times gave an outward image of internal disunity.

      Following the European Parliament elections, SYN leader Nikos Konstantopoulos announced that having served three terms, he would not seek reelection at the party's congress in December. He was replaced as party leader by Alexandros Alavanos. Karamanlis, for his part, dominated the ND party congress in July, and his cronies were elected to leading party positions.

      In February 2004 the trial of five suspected members of Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA), an extreme-left terrorist organization, opened, with one defendant admitting having been a member of ELA and the rest denying all charges. Four were found guilty of relatively minor charges but were still sentenced to 25 years each, and one was acquitted.

      The new government continued to work for good relations with Greece's neighbours, including Turkey. Athens supported the official line of Cypriot Pres. Tassos Papadopoulos against the United Nations plan for reunification of Cyprus before its accession to the European Union; in effect, Greek Cyprus alone joined the EU in May. The U.S. decision to recognize Macedonia by its constitutional name led to protests by Greek politicians and the public alike.

      The Greek economy grew by an estimated 3.9%, with an inflation rate of 2.9% and 11.2% unemployment. A 5.3% budget deficit and a public debt level at 112% of GDP, however, were significantly higher than the previous government's targets. In fact, in September it was announced that the Simitis government had for years reported budget-deficit figures that were considerably below the real ones and that Greece had violated the EU Stability and Growth Pact between 2000 and 2003. The European Commission announced that it was considering legal steps against Greece.

      Throughout 2004, and especially before the opening on August 13 of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games (see Sports and Games: Special Report (Games of the XXVIII Olympiad )), major infrastructure projects were completed. These included the world's longest (in total length) cable-stayed suspension bridge, which linked the Peloponnesus and western mainland Greece; suburban train, subway, and tram lines in Athens; road projects; and, of course, sport venues. The Games lasted until August 29 and were followed by the Paralympics in September. The events were generally hailed as a success, although attendance was at times low. The Greek public was shocked by the withdrawal of two of the country's top athletes, who failed to take a drug test shortly before the opening. Tight security (provided in part by NATO troops) proved quite effective but added an estimated €1 billion (about $1.2 billion) to the final tab for the Games. Taking everybody by surprise, the Greek national association- football (soccer) team on July 4 won the European championship. Xenophon Zolotas, a former prime minister and governor of the Bank of Greece, died on June 11 at age 100.

Stefan Krause

▪ 2004

131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 11,001,000
Chief of state:
President Konstantinos Stephanopoulos
Head of government:
Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis

      During the first half of 2003, when Greece held the rotating European Union presidency, a number of notable events took place. The accession treaty for the 10 countries that would join the EU in 2004 was signed in Athens on April 16, and the draft EU constitution was presented to the leaders of the member states at the EU summit in Thessaloniki on June 19–20. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq put the Greek government in the position of trying to reconcile diverging views among EU member states while at the same time attempting to take a balanced approach to the conflict, despite overwhelmingly negative public opinion at home against the war; there were mass protests throughout the spring.

      On March 3 in Athens, amid great public interest and tight security measures, the trial began for the 19 persons accused of membership in the terrorist organization November 17. The trial ended in December with the conviction of 15 of the defendants. While many of the defendants had admitted membership in November 17 and confessed to the individual crimes with which they were charged, the group's alleged mastermind, Alexandros Giotopoulos, had denied any involvement. Giotopoulos was among five defendants who received multiple life sentences. In early February police also arrested five suspected members of the Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA), a terrorist group that claimed responsibility for two killings and numerous bomb attacks in 1975–95.

      Throughout the year political parties tried to position themselves for the parliamentary elections due in April 2004 at the latest. Clearly leading in opinion polls, the conservative New Democracy party demanded early elections, but Prime Minister Konstantinos (“Kostas”) Simitis insisted that the polls would not take place until the end of the parliament's four-year term.

      On July 2 Simitis announced that government ministers could no longer be members of the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement's (PASOK) Executive Bureau and that those who were both would have to choose between posts. At the same time, he asked PASOK's general secretary, Konstantinos (“Kostas”) Laliotis, to give up his party post and return to government. Laliotis turned down the request and resigned. On July 3 PASOK's Central Committee approved a new Executive Bureau and Simitis's choice as party general secretary, Michalis Chrysochoidis. After Chrysochoidis gave up his position as minister of public order, Simitis carried out a minor government reshuffle on July 4, but most government ministers kept their jobs.

      On September 2 Simitis unveiled a €1.7 billion (about $1.85 billion) “social package” of measures aimed at supporting farmers, families, and small- and medium-sized enterprises, a move that would increase PASOK's chances in the upcoming elections. This announcement was followed by another on September 10 that introduced a “social charter” for the period 2004–08 that was aimed at reducing unemployment and bringing average income closer to the EU average.

      Outside the EU presidency, Greek foreign policy was dominated by attempts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem before the divided island joined the EU in 2004. Despite the failure to reach a breakthrough and despite frequent violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter places, relations with Ankara remained stable. As in previous years, no compromise was found on Macedonia's name, but the Greek government took a positive step in August when it allowed several hundred refugees of the Greek Civil War living in Macedonia to enter Greece to visit their hometowns.

      As a result of previous delays, preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games continued under a very tight schedule. In August a series of test events took place, and most of them were successfully executed. The rowing event, however, was marred by strong winds, and several boats sank. (See Sports and Games: Rowing .) A Washington Post article criticizing security arrangements for the Olympics was dismissed by the organizing committee on September 28.

      The Greek economy was expected to grow by 3.5% in 2003, while unemployment decreased from 9.6% to 8.9% in the second quarter, compared with 2002. Year-on-year inflation was 3.3% in August; prices of some goods, however, in particular foodstuff, increased substantially, in some cases doubling. The Athens Stock Exchange closed at 2,203.56 points on December 23, up from 1,748.42 points at the end of the previous year.

      On August 29 the government presented a draft law for the creation of a new national carrier, Olympic Airlines. Under the draft debt-ridden Olympic Airways would be broken up into separate companies to be put up for privatization, with Olympic Airlines retaining only the flight operations and a significantly reduced staff. On June 26 a new private carrier, Hellas Jet, began operations.

Stefan Krause

▪ 2003

131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 10,994,000
Chief of state:
President Konstantinos Stephanopoulos
Head of government:
Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis

      In 2002 Greek security forces managed to crack down on the elusive left-wing terrorist group November 17. Heretofore, not a single suspected member of the group believed to have been responsible for 23 killings since 1975 had been arrested. The breakthrough came when on June 29 an explosive device went off in the hands of Savvas Xiros, who also carried a weapon stolen from a policeman killed in a November 17 attack. On the basis of his confessions—and subsequently those of other suspects—police arrested more than a dozen alleged members of the group, among them Alexandros Giotopoulos, believed to be one of the cofounders and the head of November 17. On September 5 Dimitris Koufodinas, the last suspected leading figure still at large, turned himself in, ending the largest manhunt in recent Greek history. Though Giotopoulos denied all charges against him, Koufodinas assumed “political responsibility” for his actions.

      Lawmakers had a busy year. On June 20 Parliament passed the controversial social security bill, which restructured the social security and pension systems. The bill had been put on hold in 2001 owing to large-scale protests and strikes. A law against gambling that went into effect in August had to be “clarified” through government guidelines in September since it also effectively prohibited computer games of all kinds. A new law banning smoking in public buildings and restricting it in other places took effect on October 1.

      The Special Supreme Court ruled on September 18 that victims of Nazis could not seek compensation from Germany through the Greek legal system. This decision overturned a 2000 Supreme Court ruling in which victims of the 1944 Distomo massacre were awarded $27 million in compensation.

      In April a group of 12 British and two Dutch “plane spotters” who had been arrested in November 2001 while taking pictures of military aircraft at an air show were tried for espionage. Eight of them were given three-year prison sentences; the others received one-year suspended sentences. All were released and allowed to return home, however, pending their appeals; 13 of the 14 defendants were acquitted in December.

      Outgoing Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos announced on June 11 that his Movement of Free Citizens, launched in March 2001, would “suspend operations” owing to financial problems and the “suffocating frame of polarization” in Greek politics. On October 13 and 20, local elections were held at the municipal and prefecture levels. As expected, most races for mayors and prefects were decided between the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and the centre-right New Democracy (ND), although smaller leftist parties and independent candidates also managed to win several contests. ND candidates carried the majority of prefectures and the plurality of major municipalities, including the three biggest cities—Athens (where Dora Bakoyanni was elected the city's first female mayor), Thessaloniki, and Piraeus. PASOK, however, won several important municipalities and prefectures and the crucial supraprefecture of Athens-Piraeus.

      Large infrastructure works continued in and around Athens in preparation for the 2004 Olympic Summer Games. The International Olympic Committee said that it was largely satisfied with preparations but cautioned that no further delays were permissible.

      The Greek economy continued to grow in 2002, with the government expecting 3.8% growth in gross domestic product and 9.5% in investments. Unemployment dropped to 9.6% in the second quarter of 2002, from 10.2% a year earlier. The Athens Stock Exchange continued its downward slide, however; the index fell from 2,592 points at the end of 2001 to 1,838 on Sept. 30, 2002, the lowest figure in more than four years. The introduction of the euro as the new currency proceeded smoothly. Officials figures put inflation at 3.3%, but the public complained that there were price hikes related to the new currency. In September consumer groups organized a successful one-day nationwide boycott of stores and markets and a four-day consumer boycott of fruit and vegetables.

      Greek foreign policy remained unchanged. Greece continued to engage in peacekeeping missions but maintained that any action against Iraq should come within the framework of the United Nations, and Prime Minister Konstantinos (“Kostas”) Simitis warned against “unilateral action.” No resolution to the dispute with Macedonia over the latter's name was found, but the 1996 interim agreement regulating relations between the two countries was extended on September 12. In relations with Turkey, both sides agreed to install direct phone lines linking their defense ministries. On the issue of European Union expansion, Greece maintained its position that unless Cyprus was included in the first wave of expansion, the Greek Parliament would not ratify the measure.

Stefan Krause

▪ 2002

131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 10,975,000
Chief of state:
President Konstantinos Stephanopoulos
Head of government:
Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis

      On April 6, 2001, the Greek Parliament adopted a thorough constitutional revision, which changed 78 articles of the country's basic law. Many amendments were passed jointly by the two biggest political parties, the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) and the centre-right New Democracy (ND). Changes to the constitution included better protection of citizens' private data, the constitutional guarantee of alternative service for conscientious objectors, and the abolition of the death penalty in times of peace. Another key amendment stipulated that changes to the electoral legislation would affect the next elections only if passed by a two-thirds majority. Previously, the ruling party had often changed the election law in order to bolster its majority or limit its defeat in upcoming elections. Parliament, however, failed to separate state and church completely and to change the provision that automatically triggered early parliamentary elections in the event that Parliament failed to elect a new head of state in three rounds of voting.

      Another of the government's key projects, a reform of the pension system, triggered the strongest antigovernment protests in years. In particular, plans to raise the retirement age and reduce pensions were rejected by trade unions, opposition parties, and leading Pasok members. In the midst of a general strike on April 26 and massive antigovernment demonstrations on May 1, Prime Minister Konstantinos (“Kostas”) Simitis announced that a dialogue “on everything and without preconditions” with relevant social groups would be initiated, but the reform was put on hold.

      On October 13–15 Pasok held its sixth congress. Simitis was reelected Pasok president, and Environment and Public Works Minister Konstantinos Laliotis was named party secretary.

      Simitis reshuffled his government extensively on October 23; he promoted so-called reformers at the expense of “traditionalists.” Apostolos Tsochatzopoulos was moved from the Defense Ministry to the Development Ministry. He was succeeded by Yiannos Papantoniou, who was replaced as finance and economy minister by Nikolaos Christodoulakis, previously the development minister. Vasso Papandreou was moved from the Interior Ministry to the Environment and Public Works Ministry; Konstantinos Skandalidis, Pasok secretary until the congress, became interior minister. Foreign Minister Georgios Papandreou and Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis retained their portfolios.

      The main opposition ND held its regular congress on March 30–April 1. The congress strengthened the position of party leader Konstantinos (“Kostas”) Karamanlis and welcomed the return of senior politicians who had left the party following disagreement with Karamanlis.

      On March 6 Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, who had left the ND the previous year, announced the establishment of a new political party, the Movement of Free Citizens (KEP). Although he maintained that the KEP was open for cooperation with other political forces, Avramopoulos ruled out any alliance with other parties in the next parliamentary elections, due by 2004.

      The government's decision to remove any reference to religious affiliation from personal identity documents continued to strain relations between the government and the Greek Orthodox Church. The church collected more than three million signatures, which Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos submitted to Pres. Konstantinos (“Kostis”) Stephanopoulos on August 29. The president, however, rejected for constitutional reasons the church leader's request for a referendum on the issue.

      On May 4–5 Pope John Paul II visited Greece. Despite protests by some Orthodox clerics and believers, the first visit by a pontiff since the Schism of 1054 was widely considered a success.

      As the crisis in Macedonia unfolded, Greece made clear its support of the country's integrity, calling for a political settlement. Greece also contributed some 400 troops to the “Operation Essential Harvest.” Though the dispute over Macedonia's name remained unsettled, UN-mediated talks continued in 2001. Relations with other neighbours remained largely unchanged, although there was further atmospheric improvement in relations with Turkey, witnessed by the signing of the first Greek-Turkish city partnership, by the government's support for plans to jointly host Euro 2008, the European association football (soccer) championships, and by the signing of a landmark treaty allowing Greece to return illegal immigrants to Turkey.

      Preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens continued at a slow pace. The government and the organizing committee publicly admitted that they had fallen behind schedule on a number of key projects. International Olympic Committee representatives visited Greece repeatedly and urged Greek officials to speed up preparations. On March 27 the new Athens International Airport, one of the largest infrastructure projects in Greece in recent years, started operations. No solution was found for Olympic Airways, Greece's ailing national carrier. Deadlines for a privatization tender were extended repeatedly, but no buyer was identified. Meanwhile, Olympic Airways staff staged several strikes against the airline's privatization and inherent restructuring. Two private Greek airlines, Cronus Airlines and Aegean Airlines, announced their merger in March.

      The Greek economy continued to grow. In the first half of 2001, gross domestic product grew by 4.9% over the same period in 2000; investments and exports also increased. Year-on-year inflation stood at 3.8% in August. The Athens Stock Exchange continued its downward slide, however; by the end of September, the index had lost two-thirds of its value compared with its all-time high in 1999.

      On February 4 composer Iannis Xenakis died in Paris. (See Obituaries (Xenakis, Iannis ).)

Stefan Krause

▪ 2001

131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 10,562,000
Chief of state:
President Konstantinos Stephanopoulos
Head of government:
Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis

      On Feb. 8, 2000, the Greek Parliament reelected Pres. Konstantinos (Kostis) Stephanopoulos with 269 of the 300 votes. It was the first time since the restoration of democracy in 1974 that the head of state had been elected with the votes of both leading parties, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) and the centre-right New Democracy (ND).

      On April 9 Greek citizens elected a new Parliament. These elections, which took place 24 weeks before the mandate of the previous Parliament expired, were the most closely contested in decades. In the end, the ruling Pasok of Prime Minister Konstantinos (Kostas) Simitis came out on top with 43.8% of the vote, narrowly beating the ND with 42.7%. The Greek electoral system favoured the biggest party at the expense of the runner-up, so Pasok received 158 seats in the new Parliament, while the ND had to content itself with 125. Of the smaller parties, the hard-line Communist Party of Greece received 5.5% of the vote and 11 seats, while the Progressive Left Coalition won 3.2% and 6 seats. The leftist-populist Democratic Social Movement with 2.7% failed to meet the 3% threshold and lost its representation in Parliament.

      Following the elections Simitis extensively reshuffled his government. Of the 43 ministers and deputy ministers in the resulting cabinet, 15 were new. Simitis, however, left the key positions of foreign affairs, defense, finance and economics, and interior and public administration unchanged. Former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos and former interior minister Alexandros (Alekos) Papadopoulos, each of whom had resigned in early 1999 after the arrest of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, returned to the government as culture minister and health minister, respectively.

      On March 9 Greece formally applied for entry into the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), announcing that it was meeting the organization's main criteria. On May 3 the European Commission recommended that Greece be accepted into the EMU as the 12th member. Finally, on June 19, the leaders of the European Union member nations at their summit in Sintra, Port., formally accepted Greece's entry into the EMU as of Jan. 1, 2001. This decision was a major success for Simitis and his finance and economics minister, Ioannis Papantoniou, who over recent years had pursued a strict and often unpopular stabilization and austerity policy in order to prepare Greece for entry into the euro zone.

      Throughout the late spring and summer of 2000, Greek society was divided over whether a citizen's religious affiliation should be marked on his or her identity card. The government in May decided to back a decision by the government-appointed Authority for the Protection of Personal Data to remove, among other data, religion from ID cards. The Greek Orthodox Church responded by launching a nationwide campaign against the decision, saying that Orthodoxy was an integral part of Greek national identity. The church held mass rallies attended by hundreds of thousands, but the government refused to yield. After its initial strategy had failed, the church decided to start collecting signatures for what it described as an “informal referendum” on the issue.

      In foreign relations a further warming of relations between Greece and Turkey took place during the year, although none of the fundamental differences dividing the two countries was resolved. On January 19 Greek Foreign Minister Georgios Papandreou embarked on a four-day visit to Turkey, the first official visit of a Greek foreign minister since 1962. During that visit the two sides signed four cooperation agreements. During a visit of Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem to Athens in early February, another five agreements were signed. In May Turkish soldiers for the first time in more than 25 years participated in military exercises on Greek territory, but relations soured in October when the two sides argued over sovereignty rights in the eastern Aegean during a NATO exercise.

      Terrorist attacks continued to leave their mark on Greece. In the worst incident in 2000, Britain's military attaché in Greece, Brig. Stephen Saunders, was assassinated by terrorists of the November 17 group on June 8 while he was driving to work.

      On September 26 the Express Samina, one of the oldest ferries still in service in the Aegean Sea, sank after hitting a reef off the island of Paros. At least 80 people were killed in Greece's worst maritime accident in over 30 years. As a consequence of this disaster and two smaller incidents in the following days, the Merchant Marine Ministry on September 30 revoked the licenses of 56 ferries operating in Greek waters.

Stefan Krause

▪ 2000

131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 10,561,000
Chief of state:
President Konstantinos Stephanopoulos
Head of government:
Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis

      The year 1999 in Greece started with a major political shock. On February 15 Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan was seized by Turkish security forces from the Greek embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, where he had sought refuge. Previously, Ocalan had shown up at a number of airports, including that of Athens, in an unsuccessful search for asylum. The Greeks were outraged by the apparent ease with which Ocalan had been snatched from Greek protection, humiliated by the Turks' joyful and public treatment of their prisoner, and divided on the question of whether Greece should have taken the risky step of offering him refuge in the first place. Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis demanded and got the resignations of the foreign, interior, and public order ministers. In the resulting Cabinet reshuffle, Georgios Papandreou took over as foreign minister, and Development Minister Vaso Papandreou became interior minister. Following Ocalan's arrest, Kurdish activists occupied a number of Greek embassies and consulates and took diplomatic personnel hostage.

      There were pronounced divisions also over the Kosovo crisis and the military conflict between NATO and Yugoslavia. The government favoured a peaceful solution but nonetheless showed solidarity with its NATO partners. The Greek public, however, was almost unanimously opposed to the military action against Yugoslavia. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and other groups staged mass protests and blocked roads to prevent NATO from transporting troops and supplies via Greece to Macedonia.

      On March 21 Simitis was reelected chairman of the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) with about two-thirds of the delegates' votes. In the elections to the European Parliament on June 13, Pasok did better than expected, considering its unpopular austerity measures, the Ocalan affair, and its position on the Kosovo crisis. The party received 32.9% of the vote, trailing the main opposition New Democracy Party (ND), which won 36%, a much smaller margin of victory than expected. The KKE received 8.7%, the Democratic Social Movement (DIKKI) 6.9%, and the Progressive Left Coalition (SYN) 5.2%. The nationalist Political Spring Party and the newly formed Liberals failed to win more than 3%.

      Throughout the year the parliamentary parties (Pasok, ND, KKE, SYN, DIKKI) failed to reach an agreement on the presidential elections, which were due in March 2000. According to the constitution, if Parliament failed to elect a president with a three-fifths majority in the third round of voting, new parliamentary elections would have to be called. Regular elections were due in autumn 2000, and Simitis argued that early elections should be avoided because they might jeopardize Greece's ambitions to join the European Monetary Union (EMU) in 2001. None of the other parties agreed to his proposal to reelect the incumbent president, Konstantinos Stephanopoulos, however.

      A magnitude-5.9 earthquake shook Athens on September 7, killing 138 people and injuring more than 2,000. Some 38,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged, and 100,000 people were made homeless. On September 14 Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Kranidiotis was killed while traveling to a Balkan foreign ministers meeting in Bucharest when his plane suddenly lost altitude and dropped almost 7,000 m (24,000 ft) before the pilot regained control.

      Greece's relations with Turkey reached a new low with the Ocalan affair, with Turkey accusing Greece of supporting terrorism. In July, however, bilateral talks aimed at resolving open issues between Athens and Ankara started in a good atmosphere. The earthquakes in Turkey and Greece had produced a show of solidarity on both sides of the Aegean as well. After the earthquake in Turkey, Greece lifted its veto against humanitarian aid from the European Union to Turkey but continued to object to the financial protocol and a customs union between the EU and Turkey. Greek-Turkish talks about the Cyprus problem started in October.

      Relations with Macedonia (whose name Greece still refused to accept) improved in 1999, with Greece investing considerable sums there. Although no breakthrough was reached on the name issue, both sides seemed interested in a further improvement of bilateral relations, as witnessed by a number of high-level meetings. Relations with Albania also remained stable, despite several actions by Greek police against illegal Albanian immigrants.

      Greece's economic situation continued to improve in 1999, which enhanced the country's chances of joining the EMU. Gross domestic product was projected to grow by 3.5% in 1999. The inflation rate had dropped to 2% by August. The budget deficit was expected to stand at 1.5% of GDP, but the trade deficit remained worryingly high. Despite the Kosovo crisis and the earthquake, the Greek tourist industry enjoyed a highly successful season.

Stefan Krause

▪ 1999

      Area: 131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 10,543,000

      Capital: Athens

      Chief of state: President Konstantinos Stephanopoulos

      Head of government: Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis

      The main issues in Greece in 1998 were local elections, economic reform, and relations with Turkey and Cyprus. The elections on October 11 and 18 were the first to be held after a recent administrative reform greatly reduced the number of municipalities. The main opposition party, New Democracy, won the three biggest cities and carried 27 of the country's 64 prefectures. The ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) lost heavily but still prevailed in 433 of 900 municipalities. Probably because of Pasok's weak showing Prime Minister Konstantinos ("Kostas") Simitis shuffled his Cabinet, called a vote of confidence, and won it after pressuring Pasok deputies to support him.

      Simitis also aimed at restructuring Greece's economic framework, especially the oversized public sector. In January a new tax bill was submitted to the legislature. On June 24 the government submitted a new draft bill on labour relations that would provide part-time work in the public sector and generally promote flexibility in the labour market. These attempts to overhaul the economy met with numerous protests from, among others, teachers, farmers, seamen, and pilots.

      On March 14 the Greek drachma was devalued by about 14%. This enabled the Greek currency to join the European Union's exchange-rate mechanism, helped to improve the competitiveness of Greek products, and put a temporary end to speculative attacks against the drachma.

      The government's measures helped to improve the state of the economy, but the momentum of the past years was somewhat lost. Gross domestic product and industrial output continued to grow, and inflation fell but at a lower rate than in previous years. In August year-on-year inflation stood at 5%, twice the government's year-end target of 2.5%. In mid-September the government had to adjust its target for the 1999 budget deficit, partly owing to the international financial crisis. The International Monetary Fund, in its annual report on the Greek economy, urged the government to adhere strictly to its austerity program and radically restructure the public sector.

      High on the privatization agenda in 1998 were Olympic Airways and Ionian Bank. Two top officials of Olympic resigned in 1998, and talks between the government, Olympic's management, and staff proved difficult. Repeated strikes and protests added to the company's woes. A bill to restructure the carrier was passed on April 9, but amid continued conflict Olympic's survival seemed far from certain as no prospective buyers came forward. The attempt to privatize Ionian Bank also led to protests and strikes, and an offer to sell the bank was canceled on August 25 because all bids were deemed unsatisfactory.

      New Democracy, the main opposition party, continued to be plagued by internal strife. On February 3, after failing to vote against a government-sponsored bill, three of the party's legislators were expelled and three had their membership suspended. By contrast, Pasok managed to remain relatively disciplined, although a clash within the party between "reformers" and "populists" may have only been postponed until a party congress set for March 1999.

      Throughout the year Greece witnessed an unprecedented number of terrorist attacks, mostly on banks, businesses, and diplomats' cars. In the summer disastrous forest fires hit the country, some of which threatened Athens, Mt. Olympus, and the ancient sites of Olympia.

      Foreign relations were dominated by relations with Turkey. Greece's continued backing of Cyprus on all issues concerning that nation's Turkish-speaking minority, including Cyprus's plan to install Russian antiaircraft missiles, did not help improve the situation. Also, Greece complained about frequent violations of its airspace by Turkish military planes. Renewed Turkish proposals to demilitarize the Greek Aegean Islands were rejected by Greece. Several high-level meetings failed to bring about any improvement in relations between the two countries, although in June both sides agreed to implement fully a 1988 agreement concerning rules of conduct related to military activities in the Aegean.

      Relations with Macedonia continued to improve. There were several meetings between leaders of the two nations, and Greece continued to be one of Macedonia's main trading partners. Relations with Albania and Bulgaria also improved, although issues such as the status of illegal Albanian immigrants and the security of Bulgaria's nuclear power plant in Kozloduy remained unresolved. Greece largely followed the EU line on the conflict within Yugoslavia concerning ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, and formerly good relations between Athens and Belgrade deteriorated somewhat.

      In 1998 Greece lost two important personalities. On April 23 former prime minister and president Konstantinos Karamanlis (Karamanlis, Konstantinos ) died, and, after 24 years at the helm of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Seraphim (Seraphim, Archbishop ) died on April 10. (See OBITUARIES.) Seraphim was succeeded by Metropolitan Christodoulos of Dimitriadas.


▪ 1998

      Area: 131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 10,541,000

      Capital: Athens

      Chief of state: President Konstantinos Stephanopoulos

      Head of government: Prime Minister Konstantinos Simitis

      The political situation in Greece in 1997 was characterized by increasing dissatisfaction with the social cost of the government's economic policies. On January 28 farmers resumed protests they had interrupted in December 1996. Their demonstrations continued until February 8 and included road blocks in Thessaly that effectively halted traffic between central and northern Greece. On January 20 secondary-school teachers went on a strike that lasted until March 16, causing major problems in the educational sector and almost forcing Education Minister Gerasimos Arsenis to extend the school year. The health sector was affected by a three-week strike in June and July. Workers and employees in several other sectors, including waste removal and pharmacy, also staged shorter strikes throughout the year. Despite their overall conciliatory tone, Prime Minister Konstantinos ("Kostas") Simitis and Finance and Economics Minister Ioannis Papantoniou made it clear that they would stick to their tight fiscal policies.

      In the spring the government tried to initiate a "social dialogue" aimed at reaching a consensus on the future course of Greece's social and economic policies. On May 14 Simitis officially launched the dialogue. The tripartite coordinating committee, comprising government, trade union, and employers' representatives, first met on May 27; the parliament debated the issue on June 10, and several commissions were established. Although the social dialogue began with cautious optimism on most sides, little came of it during the year. Discussions on a revision of the constitution proved equally fruitless. The central issue involved a proposed change to the article stipulating that early parliamentary elections must be held if the parliament fails to elect a new state president by a three-fifths majority in the third round of voting. Most opposition parties rejected a proposal by the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) to lower the requirement to a simple majority and to separate the presidential election from early parliamentary votes. On June 12 a 50-member parliamentary commission was set up to deal with the constitutional revision.

      In late March the main opposition party, New Democracy, held its fourth congress. The meeting was intended to put an end to seven months of uncertainty after the party's loss in the parliamentary elections of September 1996 and to bridge the gap between conservative and liberal forces within the party. On March 21 Konstantinos ("Kostas") Karamanlis of the conservative wing, a nephew of the former longtime Greek prime minister and president of the same name, was elected new party leader with 70% of the delegates' vote.

      The government experienced two changes in 1997. Deputy Foreign Minister Christos Rozakis resigned on January 2 because of bad health and was replaced on February 4 by Ioannis Kranidiotis. Transport Minister Charalambos Kastanidis resigned on September 1 after statements by Simitis that were critical of the Transport Ministry's work were leaked to the media. He was replaced by Simitis confidant Anastasios Mantelis.

      In foreign policy 1997 was dominated by relations with Turkey and events in Albania. Greek-Turkish relations remained tense because of long-standing disputes regarding the Aegean Sea and because of Cyprus. One major issue was the purchase of Russian S- 300 surface-to-air missiles by Cyprus in January and Turkey's negative reaction to the planned deployment of those arms on the divided island. On September 4 Defense Minister Apostolos Tsochatzopoulos said that Greece would consider a Turkish strike against the missiles cause for war between the two nations. A meeting between Simitis and Pres. Suleyman Demirel of Turkey during the Madrid NATO summit on July 8 resulted in a joint communiqué stating both sides' commitment to peace, security, and good neighbourly relations; respect for each other's sovereignty, international law, and international agreements; respect "for each other's legitimate, vital interests and concerns in the Aegean"; and the peaceful settlement of disputes without the threat of force. The meeting and the communiqué did not, however, address major disputed issues such as the territorial waters in the Aegean, and the communiqué was criticized by large parts of the political opposition in Athens. In November Simitis and Demirel formally agreed to carry out the provisions in the communiqué.

      Events in Albania were relevant for Greece because of the Greek minority living in southern Albania and because of the possibility of a mass exodus of refugees from Albania to Greece. Along with Italy, Greece was one of the main contributors to the multinational force deployed in Albania. Greek troops were stationed in Albania from mid-April to early August. On September 25 Greece and Albania signed three defense- cooperation agreements.

      Relations with Macedonia remained unchanged, with no breakthrough on the dispute over that country's name. Greek-Bulgarian relations remained calm, with no apparent shift in policy on either side following the Bulgarian elections in April.

      The Greek economy continued its upward course in 1997. Gross domestic product was expected to grow by 3.5% (up from 2.6% in 1996). Inflation fell to a 25-year low of 5.6% in August, compared with 7.5% at the end of 1996. Greece continued, however, to be plagued by a large trade deficit of $18.8 billion (April 1997), and unemployment rose to 10.4%. Simitis pledged to continue his economic policies but predicted that 1998 would be "another hard year."

      In August Athens served as host of the sixth track and field world championships, and on September 5 the Greek capital was awarded the 2004 Olympic Games.


▪ 1997

      The republic of Greece occupies the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula and several adjoining island groups in southeastern Europe, in and between the Ionian and Aegean seas. Area: 131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 10,493,000. Cap.: Athens. Monetary unit: drachma, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 239.98 drachmas to U.S. $1 (378.04 drachmas = £ 1 sterling). President in 1996, Konstantinos Stephanopoulos; prime ministers, Andreas Papandreou and, from January 22, Konstantinos Simitis.

      Greece began 1996 with a changing of the political guard—the transition from Andreas Papandreou (see OBITUARIES (Papandreou, Andreas Georgios )) to Konstantinos ("Kostas") Simitis (see BIOGRAPHIES (Simitis, Konstantinos )) as the country's prime minister. While the nation's economy improved during the year, foreign policy problems remained unresolved.

      Papandreou, whose health had been precarious for several years, was rushed to the hospital in November 1995 and put on life support. On Jan. 15, 1996, he yielded to mounting pressure from leading members of his Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) and resigned as prime minister. Three days later Pasok's parliamentary deputies chose as the new prime minister Simitis, who formerly had held the portfolios of agriculture, economics, education, and industry. Simitis, a pragmatic reformist in the Western European social democratic tradition who had repeatedly criticized Papandreou's populist politics, defeated Interior Minister Apostolos ("Akis") Tsochatzopoulos and Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis.

      Simitis's new Cabinet included many changes from the previous government. Most notably, Theodoros Pangalos took over as foreign minister from Karolos Papoulias, while Vasiliki ("Vasso") Papandreou (no relation) was appointed head of the newly created Development Ministry (comprising industry, energy, technology, trade, and tourism).

      On June 23, days before the opening of Pasok's regular congress, Papandreou died. On June 30 Simitis was elected Pasok chairman, narrowly defeating Tsochatzopoulos. The elections of many reformists to the party's central committee further strengthened Simitis's position.

      Simitis, who wanted to implement necessary economic measures and structural reforms and to strengthen his position within Pasok, called parliamentary elections for September 22, one year ahead of schedule. In the elections, Pasok lost about 5% of its previous support, but with 41.49% of the vote and an electoral law favouring the biggest party at the expense of the second largest, it won 162 of 300 seats. The conservative New Democracy fell slightly to 38.12% of the vote (108 seats). The Communist Party gained slightly and won 5.61% (11 seats), while the Progressive Left Coalition won considerably more votes than in previous elections and returned to Parliament with 5.12% (10 seats). The newly formed Democratic Social Movement of Papandreou's former finance minister, Dimitris Tsovolas, won 4.43% and 9 deputies. The nationalist Political Spring party failed to clear the 3% barrier, with 2.94%.

      After the elections Simitis formed a government. He removed many longtime government ministers and reassigned others. Among the most notable changes, Ioannis Papantoniou took over the finance portfolio in addition to economics, Alexandros Papadopoulos was moved from finance to the Interior Ministry, Tsochatzopoulos was moved to defense, and Arsenis was put in charge of education.

      On election night, New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert resigned, but within a week he announced that he would seek reelection, plunging the party into its deepest crisis since its founding in 1974. On October 4 Evert was reelected over Georgios Souflias. The basic problem of the party—the struggle between "traditional" rightists and centre-right liberals—remained unresolved, and another leadership change at the next party congress in the spring of 1997 could not be ruled out.

      In late January a conflict between Greece and Turkey over the uninhabited Aegean islet of Imia/Kardak bore the immediate risk of an armed confrontation as military vessels from both sides gathered around the islet in a show of strength. The crisis was defused by U.S. pressure on both sides. Greek-Turkish relations hit another low in August when two Greek Cypriots were killed as demonstrators tried to cross the Green Line dividing Cyprus. On October 1-2 Simitis visited Cyprus and pledged continuing military support. Simitis and Cypriot Pres. Glafcos Clerides said that any further advance of Turkey in the island would be a cause of war.

      Greece's cooperation with its European Union (EU) partners improved in 1996, as did relations with the U.S., which Simitis visited in April. Pres. Konstantinos ("Kostis") Stephanopoulos visited Tiranë, Alb., in March, and a friendship and cooperation treaty was signed. Greek schools and consulates in southern Albania opened in August, and the government pledged to legalize the status of part of the approximately 300,000 Albanians living and working in Greece illegally. The unresolved name issue prevented a further breakthrough in relations with Macedonia, but the situation had nevertheless improved since the signing of the interim accord in 1995, with persons and goods crossing the border without major problems.

      To implement the EU's economic policy, the government switched to a tight fiscal policy. Inflation remained in the single-digit range throughout the year and stood at 8.5% in August. Growth in gross domestic product was estimated to be 2.6%, while the budget deficit was expected to fall to a still-high 7.6% of GDP. Unemployment stood at about 10%, while the trade deficit and public debt remained alarmingly high. In December the legislature passed an austerity budget aimed at cutting the deficit to 4.2% of GDP. (STEFAN KRAUSE)

▪ 1996

      The republic of Greece occupies the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula and several adjoining island groups in southeastern Europe, in and between the Ionian and Aegean seas. Area: 131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 10,493,000. Cap.: Athens. Monetary unit: drachma, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 234.67 drachmas to U.S. $1 (370.97 drachmas = £ 1 sterling). Presidents in 1995, Konstantinos Karamanlis and, from March 10, Kostis Stefanopoulos; prime minister, Andreas Papandreou.

      Despite some bold moves by the socialist government of Andreas Papandreou to rectify the course of the economy and mend fences in the Balkans, political uncertainty prevailed throughout 1995 as a result of the prime minister's weakening physical condition.

      Papandreou, who publicly thanked his wife, Dimitra, for helping him recover from critical heart surgery in 1988, shrugged off outraged protests over the construction of a luxury villa for her, the so-called pink villa scandal. Criticism came mainly from within Papandreou's own party, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok). In February the minister of justice resigned, accusing the prime minister's entourage of unwarranted interference; in August a Pasok deputy was ousted from the party for publicly deploring the role of the prime minister's wife, which led Pasok cadres to openly urge a change of leadership. In September, Industry Minister Kostas Simitis resigned, stating that he refused to be a yes-man. His departure prompted a Cabinet reshuffle on September 15 that purged those of doubtful loyalty to Papandreou.

      When the second five-year term of Pres. Konstantinos Karamanlis was due to expire in May, Papandreou decided to support the candidate proposed by the small Political Spring party, Kostis Stefanopoulos, a respected former politician. The post was largely ceremonial.

      Papandreou had been hospitalized for pneumonia in November, and his health continued to deteriorate during the rest of 1995. He underwent dialysis treatments as his kidneys began to fail, and by late December his breathing was being continually assisted by a respirator. Because he had not named a successor, political uncertainty was widespread throughout Greece and all of Europe.

      Political uncertainty was all the more unwelcome in a year when the finance minister, Alexandros Papadopoulos, pushed through unpopular fiscal reforms and enforced a tight budgetary discipline. By April year-on-year inflation had dropped to single digits for the first time in 23 years; by the end of September it stood at 8.4%. The parity of the drachma remained remarkably stable, and interest rates on state bonds fell by 3.25 points to 14.25% in October. Nonetheless, the basic structure of the economy remained weak. The public debt stood at 115% of gross domestic product, the trade balance sagged, and there were delays in privatization. The government wavered between pledges of social justice and the need to abide by the European Union's convergence program in order to bring Greece's economy in line with the rest of the EU by 1999. This required massive layoffs to make ailing state enterprises solvent enough to attract private investors. The prospect of early elections, which would tempt parties to forsake austerity in favour of votes, discouraged serious buyers. Major infrastructure projects that would have lowered the unemployment rate, which had soared above 10%, suffered further delays during the year. The $2.5 billion contract for a major international airport for Athens was signed in August, though, and was promptly ratified by Parliament.

      The United States government actively intervened to ease tensions between Greece and its neighbours. Following pressure from Washington, in February the Albanian regime released five leaders of the Greek minority party Omonia who had been convicted of subversion. Greek police later arrested a band of seven armed extremists and charged them with conspiring to disrupt relations with Albania. A joint committee prepared a draft friendship and cooperation treaty, but when the Albanian foreign minister, Alfred Sereki, paid a return visit to Athens early in September, the talks broke down over a Greek proposal regarding Greek minority schools in Albania.

      An interim agreement with the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia was signed in New York on September 13, thanks to American mediation. The accord did not resolve the conflict over the name Macedonia, which the Greeks said implied territorial claims on the adjacent Greek province of the same name. Both sides eventually pledged to respect each other's frontiers and territorial integrity. The former Yugoslav republic formally declared that nothing in its constitution should be construed as implying revanchism against Greece or any intention to interfere in Greece's internal affairs. It further agreed to replace on its national flag the image of the so-called Star of Vergina, an ancient Macedonian emblem associated with Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. In return, Greece agreed to lift its trade embargo imposed 19 months earlier. An assassination attempt against Macedonian Pres. Kiro Gligorov on October 3 came just as delegations from the two countries were meeting in Athens to implement the interim agreement. Any motives for the attempt were unknown, and both sides expressed hope that the outrage would not hamper their efforts to restore relations.

      Tensions with Turkey, the main foreign policy problem for Greece, persisted despite U.S. efforts to assist in resolving them. A meeting between Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and his Turkish counterpart, Erdal Inonu, in New York at the end of September simply underlined the sharp differences that divided the two countries. Those differences had been intensified by Greece's ratification of the Law of the Sea convention, which prompted the Turkish National Assembly to give the Ankara government authorization to use force if Greece extended its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea from 6 to 12 mi. The Greeks dismissed Turkey's calls for a diplomatic dialogue as a ploy to placate the European Parliament, which refused to ratify a EU-Turkey customs union unless Turkey drastically improved its human rights record. (MARIO MODIANO)

▪ 1995

      The republic of Greece occupies the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula and several adjoining island groups in southeastern Europe, in and between the Ionian and Aegean seas. Area: 131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 10,365,000. Cap.: Athens. Monetary unit: drachma, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of 235.24 drachmas to U.S. $1 (374.15 drachmas = £ 1 sterling). President in 1994, Konstantinos Karamanlis; prime minister, Andreas Papandreou.

      During 1994 the government of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, whose Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) had regained power in October 1993, was unable to resolve the problems of the debt-ridden economy or to ease the strains in the country's relations with its Balkan neighbours. At the same time, persistent infighting bedeviled the main opposition party, the conservative New Democracy (ND). Its new leader, the 55-year-old Miltiadis Evert, who had been elected to succeed Konstantinos Mitsotakis, came under fire for being too bland in opposing the government. The loss of credibility by the two major parties was reflected in the results of the elections for the European Parliament, held on June 12. Pasok remained ahead, but its wings were severely clipped, and the ND suffered serious losses. Protest votes went to the smaller groups, the Political Spring party of Antonis Samaras and the two communist variants, the Communist Party and the Progressive Left Coalition.

      As the problems piled up in 1994, public attention was deflected to a string of scandals allegedly implicating Mitsotakis, the former prime minister. In what looked like revenge for the indictment of Papandreou on corruption charges in 1991, the socialist majority in Parliament arraigned Mitsotakis on charges of tapping the telephones of friends and foes and of receiving bribes in the sale of a state-owned cement industry to an Italian company. Reports in December suggested that the case would be dropped, however.

      The removal of the 76-year-old Mitsotakis from the ND leadership inevitably raised questions about the future of Papandreou, who was 75 and whose health clearly prevented him from exercising his duties in full. Papandreou's difficulties became more apparent at the beginning of the year, which coincided with the assumption by Greece of the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU). The Greek minister for European affairs, Theodoros Pangalos, skillfully turned the anticipated fiasco of the Greek tenure into a substantial success, however, and by the end of the six-month term, the EU was able to approve the admission of four new members, sign a pact with Russia, and give the green light to 11 public works projects to combat rising unemployment.

      Pangalos' success, as well as his growing popularity within the party, made him a front-runner in the succession race, despite a serious setback in the October municipal elections when he was beaten by his conservative rival for the post of Athens mayor. Papandreou, despite his health problems, was widely assumed to want to succeed Konstantinos Karamanlis, whose term as president was due to end in May 1995. The strife within the party for the succession was so intensified by November, however, that Papandreou, fearing a breakup of Pasok, formally renounced his aspiration to become head of state, affirming that he would continue to serve as party leader.

      Perennial deficits, enduring double-digit inflation, and rising unemployment forced the Pasok government to revise its stand against the privatization of debt-ridden state enterprises. A poorly prepared plan to float 25% of the stock of the state-owned Telecommunications Organization in November was aborted at the last moment, however, after signals from European stock markets that investors were uninterested. Efforts to limit tax evasion stumbled on the resistance of taxpayers such as doctors, lawyers, and taxi drivers. The drachma came under severe pressure in May in anticipation of its becoming freely convertible on July 1. The Bank of Greece skillfully rode out the storm, spending over $2 billion from its foreign-exchange reserves and overnight raising interest rates as high as 500%. Although the crisis abated, the underlying problems of the economy remained.

      Papandreou set out on an arduous trip to the United States in April, but he failed to gain the unstinted support he sought from Pres. Bill Clinton over Greece's disputes with its Balkan neighbours. Throughout 1994 the EU also sent Greece angry messages over the imposition of sanctions against its neighbours, particularly as Greece used its EU prerogatives to put pressure on those states.

      A crisis developed after a raid at the Albanian border post of Episkopi in April. The armed raiders were known to be seeking the annexation of a part of southern Albania where a Greek minority lived. In September Albanian leaders, eager to reassert their country's sovereignty, had five Greek minority leaders sentenced for high treason to terms of six to eight years, slightly reduced on appeal. Greece promptly recalled its ambassador, blocked EU aid to Albania, and deported some 50,000 Albanian economic refugees.

      The feud over the name of the republic of Macedonia, temporarily known in the United Nations as The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, continued unabated. On February 15 Greece closed the port of Thessaloniki to all trade in and out of the Macedonian republic. The Macedonian government refused to negotiate until the trade embargo was lifted, and mediation efforts by the United States and the EU failed.

      Tension built up throughout the year following a persistent Turkish campaign threatening war if Greece extended its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea to 12 mi from the present 6. The campaign was clearly launched in view of the entering into effect on November 16 of the Law of the Sea, a treaty opposed by Turkey, which made the 12-mi limit the international norm. Turkey argued that this would affect its Aegean coastline because of the number of Greek islands. Its reaction, however, was no doubt prompted by the prospect that such a move would extend Greek sovereignty to 90% of the oil-rich Aegean seabed. Strains reached a climax in May when Turkey officially accused Greece of training Kurdish separatist guerrillas in its territory, a charge the Greeks denied with vehemence. In July, Greek terrorists murdered a Turkish diplomat in Athens, the third such incident in recent years. (MARIO MODIANO)

▪ 1994

      The republic of Greece occupies the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula and several adjoining island groups in southeastern Europe, in and between the Ionian and Aegean seas. Area: 131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 10,310,000. Cap.: Athens. Monetary unit: drachma, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 234.28 drachmas to U.S. $1 (354.94 drachmas = £ 1 sterling). President in 1993, Konstantinos Karamanlis; prime ministers, Konstantinos Mitsotakis and, from October 13, Andreas Papandreou.

      An abruptly called election on Oct. 10, 1993, brought the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) of Andreas Papandreou back into power, barely four years after it was booted out under a cloud of suspicion and scandal. The premature poll was prompted by defections that deprived the ruling New Democracy (ND) conservatives of their parliamentary majority of two. Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis was forced to resign after a long period of harassment by adversaries, both inside and outside the party, who questioned his integrity, assailed his bold economic reforms, and thwarted attempts for a reasonable settlement on Macedonia. After his defeat, the 74-year-old Cretan politician resigned the leadership of the ND party, which he had held for nine years.

      The Mitsotakis government's downfall, six months before elections were due, came as a sequel to the summary dismissal of Antonis Samaras from the post of foreign minister in 1992 over a disagreement about Greece's policy on Macedonia. Samaras, who was being coached by Mitsotakis as his successor, quit the ND and set up his own party on June 30, 1993, calling it Political Spring. One month later he urged his ND friends to defect over a completely different issue—the partial privatization of the nation's decrepit telephone system (OTE) and the transfer of its management to foreign experts. The legislature approved the bill, but five ND deputies loyal to Samaras quit the party, two withdrawing their confidence from the government.

      The OTE affair became a turning point in the ND's economic reform program, which relied heavily on the privatization of insolvent state enterprises to slash government deficits and reduce inflation. The stiffest opposition came from the trade unions eager to safeguard the status of state employees—most of them hired under the party spoils system rather than on merit.

      The Mitsotakis government's perseverance in enforcing an unpopular austerity program yielded significant results. Inflation dropped to 12.8% (as of September), the lowest in two decades; the overstaffed civil service was severely trimmed; pension funds were reorganized; the labour market was freed from crippling regulations; and foreign reserves reached their highest level—more than $6 billion. However, hopes that tax evasion would be discouraged by a reduction in tax rates were dashed by the end of 1993. The government's revenue dropped sharply, eroding an anticipated primary budget surplus of $4 billion designed to defray in part the massive internal debt. European and international organizations commended the government's efforts highly but pressed for tighter financial discipline as they released lavish European Community (EC) funds for major public works—ranging from a subway system in Athens to a new international airport and from vital highway networks to gigantic irrigation projects. In view of this promising record, the EC viewed with misgiving Pasok's election victory. In one of his first policy statements, the new prime minister pledged that he would scrap the privatization program.

      In foreign affairs the Mitsotakis government acted defensively. Greece blocked efforts by the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia to gain recognition as the independent nation of Macedonia, which was also the name of the main northern Greek province, by soliciting support from fellow members in the EC. When Macedonia applied for United Nations membership at the end of 1992, Greece, in order to stall such recognition, accepted UN mediation under veteran U.S. diplomat Cyrus Vance. In the interim it was agreed to call the new state The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

      Throughout the year friction continued with Greece's other Balkan neighbours. A crisis point was reached in June when Albania deported a Greek priest, accusing him of instigating the union of northern Epirus (southern Albania) with Greece. Greece retaliated with massive expulsions of Albanian refugees. Efforts by Prime Minister Mitsotakis to continue improving relations with Turkey stumbled on the latter's reluctance to pressure the Turkish Cypriots to agree to a UN-sponsored solution of the long-standing dispute on Cyprus.

      Strangely enough, Macedonia figured minimally in the Greek election campaign. The main rival parties chose to emphasize the sins of their opponents rather than sing their own virtues. A boon for Pasok was the electoral system introduced by Mitsotakis in 1990, while he was still under the shock of his own failure to secure a working majority in Parliament despite his party's 47% share of the vote. Pasok, before stepping down, had devised a system that made it practically impossible for its conservative rival to win anything but the slimmest majority. The irony was that in 1993 Pasok polled exactly the same percentage of votes (47%), winning 170 of the 300 seats, compared with ND's 151 for the same vote proportion in 1990. This time ND trailed behind its rival by more than seven points, returning 111 deputies. Samaras' Political Spring finished third with 5% of the vote and won 10 seats, while the Stalinist Communist Party of Greece took just over 4% and elected 9 deputies.

      As the new Pasok government under Papandreou took over on October 13, two questions emerged: whether Papandreou, who had made a miraculous recovery from serious heart surgery five years earlier, could safely assume the arduous workload of the EC presidency that rotated to Greece on Jan. 1, 1994, and whether his government would run its full four-year term. Since Pres. Konstantinos Karamanlis' five-year term would end in May 1995, his successor would have to be elected by the legislature on a three-fifths majority, or at least 180 votes. Failing that, elections would have to be proclaimed, and the new legislature could then choose a president even on a 151-149 majority. Unless Papandreou could secure additional support in the legislature in favour of Pasok's own presidential candidate, elections would become inevitable. (MARIO MODIANO)

* * *

officially  Hellenic Republic,  Greek  Ellás,  or  Ellinikí Dhimokratía,  
Greece, flag of   the southernmost of the countries of the Balkan Peninsula. It is a land of mountains and of sea. It is difficult to be far out of range of either, a fact that has had an important influence on the country's economic and historical development. Mountains have historically restricted internal communications, but the sea has opened up wider horizons. Greece has an area of 50,949 square miles (131,957 square kilometres), of which one-fifth constitutes the Greek islands. The area of Greece is approximately the same as that of England or the U.S. state of Alabama.

      The country is bordered to the west by the Ionian Sea, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea, and to the east by the Aegean Sea; only to the north and northeast does it have land borders. These run from west to east with Albania (153 miles [247 kilometres]), Macedonia (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; 159 miles [256 kilometres]), Bulgaria (295 miles [475 kilometres]), and Turkey (126 miles [203 kilometres]), totaling altogether 734 miles (1,181 kilometres).

      Greece has more than 2,000 islands, of which 170 are inhabited; some of the easternmost Aegean islands lie just a few miles off the Turkish coast. Given this situation, it is no accident that Greece has always had a strong nautical tradition.

      The country's capital is Athens, which has expanded rapidly in the period since World War II. The area around the capital (Attica) is now home to about one-third of the country's entire population.

      A Greek legend has it that God distributed all of the available soil through a sieve and used the stones that remained to build Greece. The country's barren landscape has been a powerful factor impelling Greeks to migrate, a process that has continued for centuries until very recent times. The Greeks, like the Jews and Armenians, are a people of the diaspora; there are several million people of Greek descent in various parts of the world. Xeniteia, or sojourning in foreign parts, with its strong overtones of nostalgia for the faraway homeland, has been a central element in the historical experience of the Greek people.

      Greece lies at the juncture of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is heir to the heritages of classical Greece, the Byzantine Empire, and nearly four centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule. From ancient Greece the modern country inherited a sophisticated culture and a language that has been documented for almost three millennia. The language of Periclean Athens in the 5th century BC and the present-day language of the Greeks are recognizably one and the same; few languages can demonstrate such continuity. From the Byzantine Empire it has inherited Eastern Orthodox Christianity and from Ottoman rule attitudes and values that continue to be of significance, not least in shaping the country's political culture.

      Greece is a country that is at once European, Balkan, and Mediterranean. It is also a country that is peculiarly burdened by its past: Greece is the only country in the world, Greek the only language, and Greeks the only people regularly prefaced by the epithet “modern.” References to Greece and Greek usually denote ancient Greece and ancient Greek. Greeks, however, take great pride in their cultural heritage, and the notion of an unbroken continuity between ancient and modern Greece is an essential element in the Greek self-image.

      In 1981 Greece joined the European Community (renamed the European Union in 1994). It was the first eastern European country to do so, and its heritage of Ottoman rule and Orthodox Christianity set it apart from the existing member states. The centuries of Ottoman rule have insulated the Greek lands from many of the important historical movements, such as the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution, that shaped the destinies of the countries of western Europe. Membership in the European Union has been a factor in buttressing Greece's somewhat uncertain identity as a European country.

Richard Ralph Mowbray Clogg

The land

 The Greek landscape is conspicuous not only for its beauty but also for its complexity and variety. Three elements dominate. The first is the sea. A glance at the map shows that the Greek mainland is indented. Arms and inlets of the sea penetrate deeply so that only a small, wedge-shaped portion of the interior mainland is more than 50 miles (80 kilometres) from the coast. The rocky headlands and peninsulas extend out to sea as island arcs and archipelagoes; indeed, islands make up roughly 18 percent of the territory of modern Greece. The southernmost part of mainland Greece, the Peloponnese Peninsula, is joined to the mainland only by the narrow isthmus at the head of the Gulf of Corinth (Korinthiakós). The country's second landscape element is its mountainousness. Roughly 80 percent of Greece is mountain terrain, much of it deeply dissected. A series of mountain chains on the Greek mainland, aligned northwest-southeast, enclose narrow parallel valleys and numerous small basins that once held lakes. With the riverine plains (most extensive toward the coast) and thin, discontinuous strips of coastal plain, these interior valleys and basins account for the third dominant feature of the Greek landscape, the lowland. Although not extensive in Greece (accounting for 20 percent of the land area), it has played an important role in the life of the country.

      Three characteristics of geology and structure underlie these landscape elements. First, northeastern Greece is occupied by a stable block of old (Hercynian) hard rock. Second, younger and weaker rocks (predominantly of limestone origin) make up western and southern Greece. These were heavily folded in the Alp-building phase of the Tertiary Period (66.4 to 1.6 million years ago) when earth movements thrust the softer sediments east-northeast against the unyielding Hercynian block, producing a series of roughly parallel tectonic zones that gave rise to the mountain-and-valley relief sequence noted above. Third, both the Hercynian block and the Hellenidic (Alpine) ranges were subsequently raised and fractured by movements of the earth. These dislocations created the sunken basins of the Ionian and Aegean seas as well as the jagged edges so typical of Greece's landscape. Even today, earthquakes are all-too-frequent reminders that similar earth movements continue, particularly along the major fracture lines. Another consequence of the region's geologic instability is the widespread occurrence of marble (limestone altered by pressure and heat). Seismic disturbances are sometimes associated with volcanic explosions, notably involving the island of Thera (Santorin), which was virtually destroyed by a major eruption in the 2nd millennium BC. The vents of the Kaïméni Isles in the sea-filled explosion crater of Thera remain active. The island of Melos (Mílos), which rises to 2,464 feet (751 metres), is composed of young volcanic rocks. Thus, relief and geology provide the basis for describing the Greek landscape in terms of six major regions.

Central Greece: the Pindus Mountains
      The central mountain range, the rugged Pindus (Píndhos) Mountains, forms the core of mainland Greece. Following the general northwest-southeast trend of the mountains of the Balkan Peninsula, the Pindus sweep down from the Albanian and Macedonian frontiers, creating a powerful communications barrier. Two passes (Métsovon and Mount Timfristós) divide the range into three units: a fairly open one in the north where impervious shales and sandstones have weathered into extensive upland valleys and gently inclining hills; the Pindus proper, some 20 miles in width and predominantly limestone, in the centre; and an almost uncrossable southern zone, some 50 miles wide, deeply dissected by winding rivers and composed of a mixture of limestone, slates, and sandstones. The highest point, Mount Smólikas, 8,652 feet (2,637 metres) high, is found in the northern Pindus.

Northeastern Greece: Macedonia and Thrace
      A number of topographic regions surround the main mountainous core and are often penetrated by extensions of it. The northernmost part, roughly the regions of Greek Macedonia (Makedhonía) and Thrace (Thráki), extends in a long, narrow, east-west band between the Aegean coast and the frontier with the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria. It consists of a series of forest-clad, crystalline mountain massifs and plateaus created by the fracturing of the old Hercynian block and separated from each other by the alluvial deposits of the five great rivers of northern Greece, the Maritsa, Néstos, Struma, Vardar, and Aliákmon rivers. The complexities of that fracturing account for the odd three-pronged shape of the Chalcidice (Khalkidhikí) Peninsula, on whose easternmost prong, Áyion (Holy) Mountain, is located Mount Athos (Athos, Mount) (Áthos), the famous site of Greek Orthodox monastic communities. Along and beyond the Bulgarian border rise the Rhodope (Rhodope Mountains) (Rodhópis) Mountains, composed mainly of sharp-edged and frequently sloping plateaus, often rising more than 7,000 feet (1,800 metres) and reaching 7,287 feet (2,212 metres) at Mount Órvilos. The Maritsa (Maritsa River) (Évros) River in its low-lying, marshy valley marks the Turkish border. From here to the lower Struma (Strimón) River extends a succession of plains, often swampy (like the deltaic plain of the lower Néstos), some of which have been turned into fertile agricultural land (like the former Lake Akhinós). Inland there are basins of structural origin (such as the Dhrámas Plain). The lakes of Korónia and Vólvi, which separate the Chalcidice Peninsula from the rest of the coastal region, also occupy structural depressions. Farther west the large plain drained by the Vardar (Axiós) and lower Aliákmon rivers is being continually extended as the river deltas push out into the Gulf of Thérmai (Thermaïkós). The forested Vérmion (Vírmion) Mountains and, beyond them, the barren inland basins around Lakes Vegorrítis and Kastorías mark the boundary with the Pindus Mountains.

Eastern Greece: Thessaly and Attikí
      This region epitomizes the physical geography of Greece. To the west are the massive limestones so characteristic of northern and western Greece, while to the east the peninsula of Attikí (Attica) represents the western margin of the old (Hercynian) crystalline rocks of the Aegean shores. Essentially an upland area, its relief is articulated by four northwest-southeast-trending spurs thrusting out from the main Pindus mass. A number of distinctive basins and plains lie amid these upland ribs. The northernmost, a rather broken spur called the Kamvoúnia Mountains, runs along the coast of the Gulf of Thérmai and continues south to form the peninsula bounding one side of the Vólou Bay. Among its peaks are Mount Olympus (Olympus, Mount) (Ólimbos)—the mythical seat of the gods, whose often cloud-topped summit rises to 9,570 feet (2,917 metres), the highest point in Greece—and the equally fine peaks of Mount Óssa and Mount Pelion (Pílion). The next spur on the west is the Óthris mountain range, which continues across the narrow Oreón (Oreón) Channel in the northern sector of the long, narrow island of Euboea (Évvoia). Between the two spurs lie the ancient basins (formerly the site of lakes) of Thessaly (Thessalía), Tríkala (Tríkkala), and Lárisa, drained by the Piniós. Just to their south the basin of Almirós, of similar origin, lies around Vólou Bay.

      To the southwest, the third spur leaving the Pindus is that of the Oíti, continued in the Ókhi Mountains of southern Euboea. Just before the Oíti reaches the sea, near the head of the Gulf of Maliakós, is the pass of Thermopylae (Thermopílai), scene of the famous battle of antiquity. The last (and perhaps the most important) of the four spurs thrusting down into eastern Greece is the one that curves away to the southeast through the twin-peaked mass of Mount Parnassus (Parnassus, Mount) (Parnassós). This mountain rises to 8,061 feet (2,457 metres) and was held to be the home of the Muses. The view from its summit at sunrise, with a broad expanse of the heart of Greece gradually unfolding, is regarded as one of the finest in the world. The range continues as the backbone of the peninsula lying between the Gulf of Euboea and the Gulf of Corinth, and it reaches as far as Mount Párnis, just to the north of Athens. To its north lie the plains of Phocis (Fokís) and Boeotia (Voiotía), and around its southern tip lie the depressions of Attikí, hotter and more arid but with a strategic importance that helps to explain the rise of Athens.

Southern Greece: the Peloponnese
 The entire southern portion of mainland Greece forms a peninsula lying to the south of the Gulf of Corinth. Technically, this region, the Peloponnese, or Pelopónnisos, also known as the Morea, is now an island, for the 3.9-mile Corinth Canal cuts across the narrow neck of land formerly separating the Gulf of Corinth from that of Aegina (Aíyina). The Peloponnese consists of an oval-shaped mountain mass with peaks rising to 7,800 feet and four peninsular prongs that point southward toward the island of Crete. At its heart are the arid limestone plateaus of Arcadia (Arkadhía), where streams disappear underground into the soluble rock and from which the barren upland of the Taïyetos Mountains (Taíyetos Mountains) (7,800 feet) extends southward to form the backbone of one of the southern peninsulas. A thin fringe of fertile coastal plain in the north and west, together with the larger alluvial depressions forming the Gulfs of Laconia (Lakonikós), Messenia (Messiniakós), and Árgolis, surrounds this mountainous core. The coast is indented and offers some fine harbours.

Western Greece: Epirus and Arkananía
      The distinctiveness of the western side of the Greek mainland (consisting of Epirus [Ípiros] and Arkananía) north of the Gulf of Corinth to the Albanian frontier and the offshore Ionian (Iónioi) Islands is enhanced by the fact that the barrier effect of the Pindus and the ameliorating climatic influences from the west that result in a quite different landscape from that of the rest of Greece have exaggerated the historic isolation from the other areas of mainland Greece. Fertile basins are not well developed, constricted as they are by the parallel ranges of the coastal mountains. The mountain regions themselves, however, are adequately supplied with rainfall. The flat, alluvial plain of Árta, built up from detritus brought down by the Arachthos (Árakhthos) River, has become, with irrigation, a fertile agricultural region.

The islands of Greece
      The Ionian Islands off the western coast of Greece structurally resemble the folded mountains of Epirus. Of the seven main islands, Corfu (Kérkira), opposite the Albanian frontier, is the northernmost. It is fertile and amply endowed with well-watered lowland. The other islands, Paxos (Paxoí), Leukas (Levkás (Leucas)), Skorpiós, Ithaca (Itháki), Cephalonia (Cephallenia) (Kefallinía), and Zacynthus (Zákinthos), lie farther south. Lack of rainfall accentuates their gaunt, broken limestone relief, although Leukas and Zacynthus have sheltered eastern plains. The Aegean Islands, also exhibiting the characteristic landforms of the mainland, are situated in distinct clusters in the Aegean Sea, east of the Greek mainland.

      In the north, off Thrace, lie Thásos (Thasos) (an oval block of ancient mineral rocks similar in composition to neighbouring blocks on the mainland) and harbourless Samothrace (Samothráki), an island of volcanic origin. Lemnos (Límnos), situated midway between Asia Minor and Áyion Mountain peninsula, is almost cut in two by the northern Pourniás Bay and the deep southern harbour afforded by the Bay of Moúdhrou.

      To the southeast the rocky but sheltered islands of Lesbos (Lésvos), Chios (Khíos), and Sámos (Samos) lie close to the Turkish coast and are extensions of peninsulas on the coast of Asia Minor. Across the central Aegean, near northern Euboea, lie the Northern Sporades (Vórioi Sporádhes), or “Scattered Islands”; their crystalline rocks are similar to those of the Greek mainland. Farther south, in the heart of the Aegean, lie the Cyclades (Kikládhes), “Islands in a Circle.” These roughly centre on Delos (Dhílos) and represent the tips of drowned mountain ridges continuing the structural trends of Euboea and the region around Athens.

      Between the Cyclades and the Turkish coast, the Dodecanese (Dhodhekánisos) group, with Rhodes (Ródhos) the largest of a dozen major islands, has a varied geologic structure ranging from the gray limestones of Kálimnos, Sími, and Khálki to the complete ancient volcanic cone that forms Nísiros.

      Finally, the long narrow shape of Crete (Kríti) stands to the south at the entrance of the Aegean. By far the largest of the Aegean Islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean (3,190 square miles), Crete is geologically linked to the south and west of mainland Greece. Its rugged, deeply ravined, asymmetrical limestone massif, falling steeply to the south, is so divided as to resemble four separate islands when seen from a distance: the westernmost Lévka (Lévka Mountains) (“White”) Mountains; the central Ídhi (or Psilorítis) Mountains, with Crete's highest point, the summit of Mount Ídhi, Stavros, 8,058 feet (2,456 metres) high; the east-central Dhíkti Mountains; and the far eastern Thriptís (Thriftí) Mountains. Another range, the Asterousia (or Kófinos) Mountains, runs along the south-central coast between the Mesará Plain and the Libyan Sea. Of Crete's 650 miles (1,046 kilometres) of rocky coastline, it is the more gradual slope on the northern side of the island that provides several natural harbours and coastal plains.

John S. Bowman Catherine Delano Smith

      The basically Mediterranean climate of Greece is subject to a number of regional and local variations occasioned by the country's physical diversity. In winter the belt of low-pressure disturbances moving in from the North Atlantic shifts southward, bringing with it warm, moist, westerly winds. Squalls and spells of rain ruffle the Aegean, but sunshine often breaks through the clouds. As the low-pressure areas enter the Aegean region, they may draw in cold air from those eastern regions of the Balkans that, sheltered by the Dinaric mountain system from western influences, are open to climatic extremes emanating from the heart of Eurasia. This icy wind is known as the boreas. Partly as a result, Thessaloníki (Salonika) has an average January temperature of 43° F (6° C), while Athens has 50° F (10° C) and Iráklion (Hérakleion) 54° F (12° C). Shilok, or warm winds, are similarly drawn in from the south. The western influences bring plentiful rain to the Ionian coast and the mountains behind it; winter rain also starts early, and snow lingers into spring. At Corfu, January temperatures average 50° F (10° C), and the island's average annual rainfall is 52 inches (1,320 millimetres), compared with the total on Crete of 25 inches and the total at Athens of 16 inches. On Crete, snow is almost permanent on the highest peaks.

      In summer, when the low-pressure belt swings away again, the climate is hot and dry almost everywhere, with the average July sea-level temperature approaching 80° F (27° C), although heat waves can push the temperature up over the 100° F (38° C) mark for a day or so. Topography is again a modifying factor: the interior northern mountains continue to experience some rainfall, while all along the winding coast the afternoon heat is eased slightly by sea breezes. In other regions, such as Crete, the hot, dry summers are accentuated by the parching neltemi, or Etesian winds (etesian wind), which become drier and drier as they are drawn southward.

      In all seasons—perhaps especially in summer—the quality of light is one of Greece's most appealing attractions. However, atmospheric pollution has become a serious problem in the cities, notably Athens, and a hazard to the ancient monuments.

      The main rivers of Greece share several characteristics: in their upper courses most flow in broad, gently sloping valleys; in their middle courses they plunge from intermontane basin to basin through narrow, often spectacular gorges; in their lower courses they meander across the coastal plain to reach the sea in marshy, ever-growing deltas. Most rivers are very short. In limestone districts a generally permeable surface with sinkholes (katavóthra) leading to underground channels complicates the drainage network. In all regions river regimes are erratic, unsuitable for navigation, and of limited usefulness for irrigation. The Vardar, Struma, and Néstos, which cross Greek Macedonia and Thrace to enter the northern Aegean, are the major rivers, but only because they drain large regions beyond the Greek frontier. Also in the northeast are the eastward-flowing Aliákmon and Piniós (Peneus). In the Peloponnese, only the Evrótas is noteworthy.

Plant and animal life
      As in other Balkan countries, the vegetation of Greece is open to influences from several major biogeographic zones, with the major Mediterranean and western Asian elements supplemented by plants and animals from the central European interior. Add to this the climatic effects of altitude, the contrast between north and south, and the role of local relief, together with the ubiquitous human factor, the result of some eight or nine millennia of settlement and land use, and it is not difficult to appreciate either the subtlety or the complexity of the vegetation mosaic. Degraded plant associations (reduced in variety and height of species and density of plant cover) and soil erosion are commonplace.

      On the mountain flanks, and in the north generally, the central European types of vegetation prevail. In central and southern regions and in narrow belts along the valleys of the mountains, about half the land is under scrub of various kinds; and maquis, the classic Mediterranean scrub complex—with oleander, bay, evergreen oak, olive, and juniper—is particularly well developed in the Peloponnese. Evergreen trees and shrubs and herbaceous plants are found in the lowlands, with the flowers offering brilliant patterns in springtime. Pines, planes, and poplars line the rivers, the higher slopes, and the coastal plains. Oak, chestnut, and other deciduous trees are found in the north, giving way at higher altitudes to coniferous forests dominated by the Grecian fir, in which clearings are carpeted in spring and summer with irises, crocuses, and tulips. Forests and scrub are found at the highest levels; the black-pine forests covering Mount Olympus are especially noteworthy.

      The forested zones, especially in the north, harbour such European animals as the wildcat, martin, brown bear, roe deer, and, more rarely, wolf, wild boar, and lynx. Animals of the Mediterranean regions include jackals, wild goats, and porcupines, all adapted to the lack of moisture and to the heat. Birds include pelicans, storks, and herons, while many varieties from farther north winter in Greece. Reptile and fish life is rich and varied.

Settlement patterns
      In terms of human geography, Greece can be described as “classical Mediterranean” only in part, the other part being distinctly “Balkan.” History rather than the physical environment accounts for fundamental paradoxes and contrasts in settlement pattern, social composition, and demographic trends that cannot be explained simply by reference to the difference between “Old Greece” and territories annexed in the early 20th century. For instance, although Greece is an “old country,” relatively densely occupied in prehistoric times and well settled and much exploited in, and since, ancient times (as the large number of ancient monuments and important archaeological sites testifies), instability is as characteristic of Greece's settlement pattern as of its history. New villages, associated not only with Ottoman colonization but more recently (the first third of the 20th century) with agrarian reform, are juxtaposed with some of the most ancient towns of Mediterranean Europe (including Mycenea, Pílos, Thíra, Árgos, Athens, Sparta, and Thebes). Traditionally, towns as well as villages have depended on the food potential of the surrounding land. This self-sufficiency, the autarkeia of the ancient city-states, survives in the remote villages, perforce traditional in their isolation, of mountainous Greece. Only Corinth and, above all, Athens were major trading centres in ancient times. The other major nuclei of trade were found where routeways (sea and land) coincided with cultivatable land. From the Byzantine period onward, fortification became an essential factor for monastic and secular settlement alike, emphasizing the importance of the mountain regions and of sites “perched” above lowland. As late as the 1960s, more than 40 percent of Greece's population lived in mountain regions. Intermittent periods of relative stability saw a return to the plains where the settlement pattern, dispersed or nucleated, often geometrically laid out, thus always seems to be “new.”

      Greeks have preserved a strong sense of community. Village life remains a powerful influence, and village-square discussions reflect the cosmopolitan nature of the communities. This holds true despite the decline of the rural population in the late 20th century (still, more than one-third of Greece's total population is classified as rural). The same may be said about the small villages and towns at the bottom of the urban hierarchy. At the other end of the urban scale, however, Greece's larger towns and cities have gained considerably in size and commercial importance since the 1970s. Athens, with a population of 750,000 increasing to about 3,000,000 for the entire metropolitan area (including the port of Piraeus), stands alone, but towns such as Thessaloníki, Patras, Vólos, Lárisa (Lárissa), and, on Crete, Iráklion are all fast-growing centres. Almost two-thirds of the population is now classified as urban, and another 10 percent as semiurban. Urbanization also is reaching out into the countryside, especially where excessive fragmentation of landholding (a consequence of agrarian reform) attracts urban-based financial and marketing entrepreneurs. Curiously, early Greek city planning, unlike Roman, has bequeathed little to the layout of modern urban centres.

The people

Linguistic, ethnic, and religious background
      The inherent instability of the Balkan Peninsula—located as it is at the crossroads of invading Turks, migrating Slavs, and colonizing powers from western or central Europe (Venetians, Austro-Hungarians)—has bequeathed a bewildering amount of cultural confusion to Greece. Even in the south or on the islands, centuries of population migration and forced population exchanges continued well into the 20th century. Despite the long Ottoman administration (perhaps because of its failure to create a nation-state), all but a very small part of the population belong to the Church of Greece (Greece, Church of) (Greek Orthodox church). This body appoints its own ecclesiastical hierarchy and is headed by a synod of 12 metropolitans under the presidency of the archbishop of Athens. The Greek church has links in dogma with the other Orthodox churches. Virtually all Cretans belong to a special branch of the Church of Greece, headed by the archbishop of Crete and directly responsible to the patriarchate of Constantinople.

      The Muslim minority, which constitutes most of the non-Orthodox group, is mainly Turkish and is concentrated in western Thrace and the Dodecanese. Roman and Greek Catholics, concentrated in Athens and the western islands formerly under Italian sway, account for the rest, except for a few thousand adherents of Protestant churches and of Judaism, the last group having been much reduced in numbers by the Nazi genocide of World War II.

      In terms of ethnic composition, Greeks again make up all but a small part of the total, the remainder being composed of Macedonians, Turks, Albanians, Bulgarians, Armenians, and Gypsies. Except in Cyprus, southern Albania, and Turkey, there are no major enclaves of Greeks in nearby countries, although Greek expatriate communities play a distinctive role in western Europe, North and South America, and Australia.

      The Greek population has never displayed high rates of growth, although—despite losses in a succession of wars and constant emigration as a result of poor economic conditions—it has usually shown a regular increase since the first census, in 1828. Most of its growth in the years since Greece gained its independence from the Turks in 1832 resulted from two factors—annexations of surrounding areas (the Ionian Islands; Thessaly and Árta; Epirus, Greek Macedonia, and Crete; Thrace; and the Dodecanese) and the influx of some 1,300,000 Greek refugees from Asia Minor in the 1920s. Emigration has continued to be a limiting factor: the years 1911–15 were an active period, and emigration became particularly heavy after World War II. The most common destinations of the emigrants have been the United States, Canada, Australia, and, somewhat later, Germany, Belgium, and Italy.

      With a total population, according to the 1991 census, of 10,264,156, the two decades since the demographically stagnant 1950s and '60s have seen a remarkable revitalization in Greece. This is, however, almost wholly due to international population movements, not to an increase in natural growth rates, which remain low. Within the country, the contrast between regions losing population (two-thirds of the southern Peloponnese, all the Ionian isles except Corfu, the mountains of central, southwestern, and northeastern mainland Greece, and most of the islands of the eastern Aegean) and those rapidly gaining people (Attikí and other districts outside the major cities) holds a range of important social and political implications at all levels.

Catherine Delano Smith

The economy
 Despite a rapid rate of growth in the post-World War II period, Greece's economy is one of the least developed in the European Union (EU). Natural resources are limited, industrialization has been achieved only partially, and there are chronic problems with the balance of payments. Shipping, tourism, and, decreasingly, migrant remittances are the mainstays of the economy. By the 1990s receipts from tourism amounted to one-quarter of the trade deficit.

      Although the Greek economy has been traditionally based on free enterprise, many sectors of the economy have come under direct or, through the banks, indirect government control. This process of expanding state ownership of the economy has, historically, been associated as much with right-wing as with centre to left governments. Trade unions, which are fragmented and highly politicized, wield significant power only in the public sector. Measures were taken in the late 1980s and the early 1990s to diminish the degree of state control of economic activity. Following entry into the European Union, Greece has been a major beneficiary of subsidies for its generally inefficient agricultural sector and for infrastructural projects. Rates of productivity, however, remain low in both the agricultural and industrial sectors, and the development of the country's economy has lagged behind that of its EU partners. Unemployment, hitherto low, has grown as temporary migrants to other European countries have returned to Greece because of those countries' declining demand for immigrant labour. However, some sectors of the economy, notably shipping, have shown considerable dynamism.

      Greece has few natural resources. Only in the case of nonferrous metals are there substantial deposits. Of these the most important is bauxite, reserves of which amount to more than 650 million metric tons.

      Fossil fuels, with the exception of lignite of low calorific value, are in short supply. There are no deposits of bituminous coal, and oil production, based on the Prinos field near the island of Thasos, is very limited. The complex dispute between Greece and Turkey that developed in the 1970s over the delineation of the two countries' respective continental shelves—and hence the right to such minerals, in particular oil, as may exist under the Aegean seabed—shows no sign of being resolved.

      Much of Greece's electrical power needs are supplied by lignite-fueled power stations and by hydroelectric power. Recently, attention has been given to the possibilities of solar and wind power.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      Greece's agricultural potential is hampered by poor soil, low rainfall, a system of landholding that has resulted in the proliferation of uneconomic smallholdings, and a general flight from the countryside to either the towns or overseas. About 30 percent of the land area is cultivable, the remainder consisting of scrub or forest. Only in the plains of Thessaly, Macedonia, and Thrace is cultivation possible on a reasonably large scale. Here corn (maize), wheat, barley, sugar beets, cotton, and tobacco are grown, Greece being a major EU producer of the last two items.

      Other crops grown in considerable quantities are olives (much of the annual crop being turned into olive oil), grapes, melons, peaches, tomatoes, and oranges, which are exported to other EU countries. Historically, Greek wine production, including the resin-flavoured retsina, has been primarily for domestic consumption, but efforts have been initiated to produce wines of higher quality for the world market.

      Although inefficient, Greek agriculture has benefited substantially from EU subsidies, and there are many signs of growing rural prosperity. The importance of the agricultural sector to the economy, however, is diminishing.

      Forests, mostly state-owned, cover approximately one-fifth of the land area, but they are subject to major forest fires. Forest products make no significant contribution to the economy.

      Greece's huge coastline and numerous islands have given rise to a fishing industry. However, overfishing and failure to conserve fish stocks properly have lessened the contribution of fishing to the economy.

      The industrial sector in Greece is weak. An established tradition exists only in the production of textiles, processed foods, and cement. (What is said to be the world's largest cement factory is located in Vólos.) In the past, private investment has been oriented much more toward real estate than toward industry, and concrete apartment blocks proliferate throughout the country. In the 1960s and '70s, taking advantage of an investment regime that privileged foreign capital, Greek shipowners invested significantly in sectors such as oil refining and shipbuilding. Shipping continues to be a key industrial sector, with the merchant fleet being one of the largest in the world, even if many of its ships are older than the world average. In the 1970s many ships that had hitherto registered under flags of convenience returned to the Greek flag. The fact that Greek ships, predominantly bulk carriers, are principally engaged in carrying cargoes between third countries renders the shipping industry vulnerable to downturns in international economic activity.

      Since the 1960s tourism has developed markedly, although Greece has not had much success in attracting high-spending tourists and is facing growing competition from Turkey. The number of tourists tripled between the early 1970s and the late 1980s. Most tourists come from other European countries. The emergence of a consumer society has created a seemingly insatiable demand for imported consumer goods, with negative consequences for the balance of trade. Road transport has improved immeasurably over the past 50 years, and there is a well-developed network of truck- and car-carrying ferries linking mainland Greece to the numerous islands and to Italy.

      The central bank is the Bank of Greece. A significant number of the country's commercial banks are state-controlled. In the early 1990s banks controlled by the state held some 70 percent of total deposits. There is also a considerable degree of state control of the insurance sector.

      In the early 1990s 118 public companies were quoted on the Athens stock exchange. For many Greeks, however, real estate, foreign currency, gold, and jewelry have proved a more attractive investment than stocks and shares. A pension and social insurance system of byzantine complexity is a major obstacle to economic modernization. The main social security fund, the Social Insurance Institute (IKA), is prone to recurrent crises in funding.

      By the early 1990s some two-thirds of Greece's trade was with the other member countries of the European Union, the two main trading partners being Germany and Italy. Basic manufactures (e.g., steel, aluminum, cement, and textiles), miscellaneous manufactured items (e.g., clothing), and food (including livestock) each accounted for under one-quarter of exports; refined petroleum and petroleum-based products constituted a further 10 percent. Exports grew rapidly in the 1970s but slowed markedly in the '80s. Shipping and tourism contributed just over 10 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) in the early 1990s, but there was a serious deficit in the balance of payments. This was offset by borrowing, limited foreign investment, and, to a decreasing extent, by emigrant remittances.

      Internal communications in Greece have, historically, been poor. Only during the post-World War II period have all the country's villages become accessible to wheeled traffic (and linked to the national electricity grid). There are no navigable rivers and only one canal, the Corinth Canal (completed in 1893), which divides the Peloponnese from mainland Greece. Although the canal significantly shortens the sea route from the Italian ports to Piraeus, the port of Athens, it has never fulfilled the economic expectations of its builders, because of its shallow draft and narrow width.

      Railway construction got under way in the 1880s, and, given the rugged terrain of the country, it involved some difficult feats of engineering. The total track is slightly under 1,600 miles in length, including the narrow-gauge railway network in the Peloponnese. The railway system is being modernized with the aid of EU funding. Trunk roads are inadequate by European standards, and Greece has one of the worst automobile accident records in Europe.

      Public transport in the Athens metropolitan area is heavily dependent on an overcrowded and unreliable bus network. After many postponements, work on the much-needed Athens metro commenced in earnest in 1993. This will supplement the small suburban railroad network linking Athens' northern suburb of Kifisiá with the port of Piraeus.

      The extensive internal bus-and-ferry network has been augmented since the 1960s by the development of a domestic flight network linking Athens with 25 domestic airports. The country's main airports are Ellinikón in suburban Athens (to be replaced in the late 1990s by an entirely new airport at Spáta in Attikí) and Macedonia, near Thessaloníki. Other international airports, which service the country's important tourist industry, are to be found on the islands of Crete (Iráklion), Corfu, Rhodes, Cos, and Lesbos and at Alexandroúpolis in Thrace and Andravída in the northwestern Peloponnese. The national carrier is Olympic Airways (Olympic Airlines), which is 51-percent state-owned.

Administration and social conditions

Constitutional framework
      The current constitution was introduced in 1975 following the collapse of the 1967–74 military dictatorship. The considerable powers it vouchsafed to the president were never invoked before they were reduced in the constitutional revision of 1986. Presidential powers are now largely ceremonial. The president is elected by the parliament (Vouli) and may hold office for two five-year terms.

      The prime minister, who has extensive powers, must be able to command the confidence of the parliament. The latter consists of 300 deputies and is elected for a four-year term by direct, universal, and secret ballot. It has the power to revise the constitution, as happened in 1986. A distinctive feature of the electoral system is the practice of incumbent governments, of whatever political hue, amending the electoral law to suit their own political advantage. Voting is compulsory.

The party system
      Although the political system is in the process of modernization, many elements of traditional politics remain, notably the personalistic nature of the party system, with parties being heavily dependent on the charisma of their (frequently elderly) leaders and the importance of patronage at all levels.

      There are three main political concentrations: the right, the centre, and the left. In the 1990s these were represented respectively by New Democracy (ND (New Democracy)), the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). New Democracy, founded by the veteran conservative politician Constantine Karamanlis, has progressively espoused “neoliberal,” antistatist policies meant to limit the power of the state and to encourage private initiatives. PASOK, although it has substantially moderated the Third World liberationist rhetoric of its earlier years, retains a strong commitment to a radical foreign policy and an idiosyncratic form of socialism, which reflects the fact that only some 40 percent of the working population are wage or salary earners (the remaining 60 percent being self-employed). On the far left the KKE advocates a Soviet-style communism even after the demise of the Soviet Union. The broadly “Eurocommunist” Coalition of the Left and Progress has limited electoral appeal.

      The country is divided into 13 geographic regions (9 mainland and 4 insular). These, in turn, are further subdivided into 51 departments (nomoi), each administered by a government-appointed prefect (nomarkhis). There is a government minister with special responsibility for Macedonia and Thrace.

      The governmental system is highly centralized. The powers of local government are severely circumscribed by its inability to raise revenue.

      The military has been a major arbiter of political life during the 20th century, but there has been no sign of political activity since 1974. Greece's expenditure on defense, at some 6 percent of GDP, is the highest in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance. Conscription for men is universal, the period of compulsory active service lasting 19 to 23 months. Women have the right to volunteer for service.

Judicial system
      The judicial system is essentially the Roman law system prevalent in continental Europe. The two highest courts are the Supreme Court (Areios Pagos), which deals with civil and criminal cases, and the Council of State (Symvoulion Epikrateias), which is responsible for disputes arising out of administration. A Court of State Auditors has jurisdiction in a number of financial matters. A Special Supreme Tribunal, whose members include the heads of the three courts mentioned above, deals with disputes arising out of the interpretation of the constitution and checks the validity of parliamentary elections and referenda.

      Education has long been prized in Greece both as an end in itself and as a means of upward social mobility. Wealthy Greeks of the diaspora have been major benefactors of schools and universities in their homeland. The educational system is somewhat rigid and heavily centralized, but the rate of literacy is high. Because of the inadequacies of state education, many children attend private phrontistiria, or institutions providing supplementary coaching outside normal school hours.

      Competition for university places, which hold out the prospect of job security, is exceptionally severe. The oldest university-level institutions are the National Capodistrian University of Athens (1837), the National Technical University of Athens (1836), and the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki (1925). This last institution has a tradition of innovation as compared with the more conservative University of Athens. From the 1960s to the '80s, a number of new universities were founded in Ioánnina, Patras, Thrace, Crete, Corfu, and the Aegean. However, they are often inadequately equipped and still do not offer a sufficient number of places to satisfy the demand for university-level education, forcing many Greek students to study abroad. Although there is a constitutional ban on private universities, a number of university-type institutions, some of dubious quality, have come into existence.

Health and welfare
      Major strides have been made in the post-World War II period in eradicating diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, typhoid, and dysentery. There are more doctors per person in Greece than in most of the other member countries of the European Union, and in the 1980s the PASOK government of Andreas Papandreou instituted a national health system. Many Greeks, however, where they can afford it, choose to travel abroad for medical care. Pension provision in Greece is a subject of extraordinary complexity. Some 80 percent of the working population are insured under the Social Insurance Institute and the Agricultural Insurance Organization (OGA; for farmers) programs.

      During the 1980s important changes were introduced in Greek family law. Civil marriage was instituted in parallel with religious marriage, the dowry system was abolished (in theory), divorce was made easier, and the hitherto dominant position of the father in the family was restricted.

Cultural life
      The important sites of Greek antiquity that attracted European noblemen to the Greek lands in the 18th century, and which were such a potent influence on architectural styles in the West, continue to attract tourists from all over the world. Newly excavated sites such as the supposed tomb of Philip II of Macedon at Verghina and the Pompei-like remains at Thera are further indications of an astonishingly rich heritage from antiquity that has still not been fully explored. Over the past century there has been a greater awareness of the richness of the architectural and artistic heritage of the medieval empire of Byzantium.

The arts
      Against the background of this extraordinary artistic heritage, Greece enjoys a thriving cultural life. It is in the field of literature that Greece has made its greatest contributions. Constantine Cavafy (Cavafy, Constantine) (1863–1933), who lived most of his life in Alexandria, Egypt, is frequently ranked among the great poets of the early 20th century. His poetry is suffused with an ironic nostalgia for Greece's past glories. Two Greek poets have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, George Seferis (Seferis, George) in 1963 and Odysseus Elytis (Elytis, Odysseus) in 1979. The novelist best known outside Greece is the Cretan Níkos Kazantzákis (Kazantzákis, Níkos), whose Zorba the Greek was made into a popular film. A number of Greek composers have acquired an international reputation, including Nikos Skalkottas, Manos Hadjidakis, Mikis Theodorakis, and Iannis Xenakis, a French composer of Greek descent. Well-known painters in the post-World War II period include Ghika, Yannis Tsarouchis, and Photis Kontoglou, who drew his inspiration from the ascetic traditions of Byzantine art.

      There is a lively theatrical tradition, in which political satire plays an important part. The traditional shadow puppet theatre, Karaghiozis, is now largely extinct, having been displaced by the ubiquitous television.

Cultural institutions
      A thriving theatrical tradition is reflected in a myriad of theatres in the capital, whose repertoire ranges from Western classics to political satire. During the summer months huge audiences are attracted to performances of ancient Greek drama held in the theatre of Epidaurus, which dates from the 4th century BC and whose acoustics are extraordinary; the 2nd-century-AD Roman theatre of Herodes Atticus at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens also draws many visitors and is the location for concerts given in the framework of the annual Athens Festival held during the summer months. Live performance of orchestral music, limited in comparison with that of other European capitals, was given a major boost with the opening in 1991 of a newly built concert hall, the Megaro Mousikis (palace of music).

      Given the richness of the country's archaeological heritage and the emphasis in the country's official self-perception on continuity with the classical past, the Archaeological Service has assumed particular importance. Frequently working in cooperation with the various foreign archaeological institutes, it is responsible for excavating relics of the past and for running the country's museums. Public library provision is relatively limited, and there is no adequate national library. The country's most prestigious learned society is the Academy of Athens. A distinctive feature of intellectual life is the numerous societies devoted to the study of local and regional archaeology, history, and folklore, a development that reflects the strong regional loyalties of many Greeks.

Daily life
      In the hot summers social life in Greece tends to be conducted outdoors. In small towns and villages the tradition of the volta continues, when much of the population strolls up and down the main street or, on the islands, the quayside at sundown. In summer and winter much leisure time is passed in the numerous cafés and coffee shops. These latter have traditionally been a male preserve, and it is not uncommon to find in a single village one coffee shop where the adherents of one political party congregate and another for supporters of the rival party. Television and other forms of video entertainment, however, threaten to undermine traditional leisure patterns.

      The country's cuisine, particularly sweets such as baklava and kataifi, reflect the influence of the centuries of Turkish rule. The food in Thessaloníki, the capital of northern Greece, which was annexed to the Greek state only in 1912, reflects the Ottoman influence and is testimony to the massive influx of refugees from Asia Minor in the 1920s. These immigrants were often facetiously referred to by the native inhabitants as yiaourtovaptismenoi (“baptized in yogurt”) on account of their fondness for yogurt in their appreciably superior cuisine. The traditional diet of the peasants was a healthy one based on vegetables, olives, olive oil, cheese, and bread, with meat being a luxury to be eaten only on special occasions. With growing affluence meat has come to assume a more important place in the country's diet, and the incidence of heart disease has risen accordingly.

      Greek society is noted for its tight family structures and the low rate of crime. The extended family, and the obligation placed on family members to provide mutual support, is all-important. The centrality of the family has been little affected by the process of embourgeoisement that has been a characteristic feature of the development of Greek society in the period since the end of World War II. Although the dowry system has officially been abolished, marriages still continue to be seen to a degree as economic alliances. The great majority of the country's businesses remain small, family-run enterprises. This is also true of ship-owning, the most dynamic sector of the economy. Tightly knit clans of ship-owning families dominate this industry. The family structure of industry acts as an impediment to modernization. The wheels of society continue to be lubricated by mesa (connections) and rouspheti (the reciprocal dispensation of favours).

      The main holiday periods revolve around Easter and the Feast of Dormition (Assumption) of the Virgin in mid-August. Easter is the most important religious and family festival, with many people returning to their native villages for the traditional festivities, which include the vigil in church on Saturday evening, the lighting of the Holy Fire at midnight, and the roasting of whole lambs on the spit. August is the traditional holiday month. The national sport is football (soccer), and the fortunes of the principal teams are the focus of passionate loyalties. Hunting is another popular pastime.

Press and broadcasting
      During the 1980s traditional newspaper proprietors were to an extent displaced by new entrepreneurs. Most newspapers became tabloids. The circulation of morning papers declined while that of evening papers increased. Leading newspapers include Kathimerini (“Daily”), Eleftherotypia (“Free Press”), and Ethnos (“Nation”). For the most part, newspapers tend to be unashamedly partisan in their political comments, with the laws of libel inspiring little fear in publishers. The government monopoly of television and radio broadcasting was broken in the 1980s. Private television and radio stations now exist in profusion. Like the press, broadcasting is unrestrained, particularly in its handling of political issues, although often at the expense of quality.

Richard Ralph Mowbray Clogg

Additional Reading

General works
All aspects of the country are treated in Glenn E. Curtis (ed.), Greece: A Country Study, 4th ed. (1995). John Campbell and Philip Sherrard, Modern Greece (1968), contains, besides useful historical surveys, valuable chapters on the Orthodox church, literature, and the economy, while paying attention to the values underpinning society. Yorgos A. Kourvetaris (George A. Kourvetaris) and Betty A. Dobratz, A Profile of Modern Greece: In Search of Identity (1987), contains material on many aspects on contemporary Greece. A good source for readings on Greece is Mary Jo Clogg and Richard Clogg (compilers), Greece (1980), a bibliography with more than 800 entries on some 30 subjects, with the majority of cited sources in English.

Physical and human geography
One of the most extensive works on the geography of Greece is Alfred Philippson, Die griechischen Landschaften, 4 vol. (1950–58). H.C. Darby et al., Greece, 3 vol. (1944–45), produced by the Naval Intelligence Division of Great Britain, contains much material of value on physical and economic geography. J.L. Myres, Dodecanese, 2nd ed. (1943), also produced by the Naval Intelligence Division, is a survey of the Dodecanese islands under Italian rule between 1912 and 1947.Greece's geology is treated in a regional context in Clifford Embleton (ed.), Geomorphology of Europe (1984), chapter 16; and Derek V. Ager, The Geology of Europe (1980), chapters 15–16. Pierre Birot and Jean Dresch, La Méditerranée et le Moyen-Orient, vol. 2, La Méditerranée Orientale et le Moyen-Orient (1955), offers details on physical structure and brief treatments of climate and vegetation. Individual aspects of the landscape are dealt with in E.G. Mariolopoulos, An Outline of the Climate of Greece (1961; originally published in Greek, 1953). J.R. McNeill, The Mountains of the Mediterranean World: An Environmental History (1992), includes the Pindus Mountains as one of the case studies.Catherine Delano Smith Classic studies of Greece's people and customs include Ernestine Friedl, Vasilika: A Village in Modern Greece (1962); and J.K. Campbell, Honour, Family, and Patronage: A Study of Institutions and Moral Values in a Greek Mountain Community (1964, reissued 1974). Michael Kenny and David I. Kertzer (eds.), Urban Life in Mediterranean Europe (1983), includes several essays on Greece, including a study of rural-urban migration. Timothy Ware (Kallistos Ware), The Orthodox Church, new ed. (1993), is a clear and concise account of the history and theology of the predominant religion in Greece.The economy is covered by A.F. Freris, The Greek Economy in the Twentieth Century (1986); and Persefoni V. Tsaliki, The Greek Economy: Sources of Growth in the Postwar Era (1991). Politics is dealt with in Keith R. Legg, Politics in Modern Greece (1969); and Richard Clogg, Parties and Elections in Greece (1987).The remarkable continuities in the Greek language are discussed in Robert Browning, Medieval and Modern Greek, 2nd ed. (1983). A comprehensive survey, beginning with the emergence in the 11th century AD of literature in a recognizably modern form of the language, is Linos Politis (Linos Polités), A History of Modern Greek Literature (1973).Richard Ralph Mowbray Clogg

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Universalium. 2010.

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