Greece, also known as Hellas, is the birthplace of politics and
democracy. Its democratic ideals inspired, among others, the
framers of the US constitution. The present Greek Constitution,
voted in 1975 and amended in 1986, defines the country's
political system as a Parliamentary Democracy headed by a
Legislative powers are exercised by a single Chamber Parliament
(the "Vouli") and executive powers are vested in the
Government and the President. The Prime Minister, whose
Government must enjoy the confidence of the Parliament, has
extensive powers. The judiciary is independent. Civil, political
and human rights are constitutionally guaranteed. General
elections for the 300 parliamentary seats are held every four
years. The President of the Republic is elected by the members
of Parliament for a five-year term, renewable only once.
The National Flag of Greece consists of four white
and five blue alternating horizontal stripes, with a white cross
on the upper inner corner. Blue and white are the national
colours of Greece.
Greece in the world:
Greece is a member of UN, IMF, CSCE,
and other major Western and European institutions such as the
OECD, NATO, WEU, Council of Europe and the European
Community which she joined in 1981. The country's commitment
to the European Union enjoys overwhelming political support.
Greece spends 4.5% of its GDP on education, which
is compulsory for nine years and free of charge at all levels in
any state institution.
Two main social insurance organisations known by
their Greek acronyms as IKA (for labourers) and OGA (for
farmers) cover more than 80% of the working population.
10.259.900 (1991 - census)
10.498.836 (1997- estimate).
More than 4 millions Greeks are estimated to live abroad, including over 2 millions in America.
Male 49.31% ,
female: 50.69% (1997).
Population by areas:
Urban: 57,7%, Rural: 42,3% (1991).
Area (sq. km):
79.6 inhabitants per sq. km. (1997)
9.72 per 1000 inhabitants (1997)
males 74,6 years (1990),
females 79,40 years (1990)
Athens (3.072.866 inhabitants - 1991)
Of all citizens of the Hellenic Republic
97.6% are Greek Orthodox, 1.3% Muslim, 0.4% Roman Catholic,
0.1% Protestant, 0.6% other, including Jews. The Greek
Orthodox Church is autocephalous, with its own Charter but
indissolubly united in doctrine with the Great Church of
Constantinople, i.e. the Ecumenical Patriarchate. On the
peninsula of Chalkidiki, located in southeastern Macedonia, is
the famous Mount Athos, where a number of monasteries of the
Greek Orthodox Church form, as they have for centuries, an
autonomous monastic community.
The Greek language with a documented record
spanning three and a half millennia is a strong element of
national continuity. Modern Greek derives from the same idiom
used by Homer. Greek is also the language of the Gospels. The
Greek alphabet and the Greek language have contributed much
to all western languages. Today's Greeks, however, are the only
ones who ensure this linguistic continuity. In this respect Greek,
is to be distinguished sharply from Latin which generated
numerous neo-latin languages from Rumanian to Portuguese
before it became itself extinct.
The standard in Greece is 220V AC (50Hz). Appliances
from North America require a transformer and British ones
We recommend that you pack one together with your
electrical appliance, so that you do not have to spend
valuable time looking for adaptors and transformers during
Greek time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time,
an hour ahead of Central European Time and seven hours
ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Along with the rest of
continental Europe, the clock is advanced one hour during
summer -from the end of March to the end of September-
almost a month earlier than the UK, the US and Canada.
Therefore keep in mind that the time difference with these
countries is one hour greater for some weeks in April and
If you want to find out what is the exact time call 141
(recorded message in Greek).
New Year's Day: January 1st
Epiphany: January 6th. The seas around Piraeus are
blessed. A Cross is thrown into the sea and young men
dive to retrieve it.
Ash Monday: 41 days before Easter. Lent begins. On Ash
Monday, Greeks fly kites, eat lenten food and celebrate
Independence Day and the Feast of the Annunciation:
March 25th , Military parade.
Easter: Good Friday-Easter Monday. In the evening of
Good Friday, every church decorates an Epitaphios. The
Epitaphios processions, followed by people holding lit
candles and chanting hymns, fill the streets of every city,
town and village in the country.
Anastasi: celebrated with fire-works and lit candles at
midnight, on the eve of Easter Day.
Pascha: on Easter
Day Greeks traditionally eat lamb, spit-roasted on
charcoal. The festivities include singing and dancing
through the day.
Labour Day: May 1st . Many Flower Festivals all over
Whit Monday: 50 days after Easter.
Dormition (Assumption) of The Virgin: August 15th.
October 28th: rejection of the Italian ultimatum in 1940.
Christmas: December 25th -26th.
OTE (the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization)
offices are the cheapest way to make local or
international calls. To do so, just walk in and wait for a
booth to be free.
At the end of the call, the desk operator will present you
with a bill. OTE offices are open from 08:00 to 14:00.
Local and international calls can also be made from public
cardphone booths and kiosks (periptera) equipped with
Telecards can be purchased from kiosks and OTE offices.
Signs denoting post offices are usually bright yellow, as
If you need to send a letter there are stamp vending
machines and post-boxes outside all central post offices.
Parcels sent abroad must be inspected, so do not wrap
and seal them beforehand. Brown paper, soft padded
envelopes and cardboard boxes can be bought at the post
What to Wear
You are expected to dress in a respectable manner when
visiting churches and monasteries: long trousers for men,
sleeved dresses and no miniskirts for women.
Instructions for Safe Driving:
While travelling on the National Highway, if you spot a
dead or wounded animal please contact emergency
telephone 171 (Panafon network subscribers should dial
9-171). If you are in regions out of Athens please call any
of the following numbers: (01) 3235 307, (01) 3235 455,
(01) 3235 465, (01) 3235 496, (01) 3235 513,
(01) 3236 610, (01) 3236 608, (01) 3237 356.
Thank you for your sensitivity to keep the roads safe.
Have a pleasant trip.
The unit of currency is the drachma (GrD). You will have to deal
with coins of 5, 10 (silver), 20, 50 & 100 GrD (bronze), and
notes of 500 (green), 1.000 (brown), 5.000 (blue) and 10.000
Exchange Rates fluctuate daily, so you need to find out the
current rate before exchanging your money. You can do that by
calling any Greek or foreign bank or the National Bank of Greece:
All the major international banks have branches in Athens and
each bank has its own but if you do your
banking in the mornings, all of them are certain to be open
from Monday to Friday, 08:00-13:00.
All major Credit Cards as well as Euro-cheques are recognized
and accepted in most hotels, shops, travel and car rental
agencies and restaurants. Stickers in the front windows will
advise you as to which cards are acceptable.
Are issued by all the major companies are
widely recognized. You can cash your traveller's cheques in all
Greek and foreign banks, exchange bureaus and big hotels, but
do not forget to have your passport with you. Identification is
necessary for the transaction.