- Athens; 3,238,000
- 131,957 square kilometers (50,949 square miles)
- Greek Orthodox
- Life Expectancy:
- GDP per Capita:
- U.S. $19,100
- Literacy Percent:
Greece Facts Flag
Greece, on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe, is mostly dry and mountainous, with a large mainland and more than 1,400 islands. The nation where democracy was conceived in the fifth century B.C. has periodically suffered the loss of freedom and welcomed its rebirth. After almost 400 years under Turkish rule, Greece won independence in 1830. Scarred by Nazi occupation during World War II and an ensuing civil war, the nation endured seven years of military dictatorship from 1967 to 1974. The junta fell after a failed Athens-backed coup in Cyprus—which brought the Turkish invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus in 1974. An elected government and new constitution followed. Even though Greece and Turkey are both members of NATO, relations have been tense over Cyprus and Aegean issues. A breakthrough occurred in 1999 when major earthquakes hit Greece and Turkey—both countries and peoples responded generously to the other's need.
Membership in the European Union has helped stimulate industry, agriculture, and shipping. Greece's maritime fleet is the largest in Europe. Recent economic growth, lower inflation, and lower unemployment have helped Greece somewhat overcome its position as one of the poorest of the EU countries in terms of per capita income.
The unique ecosystems of the Prespa Lakes region and the dense woodlands of the Rhodope Mountains have been set aside as international preserves. Athens stepped into the global spotlight as host of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. Greece's ancient treasures, striking landscapes, and pleasing climate are irresistible, enticing some 12 million visitors a year.
- Industry: Tourism, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals
- Agriculture: Wheat, corn, barley, sugar beets; beef
- Exports: Food and beverages, manufactured goods, petroleum products, chemicals
—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition
From Thessaloniki to Quito, Raja Ampat to Memphis, 20 wildly diverse places make our wanderlust list for the new year.
It's time to start planning your adventures for 2012. Here are Traveler magazine's 20 best places in the world to visit, including Greece.
We used to think agriculture gave rise to cities and later to writing, art, and religion. Now the world’s oldest temple suggests the urge to worship sparked civilization.
Travel Photos From Your Shot
See Captivating Photos of Our Days' End—Submitted by Members of the Your Shot Community
Shop National Geographic
Special Ad Section
Watch as Nat Geo photographers reveal what drives them to create iconic images.