Greece - Country Information

Greece, formally called the Hellenic Republic (in Greek: Helleniké Demokratía), is a country in the southeast of Europe on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula

Sailing in Greece - Sailing Holidays Greece

Basic Information

Geographical position: It is bounded on land by Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania to the north, to the east by Turkey and the waters of the Aegean Sea and to the west and south by the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas. Regarded by many as the cradle of Western civilization, Greece has a long and rich history during which it spread its influence over three continents.

Capital: Athens - with a population of 3,192,606.

Government system: Presidential Parliamentary Democracy (member state of E.U. since 1981)

Administration of the country: Greece is divided into 13 administrative divisions, named "Peripheries" (Districts). The next level of administrative division is the "Nomos" (Prefecture). In total there are 51 Nomi, and one self-governed territorial division (Agion Oros, on Mount Athos). Local Communities are named either "Dimos" (City) or "Kinotita" (Community). In total there are 900 Dimi and 133 Kinotites.

Official language and script: Greek language and Greek script. Greece long history and tradition is reflected in its language - there are Ancient Greek and Modern Greek.

Population: 11,170,957 inhabitants; out of which 98% are Greeks.

Religion: Greek Orthodox 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7%.

Time zone: Local time is GMT +2 hours

Surface: 131,957 km2

Coastline: 13.676 km

Highest peak: Olimp - 2911 m above sea level

Climate: Greece has a Mediterranean climate with plenty of sunshine, mild temperatures and a limited amount of rainfall. Greece's climate is versatile due to the country's geographical position, its rugged relief and its distribution between the mainland and the sea. In summer, the dry hot days are cooled by seasonal winds called the meltemi, while mountainous regions have generally lower temperatures. The winters are mild in lowland areas, with a minimum amount of snow and ice, yet, mountains are usually snow-covered. Moreover, a common phenomenon is the occurrence of different climactic conditions during the same season (for instance, mild heat in coastal areas and cool temperatures in mountainous regions). Average temperature in January ranges from 5.4 °C to 13.3 °C, while the average temperature in July is between 25.8 °C to 29.7 °C.

Currency:
Euro (€) - 1 EUR = 100 cent
Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cent and 1 and 2 EUR
Bank notes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 EUR

Credit cards: Almost every shop hotel and restaurant accepts credit cards, but many shops in small towns don't. The signs are usually posted on the door of each store but it would be best to check with the establishment to see if they accept credit cards before you make your purchases.

Prices in Greece - List of Selected Items

Bread 0.60 - 0.80 €
Beer in cafeteria 3 - 5 €
Ice coffee (Frappe) 4 - 5 €
Greek Coffee 4
Cocktail in a bar 6 - 8 €
Souvlaki 1.50 €
Gyros sandwich 1.80 - 2.50 €
Pizza delivered 7 €
Ticket - metro 0.80 €
Ticket - HSAP train in Athens 0.70 €
Ticket - bus & troley 0.50 €
Ticket - tram 0.70 €
Gas per liter 0.93 - 1.05 €
Bottle of water 1 €
Small water 0.30 - 0.60 €
Prepaid phone card (for payphones) 3 €
Prepaid mobile phone cards starting at 9 €
Taxi from Athens centre to Piraeus 6 - 7 €
Soft drink - can 0.70 - 1.50 €
Sunscreen 10-15 €

This chart is a good point of reference, but keep in mind that prices can vary from place to place.

Average costs of a meal: A meal at a restaurant that includes a main course, a salad, and a soft drink would cost a traveller about 12 € . Prices vary between towns, and between parts of towns.
Tipping at restaurants in Greece is included in the price either as a separate "service charge" or as part of the food price. The menu usually indicates somewhere on the last page what's included in the prices. If in doubt, ask the waiter. It is customary to round up the bill at restaurants, cafeterias, and bars.

Useful Information

Electricity: Voltage of city power grid - 220V, frequency 50 Hz.

Telephone code:
Country code: Greece +30
Capital Code: Athens +1

Travel documentation: Passport.

Shopping: Greece is the ideal destination to shop for a wide variety of products, catering to everybody's tastes and wishes. Prices are very reasonable in relation to product quality and visitors will be able to find something for every budget. Shops are open Monday through Friday from 09.00 till 14.30 and on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday also from 17.30 through 20.30. On Saturday shops open at 09.00 and work till 15.00, while they are closed on Sunday. Supermarkets and kiosks may stay open till 22.00. More specifically, in the centre of large urban areas as well as in tourist areas, tourist shops and kiosks are open from early in the morning till late at night, seven days a week.

Tourist Police: The Tourist Police is a Service of the Greek Police Force staffed with specially trained, foreign-language speaking personnel. The Greek Tourist Police can be reached around-the-clock by dialling "171". This line provides all kind of information and instructions in Greek, English, French and German, thus helping tourists to deal directly with any arising problem.

Health: In order to have access to necessary health care, tourists from member states of the European Union (EU) wishing to visit Greece must be holders of the European Health Card (EHIC) or any other legal Community document issued by their competent social security agency.

In these cases, the necessary treatment in Greece is provided by:

  • the IKA (Social Security Institute) Health Units (polyclinics) or doctor's offices in the region
  • Regional clinics (former rural clinics) or the Health Centres of the National Health System
  • the outpatients' departments of the hospitals on contract

In order to have access to necessary health care, tourists from countries other than the member states of the European Union wishing to visit Greece must consult their social security agency for information before travelling.

In case of emergency call:

  • Ambulance Service: 166
  • SOS Doctors : 1016
  • Duty Hospitals and Clinics: 1434
  • Poisoning First Aid: 210 7793777
  • Pharmacies: 1434
  • Open Line for alcohol drug Addiction: 210 3617089

National holidays:

January: 1st January - New Year's Day
6th January - Epiphany
March: Ash Monday
25th March - National Holiday
April: Good Friday(March/April)
Easter(March/April)
May: 1st May - May Day
June: White Monday ( Holiday only for public sector)
August: 15th August - Dormition (Assumption) of The Virgin
October: 28th October - National Holiday
December: 25th and 26th December - Christmas Holidays

The Greek Alphabet: The Greek alphabet is an alphabet that has been used to write the Greek language since about the 9th century BC. It was the first true alphabet, that is, an alphabet with a symbol for each vowel and consonant, and is the oldest alphabetic script in use today. Besides writing Modern Greek, today its letters are used as mathematical symbols, particle names in physics, as names of stars, in the names of fraternities and sororities, in the naming of supernumerary tropical cyclones, and for other purposes. The Greek alphabet originated as a modification of the Phoenician alphabet and in turn gave rise to the Gothic, Glagolitic, Cyrillic, Coptic, and possibly the Armenian alphabets, as well as the Latin alphabet.

Capital Low-case Greek name Latin
Α α Alpha a
Β β Beta b
Γ γ Gamma g
Δ δ Delta d
Ε ε Epsilon e
Ζ ζ Zeta z
Η η Eta h
Θ θ Theta th
Ι ι Iota i
Κ κ Kappa k
Λ λ Lambda l
Μ μ Mu m
Ν ν Nu n
Ξ ξ Xi x
Ο ο Omicron o
Π π Pi p
Ρ ρ Rho r
Σ σ Sigma s
Τ τ Tau t
Υ υ Upsilon u
Φ φ Phi ph
Χ χ Chi ch
Ψ ψ Psi ps
Ω ω Omega o