Geography: Greece, officially known as The Hellenic Republic, is the southernmost country on the European mainland. With an area of 131.940 square kilometers, Greece is about the same size as England or New York State. Greece’s longest border is with the sea. Over 3,000 Greek islands are scattered about the eastern Mediterranean, roughly 200 of them inhabited. The Greek mainland shares land borders with Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria and Turkey.
Population: 11.003.000 (2011 - census)
Greece’s capital city: Athens (Population: 3.090.508). Although more than half the population is classified as urban, rural life retains a powerful influence. A strong sense of community and family ties prevail even in the busiest of metropolitan centers.
Climate: The climate of Greece is Mediterranean with summers that are usually hot and dry, and the winters that can be quite cold and wet. The northern part of Greece can be very cold during the winter and snow is not uncommon.
Religion: Most Greeks belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, which is governed by a synod of metropolitan bishops, presided over by the Archbishop of Athens. The largest religious minority is the concentration of Greek Muslims in northeastern Thrace. Some islands in the Ionian and Aegean have a significant number of Catholics. Greece’s once vibrant Jewish community was nearly vanished in World War II.
Government: The Hellenic Republic is a parliamentary democracy with a 300 member house, the Vouli or Parliament, headed by the Prime Minister. Parliamentary sessions normally last for four years, followed by elections held on the basis of direct, secret, and universal ballot. The head of the Greek State is the President, who is elected by Parliament. The President, who has limited political powers, may hold office for a maximum of two five-year terms. Greece has been a member of the European Union since 1981.
Currency: Greece is a member of the eurozone, the group of EU countries that use Euro (€).
Time: Greece is GMT+2
ATMs: They are widely available in Greece for Master or Visa cardholders.
Banks: Banks are open from Monday to Thursday, 8:00-14:30 hrs and on Friday, 8:00-14:00 hrs; on Saturdays and Sundays they are closed. Central branches of some banks may be found open until 20.00 daily and from 10.00 to 16.30 on Saturdays. For further details while in Athens please consult your hotel concierge.
Credit cards: All major credit cards are accepted in almost all hotels, shops and restaurants. Stickers in the front windows will advise you as to which cards are accepted.
Electricity: Electricity is 220 V/50 Hz. Plugs are the standard continental (DIN) type with two round pins.
Language: Greek is the official language. Most Greeks speak English as a foreign language.
Telecommunications: The international access code for Greece is +30. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 001 for the USA or Canada, 0044 for the United Kingdom). Public payphones are available all over Greece and use phone cards, which can be purchased from kiosks. For information concerning mobile phone use in Greece (telephone transmissions are based on GSM technology), please ask your provider.