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Basic information


 

Official name:

 

 

Greek republic

 

 

Surface area:

 

 

131 957 km²

 

 

Inhabitants:

 

 

11 018 000 (year 2004)

 

 

Population density:

 

 

83 people per km2

 

 

Capital city:

 

 

Athens

 

 

Political system:

 

 

Republic

 

 

Currency:

 

 

1 euro

 

 

Language:

 

Greek

 

Religion:

 

 

98% Greek Orthodox, 1% Catholics, 1% Muslims

 

Climate:

 

Mediterranean, average temperature in Athens from 9oC in January till 28oC in July

 

 

Highest mountain:

 

 

Olympus (2917 m n. m.)

 

 

Longest river:

 

 

Aliakmon ( 297 km)

 

 

Largest island:

 

 

Crete (8336 km2)

 

 

Time zone:

 

 

+ 1 hour

 

 

Greece is a country located in the South-East Europe on the south of the Balkan Peninsula and on the islands in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Ionic Sea. It borders on Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria in the North and with Turkey in the East. Between Greece and Turkey is the Aegean Sea, from the West Greek coast it is washed by the Ionian Sea from the west and by the Mediterranean from the south. The overall length of the coast is 13 676 km. To Greece also belong around 3000 islands that are especially in the Aegean Sea. The larger ones are for example Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. Greece is a member of the EU (since 1981) and NATO (since 1952).


The country consists of an extensive offshore part on the south of Balkan, Peloponnese Peninsula (divided from the land by the Corinthian Strait) and a number of islands (around 3000, including Crete, Rhodes, Euboea, Dodecanese, Cycled etc.). Greece has a more than 15 000 km long shore and 1 160 km long borders.


About 80% of the country comprises mountains or hills, which ranks Greece among the most mountainous states in Europe. Mountain ranges in Greece are called “Helenids”. Western Greece has a lot of lakes and wetlands. The central mountains Pindos have the highest spot in the altitude of 2 636 m above the sea level. The mountain range stretches along through the Peloponnese Peninsula, Kithira and Antikithira islands and ends on the Crete Island. The islands in the Aegean Sea are actually peaks of the mountains that were elongated parts of land years ago.


The Middle and western part of Greece disposes of high sheer cliffs intermitted by a number of canyons and other kars formations (ravines Meteora and Vices).


The highest spot in Greece is the Olympus Mount with an altitude of 2 919 m above the sea level. Northern Greece is formed by a mountain range as well – by Rhodops, which are situated in eastern Macedonia and Thrace. This area is covered with extensive thick woods (for example the well known Dadia).


Plateaus are mainly in eastern Thessaly, middle Macedonia and Thrace. Greek climate is divided into three easily definable climate zones – oceanic, mountain and temperate. The first one has mild wet winters and hot dry summers. Winter temperatures seldom reach extremes, although sometimes it can snow also in Athens, Cyclades or on Crete. Mountain climate is mostly in western Greece (Epirus, middle Greece, Thessaly, western Macedonia, as well as in the middle parts of the Peloponnese Peninsula – Achaea, Arcadia, Laconia etc.). The temperate climate with cold and damp winters and hot and dry summers occurs in the middle and east Macedonia, in Thrace and places like Komotini, Xanthus and north Evros. Interestingly Athens is located in between two climate zones, which causes that in the southern region the climate is oceanic meanwhile in northern ones there is mountain climate.


Around the 50% of the Greek territory is covered by woods with plentiful various vegetation, which differentiate from coniferous trees to littoral type of vegetation. Greek woods are the homeland for the last brown bears and lynxes in Europe as well as for other species like wolves, roe-deers, wild goats, foxes or wild boars. In the sea around Greece live seals, hawkbills, and other rare sea animals.


Travel documents

The entry to Greece undergoes the same regulations as in other member countries of EU. You need a valid passport or a valid identification card. If you plan a trip to Turkey while you’re on vacation on Dodecanese, you should better take your passport with you.

Customs and foreign currency

While leaving the country, count on inspection of your luggage. Forbidden is the export of antiques and limited is the export of products of nature. In case you bought a copy of an antique or artwork, prepare a purchase document

Driving a car

In Greece are in force the same traffic rules as in other European countries (max speed in urban district is 50km/h, outside urban district is 80km/h, on speedways is 100km/h and on highways is 130km/h). Despite this fact it is recommended to pay extra attention while driving, because of the peculiar driving style of local drivers that can take you by surprise in the negative meaning of the word.


If you plan to cross the border with your vehicle, except the driver’s licence you will also need the log book and green card.


It is forbidden to answer calls while driving. It is necessary to use seatbelts on front seats. It is also required to use children’s seat. The limit of alcohol in blood is 0,5 per mille for experienced drivers. For drivers, who have their licence for less than 2 years it is 0,2 per mille. But be careful – causing an accident under influence of alcohol is severely punished!


Specific is also the quality of Greek roads. The main roads and speedways are usually in a good shape but turns are sometimes signalized very late or they are not always enclosed by crash barriers. The situation can also be complicated by landslide, usually after some heavy rain. Even on consolidated roads you can run into holes or verge that had torn away. The direction boards are usually in Roman alphabet, but can be placed strangely. Therefore we recommend to invest money into purchase of a good map. 

Diving

In Greece private diving with oxygen cylinder is possible only with a special permission and only in particular areas. Persons interested in diving with an instructor can take advantage of local diving schools and bases. Snorkelling is obviously permitted.

Islands and regions of Greece

Approximately one fourth of the surface area of Greece take the Greek islands (over 3000, 167 is inhabited). The largest one is Crete (8260 km2), Evvoia (3657 km2), Lesbos (1630 km2) and Rhodes (1400 km2). Some archipelagos form governmental regions or own prefectures. 

 

1    Ionic Islands
The Ionic Islands are situated near the West coast in the Ionian Sea. To the famous islands belong especially Corfu, then also Paxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Cephalonia, Zakinthos and Cythera.

2     Aegean Islands
They spread from Rhodop in the north down to south along the West coast of Turkey. From these islands are sometimes set apart the North Aegean (or Thrace) Islands. Among the well known Aegean islands are Limnos, Chios, Thasos, Samos and especially Lesbos.

3    Sporades Islands
Also Sporades Islands, literally “scattered islands”, are today restricted to Northern Sporades, situated to the east from Euboea Island. Other islands are for example Scythes, Alnicos and Skiros. Years ago also other islands were count as Sporades Islands, but today’s are perceived as a part of Cycled, Dodecanese and Aegean islands.


4    Cyclades Island
Also Cyclades Islands, meaning the “islands in the ring”, are situated between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea and are one of the most visited touristic places in Greece. The best known island is Santorin.

5    Dodecanese Islands
As well as the others, Dodecanese Islands, are the southern continuation of the chain of the Greek islands along the dissected Turkey coast. The name means “twelve” – the number of the main islands. The best known is for sure Rhodes, others are for example Kos, Karpathos, and Patmos and Kastellorizon (the most eastern Greek island).  

6    Saronic Islands
Sometimes even Saronic and Argol Islands are four islands that lie only few kilometres to the south from Athens in front of the Peloponnese Peninsula. Especially Aigina is a very popular destination for Athenians.

7    Crete
It is not an archipelago, but because of its size and importance it is presented as an island area. Other islands around Crete are absolutely meaningless. Crete is one of the most southern islands of Greece.

8    Macedonia
Middle Macedonia is one of the Greek regions. It is located in the north of the country, near the border with Macedonia and Bulgaria. The capital is Thessaloniki. Administratively is the region divided into 6 prefectures (Khalkidhiki, Kilkis, Pella, Pieria, Selles and Thessaloniki)

9    Thessaly
Is one of the 13 Greek regions that are further divided into prefectures. Thessaly is situated in the middle part of Greece. In the north it neighbours with Macedonia, in the west with Epirus and in the south with central Greece.

10    Thrace
It is a historical area on the Balkan Peninsula. Today this region lies in the territory of Three states: Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. The shores of Thrace are surrounded by three seas: the Black, Aegean and Marmara Sea.

11    Attica
It is a peninsula in Greece, on which the capital city lies – Athens and a couple of other cities. It is situated in southern Greece. The same name carries also the prefecture, which covers besides Attica also a part of Peloponnese Peninsula and islands like Salamis, Aegina and others.

12     Peloponnese
It is a large peninsula in the South of Greece forming the land to the south from the Corinthian Bay. It is also one of the Greek regions and is divided into five prefectures. This region does not cover the whole surface of the Peloponnese Peninsula.

Weather in Greece

For Greece is typical the Mediterranean climate and the weather will probably not surprise you. It is usually sunny with temperatures around 30C. Sometimes showers or storms occur and it rains, but this usually lasts maximally one day. The warmest place in Greece is Crete or Cyclades. The temperatures here in summer can reach over 40 C. These temperatures are usually connected to “Meltemi” - hot and dry winds that blow from Africa. The most rainfall has the north-west of Greece – the area around Corfu Island but most of it is during the winter so you don’t have to be afraid that it will ruin your vacation.

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