Greece Geography and Population

Greece – geography

Greece includes the southern part of the Balkans. After the municipal reform from 1996, the country is divided into 13 regions, 51 counties and 1033 municipalities. Athens is the capital and has a population of approximately 3.7 million (Attica region) corresponding to 1/3 of the total population.

Landscape and geology

The Greek landscape includes two main groups: the mainland and the archipelago. Both have a varied nature alternating between mountain and lowland and characterized by the sea. Geological displacements in the subsoil have created uneven, rocky shores, while erosion and deposits have created flat sandy and pebble beaches. Displacements in the earth’s crust during the Tertiary period have formed large sea depths off the Greek coast, thus also the deepest point of the Mediterranean, the Inouse Tomb (5090 m) west of the Peloponnese.

800 islands are named and 140 inhabited. They make up 19% of the country’s area and have 1.5 million. residents (2001). The many islands are formed after a land subsidence of an area that originally connected the Balkan Peninsula with Asia Minor. In addition to the two largest, Crete (8261 km2) and Evia (3655 km2), the islands can be divided into six groups: the Ionian Islands on the west side of the mainland, the northeastern Aegean Islands, the Sporades NE of Evia, the Saronic Islands SW of Athens, the Dodecanese and the largest archipelago, the Cycladesin the Aegean Sea. The sea has shaped Greek culture since ancient times, and until the end of the last century, the sea was the main transportation route and maritime trade the main source of income.

Flat coastal areas are found on the west side of the Peloponnese and at Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese, on the Chalkidiki peninsula as well as along the foot of the Rhodope Mountains between Kavala and Alexandroupolis. Large plains with fertile soil are especially connected to the rivers, Pinios in Thessaly as well as Axios and Aliakmonas (297 km and the country’s longest) in Macedonia. Large rivers and lakes are found in northern Greece, where they often naturally divide regions. For example, the region of Thrace is bounded by Turkey by the river Evros.

Mountains cover 3/4of the land area. They consist of sand and limestone as well as granite, slate and volcanic rocks. The Greek mountains are mainly tertiary folding mountains created by the alpine folding with the exception of the older Rodopi mountains consisting of crystalline rocks as well as marine deposits that have been transformed into schist, slate and marble. The enormous pressure of the alpine fold pushed the present land masses up out of the Tethys Sea, but at later displacements the land mass sank, forming the Aegean Sea. West of this, the displacement of the earth’s crust continued upward, forming the Greek mainland. The whole area is tectonically unstable and earthquakes are frequent, especially in a curved line from Corfu in the north, down the Ionian Islands along the west coast of the Peloponnese, further east on the northern side of Crete to Turkey.

The Pindos mountain range, which is an extension of the Dinarids, goes south across the Greek mainland and the Peloponnese to Crete, on to Karpathos and Rhodes and to the Taurus mountain range in Turkey. The chain has several mountain peaks over 2400 m. It is broken by an elongated depression that forms the Corinthian Gulf. From the northern part of Pindos originate two smaller mountain ranges: the Pelago zone and the Attica-Cyclades massif run parallel to, but east of Pindos, and here is Greece’s highest mountain, Olympos (2917 m). The chain continues SEE into the Aegean Sea and ends at the Cyclades. The other tributary of the Pindos is the Macedonian-Rodopoic Massif, which extends eastward along the border with Bulgaria.

The geological conditions have formed a natural division of the country into nine geographical areas: Macedonia and Thrace in the north; Epirus and the Ionian Islands west of the Pindo chain and east of Thessaly; south of it Sterea Ellas, which forms central Greece and the southern part of the Balkans, ending with the Peloponnese peninsula; to the east the Aegean Islands and to the south the island of Crete.

Climate and plant belts

Greece is located in the temperate climate belt on the border of the subtropical. The Mediterranean climate is dominant in the southern part and on the islands with large variations in temperatures and precipitation depending on regional topographical conditions. The coasts and low-lying parts of the country have long, hot and dry summers and mild winters with little rainfall. The mountain areas have a temperate climate with deciduous and coniferous forests. Athens has an average annual temperature of 17.9 °C and a very low annual rainfall of 407 mm; The warmest month is July with an average of 28.8 ° C, and the coldest is January with 8.6 °C. In summer, the hot livas wind from the Sahara can bring temperatures in southern Greece above 40 °C, while meltemiathe wind from the north brings cool air. Summer temperatures on the islands are usually somewhat lower than on the mainland due to windy conditions in the Aegean Sea.

West-facing shores are makio area with low shrubs and trees. Low pressure with humid Atlantic clouds causes winter rain on the Pindos Mountains and the Ionian Islands, and the annual precipitation here is more than twice as large as in Athens. The southern coastline of Crete has a subtropical climate.

Northern Greece, with the exception of the coasts, has a continental continental climate with locally strong frosts and snow in winter. The summers here are shorter and can be very hot locally with modest rainfall.


At the establishment of the modern state in 1828, the total population was 753,400 and the population density of 16 residents per capita. km2. Later migrations have marked the population development in the 1900’s. In the period 1900-30 emigrated button 1/2 million. Greeks, mainly to the United States, and after the Peace of Lausanne in 1923, approximately 1.5 million Greeks from Turkey to Greece. 1955-74 emigrated approximately 1.2 million, of which approximately 775,000 to European countries (West Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden) and the rest to the United States, Canada and Australia. 1975-2001 over 400,000 returned to Greece due to the economic crisis in the West and old age. In the 1990’s and until today, 5 million people of Greek descent abroad, of which 3 million in the United States and Canada, 1 million in Australia,1/2 million in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and 3/4 million in Western Europe.

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The age distribution of the population has followed the Western European pattern. In the period 1961-2001, the number of young people under the age of 15 decreased from 27% to 15%, while the number of older people over 64 increased from 8% to 17%. The number of births per 1000 residents have fallen from 18 to 9 and the number of deaths has risen from 7 to 9. Child mortality In the same period has fallen from 40 to 5.

In 1991-2001, the population density increased from 78 residents to 83 residents per capita. km2. As many as 41% of the population live in the country’s two largest urban areas, Athens (Attica) and Thessaloniki.

Of the total population in 1991, 97.4% were Greeks. By 2001, it had dropped to 93%. The number of registered foreigners has roughly tripled in the decade 1991-2001; from 270,876 to 782,191. The foreigners come from other European countries, USA, Middle East, Asian and African countries. In addition to the majority in Cyprus, there are Greek minorities in southern Albania and in Turkey.

The population is through the 1900’s. have been concentrated in the cities, but from the end of the 1980’s there has been an incipient relocation to the province, following the introduction of agricultural support schemes as well as improved infrastructure, culture and public services. Largest cities are Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Volos and Larissa.

Occupation and employment

German occupation and the Civil War of 1941-49 put Greek production and economy in ruins, but foreign capital investment and cheap labor secured Greece one of Europe’s highest growth rates in the 1950’s-60’s. From the end of the 1960’s, Greece has gone from being a distinctly agricultural society to being a service and industrial society.

In 2001, agricultural production accounted for 8% of the country’s GDP and 20% of employment, industry 22% of GDP and 21% of employment, while service accounted for 70% of GDP and 59% of employment. The total workforce was 4.3 million. and unemployment of approximately 10% (2001). The characteristic of employment in Greece is the small proportion of employees and the large proportion of self-employed. In 1981, less than 50% of the workforce were employees, in 2001 this figure had risen to approximately 60%.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing. The agricultural area accounts for 30% of the country’s area (2001); 1/3 is lowland and irrigated, while 2/3 is located in highlands. Agriculture produces wheat, sugar beet, tomatoes, corn, potatoes and other vegetables as well as grapes, citrus fruits, peaches, cotton and olives. There is an extensive livestock population, especially goats and sheep, and fruit and vegetable production is very varied, e.g. sunflower, soy, lentils, eggplant, squash watermelons, Christmas salad, beans, artichokes, chili, garlic, okra, apricots, avocado, bananas, medlar, cherries, grapefruit, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, etc. In the village of Krokos north of Kozani is Europe’s largest producer of saffron and on the island of Chios mastic is produced.

Dry and hot climates especially in the southern part of the country and on the islands make these areas suitable for olive production and viticulture. Greece is one of the world’s leading olive growers and the EU’s largest producer of tobacco; especially the aromatic, oriental basmatobaks are grown on the mountain slopes of Macedonia and Thrace.

Cotton production is one of the largest in Europe. The bulk is used in the Greek textile industry and the rest is exported. The cultivation is concentrated in irrigated areas in Macedonia, Thessaly, around Agrinio and on Evia. The cultivation of peaches and nectarines has increased sharply due to irrigation since the 1980’s, and 90% of the production takes place in Macedonia; the majority goes to exports. Other export crops are cherries, kiwifruit and nuts.

Agriculture has undergone significant structural changes since the 1960’s, with closures and mergers of use, migration and extensive mechanization. Employment in agriculture has fallen from 54% in 1961 to 20% in 2001, not including a significant illegal labor force in agriculture. The development has been associated with a decrease in the number of domestic and transport animals. The reduction in the number of beef and dairy cattle has been offset by processing, and thus milk, cheese and meat production has increased in the period 1971-2001. In addition, sheep wool, skins and hides as well as honey are produced.

Pga. the favorable climate, an increasing greenhouse operation and increased irrigation, crops can be produced all year round. The great challenge of Greek agriculture in the new millennium is the lack of water, as an ever-increasing use of irrigation takes place.

Forestry is limited, despite the fact that 1/5 of the country’s land area is forested, is 90% thereof in inaccessible highlands and mountains. Only 5% of the forest is used intensively for the production of paper, timber, firewood and charcoal.

Greece’s fishing fleet comprises approximately 900 trawlers for deep-sea fishing primarily in the Mediterranean and approximately 8000 registered fishing boats for coastal fishing. The stagnant catches include sardines, mackerel, gray and red mullet, squid, shrimp and lobster. approximately 40,000 are employed in the fisheries sector (2001), and Greece is today the EU’s largest maritime fish farm producer.

Industry. Greece’s industry developed especially after 1960, with the food and beverage industries as well as the textile and clothing industries as the most important, followed by metal goods, machinery, cement and means of transport. Construction and construction have formed a central part of the industry’s growth in connection with high demand for housing in the big cities. The industry was previously concentrated around Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, but is now more widely located in the so-called industrial S-curve from the cities of Patras and Corinth in the Peloponnese over Athens, Lamia, Volos and Katerini to Thessaloniki and on to Kavala and Xanthi. Industrial employment fell from 25% in 1991 to 21% in 2001, at the same time as there was a significant modernization and streamlining of production.

At the Paralia Distomo in the Gulf of Corinth, there is the only aluminum plant in Europe where the entire aluminum production process takes place, from the processing of Greek bauxite to the finished product aluminum. In Kastoria, Macedonia, there is an extensive fur production, which for mink fur sewn from small pieces of skin covers 90% of world production and for mink fur sewn from whole skins covers 50%. The main industrial exports in 2001 consisted of food, clothing and textiles, minerals, oil products and cement.

Trade and service. While foreign trade before World War II was dominated by exports of agricultural crops and raw ore, from the 1990’s it has been dominated by industrial products. The manufacturing sector alone accounts for 60% of Greece’s exports, which go mainly to other EU and Balkan countries. The service sector, including banks and insurance companies, is increasingly important for the Greek economy and employment. In total, more than 2.5 million. (2001) employed in the service sector, of which approximately 800,000 in the public sector.

Since 1960, tourism has been one of the most important and constantly increasing sources of income in the Greek business community. The sector employs approximately 10% of the labor force and accounts for 8% of GDP (2001). In 2001, there were 15 million. tourists, of which 365,000 charter tourists from Denmark. Economically, a lot has been invested in tourism, whereby related infrastructure and employment have become extensive. There is an increasing focus on affluent tourists, and prices have risen significantly in the last ten years, not least in connection with the conduct of the 2004 Olympic Games. locally owned hotels. The largest charter tourist centers are Crete, Rhodes, Athens, Corfu, Kos and Chalkidiki.

Merchant Navy. Throughout history, the Greeks have dominated maritime transport not only in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Adriatic, but also on the great oceans of the world. The development of the merchant navy dates back to the late 1700’s, when the maritime trading islands of Hydra, Spetses and Psara earned enormous wealth from piracy and trade between Russia, the Middle East and Western Europe. The maritime trading islands and the steamship center, the island of Siros, lost importance at the opening of the Corinth Canal in 1893 and the introduction of motor ships. In the 1950’s and 60’s, the merchant navy became the world’s largest, and after a period of decline in the 1970’s and 80’s, its leading position has developed to cover 17% of total world tonnage. The Greek merchant navy is approximately 50% of the EU’s total merchant fleet.

Transport and communication. The railway coverage is low, the rolling stock is of older date, and the total length is 2571 km, of which 764 are electrified (2001). In recent years, high-speed intercity trains have been established between Athens and Thessaloniki. The majority of freight and passenger transport therefore takes place via the road network, where an expanded intercity bus system ensures access to the mountain villages. The scheduled airline, operated by the state-owned Olympic Airways, has daily connections from Athens to all major Greek cities and islands as well as to overseas. Domestic flights have been supplemented by private companies in recent decades. Since the beginning of the 1990’s, large new motorway systems have been built, e.g. the northern Greek motorway of Egnatia (670 km) and the ring road of the metropolitan area Attiki Odos (65 km).

There is great shipping between the regions and the islands for both goods and passengers. The largest ports are Piraeus, Igoumenitsa, Corfu, Elefsina, Patras and Thessaloniki. Freight transport to and from the Balkans is growing and is primarily via Thessaloniki.

Resources and environment

Greece has many mineral resources. The iron, silver and lead mines were emptied in the 1960’s and 70’s, but there are still significant deposits of bauxite, lignite and chromium as well as deposits of manganese, nickel, magnesium, gold and asbestos. Greece is Europe’s leading bauxite producer and the deposit is estimated at 650 million. t (approximately 5% of the world known deposits). The production is used in our own aluminum production. Non-metallic minerals primarily for export are marble, pozzolancement, ceramic clay, pumice, bentonite and perlite.

There are smaller oil and natural gas deposits in the Aegean Sea, and crude oil is extracted from a field near Thasos; east of this is a field of 500 million. barrels located, but a conflict with Turkey over territorial waters has blocked new test wells. South of the Peloponnese, natural gas deposits have been found.

After the oil crisis in 1973, when 91% of energy consumption was covered by imported oil, national lignite-based electricity production, located in Kozani, has increased sharply in connection with a shift in energy supply to greater self-sufficiency. However, it has had negative consequences for the environment due to pollution. On the river Nestos north of the town of Drama in northern Greece is one of Europe’s largest hydropower plants. Built in the mid-1990’s. A natural gas pipeline from Russia via Bulgaria supplies gas to Athens and Thessaloniki. Electricity energy production has increased from DKK 32 billion. KWh in 1991 to 48 billion. in 2001. Of the total energy consumption in 2001, approximately 60% covered by imported oil and natural gas, 32% by lignite and 8% by hydropower, solar and wind power. Greece has half of the EU’s solar panels used primarily for private heating.

Greece has many natural forest and wetlands with a rich animal and plant life. Ten of these natural areas have been protected and transformed into nature parks such as the Zagorial villages of Epirus, the Olympos mountain between Thessaly and Macedonia, the White Mountains with the Samaria Gorge in Crete and the marine parks Alonisos with seals and Zakinthos with sea turtles.

Greece – plant life

Large parts of the Greek lowlands were originally covered by evergreen forest of aleppo pine, Pinus halepensis, and kermeseg, Quercus coccifera; the majority of these areas are now cultivated or transformed into shrubs (maki, garrigue) by grazing and burning. On the lower mountain slopes there is forest of deciduous oak and real chestnut, at a somewhat higher level in northern and central Greece also beech forest. The tree line is often formed by species of pine and spruce; it is usually located at 1700-2000 m (on Mount Olympos locally up to 2300 m). Above the tree line is a rich local flora.

The flora of Greece comprises approximately 5,700 species of vascular plants, of which 740 are endemic to the country, which is the highest figure for any area of ​​similar size in Europe. The frequency of endemic species increases in a southerly direction and is highest in the White Mountains of western Crete.

Greece – language

In Greece, modern Greek is spoken, which is the official language of the country. There are a number of mutually intelligible dialects with the language of Athens as the national norm. In northeastern Greece, there is a Turkish-speaking minority as well as small Slavic-speaking groups; but most non-native speakers of Greek, such as Roma, also speak Greek. For culture and traditions of Greece, please check aparentingblog.

Greece – religion

The dominant religious community is the Greek Orthodox Church, which is considered to include over 95% of the population. The largest religious minorities are Muslims and Catholics. Thus, Greece is the most homogeneous country of Orthodox Christianity, and the national character of the church emphasizes the connection between church, state and people. Following the Greek War of Independence, the church declared independence in 1833 from the Patriarchate of Constantinople and in 1850 obtained the approval of the patriarch. The leadership consists of the Holy Episcopal Synod presided over by the Archbishop of Athens. Two universities (in Athens and Thessaloniki) train theologians, but many priests, especially in the countryside, possess only a basic education. In recent years, monastic life has experienced some flourishing, including on Mount Athos.

There are quite a few non-Orthodox and a few Jewish denominations. On a number of islands in the Cyclades, such as Siros and Tinos, there are Roman Catholic congregations with their own bishops and cathedrals. approximately 120,000 Muslims concentrated in Western Thrace make up the country’s largest religious minority group.