Interesting Things about Greece

  1. With an area of 50,949 square miles (131,958 square kilometers), Greece is roughly the size of Alabama. The population of Greece is more than 10 million people.—comparatively, the population of Alabama is around 4.5 million.                                                                                                                                                                                                      Greece_Population
  2. Approximately 16.5 million tourists visit Greece each year, more than the country’s entire population. Tourism constitutes nearly 16% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Greece_tourism_tourist
  3. Greece has more international airports than most countries because so many foreign tourists want to visit.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Athens-International-Airport
  4. According to Greek mythology, Athena and Poseidon agreed that whoever gave the city the best gift would become guardian over the city. Though Poseidon gave the gift of water, Athena’s gift of an olive tree was deemed by the other gods to be more valuable.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  athenaposeidon
  5. Greece has zero navigable rivers because of the mountainous terrain. Nearly 80% of Greece is mountainous.Aos river during sunset at Pindos.
  6. Approximately 98% of the people in Greece are ethnic Greeks. Turks form the largest minority group. Other minorities are Albanians, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Armenians, and gypsies.                                                                                                                                                                                              Greek-Fest1
  7. About 12 million people around the world speak Greek. They live mostly in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Albania, Turkey, the United States, among other countries.                                                                                                                                                                                                      Greek Culture
  8. Thousands of English words come from the Greek language, sometimes via the Roman adaptation into Latin and then to English. Common English words from Greek include “academy,” “apology,” “marathon,” “siren,” “alphabet,” and “typhoon.”                                                                                                                                                                                                       R_GreekAlphabet
  9. In the 1950s, only about 30% of Greek adults could read and write. Now, the literacy rate is more than 95%.                                                                                                                                                                                                      Literacy Greece
  10. An old Greek legend says that when God created the world, he sifted all the soil onto the earth through a strainer. After every country had good soil, he tossed the stones left in the strainer over his shoulder and created Greece.                                                                                                                                                                                                  Drought-Medit-Soil-Milos-Greece_MarcelVanOijen_980px
  11. Greece has more than 2,000 islands, of which approximately 170 are populated.  Greece’s largest island is Crete (3,189 sq. miles) (8,260 sq. km.).                                                                                                                                                                                                  Greek-Islands-Santorini-2 (1)
  12. Athens is the capital of Greece, and the first inhabitants of this city were present around the 11th-7th millennium BC. That makes it one of the world’s oldest cities. Athens is a mix of the old and the new, a draw for many tourists today.
  13. You can visit structures like the Parthenon, the Acropolis or the Roman-era Philopappos Monument and revel in ancient history or experience a more modern Greece. Or you can do both in the same day if you choose. It’s no wonder that over 40% of Greece’s citizens live in the capital city of Athens.
  14. Over 40% of the population lives in the capital Athens (Athinain Greek). Since becoming the capital of modern Greece, its population has risen from 10,000 in 1834 to 3.6 million in 2001.
  15. Ancient Greece was not a single country like modern Greece. Rather, it was made up of about 1,500 different city-states or poleis(singular, polis). Each had its own laws and army, and they often quarreled. Athens was the largest city-state.
  16. Until the late 1990s, the greatest threat to Greece was Turkey, as the two nations have had historical disputes over Cyprus and other territory for decades. After coming to each other’s aid after a devastating earthquake that hit both countries in 1999, their relationship has improved.
  17. The life expectancy for ancient Greek women was 36, and the average for males was 45. Of the children born, only half survived infancy. Currently the life expectancy for Greek females is 82 years and for men, 77 years. Greece is ranked #26 in the world for life expectancy rates. The United States is ranked #49.
  18. Greece is the leading producer of sea sponges.
  19. Greek ships make up 70% of the European Union’s total merchant fleet. According to Greek law, 75% of a ship’s crew must be Greek.
  20. The first Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C. The first Olympic champion was a Greek cook named Coroebus who won the sprint race.
  21. Slaves made up between 40% and 80% of ancient Greece’s population. Slaves were captives from wars, abandoned children, or children of slaves.
  22. A long-standing dispute between Britain and Greece centers around the Elgin Marbles (the Greeks prefer to call them the Parthenon Marbles), which are housed in a London’s British Museum. The British government believes that it acquired them fairly through its purchase from Lord Elgin, while the Greeks claim the purchase was illegal.f
  23. Greece has one of the richest varieties of wildlife in Europe, including 116 species of mammals, 18 of amphibians, 59 reptiles, 240 bird, and 107 fish. About half of the endemic mammal species are in danger of becoming extinct.
  24. The monk seal has been a part of Greek’s natural and cultural heritage and is described in The Odyssey. The head of a monk seal was even found on a coin dated 500 B.C. Now, however, only 250 monk seals are left.
  25. Greece organized the first municipal dump in the Western world around 500 B.C.
  26. Greece is the third largest producer of olives in the entire world. Olive trees have been planted by the Greeks since ancient times, and continue to be big business even today. Considering the popularity of olives in Greek food, it should come as no surprise.
  27. There are estimated to be around 120,000,000 olive trees in Greece, and some of the olive trees from the 13th century are still producing olives today.
  28. Mount Olympus is the highest point in Greece, and it was believed to be the home of the Olympian Gods and Goddesses. Mount Olympus rises to 9,750 feet. If you’re the mountaineering type, you can visit Olympus and even reach its peaks. You’d likely start out in the town of Litochoro, translating to The City of the Gods because of its location. Climbing the mountain isn’t impossible for many people, except for the final section to the Mytikas peak which is tricky to climb, but 10,000 people are estimated to climb the mountain each year. So far, not a single one of them has run into Zeus, however.