Location: Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian
Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey
Geographic coordinates: 39 00 N, 22 00 E
Map references: Europe
total: 131,940 sq km
land: 130,800 sq km
water: 1,140 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Alabama
total: 1,210 km
border countries: Albania 282 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Turkey
206 km, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 228 km
Coastline: 13,676 km
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
territorial sea: 6 nm
Climate: temperate; mild, wet winters; hot, dry summers
Terrain: mostly mountains with ranges extending into the
sea as peninsulas or chains of islands
lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917 m
Natural resources: bauxite, lignite, magnesite, petroleum,
arable land: 19%
permanent crops: 8%
permanent pastures: 41%
forests and woodland: 20%
other: 12% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 13,140 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: severe earthquakes
Environment - current issues: air pollution; water pollution
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air
Pollution-Sulphur 94, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic
Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered
Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the
Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship
Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic
Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Climate Change-Kyoto
Geography - note: strategic location dominating the Aegean
Sea and southern approach to Turkish Straits; a peninsular country,
possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands
Greece is situated in southeast Europe on the Mediterranean. The
mainland consists of the following regions: Central Greece, Peloponnese,
Thessaly (east/central), Epirus (west), Macedonia (north/northwest)
and Thrace (northwest). Euboea, the second largest of the Greek
islands, lying to the east of the central region, is also considered
to be part of the mainland region.
The Peloponnese peninsula is separated from the northern mainland
by the Isthmus of Corinth. The northern mainland is dissected by
high mountains (such as the Pindus) that extend southwards towards
a landscape of fertile plains, pine-forested uplands and craggy,
scrub-covered foothills. The islands account for one-fifth of the
land area of the country.
The majority are thickly clustered in the Aegean between the Greek
and Turkish coasts. The Ionian Islands are the exception; they are
scattered along the west coast in the Ionian Sea.
The Aegean archipelago includes the Dodecanese, lying off the Turkish
coast, of which Rhodes is the best known; the Northeast Aegean group,
including Lemnos, Lesvos, Chios, Samos and Ikaria; the Sporades,
off the central mainland; and the Cyclades, comprising 39 islands
(of which only 24 are inhabited). Crete, the largest island, is
not included in any formal grouping.
Greece has a warm Mediterranean climate. In summer, dry hot days
are often relieved by stiff breezes, especially in the north and
Athens can be stiflingly hot, so visitors should allow time to acclimatise.
The evenings are cool. Winters are mild in the south but much colder
in the north. November to March is the rainy season.
Greece achieved its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829.
During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of
the 20th century, it gradually added neighboring islands and territories
with Greek-speaking populations.
Following the defeat of communist rebels in 1949, Greece joined
NATO in 1952. A military dictatorship, which in 1967 had suspended
many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country,
was itself overthrown seven years later.
Democratic elections in 1974 abolished the monarchy and created
a parliamentary republic; Greece joined the EU in 1981.