60 Amazing Facts that will surprise you About Greece | Amazing Facts 4U
Land & Geography
- Greece is located in southeast Europe, close to both Africa and Asia.
- Greece has an area of about 132,000 Square Kms.
- The population of Greece is around 11 million.
- The capital and largest city in Greece is Athens where over 40% of the population lives. Around two thirds of the Greek population live in urban areas.
- Greece has more than 2,000 islands, of which approximately 170 are populated. Greece’s largest island is Crete (8,260 Sq. Km.)
- 80% of Greece is mountainous and 50% is covered by forests. There are about 3000 islands, only a few hundreds of which are inhabited.
- Greece has zero navigable rivers because of the mountainous terrain.
- The highest mountain in Greece is Mount Olympus, it has over 50 peaks with the highest reaching 2917 meters (9570 feet).
- Greece counts some 7,000 (limestone) caves, forming 24,000 km of underground galleries.
Flora & Fauna
- Greece has one of the richest varieties of wildlife in Europe, including 116 species of mammals, 18 of amphibians, 59 of reptiles, 240 of bird, and 107 of fish.
- About half the endemic mammals are about to be extinct.
- The monk seal has been a part of Greek’s natural and cultural heritage. It was even found on a coin dated 500 B.C. Now, however, only 250 monk seals are left.
- The Minoan civilization, that appeared in Greece around 3650 B.C. predates the first Chinese civilization by almost a millennium.
- Amazingly ancient Greece was made up of about 1,500 different city states . Each had its own laws and army, and they often quarreled. Athens was the largest city state.
- Slaves made up between 40% and 80% of ancient Greece’s population.
- Spartan warriors were known for their long, flowing hair. Before a battle, they would carefully comb it. Cowardly soldiers would have half their hair and half their beards shaved off.
- Ostracism allowed Athenian citizens to temporarily exile people thought dangerous to the public. If it was voted that ostracism was necessary, each citizen voted in a secret ballet and the person with the most names had to leave town in 10 days for 10 years.
- When the Roman Empire split in two in A.D. 285, the eastern half, including Greece, became known as the Byzantine Empire. In 1453 A.D., Greece fell to the Ottoman Empire. Greece wouldn’t achieve independence until 1829.
- Modern Greece is only the centre of the Ancient Greek civilization, which comprised Southern Italy, the coastal areas of Turkey and the Black Sea. It also included some parts of North Africa, Southern France and Spain.
- Until the late 1990s, Greece and Turkey have had historical disputes over Cyprus and other territory for decades. Relationship improved only after a devastating earthquake that hit both countries in 1999 when both helped one another.
Places / Architecture
- Athens is one of the oldest cities in Europe which has been continuously inhabited for over 7,000 years.
- Greece is a popular tourist destination and home to over a dozen World Heritage Sites.
- Greece has more archaeological museums than any other country in the world.
- The Parthenon was built almost 2,500 years ago and sits on the Acropolis above the city of Athens. It actually featured colorful sculptures and a large gold and ivory statue of Athena.
- The city of Rhodes is the most popular location for tourists in Greece. It is famous for housing one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Colossus of Rhodes. This gigantic 98 feet statue of the god Helios, whose legs straddled the harbor, was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 B.C.
People Customs & Culture
- Greek is the official language spoken in Greece.
- Approximately 98% of the people in Greece are ethnic Greeks. Turks form the largest minority group.
- In the 1950s, only about 30% of Greek adults could read and write. Now, the literacy rate is more than 95%.
- Feta, which is made from goat’s milk, is the Greece’s national cheese.
- 85% of Greek people own their accommodation , the highest rate in the European Union.
- Amazing fact is that Greeks do not wave with an open hand. In fact, it is considered an insult to show the palm of the hand with the fingers extended. Greeks wave with the palm closed.
- Greece has about 25 % of job seekers, the highest unemployment rate among developed countries.
- Part time work is almost non existent for men in Greece.
- In Greece, the dead are always buried because the Greek Orthodox Church forbids cremation.
- Amazingly five years after a burial, the body is exhumed and the bones are first washed with wine and then placed in an ossuary.
- Greek people have one of the lowest death rate for cancer in Europe.
- Greece has by far the lowest number of fatal transport accidents per capita in the European Union.
- Ancient Greek history, culture, mythology have inspired many Hollywood films, from the earliest to the latest blockbusters, as well as Japanese and Disney animations.
- Greece is a member of the European Union.
- Greece’s currency, the drachma, was 2,650 years old and Europe’s oldest currency. The drachma was replaced with the Euro in 2002.
- By law voting is compulsory for every citizen who is 18 or older.
- About 10% of a Greek worker’s pay is taken for taxes and another 10% for national health care.
- The government provides free hospitals and other medical services.
- Greek men must serve from one year to 18 months in any branch of the armed forces. Greece spends 6% of the annual GDP on the military.
- 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.
Economy & Corporates
- Important industries include the service sector, agriculture and tourism.
- Approximately 17 million tourists visit Greece each year, more than the country’s entire population. Tourism constitutes nearly 16% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- About 7% of all the marble produced in the world comes from Greece.
- Greece is the world’s third leading producer of olives which has been cultivated since ancient times. Amazingly some olive trees planted in the thirteenth century are still producing olives.
- Shipping has been one of the most important industry in Greece since ancient times. The Greek-owned fleet is the largest in the world with a total of 3,850 ships of over 1.000 gt capacity and totalling 15% of the international shipping capacity.
- Greece is the leading producer of sea sponges.
- Thousands of English words come from the Greek language.Common English words from Greek include “academy”, “alphabet”, “apology”, “marathon” , “siren” ,”alphabet” and “typhoon”.
- Numerous modern Western given names come from Greek, such as Agatha , Alexander, Andrew , Christopher , Gregory , George , Helen, Iris, Margaret , Melissa , Nicholas , Peter, Sebastian , Sophia , Stephen , Theodore,Timothy etc
- The word “Colossus” is derived from the Colossus of Rhodes which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
- The saying “taking the bull by its horns” comes from the Greek myth of Hercules saving Crete from a raging bull by seizing its horns.
- The first Olympic Games took place in Ancient Greece in 776 B.C. The Greeks would sacrifice 100 bulls to Zeus during each Olympics.
- The first Olympic games in modern era were held under the auspices of the IOC in the Panathenaic stadium in Athens in 1896 . Athens most recently hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 2004.
- Football is the national sport of Greece.
- The work of Greek mathematicians such as Pythagoras, Euclid, Archimedes, and Apollonius lies at the basis of modern mathematics.
- Famous People
- Aristotle Onassis (1906-1975) was the most famous shipping magnate of the 20th century. He married Jacqueline Kennedy , widow of assassinated US President John Kennedy.
By Amazing Facts 4U Team