Country name ; Hellenic Republic ( conventional long form)

Greece ( conventional short form )( More info - www.government.gr)

Location :  SoutheasternEurope, surrounded by the Aegean Sea, the Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, neighboring with Albania ,Serbia, FYROM, Bulgaria and Turkey.  ( More info - www.gnto.gr )

Area :  131,957 sq. km., slightly smaller than the state of Alabama.

Climate :  Temperate; mild, wet winters (52F); hot, dry summers (92F)

Terrain :  Mostly mountainous with ranges extending into the sea peninsulas. It includes nearly 2,000 islands.

Population :  10,645,343 (July 2002 est.).

Age :  0-14 years: 14.8%, 15-54 years: 67.17%, 65 years & over; 18.1 %.

Nationality :  Greek(s).

Ethnic Groups :  Greek 98%, other 2%

Religions :  Greek Orthodox Christians 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7%

Languages : Greek 98% (official), English, French ( More info -www.greeklanguage.gr )

Flag Description : Nine equal horizontal stripes of blue alternating with white; there is a blue square in the upper hoist - side corner bearing a white cross; the cross symbolizes the Greek Orthodoxy.

Government : Parliamentary Republic.

Head of State :  President Prokopis Pavlopoulos

Head of Government :  Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

Constitution :  June 11, 1975; amended March 1986 and April 2001.

Legislative Branch :  Unicameral Parliament ( More info -www.parliament.gr)

Capital :  Athens ( More info - www.cityofathens.gr)

Currency :   Euro (EURO). On January 1, 2002 the Euro substituted the old Drachma and became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries. ( more info - www.bankofgreece.gr/en or www.ahba.gr).

Major industries :  Tourism, shipping, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, metal products, mining and petroleum products.

Major trading partners :  Germany, Italy, France, U.K.,U.S.A..(More info- www.elke.gr ).

Member of European Union (E.U.) :  Since January 1, 1980.

Visas :  Currently, citizens of many countries-including U.S.A.-need a passport and are allowed to stay in Greece up to three months without a visa; most others can enter Greece for up to two months without one.( More info - www.greekembassy.org ).

Electricity :  220V, 50Hz ( two round prongs socket ).

Weights & measures :  Metric system. ( Conversion tools )

International Airports :  Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport - Athens (www.aia.gr), Macedonian Int. Airport, Rhodes, Corfu. 

Workweek :  Five days.

Main Public Holidays:

New Years Day, 

Epiphany, 

Ash Monday, 

Good Friday,

Easter Sunday,

Easter Monday,

Independence Day - March 25,

Annunciation of the Virgin Mary - March 25,

Labor Day - May 1,

Pentecost,

Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary- August 15,

OXI Day - October 28,

Christmas &Boxing Day - December 25 & 26

Cultural Hints :   Greece, with so many things to see, is often referred to as an "open air museum". With about 300 museums and almost as many archeological and religious sites, the choices are endless. Hundreds of festivals and events decorate the Greek calendar throughout the year with the Athens and Epidaurus Festivals, during the summer, among the most renowned. ( More info - www.culture.gr and www.hellenicfestival.gr )

  Food & Beverage :  Greeks in all walks of life use evening dining as a principal source of entertainment. In most establishments service is likely to be friendly and casual. Formality is found in exclusive restaurants only.

Estiatorion  ( Restaurant )- Conventional eating establishment offering international cuisine and greek food .

Taverna- An offshoot of the traditional countryside eating place usually run by a family. A great deal of emphasis is given on the mezedes and the greek traditional cooking.

Psistaria ( Steakhouse)- Hear one can inspect the roast pork, lamb and chicken. The selection is priced according to the weight.

Bouzouki ( Live Orchestra Entertainment)- The places where one can break plates when spirits are high, or throw flowers at favorite performers, as the custom has evolved today.

PsaroTaverna ( Fish food Restaurant )- Usually found by the seaside or harbourside where the fish is the owners morning catch.

A meal in Greece is highlighted with a selection of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres (mezedes), with items such as melitzanosalata (mashed eggplant with oil, lemon and garlic), dolmadakia (meat or rice rolled in grapevine leaves), kalamarakia (deep fried squid), tyropitakia (cheese wrapped in strudel leaves), kolokythakia ( deep fried zucchini) served with tzatziki (Cucumber, yogurt and garlic spread), keftethes ( fried meatballs) and more.

The Main Course is a casserole or grilled meat or fish. There are many delectable meat stews to chose from, as well as plain grilled cuts of meat and of course the well-known charcoal grilled lamb or pork called souvlaki. Fish and shellfish are excellent caught, cooked and eaten the same day.

Salad is usually ordered with the main course and can be prepared with fresh vegetables or cooked dandelions, served with lemon and oil. Horiatiki, the typical Greek salad, consists of tomato & cucumber slices, olives and feta cheese dressed with oil and vinegar.

Desserts are a delectable treat, including baklava, kataifi, galaktoboureko, karidopita, the children's favorite, vanillia and more.

Greek wine has come into the international scene, with more than 50 local wineries that produce all types of white and red wine, with the "retsina" being an exclusive wine variation of Greece.

Greek coffee is a variation of the coffee offered in many southeastern Mediterranean countries. Variations are "pikro" (bitter, no sugar), metrio (semi-sweet) and "gliko" (sweet).

Pricing and tipping: sometimes in Greece the bill already includes a 15% service charge. If the service has not been included, the tipping for the waiter is 15% at most restaurants (20% in high end establishments) and a small tip is expected for the busboy