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Greece, the Hellenic Republic, is a country in Southern Europe, on the southernmost tip of the Balkan peninsula, with extensive coastlines and islands in the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean Seas. It shares borders in the north with Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.
Modern Greece looks back on the heritage of the ancient Greek civilization, generally considered to be the "seminal" culture which provided the foundation of Western civilization. As such, it is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy.
Very few countries can rival the richness of Greece's history. Philosophers like Plato, Socrates and Aristotle formulated some of history's most important ideas here. Today, ancient sites like the Parthenon and Delphi survive to be awe-inspiring spectacles for the throngs of tourists who flock to them. Many of Greece's cities date back milleniums, and despite modernity rearing its head, the character of these places still retains their ancient tradition.
Greece is a destination with more than enough attractions to lure you there and plenty of surprises to keep you dazzled. After you have seen all the touristy hot spots, head for one of Greece's many fine Mediterranean beaches, stretch out, close your eyes and let the sounds of a land of dreams wash over you.
An important percentage of Greece's income comes from tourism. Thus, in 2007, Greece welcomed more than 19 million tourists, and climbed to the top ten worldwide tourist destinations. Over 90% of tourists who visit Greece come from other European countries, although in recent years there have been growing numbers of guests from other world regions. The vast majority of visitors arrive during tourism season, which is April through October. Peak season is July through August. The island of Rhodes was announced the best European tourist destination. Other famous tourist hotspots include the capital Athens, the northern Chalkidiki peninsula, the Ionian island of Corfu and the island resorts of Myconos, Santorini, Paros and Crete.
131,990 sq km (50,944 sq mi)
Greek is the national official language and is the native tongue of the vast majority of the population, but English speaking visitor will encounter no significant language problem. English is the most widely studied and understood of foreign languages in Greece, followed by French, Italian, and German. Basic knowledge of English can be expected from almost all personnel in the tourism industry and public transport services, as well as most Greeks under the age of 40.
An estimated 97% of Greek citizens identify themselves as Greek Orthodox. Recognized Muslim minority, which is mostly located in Thrace, range between 0.9% and 1.2%.
220V / 50Hz (European plug)
on the right
Greece is both a member of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). All EU nationals may enter Greece with a valid national ID card; this includes non-member states affiliated with the European Union, such as Monaco and Andorra. Citizens from EEA states that are not members of the EU (such as Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland), may also enter Greece with a valid national ID card.
A valid passport is required of all non-EU and non-EEA nationals, and most are also required to obtain a visa. Citizens of select countries, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Hong Kong SAR, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United States, are allowed a 90-day visa-free stay.
Greece is a signatory of the Schengen agreement along with Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia Spain, and Sweden. There are no passport checks when traveling between any two Schengen countries. A non-Schengen national who plans on visiting multiple Schengen countries - and who needs a tourist visa to visit them - may do so on just one visa from one Schengen country; but he is best advised to specifically obtain the visa for the first country he will be visiting.
Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (ATH) is the country's largest, busiest airport and main hub, handling over 15 million passengers annually. Other major gateways are Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport (HER) in Heraklion, Makedonia International Airport (SKG) in Thessaloniki, Rhodes Diagoras International Airport (RHO), and Ioannis Kapodistrias International Airport (CFU) in Corfu.
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