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Greece today at a glance

Greece, officially known as The Hellenic Republic, is the southernmost country on the European mainland. With an area of 131.940 square kilometres, Greece is about the same size as England or New York state. Greece's longest border is with the sea. Over 3,000 Greek islands are scattered about the eastern Mediterranean, roughly 200 of them inhabited. The Greek mainland shares land borders with Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Bulgaria and Turkey.
Population: 10.964.020 (2001 - census)
Greece's capital city, Athens, (Population: 3,072,922) is also its largest, and is served by Piräas, which is the country's main port.
Although more than half the population is classified as urban, rural life retains a powerful influence. A strong sense of community and family ties prevail even in the busiest of metropolitan centres.
Sex distribution: Male 49,49% , female: 50,51% (2001).
Most Greeks belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, which is governed by a synod of metropolitan bishops, presided over by the Archbishop of Athens. The largest religious minority is the concentration of Greek Muslims in northeastern Thrace. Some islands in the Ionian and Aegean have a significant number of Catholics.Greece's once vibrant Jewish community was nearly destroyed in World War II.
The Hellenic Republic is a parliamentary democracy with a 300 member house, the Vouli or Parliament, headed by the Prime Minister. Parliamentary sessions normally last for four years, followed by elections held on the basis of direct, secret, and universal ballot. The head of the Greek State is the President, who is elected by Parliament. The President, who has limited political powers, may hold office for a maximum of two five-year terms . Greece has been a member of the European Union since 1981. The elements that most clearly define the Greece of today are: Political stability under a moderate social democratic government Sound economic progress as an increasingly significant partner in the European Union An international role, with particular influence in southeast Europe.
Flora and Fauna
The flora of all the regions of our country is the richest in Europe, following the Iberian peninsula's, with more than 6.000 species and subspecies, of which 700-750 are indigenous, that is they can be found only within the boundaries of the greek territory. Greece is the richest country in Europe in indigenous vegetation.
Equally rich is the variety of fauna species living, nesting, propagating or migrating in the greek regions, and particularly 116 mammal species, 422 fowling species and sizable fish fauna (of the 579 fish species of the Mediterranean Sea, the 447 have been registered in the greek seas).
Within its relatively small land area, Greece contains an astonishing variety of ecosystems. Wetlands, old-growth forests, fertile shallows, and thousands of islands contribute to Greece's biodiversity. Greece shelters many endangered animals, including the Mediterranean sea turtle (Carretta-Carretta) and the monk seal (Monachus-Monachus). The northern forests are home to the wildcat, marten, brown bear, roe deer, and occasionally wolf, wild boar, and lynx. Jackals, wild goats, and hedgehogs live in the south. Greece is an important winter habitat for migratory birds. Marine life is equally rich and varied.
About 30% of Greece's territory consists of arable land. The rest is rocky scrub, mountain, or forest. Greek agriculture has benefited from European Union subsidies. Olives and olive oil, grapes, melons, peaches, tomatoes and oranges are among Greece's most important crops. Tobacco and cotton are major exports. Several fine Greek regional wines are now on the international market.

The climate is mostly dry and temperate, though it snows in the mountains and in the north. The mild weather and sheltered valleys of the region, along with the early development of seafaring, contributed to the rise of Ancient Greek Civilisation.


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