Greece

Greece ( Greek: Ελλάδα ) ,  officially the Hellenic Republic, historically also known as Hellas ,is a country in southeastern Europe.

Greece’s population is approximately 10.955 million as of 2015. Athens is the nation’s capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki. Greece has a total area of 131,957 square kilometres (50,949  square miles) .

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Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Situated on the southern tip of the Balkan peninsula, it shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the northeast. Greece consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, the Aegean Islands (including the Dodecanese and Cyclades), Thrace, Crete, and the Ionian Islands .

Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands, of which 227 are inhabited. Eighty percent of Greece is mountainous, with Mount Olympus being the highest peak at 2,918 metres (9,573 ft).

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Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilization, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature, historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama.               Greece’s rich historical legacy is reflected by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among the most in Europe and the world.

Greece is a democratic and developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life, and a very high standard of living. A founding member of the United Nations, Greece was the tenth member to join the European Communities (precursor to the European Union) and has been part of the Eurozone since 2001. It is also a member of numerous other international institutions, including the Council of Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). Greece’s unique cultural heritage, large tourism industry, prominent shipping sector and geostrategic importance[a] classify it as a middle power. It is the largest economy in the Balkans, where it is an important regional investor.

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According to World Bank statistics for the year 2013, the economy of Greece is the 43rd largest by nominal gross domestic product at $242 billion . Additionally, Greece is the 15th largest economy in the 27-member European Union.

Greece is a developed country with high standards of living and high Human Development Index. Its economy mainly comprises the service sector (85.0%) and industry (12.0%), while agriculture makes up 3.0% of the national economic output. Greek tourism is ranked as the 7th most visited country in the European Union and 16th in the world.

The shipping industry is a key element of Greek economic activity dating back to ancient times. Today, shipping is one of the country’s most important industries. It accounts for 4.5% of GDP, employs about 160,000 people (4% of the workforce), and represents ⅓ of the country’s trade deficit.

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Tourism has been a key element of the economic activity in the country and one of the country’s most important sectors, contributing 18% of the gross domestic products.Greece welcomed over 28 million visitors in 2016.

The Greek Constitution recognizes Eastern Orthodoxy as the “prevailing” faith of the country, while guaranteeing freedom of religious belief for all.  According to the U.S. State Department, an estimated 97% of Greek citizens identify themselves as Eastern Orthodox, belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church.

Greece is today relatively homogeneous in linguistic terms, with a large majority of the native population using Greek as their first or only language. The Muslim minority in Thrace, which amounts to approximately 0.95% of the total population, consists of speakers of Turkish, Bulgarian (Pomaks) and Romani.

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