Greece Country Guide
Greece is one of the most famous countries on earth. It has a history which dates back to at least the 7th Century B.C. While its official name is the Hellenic Republic and is referred to as Hellas or Ellada by its natives, most of the world has called the country as Greece since ancient times. The area known as Greece covers 50,944 square miles. This includes the landmass bordered by Albania, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia and Turkey and 1,400 islands in the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas. Only about 227 of the Greek islands are inhabited. The most famous of those are Crete, the Dodecanese, the Cyclades and the Ionian Islands.
The country has had a profound effect on world culture. Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilization. It has given the world democracy, political science, many basic scientific and mathematical principles, philosophy, drama, literature and the Olympic Games. The latter created to honour the Greek god Zeus whom the ancient Greeks believed lived atop the 9,570 foot tall Mount Olympus. Classic Greek art and architecture has long been considered some of mankind's crowning achievements. Even today their influence can be seen all over the world.
Greece has almost 8,500 miles of stunningly beautiful coastline and amazing weather. Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, was voted the world's 5th best party city and Santorini is considered by many the world's best island. Still many a visitor to this ancient nation is there to see the classic art and architecture. The ancient Greeks were known for their temples, open-air theatres and other architectural forms. The ruins of the Parthenon, the Acropolis, the Olympieion, the Propylon (processional gateway), the Agora (public square) surrounded by stoa, the Bouleuterion, the Mausoleum and the Stadium draw millions of visitors each year.
Greek was the dominant language in the Mediterranean world during Classical Antiquity. About 99% of the people living in Greece today speak the Greek language no matter their country of origin. Dimotiki was made the only official variation of the Greek language in 1976. Turkish, Bulgarian, Romani, Slavic–Macedonian are some of the other popular languages spoken by differing segments of the Greek population. There are even a few thousand people who speak Ladino or Judeo-Greek. The English language is spoken by between 50% and 70% of the people. Many Greeks also speak French.
There is much to see and do in Greece. The museums boast the works of some of the greatest artists of the ancient world. The beaches and resorts are spectacular. The cuisine is tasty and exotic and the people are friendly. Then there is the world-renowned classic architecture. They all combine to make modern Greece the perfect vacation destination.
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