Brief Facts About Greece

With an area of 50,949 square miles (131,958 square kilometers), Greece is roughly the size of Alabama. The population of Greece is more than 10 million people.—comparatively, the population of Alabama is around 4.5 million.
Approximately 16.5 million tourists visit Greece each year, more than the country’s entire population. Tourism constitutes nearly 16% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
No one in Greece can choose to not vote. Voting is required by law for every citizen who is 18 or older.[3]
About 7% of all the marble produced in the world comes from Greece.
Greece has more international airports than most countries because so many foreign tourists want to visit.[3]
The world’s third leading producer of olives, the Greeks have cultivated olive trees since ancient times. Some olive trees planted in the thirteenth century are still producing olives.
The saying “taking the bull by its horns” comes from the Greek myth of Hercules saving Crete from a raging bull by seizing its horns.
According to Greek mythology, Athena and Poseidon agreed that whoever gave the city the best gift would become guardian over the city. Though Poseidon gave the gift of water, Athena’s gift of an olive tree was deemed by the other gods to be more valuable.
Greece has zero navigable rivers because of the mountainous terrain. Nearly 80% of Greece is mountainous.
Approximately 98% of the people in Greece are ethnic Greeks. Turks form the largest minority group. Other minorities are Albanians, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Armenians, and gypsies.
About 12 million people around the world speak Greek. They live mostly in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Albania, Turkey, the United States, among other countries.
Thousands of English words come from the Greek language, sometimes via the Roman adaptation into Latin and then to English. Common English words from Greek include “academy,” “apology,” “marathon,” “siren,” “alphabet,” and “typhoon.”
In the 1950s, only about 30% of Greek adults could read and write. Now, the literacy rate is more than 95%.
An old Greek legend says that when God created the world, he sifted all the soil onto the earth through a strainer. After every country had good soil, he tossed the stones left in the strainer over his shoulder and created Greece.[5]
Continuously inhabited for over 7,000 years, Athens is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It is also the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, political science, Western literature, historiography, major mathematical principles, and Western theories of tragedy and comedy.
Thus, we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.- Winston Churchill
Over 40% of the population lives in the capital Athens (Athina in Greek). Since becoming the capital of modern Greece, its population has risen from 10,000 in 1834 to 3.6 million in 2001.
Greece has more than 2,000 islands, of which approximately 170 are populated. Greece’s largest island is Crete (3,189 sq. miles) (8,260 sq. km.).
Some scholars say that the Greek civilization has been around for so long that it has had a chance to try nearly every form of government.
Currently, Greek men must serve from one year to 18 months in any branch of the armed forces. The government spends 6% of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on the military.
Ancient Greece was not a single country like modern Greece. Rather, it was made up of about 1,500 different city-states or poleis (singular, polis). Each had its own laws and army, and they often quarreled. Athens was the largest city-state.

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