Greece is home to seventeen UNESCO World Heritage sites. Greece is most famous for its contribution to the developments of Western culture. Throughout the country one finds Greece’s imprint as the birthplace and cradle of Western civilization and the democracy. Besides its front running position in the sports arena since ancient times, being the culture that established the Olympic Games, Greece is rightfully credited with its central contribution to Western culture in the fields of philosophy, literature drama (both tragedy and comedy), science and mathematics. Its contribution to art and architecture are clearly visible with nearly every step one takes. The volcanic eruptions that produced the magic result of the Greek Islands is another fascinating narrative unique to the country.
The country’s official name is the Hellenic Republic, the modern state being formed in 1830 following the Greek War of Independence, with Athens as its capital. It has a population of nearly 11 million people and borders with Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, and Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the east. Greece has the longest coastline in the world and is surrounded by a collection of luscious waters: the Aegean Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the west and the Mediterranean to the south. The islands that populate these waters, over 1,400 of them, include 22 that are populated, among them Crete, The Dodecanese, The Cyclades and the Ionian Islands. Mountains are the major portion of the Greek topography and constitute 80% of the country. Mt. Olympus is the highest mountain in the country.
Greece has hot summers and wet but mild winters, typical to many Mediterranean climates. This holds true mainly for the coastal area, Crete, the Cyclades, the Peloponnese, Central Continental Greece and the Peloponnese. As can be expected, in the mountainous areas, including the central Peloponnese there is an Alpine climate with heavy snowfall. It is not unheard of to have the occasional light snowfall in Athens and the low-lying areas. The northern inland part of Greece (Central Macedonia, East Macedonia and Thrace) typically have climate with cold damp winters and summers and summers, though hot, with frequent thunderstorms.
The prevailing faith of the country according to the Greek Constitutions is the Orthodox faith, making up 97 of the population, but the country guarantees religious freedom to all its citizens. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne between Greece and Turkey allowed for a population transfer based on cultural and religious identity, with an exchange of approximately 500,000 Muslims from Greece for 1,500,000 Greeks from what was then called Asia Minor (Turkey).
A member of the European Union since 1981, Greece has been suffering from an economic crisis since 2009. It is part of the Eurozone and is making all attempts to deal with its debts with austerity measures. Tourism is one of its major sources of revenue and, as such, the tourist industry suppliers are stepping up efforts to attract visitors more than ever.