About Greece

 

Contents:

  • General Information
  • Exchange Currencies
  • Time Zone
  • National Celebrations & Holidays                                                                
  • Geography
  • Culture & Arts
  • In Case of Emergency Calls                       

 

(photographs at the end of the page)

 

National Flags

 

 

 

General Information:

 

Here you'll find useful information for preparing your trip to Greece. We give you practical tips on documentation, safety, healthcare, what clothes to pack, currency, tourist cards, public holidays… so you're all set when you arrive. You'll find the whole list below. Enjoy!

 

Capital of Greece: Athens

Official language: Greek

The currency: Euro(€)

Climate: Mediterranean

Population: 11.306.183 (2010 estimate)

The country is a Presidential Parliamentary Democracy

Calling code: The international calling code of Greece is +30

 

 

Exchange Currencies

 

Greece is a Member-State of the European Union and uses its uniform currency – the Euro. Greece, as is the case with the other Member-States of the E.U. uses eight coins as follows: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents (lepta in Greek) and 1 and 2 Euros. The banknotes are issued in the following denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 Euros.

 

Currency exchange rates are clearly displayed in every bank that accepts currency exchange, while credit card holders may acquire money from the ATMs of the collaborating banks. Greek banks are open for the public from 8:00 to 14:30 Mondays to Thursdays and from 8:00 to 13:30 on Fridays. They are closed on Public Holidays.

 

Euros can also be exchanged for notes of other foreign currencies at exchange offices that are situated at the airport and certain main ports, in the larger cities, as well as at many tourist destinations. A passport is required when exchanging currencies.

 

 

Time Zone

 

Time Greece: GMT +2

 

 

National celebrations and Holidays

 

  • New Years Day: 1st of January
  • Epiphany: 6th of January. Sea water is consecrated in the area of Piraeus. The priests throw the Cross into the sea and young men dive to catch it.
  • Ash Monday: 41 days before Easter. It is the day people begin the Lent. On Ash Monday Greeks fly kites, eat meatless food and celebrate Koulouma. Athenians gather on Philopappou Hill.
  • Independence Day & Celebration of Evaggelismos: 25th of March. Military parade.
  • Easter: From Holy Friday until Easter Monday. On Holy Friday evening every church decorates the Epitaph (Bier of Christ). During the procession of the Epitaph the streets of every city or village in the country are full of people. It is a religious procession where everybody holds lit candles in their hands and sings hymns.
  • Night of the Resurrection: It is celebrated in midnight before Easter Sunday with fireworks and candles.
  • Easter Sunday: On Easter Sunday Greeks eat barbecue lamb. The celebrations include singing and dancing all day long.
  • Labor Day: 1st of May. Flower feasts all around Athens.
  • Pentecost: It is celebrated 50 days after Easter.
  • Assumption of the Virgin Mary: 15th of August.
  • 28th of October: National Celebration. Military parade.
  • Christmas: 25th-26th of December.

 

 

Health & Safety

 

In order to have access to necessary health care, tourists from member states of the European Union (EU) wishing to visit Greece must be holders of the European Health Card (EHIC) or any other legal Community document issued by their competent social security agency. You can find more information about the EHIC here

 

In these cases, the necessary treatment in Greece is provided by:

  • Social Security Institute Health Units (polyclinics) or doctor’s offices in the region
  • Regional clinics (former rural clinics) or the Health Centres of the National Health System
  • the outpatients’ departments of the hospitals on contract

 

In order to have access to necessary health care, tourists from countries other than the member states of the European Union wishing to visit Greece must consult their social security agency for information before travelling.

 

 

Geography

 

Greece is located in south-eastern Europe, on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula (Haemus peninsula); it lies at the meeting point of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa. Greece borders to the North on Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M.), to the Northwest on Albania, to the Northeast on Turkey; to the West it is washed by the Ionian Sea; to the South by the Mediterranean Sea and to the East by the Aegean Sea.

 

The total area of Greece is 131,957 km2 and consists of three main geographic areas:

 

A peninsular mainland (that extends from the region of Central Greece on the South to the region of Thrace on the North) being the biggest geographic feature of the country

 

The Peloponnese peninsula that is separated from the mainland by the canal of the Corinth Isthmus,

 

Around 6.000 islands and islets, scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Sea, most of them grouped in clusters, that constitute the unique Greek archipelago. Crete, Rhodes, Corfu, the Dodecanese and the Cyclades are some of the famous and popular islands and island clusters in Greece.

 

Eighty percent of the country consists of mountains or hills, making Greece one of the most mountainous countries of Europe; furthermore, it has 16.000 kilometers of coastline of which 7500 are found around the thousands islands of the Greek archipelago, a truly unparalleled phenomenon on the European continent.

 

 

Culture and Arts

 

Civilization is the total sum of the material and cultural achievements of a group of people. Culture and art are two concepts closely interwoven, as art is the characteristic expression of the culture of a given period. Arts such as architecture, sculpture, pottery, weaving, music, jewelry making and painting have a long-term tradition in Greece, where civilizations had already developed in Prehistoric Years.

 

Little is known to date to the Paleolithic Era in Greece, but quite a lot is known about the Neolithic Period that followed (approx. 7th – 4th Millennium B.C.) and its civilization, which is traced mainly in areas that included Thessaly and Macedonia. Civilizations with impressive achievements developed during the Bronze Age (approx. 3000 – 1150 B.C.) in the Northeastern Aegean, the Cyclades (its trademark being the large-sized marble figurines), Crete and the Greek Mainland. The civilizations that flourished during the 2nd Millennium in the two regions, known as the Minoan and the Mycenean Periods respectively, are considered to be the first of the great civilizations in Greece.

 

Architectural remains (e.g. palaces), as well as pottery work, stone carving (vessels, sealstones), metallurgy (vessels, weapons), jewelry making and paintings (murals) were impressive and representative works of these civilizations.

 

During the historical years, the civilizations of the Geometric Period (9th – 8th Century B.C.) and the Archaic Period (7th – 6th Century B.C.) were considered to be the forerunners of the culture found in the Classical Period (5th – 4th Century B.C.). The Classical works of art, with their ideal proportions and beauty, expressed the philosophical ideals of their times, and were the model of the European Renaissance Era of the 15th Century A.D. Greek civilization developed during the subsequent Hellenistic Years (3rd – 1st Century B.C.) and the Roman Years (1st Century B.C. – 3rd Century A.D.), within the framework of large kingdoms and an empire respectively.

 

Greek civilization again flourished -within the framework of an empire- during the Byzantine Years (early, middle and late - 4th – 15th Century A.D.), while civilization in more recent times was marked by the Ottoman occupation and the emergence of the new Hellenic State after the Greek War of Independence (1821-1830).

 

A visit to archaeological sites, museums and monuments throughout the country provides a vivid picture of the civilizations in Greece and their accomplishments in arts and technology from the Prehistoric Era to modern times.

 

The traditional heritage of a country is the sum of the cultural and material achievements bequeathed by previous generations. Folk culture for the Greek people, rich in music, dances, poetry and theatre, is part of their everyday life.  All over the country have been created many specialized museums and cultural organizations aiming to preserve and study the Greek traditional heritage.

 

 

In case of emergency call:

 

  • Ambulance Service: 166
  • SOS Doctors : 1016
  • Duty Hospitals and Clinics: 1434
  • Pharmacies: 1434
  • Open Line for alcohol drug Addiction: 210 36 17 089
  • Poisoning First Aid: 210 77 93 777
  • Police: 100
  • Tourist Police: 1571

 

 
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