What Should I Know About Greece?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Greece is a country in Southern Europe, with its southern and most of its eastern borders formed by the Ionian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and the Aegean Sea. To the north, its land border are with Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and European portion of Turkey. It includes a number of chains of islands. The capital is Athens.

Olive oil is commonly used in Greek cooking.
Olive oil is commonly used in Greek cooking.

The country's official name is the Hellenic Republic, and it is a parliamentary republic. The population in July, 2007 was estimated at 10,706,290. Greek, the official language of Greece, is spoken by 99 percent of the population, while the other 1 percent speak a variety of languages, including English and French.

A gyro sandwich, a common food in Greece.
A gyro sandwich, a common food in Greece.

Tourism is an important part of the economy of Greece. Agricultural products include grains, such as barley, corn, and wheat; olives, wine, tomatoes and potatoes; and beef. Industries besides tourism include food processing, textiles, chemicals, and mining and petroleum.

A statue of Socrates, an important Greek philosopher.
A statue of Socrates, an important Greek philosopher.

Landmarks and notable features abound in Greece, including many fine archaeological finds as well as modern elements of interest. Athens is home to the Parthenon on the Acropolis as well as the Temples of Olympian Zeus and Hephaestus and the agora. Mycenae, Delphi, Olympia, Corinth, and Thessaloniki are just some of the spots that shed light on Greek history. Archaeological tours and tours following the travels of the Apostle Paul are available.

Barley, which is grown in Greece.
Barley, which is grown in Greece.

People who have made notable contributions to the culture of Greece include:

Greek goat cheese.
Greek goat cheese.
  • philosophers, such as Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates;
  • historians, such as Themistocles, Thucydides, and Herodotus;
  • playwrights, such as Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides, and Sophocles;
  • writers, such as Nikos Kazantzakis and Giorgos Seferis;
  • poets, such as Homer and Sappho;
  • musicians, such as Maria Callas, Vangelis, Yanni, and Nana Mouskouri
  • actors, such as Melina Mercouri and Irene Papas; and
  • filmmakers, such as Elia Kazan.

    The cuisine of Greece is characterized by olive oil, olives, seafood, honey, oregano, goat cheese, wine, and lamb. Well-known dishes include dolmades—stuffed grape leaves, spanakopita — a stuffed phyllo usually containing spinach and feta cheese; gyros — lamb sandwiches on pita; avgolemono — a lemony egg soup; souvlaki — grilled meat; or baklava — phyllo dough layered with nuts, sugar syrup, honey, and spices.

Many aspects of Western civilization were developed in the ancient Greek city state of Athens.
Many aspects of Western civilization were developed in the ancient Greek city state of Athens.
The Parthenon sits in Athens, Greece.
The Parthenon sits in Athens, Greece.
Plato was a well-known philosopher from ancient Greece.
Plato was a well-known philosopher from ancient Greece.
Oregano is the predominate herb in Greek seasonings.
Oregano is the predominate herb in Greek seasonings.
It's possible to visit Santorini and other Greek islands in the Aegean by ferry or boat.
It's possible to visit Santorini and other Greek islands in the Aegean by ferry or boat.
Greece's parliament building is located in Athens.
Greece's parliament building is located in Athens.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments

chrysalis

If you go to Greece looking for some ancient Greece culture, you can find gorgeous icons almost everywhere, but most certainly in the shopping district below the Acropolis called the Plaka.

I found amazing Greek triptychs (three panels that fold into a wooden book) with biblical paintings to bring home as gifts and souvenirs.

Whether you bring home art, recipes, jewelry or textiles, Greece will fill up that extra suitcase for you without you even noticing!

indigowater

When (not if) you take your trip to Greece, do not forget to eat the classic Moussaka dish. It is filling and considered a comfort food. Also, don't hesitate to try tzatziki sauce on your gyros or souvlakia sandwich, it will take your taste buds on a trip to the moon!

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