Background: Greece achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, it gradually added neighboring islands and territories, most with Greek-speaking populations. In World War II, Greece was first invaded by Italy (1940) and subsequently occupied by Germany (1941-44); fighting endured in a protracted civil war between supporters of the king and other anti-Communists and Communist rebels. Following the latter's defeat in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. In 1967, a group of military officers seized power, establishing a military dictatorship that suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country. In 1974, democratic elections and a referendum created a parliamentary republic and abolished the monarchy. In 1981, Greece joined the EC (now the EU); it became the 12th member of the European Economic and Monetary Union in 2001. In 2010, the prospect of a Greek default on its euro-denominated debt created severe strains within the EMU and raised the question of whether a member country might voluntarily leave the common currency or be removed.
Location: Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey
Area land: 130,647 sq km
Area water: 1,310 sq km
Coastline: 13,676 km
Country name conventional long form: Hellenic Republic
Country name conventional short form: Greece
Country name former: Kingdom of Greece
Population: 10,760,136 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 14.2% (male 787,143/female 741,356); 15-64 years: 66.2% (male 3,555,447/female 3,567,383); 65 years and over: 19.6% (male 923,177/female 1,185,630) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 0.083% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 9.21 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 10.7 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.064 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female; total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 5 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 5.49 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 4.48 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.92 years; male: 77.36 years; female: 82.65 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 1.38 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 8,800 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: fewer than 500 (2009 est.);
Nationality: noun: Greek(s); adjective: Greek;
Ethnic groups: population: Greek 93%, other (foreign citizens) 7% (2001 census);
Religions: Greek Orthodox 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7%;
Languages: Greek 99% (official), other 1% (includes English and French);
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 96%; male: 97.8%; female: 94.2% (2001 census);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $321.7 billion (2010 est.); $337.9 billion (2009 est.); $344.8 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $302 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: -4.8% (2010 est.); -2% (2009 est.); 2% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $30,200 (2010 est.); $31,500 (2009 est.); $32,200 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 4%; industry: 17.6%; services: 78.5% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 20% (2009 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.5%; highest 10%: 26% (2000 est.);
Labor force: 5.05 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 12.4%; industry: 22.4%; services: 65.1% (2005 est.);
Unemployment rate: 12% (2010 est.); 9.4% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $114.5 billion; expenditures: $142.9 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: tourism, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, metal products; mining, petroleum;
Industrial production growth rate: 3.2% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 58.79 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 58.28 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 1.962 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 7.575 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
(Liberal weekly), Athens
Displaying 9 to 12 of 20 items.
Greece's debt is a serious issue, and coming up with a plan for going forward is also very much a problem for the European Union.
Grumblings of discontent simmering beneath the surface for years have turned nasty, in places such as Greece last year. In 2009, these feelings persist and are intensifying by the day.
Most emblematic of what might come in 2009 are the popular and violent uprisings in Greece. And the place, Athens, says much about the ailing state of our democracies.
Today, the Mediterranean is on the frontlines of a global struggle for peace and development. I would like to stress from the Greek point of view, the core challenge: ending the problem of Cyprus.