This Southern Europe country shares a border with Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the east. Greece is also bordered by the Aegean Sea, the Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea and shares maritime borders with Cyprus, Egypt, Italy, and Libya. Greece is made up mostly of rugged mountains with very few fertile valleys.
The Mediterranean climate sees to it that fresh water is in short supply and rivers and lakes are therefore in scarce supply. The southern part near the coast is dry, but the mountainous interior and the north boast lush vegetation. Greece is mostly on the water, on all sides but the north, and is made of thousands of islands.
Greece has a population of 10.9 million of which approximately 4 million reside in the capital, Athens. It is a member of both the European Union and the Schengen Area. World War II, the Axis occupation and Greek Resistance groups, had devastating effects on Greek infrastructure and economy and the Greek drachma devalued. Civil war followed, and by 1950 the Greek economy had deteriorated substantially. What followed is known as the Greek economic miracle, which saw sustained economic growth from 1950 to 1973.
The 2009 global financial crisis saw Greece lose a quarter of GDP in the prolonged recession that followed. Greek government debt sky-rocketed and unemployment peaked at 23% by 2016. Economic reforms and fiscal consolidation are underway to alleviate public debt, supported by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Stability Mechanism and the IMF.
Greece’s services sector comprises 83.3% of GDP, followed by industry and agriculture; tourism is also very important economically while Agriculture is of major socio-economic importance as employment for almost 13% of the workforce. Heavy industry factors in very low since the decline in the shipbuilding industry.
The country’s Social and Welfare systems are complicated. Suffice to say that old-age, disability, maternity, funeral, sickness, medical, and workers’ compensation benefits are provided, albeit in varying degrees.
Greece offers diverse experiences in one country. For cruises, the Aegean is one of the most popular global destinations, but local ferries can be used to reach Aegina, Poros, and Hydra for day-trips out of Pireas.
Mainland Greece has many fine beaches on which to relax and to enjoy dipping in the sea. The Greek islands abound and have some of the best beaches, such as those on Crete, Mykonos, Naxos, Kos, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Corfu, and Elafonissos.
Karpathos, Kythira, Koufonisia, Amorgos, Symi, or Antiparos offer serenity bordering on isolation, depending on the season. On the opposite extreme, Mykonos is the upscale party capital. Low-budget party revellers also flock to Faliraki in Rhodes, Malia in Crete, Laganas in Zakynthos, Tolo in Argolis, and Benitses in Corfu. Those seeking milder forms of partying need look no further than every island and coastal town.
Greece has invaluable cultural and historic sites, too many to mention. The Acropolis of Athens is a monument to Classical Greek culture at its zenith. Athens has many such ancient monuments and museums. Ancient East Mediterranean affairs are best depicted in Delphi where the Delphic oracle helped shape history as we know it. All civilised cities once gathered in ancient Olympia to participate in athletic competitions and cultural festivals. Akrotiri in Santorini is the “Pompeii” of Greece.
Greece is a Schengen country and a member of the European Union, which means nationals from approximately 62 nations who enjoy the benefits of the visa liberation policy only require a valid passport to enter its borders. It is these nationals who are not themselves from countries in the EU or Schengen zone and who don’t require a Schengen visa, who will be impacted by the implementation of ETIAS.
The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) authorisation will be valid for 3 years or until the passport it applies to expires.
Seven Greek sailors sentenced to Australia for piracy were the first known Greeks to settle in Australia. They were pardoned but two settled in Australia. In the mid-1800s, Greek sailors abandoned ship in Australian waters to partake in the gold rush. After World War II and the civil war in Greece, around 160,000 Greeks are thought to have migrated to Australia in search of better jobs and lives. The Greek-Australian community grew to be among the largest outside of Greece.
Australia and Greece have had consular relations since the 1920s. The two countries entered into a Work and Holiday Visa Arrangement and a bilateral social security agreement which provides improved social security protection to those who have lived and/or worked in both countries.
Over 600,000 Australians are now of Greek ancestry.
Australians wanting to visit Greece after 2021 will have to apply through the ETIAS pre-authorisation system which is similar to Australia’s ETA.