Greece, officially known as the Hellenic Republic, has been the crossroads of three continents since the dawn of civilization. As a historic hub for trade and population migrations, Greece has always been considered a strategic port of call. The metric system is used for weights and measures and standard automobiles are left-hand drive with manual transmissions (meaning that traffic moves on the right-hand side of the road, and it helps to know how to drive a stick shift!) In 2002 one of the world’s most historic monetary units, the Drachma, was replaced by the Euro currency. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro and 2 euro. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euro. The time zone is GMT +2 and “daylight savings time” is implemented near every spring and fall equinox.
Important Holidays Observed:
New Year’s Day, 1st January; Epiphany 6th January; Carnival Period (late winter/early spring – the three weeks prior to the 1st day of Orthodox Lent “Clean Monday”) Independence Day, 25th March (commemorating the revolution against Turkish occupation); Orthodox Easter (spring break - movable); Pentecost (second weekend in June); The Assumption of The Holy Mother, 15th August; “NO” Day, 28th October (commemorating Greece’s refusal to surrender to Mussolini’s invasion forces in 1940); Christmas Day, 25th December.
There are actually many more Greeks living in satellite communities around the world than there are living within the physical borders of Greece itself. UN estimates place the current population of Greece a little over 11 million and the capital city of Athens hosts more than half of the nation’s population. Other major population centers include Thessaloniki –the “co-capital” as many call it, Patras in the Peloponese, Heraklion on the island of Crete and Ioannina in northwest Epirus. All of these cities host University campuses, a fact which contributes to their population density as well as the diversity of cultural activities, events and nightlife available there.
Greece, along with its native population, has historically attracted ex-pats from many ethnic backgrounds. This trend has become ever more evident over the last two decades. A large number of political and economic refugees have been added to the Europeans who have chosen to take up permanent residence in Greece. This has transformed all of the population centers as well as many resort areas into melting pots of ethnic and cultural diversity.
Modern Greek is the country’s official language, however in most areas English is commonly spoken as a second language having been officially included in the primary and secondary school curriculum. Other languages such as French, German, Dutch, Russian, Italian and Spanish are also taught in private language schools throughout the country and their popularity directly reflects the ethnicities of the visitors most prevalent in any given area. Greek slang is also being influenced by the internet and the large number of Albanian, Bulgarian and former USSR immigrants who have been absorbed into local communities.
Hotel suggestions in Greece
Location: Kato Mili, Mykonos
Open: May to October... One of the few luxury hotels on Mykonos island where you can find yourself right on the sea front, amidst landscaped gardens and simply enjoy the sun let the Aegean breeze care
Open: End of April - October... Located approximately 35 km east of Heraklion, the Hotel Kernos Beach is an oasis of Gardens built in extensive grounds right on Malia's lovely Sandy Beach.
Location: Vouliagmeni, Athens, Attica,
Open May-October... W Athens Astir Palace Beach satisfies every member of the family with its relaxed, but Luxurious atmosphere. Elegant, comfortable Rooms, Quality Services, Private Beach and Sw
Location: Anissaras, Anissaras, Limin Hersonissou
Open: April - October... The Serita Beach Hotel - Mitsis Hotels is an All Inclusive Resort painted in pastel colours and provides unforgettable holidays for all ages, situated directly on a pleasant s
Location: Hersonissos, Crete
Open: April 05 - October... With its dream palace of health, harmony and wellness, Royal Mare Thalasso renews the tradition of the ancient Greeks, who enjoyed health care in an environment of art, com
Location: Heraklion, Crete
Open All Year... The Atlantis Hotel is the largest 5 stars city hotel in Heraklion which, from 1968 until today, after its recent renovation, has continued to bear the palm of luxury and high quality