35 Interesting Facts About Greece You Absolutely Have To Know
When it comes to facts about Greece, everyone thinks about ancient Greece, the Acropolis, and the islands. It is not only that. Besides history, Greek culture and lifestyle have some interesting, things that need to be said. In this post, we will categorize the facts about Greece into parts: general facts, interesting facts and fun facts about Greece, so that you can have a picture of what living in Greece means in reality, heart and soul.
General Facts About Greece
- Population: 11,122,375 , based on the latest United Nations estimates. From that number the 3,154,52 inhabitants are in Athens.
- Government: Greece’s government form is the Unitary Parliamentary Republic. The government is directly elected through the election process. Every Greek citizen who is above 18 years old, is required to vote by law.
- Greece’s official name is the Hellenic Republic. It is known as Hellas or Ellada.
- Currency: Greece adopted the euro, the EU’s common currency. Before that, Greece’s currency was drachma and was Europe’s oldest currency.
- Greece is a member of the European Union since 1981 and of NATO since 1952.
- Greek is one of the oldest spoken languages in Europe since it has been spoken for more than 3.000 years.
- Greece has about 9,000 miles of coastline.
- The first Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C.
- Greece is the place where democracy was born. But democracy in ancient Athens was significantly different from modern democracies. It was both more participatory and exclusive, and there were no political parties in Athenian democracy.
Greece has some firsts in the fields of sciences and arts:
- The first philosopher is considered to be Thales of Miletus (c. 624 – 425 B.C.). He was the first to give a natural explanation of the origin of the world rather than a mythological one.
☞ Read more: A Simple Guide To The Most Famous Greek Philosophers
- The first historian is considered to be writer Herodotus (c. 484 – 425 B.C.). He is the author of the first great book of history on the Greco-Persian Wars. Herodotus’ book is a major symbol in the novel “The English Patient”.
Some Interesting Facts About Greece
- Greece enjoys more than 250 days of sunshine -or 3,000 sunny hours- a year.
- No point in Greece is more than 85 miles or 137 kilometers from water.
- The Acropolis of Athens was a runner-up for the New 7 Wonders of the World.
☞ Read more: The Best Way To See The Acropolis In Summer
- The Greek flag includes nine blue-and-white horizontal stripes, which stands for the nine syllables of the Greek motto “Eleftheria i Thanatos” or “Freedom or Death”. Blue represents Greece’s sea and sky, while white stands for the purity of the struggle of freedom. In the upper left corner is the traditional Greek Orthodox cross.
- The national drink of Greece is ouzo and if you want to say “Cheers”, you say “Stin igia mas” or just “Gia mas”.
- Greece contributes 7% to the marble produced in the whole world. You can see from the architecture style in Greece that we love to use marble everywhere.
- Military service is compulsory to all young, Greek men and lasts from six to nine months.
- Coming to names, in Greek society name days are equally important to birthdays. Most of the Greek names are derived from religious saints and the name day is a great celebration for the family.
- The Easter Holiday is of greater importance than the Christmas Holiday. For the Orthodox, the resurrection of Christ is the biggest celebration of the year. The whole country laments the death of Christ, before the mood turns festive with Easter Sunday being the climax of the celebrations.
- Greek coffee is made with a fine grind of coffee that is boiled in a tall, narrow pot known as a briki. The three main parts of Greek coffee include the grounds, the thick and strong liquid coffee middle and the creamy foam to top it off. It is meant to be sipped slowly with grounds remaining in the top as they settle to the bottom. It is usually accompanied by a traditional spoon sweet preserve.
☞ Read more: 4 Coffee Spots You Need To Visit In Athens
☞ Also read: Cafe Culture in Greece – What You Need To Know
- The island of Ikaria is one of the five Blue Zones with one of the longest lifespans in the world. Around 30% live well into their 90s, which is on average 10 years longer than those in the rest of Europe and America. They also have much lower rates of cancer and heart disease, suffer significantly less from depression and dementia, maintain a sex life well into old age and remain physically active deep into their 90s. The secret behind these achievements is not specific, but it is believed that it can be attributed to their low-calorie diet consisting of a lot of beans and locally grown greens containing antioxidants.
- Greece is the leading producer of sea sponges. Especially Kalimnos island is famous for producing sea sponges.
- Greece has more archaeological museums than any other country in the world.
- There are more than 2000 islands in the Greek territory, but only 170 are populated.
Fun Facts About Greece
- The evil eye is a common superstition. You will find jewelry and other ornaments in the shape of a big blue eye everywhere. Wearing blue eye charms or blue beads can ward away the “evil eye”. The same applies to the blue-painted housetops in Cycladic architecture. They painted the roofs and the shutters in the blue color to keep away the evil.
- Greeks wave with the palm closed. Waving with the palm opened and the fingers extended, is considered an insult. So try to avoid it! (Photo – frustrated Greeks showing the whole palm at the goverment!)
- Newborns are not given a name at birth, but are baptized around their first birthday. The name that will be given to the child is an important issue for the Greek family. Usually, the baby is named after the name of a grandparent, so that the legacy of the family is continued. That is the reason why one family might have 3 children named after grandpa Giorgos.
- Greece has more varieties of olives than any country in the world. It is the world’s 3rd leading producer of olives.
- Finding a coin in your slice of the New Year Eve’s cake is believed to bring good luck and is a blessing for the year coming.
- The saying “taking the bull by its horns” comes from the Greek myth of Hercules saving Crete from a bull by seizing its horns.
- Greece is the most sexually active nation in the world.
- The first nude scene in European cinema history was in the Greek movie Daphnis and Chloe in 1931.
- During summertime, there are more tourists in Greece than Greeks.
- Greeks say good morning until 2 p.m. This is not official of course. According to Greek grammar rules, good morning is used until noon. But it is really common for someone to greet you good morning when it is late noon.
- Greece’s economy is the worst among the EU countries. Since 2009, the country is facing one of the worst economic crisis in Greek history. Government corruption cost Greece about $1 billion in 2009. The EU institutions and International Monetary Fund have amerced Greek governments with strict austerity programs. Those years were extremely challenging for the people and country in general, but look at us, we managed to survive!
Besides the history and the islands, Greece has a lot more beauties waiting to be discovered. The way of living is one of the most important beauties of Greece. This list of the facts about Greece is just an introduction to the Greek lifestyle.
- Did you know all of the facts about Greece provided above? Which one was the most surprising? Let us know in the comment section below!