Traveling Luck for Greece

Greece is located in Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey.

Greece has borders with Albania for 282km, Bulgaria for 494km, FYR Macedonia for 246km and Turkey for 206km.

Land in Greece is mostly mountains with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands.

Greek land covers an area of 131940 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Alabama

As for the Greek climate; temperate; mild, wet winters; hot, dry summers.

Greek(s) speak Greek 99% (official), English, French.

Greek National Map

Greek Map

Regions of Greece

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 Communist rebels. Following the latter's defeat in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. A military dictatorship, which in 1967 suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country, lasted seven years. The 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 euro zone in 2001.


Greece Country Profile

Greece has a capitalist economy with the public sector accounting for about 40% of GDP and with per capita GDP at least 75% of the leading euro-zone economies. Tourism provides 15% of GDP. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, mainly in menial jobs. Greece is a major beneficiary of EU aid, equal to about 3.3% of annual GDP. The Greek economy grew by about 4.0% for the between 2003 and 2005, largely because of an investment boom and infrastructure upgrades for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Economic growth slowed to about 3% in 2005. Greece has not met the EU's Growth and Stability Pact budget deficit criteria of 3% of GDP since 2000. Public debt, inflation, and unemployment are above the euro-zone average. To overcome these challenges, the Greek Government is expected to continue cutting government spending, reducing the size of the public sector, and reforming the labor and pension systems.

Greek natural resources include lignite, petroleum, iron ore, bauxite, lead, zinc, nickel, magnesite, marble, salt, hydropower potential

strategic location dominating the Aegean Sea and southern approach to Turkish Straits; a peninsular country, possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands

Greek religion is Greek Orthodox 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7%.

Natural hazards in Greece include severe earthquakes.

Travel Advice on Greece

Greece

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Summary and Terrorism section (Revolutionary Struggle).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • On 12 January 2007, a self propelled explosive was fired at the US Embassy compound in central Athens from the surrounding area, causing minor damage to the front windows and the roof.  There were no casualties.  Greek anarcho-terrorist group ‘Revolutionary Struggle’ have claimed responsibility for the attack.  The British Embassy continues to take appropriate security precaution, and remains open for business as usual.

  • Around 3 million British people visit Greece every year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Greece is for replacing lost or stolen passports.

  • You should maintain high standards of public behaviour in Greece.  Greek courts impose heavy fines or prison sentences on people who behave indecently.

  • Greece shares with the rest of Europe a threat from terrorism.  Attacks could be indiscriminate and against civilian targets.  The Greek government has put in place measures to combat terrorism and has had notable success against the main Greek groups but a potential threat remains.

  • You should maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness in Greece as in the UK.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime
Most visits to Greece are trouble-free, but you should be aware that the tourist season attracts an increase in incidents of theft of wallets, handbags etc. particularly in areas and events where crowds gather. You should leave valuables in safe custody at your hotel or apartment.
Personal attacks, including sexual assaults and rape, are infrequent. However there have been incidents of sexual assault and rape on some Greek Islands.  The use of ‘date-rape’ drugs has also increased.  You are therefore advised to maintain at least the same level of personal security awareness as in the UK. We strongly advise lone visitors, in particular, never to accept lifts from strangers or passing acquaintances at any time.
Political Situation

Greece Country Profile.
Greece is a stable democracy, however public protests are a standard feature of Greek political life.  You should take sensible precautions for your personal safety and avoid public gatherings and demonstrations, which have the potential to turn violent.
Local Travel

Generally there are no local travel restrictions, but you should be aware that certain areas near the Greek borders are militarily sensitive.  Although these areas can be visited without any problems, do not take photographs or make notes near military or official installations.  In addition, travellers should seek permission before photographing individuals.
Road Safety
Drivers should be extra cautious in view of the very high incidence of serious road traffic accidents in Greece.
You are strongly advised not to hire motorcycles, scooters, mopeds or quad bikes, as accidents involving these forms of transport are common and can often result in very serious or even fatal injury. You should note that failure to wear a crash helmet might invalidate your travel insurance if you are involved in an accident.
If you intend to hire a moped you should be aware that they would require a valid driving licence with at least category A1 - 'light motorcycle` for this purpose. Category P, which is valid in the UK for driving mopeds up to 50cc is not valid in Greece. Greek law requires you to wear a crash helmet on a scooter, moped or motorcycle.
Quad bike riders require a full-face helmet (or non-full-face helmet plus goggles) under Greek law. Road insurance and a motorcycle licence are also mandatory.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Greek people are renowned for their hospitality.  The Greek police are used to dealing with large numbers of foreign tourists, especially on the islands and do so in a low-key way.
Indecent behaviour, including mooning, is not tolerated.  The police have made it clear that they will not hesitate to arrest those who do it.  You should be aware that the courts impose heavy fines or prison sentences on people who behave indecently.
You should not become involved with drugs of any kind.  Possession of even small quantities can lead to long terms of imprisonment.
Driving any vehicle whilst over the legal drinking limit is heavily penalised and can result in a heavy fine and/or imprisonment.
If you are seeking employment in bars or night clubs in Greece, you are required to have a health certificate/licence issue by the local authorities.  Failure to have such a certificate is punishable by a fine and or imprisonment.
In common with many countries there is a requirement in Greece to be able to identify yourself.  A passport or document with a photograph on it should be carried at all times.
In order to comply with Greek law, you should ensure that you obtain a receipt for goods purchased.  If you purchase pirate CDs or DVDs in Greece you could be imprisoned.
In 2005 there were an increased number of arrests and prosecutions of British nationals in Greece as a result of being in possession of an offensive weapon.  You should not purchase any offensive weapons whilst on holiday, this includes small-scale items such as knuckledusters or knives with a blade length of 10cm or above.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Visas are not required to enter Greece. As a British passport holder you may stay as a visitor for three months. For longer stays, you will need to apply to the appropriate office for a residence permit.
Non-EEA (European Economic Area) nationals travelling to Greece must have a passport valid for at least 3 months after the period of their intended stay or expiry date of their visa.
Nationals of the EEA are exempt from the above regulation but must have a passport valid for the period of their intended stay.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration, please contact : Greek representation in the UK


HEALTH

The Greek National Health system provides a basic medical service to Greek nationals and it has a reciprocal agreement with the British National Health Service.

The Form E111 is no longer valid. You should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK.  The EHIC is not a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Greek nationals.  You will not be covered for medical repatriation, on-going medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature.  For more information about how to obtain the EHIC please see:  Europe and the EHIC.

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.

There are many Public and Private Hospitals and Medical Centres in Greece, all of varying standards. Doctors and facilities are generally good on the mainland, but may be limited on the islands.  The standards of nursing and after care, particularly in the public health sector lag behind what is normally acceptable in the UK.  The Public Ambulance Service, which will normally respond to any accident, is rudimentary.  There are severe shortages of ambulances on some islands.

You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk.

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
The Greek government confirmed on 11 February 2006, that the H5N1 form of Avian Influenza had been found in swans in northern Greece.  The Greek government stresses, however, that urgent biosecurity measures have already been implemented in accordance with EU legislation. No human infections or deaths have been reported.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low.  As a precaution you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.

You should read this advice in conjunction with Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet, which gives more detailed advice and information.

NATURAL DISASTERS

Forest fires can occur in Greece during the summer months.  On 21 August 2006, a serous forest fire affected the Greek resort of Hanioti and nearby areas whilst there have also been other outbreaks, including Zakynthos and Laconia in southern Greece.  During especially hot and dry periods there is a danger that forest fires will become more frequent.  Please take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas; ensure that cigarette ends are properly extinguished, do not light barbecues and do not leave rubbish or empty bottles behind.

Mainland Greece and most of the Greek islands popular with British tourists are in seismically active zones, and earth tremors are common.  Serious earthquakes are less frequent but do occur.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help.
The revised EU-wide security measures that came into effect for all passengers departing from UK airports in November 2006 are also being implemented in Greece.  For more details about this please see:  DfT - Airline Security Update.

Money

You are reminded that the currency of Greece is the Euro.