Greece

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The Hellenic Republic, or Greece (Elliniki Dhimokratia) is a nation of southeastern Europe. 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 with Greek-speaking populations. Following the defeat of communist rebels in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952.

A military dictatorship, which in 1967 had suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country, was itself overthrown seven years later.

Democratic elections in 1974 abolished the monarchy and created a parliamentary republic. Greece joined the European Union in 1981. Its currency is the Euro (and has been since January 1, 2001); however the old Greek Drachma notes and coins continue to circulate until Euro notes and coins are introduced on January 1, 2002.

Greece has a mixed capitalist economy with the public sector accounting for about half of GDP. The government plans to privatize some leading state enterprises. Tourism is a key industry, providing a large portion of GDP and foreign exchange earnings. Greece is a major beneficiary of EU aid, equal to about 4% of GDP. The economy has improved steadily over the last few years, as the government has tightened policy with the goal of qualifying Greece to join the EU's single currency (the euro) in 2001. In particular, Greece has cut its budget deficit below 2% of GDP and tightened monetary policy, with the result that inflation fell below 4% by the end of 1998 - the lowest rate in 26 years - and averaged only 2.6% in 1999. Further restructuring of the economy and the reduction of unemployment remain major challenges.

The capital of Greece is Athens.

A list of Greek islands can be found here.


see also Mt. Olympus