Useful Notes: Greece
Greece is not the word. At least in Greek, where the country is called Elláda (Greek: Ελλάδα, Elláda). (note: Greek D is pronounced like the English th in they, so it's pronounced like Ellátha/Elládha. In this article, we also use accents áéíóú to indicate the stress, like it is in Greek). The formal title is the Hellenic Republic (Greek: Ελληνική Δημοκρατία, Ellīnikī́ Dīmokratía). Geography and Climate Greece's area is 131,940 square kilometres (or 81,984 square miles), making it slightly bigger than the US state of Mississippi and slightly smaller than the state of Louisiana. The highest peak in Greece is Mount Olympus (Ólimpos), nearly 3,000 metres high (nearly 10,000 feet) and famous for having been the place where the Gods lived, according to ancient mythology. Greece is famous for its numerous islands. It is estimated that there are between 1,000 and 6,000 of them in all; of these, only about 200 are inhabited. The largest islands are (in order) Crete (Kríti), Euboea (pronounced and in Greek Évia), Lesbos (Lésvos), and Rhodes (Ródhos). The climate is predominantly Mediterranean, but contains a variety of 'micro-climates', mainly influenced by the mountainous ranges. Temperatures generally range from about 0 degrees to 40 degrees (Celsius) in summer. Snow is rare in low-lying areas, but more common at high altitudes. People The official language of Greece is Greek. According to the most recent 2011 census, there are nearly 11 million people in Greece. Ethnic Greeks make up about 94% of the population, but there is also a large minority of Albanians (4%). The remaining 2% of the population are assorted ethnicities such as Bulgarians, Romanians, Ukrainians and Pakistanis, to name but a few. Greece received 80,000 Armenian refugees in addition to 1.5 million Anatolian Greeks in the 1923 population exchange with Turkey, but due to gradual emigration the number of Armenians these days is between 20 and 35 thousand. The state religion is the Greek Orthodox Church. About 98% of the population subscribe to this church, according to the 2001 census. In terms of Catholics, most live on the Cyclades and Ionian Islands. There used to a large Jewish presence in Greece, especially in cities like Thessaloníki. Sadly, due to events we all know about, most Jewish people in Greece were murdered in the 1940s in extermination camps such as Auschwitz. There are now only about 7,500 Jewish people left in Greece. Ancient Times Greece is a democratic state, famous for its history. As Ancient Greece, it was the birthplace of democracy, The Spartan Way (or the name source), Zeus etc., most of the Older Than Feudalism tropes still popular in Western fiction (okay, except for all the biblical and Roman ones) and the Olympic Games. In the last case, they were competed naked. No, women weren't allowed to participate (or watch). Byzantine Era Greece was at the heart of the Eastern Roman Empire, more commonly known as the Byzantine Empire, who despite its distinct Hellenicity continued the traditions of Rome long after the western Empire had fallen, and was the birthplace of Orthodox Christianity. Surviving nearly a thousand years after the fall of Rome, the Empire was hijacked and occupied by a group of greedy renegade crusaders and Venetians from which it never recovered in 1204. After the Empire was reestablished in 1261, it was too weak to stop the rise of the Ottoman Turks. For the next 192 years, it's territory was gradually eroded by the Turks, and was ultimately conquered in 1453. The Byzantine capital of Constantinople on the Bosphorus is now known as Istanbul, from the Medieval Greek phrase "εἰς τὴν Πόλιν", (eis tin Pólin) meaning "to the city". Greek Revolution / War of Independence In 1821* , Greek revolutionaries, the most prominent group of which was the "Filikí Etería", initiated a campaign to liberate Greece from the Ottoman empire and found an independent nation. This proved a bit difficult at the start, as these revolutionaries were rather fond of infighting, internal disputes and disagreements with each other rather than forming a cohesive group. Their attentions were mainly focused in Peloponnese and central Greece. Although they requested the help of the Great Powers of the time, these countries were not very interested in Greece's cause at the beginning. By 1825, the Greeks had been very successful in their campaign. In serious trouble, the Ottoman sultan of the time, Mahmud II, enlisted the help of his vassal state and its ruler, Egyptian Viceroy Mehmet Ali and Ali's son Ibrahim Pasha. With these leaders joining the cause, the Ottoman efforts were successful and they managed to recapture most of their losses by the following year. This is where the Greek Revolution would have ended, had the Great Powers (Britain, Russia and France) not finally decided* to intervene and help out. These three countries each sent navies to defeat the Ottomans and drive them out Central Greece and Peloponnisos. Defeated, the Ottomans had no choice but to accept this part of Greece as an independent nation in 1832, ending eleven years of war. 19th and 20th centuries and Territorial Gains In 1832, the newly formed Kingdom of Greece chose a German royal, Prince Otto of Bavaria, the son of king Ludwig I Bavaria* , as their new king. Arriving at the very young age of seventeen, Otto was initially much liked and celebrated in his new homeland. However, this popularity was short lived as the Greek population grew weary of the Bavarian ministers that he brought with him to govern the new country, Greece's poverty and the continuing involvement of the Great Powers in Greece's affairs. Under threat of revolution, he agreed to curtail his powers and reign only as a constitutional monarch from 1844 onwards. His popularity never having been regained, Otto was forced by a coup to abdicate the throne and leave Greece in 1862. The next king of Greece, actually styling himself instead as 'King of the Hellenes (Greeks)', was a Danish prince, Prince Vilhelm of Denmark* . He reigned as George I and had a much smoother reign in general than his predecessor. Greece gradually gained territory over the next decades:
- In 1864, the Ionian islands, from the UK.
- In 1881, Thessaly, by the Treaty of Berlin, from the Ottoman Empire.
- In 1913, (after the Balkan wars) Macedonia, Epirus and Crete, by the Treaty of Bucharest from the Ottoman Empire.
- In 1919, Western Thrace, by the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine from Bulgaria.
- PASOK (Panellínio Sosialistikó Kómma, Pan-Hellenic Socialist Party), a centre-left party,
- 13 seats in Voulí.
- Néa Dimokratía (New Democracy), a centre-right party, opposition,
- 76 seats in Voulí.
- SYRIZA (Synaspismós Rizospastikís Aristerás, Coalition of the Radical Left), a far left party,
- 149 seats in Voulí (just 2 short of a majority).
- The Independent Greeks (Anexártitoi Éllines, ANEL), a centre-right or right wing party,
- 13 seats in Voulí.
- Chrysí Avgi (Golden Dawn), a racist and neo-Nazi far right party,
- 17 seats in Voulí.
- To Potámi (The River), a centre-Left pro-Europe party,
- 17 seats in Voulí.
- KKE (Kommounistikó Kómma Elládas, Communist Party of Greece), a Marxist-Leninist far left party. They actively wish to leave the Euro currency and European Union and absolutely refuse to form a coalition with anyone. They have,
- 15 seats in Voulí.
Greece in fiction:
- The John le Carré novel, The Little Drummer Girl.
- For Your Eyes Only
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding
- Mamma Mia!
- Axis Powers Hetalia - The Moe Anthropomorphism of Greece is the laid-back, perpetually sleepy Herakles Karpouzi. He also philosophizes and likes cats.
- Captain Corelli's Mandolin
- Zorba The Greek
- James Bond novel Colonel Sun is primarly set in Greece and the Aegean Islands.
- Asterix at the Olympic Games
- The Suske en Wiske stories "De Mottenvanger" and "De Kadulle Cupido".
- Jason and the Argonauts.
- Clash of the Titans
Fictional Greek people
- Dimitri Levendis in Spooks is the son of Greek immigrant parents. He works for MI5.
- Stella Bonasera in CSI: NY is a half-Greek, half-Italian American cop, who self identifies as Greek and speaks the language fluently.
- Marvel Comics' Michael Morbius, better known as Morbius the Living Vampire, was born and raised in Nafplio, a seaport town in the Peloponnese in Greece.
- Alexander the Great
- María Cállas (1923—1977), a soprano and one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century. Famously had a long relationship with Aristotle Onássis. Well-known for her interpretations of Bel Canto and Verdi operas.
- Mános Hatzidákis (1925—1994), Greece's most famous composer. Wrote many of Alíki Vougioukláki's most famous songs. Also wrote the title song of the film Never on Sunday, sung by Mercoúri (see below) for which he won an Oscar.
- Melína Mercoúri (1920—1994), probably most famous for starring in Jules Dassin's 1960 Comedy/Drama film Never on Sunday. Also served for as Minister for Culture between 1981—1989 and again in 1993-1994, under PASOK.
- Nána Moúskouri (b 1934), a folk/Pop/Easy listening singer, famous for her trademark large black glasses.
- The Onássis clan, especially:
- Aristotélis/Aristotle (1906—1975), a billionaire shipping magnate. Born in Smýrni in Turkey (now Izmir) and living in Buenos Aires, Argentina for much of his life, he founded the Greek flag-carrier airline, Olympic Airways/Airlines (which went bust in 2009). Most famous for having married John F. Kennedy's widow, Jackie in 1968. They remained married until his death in 1975. Also famously had a long relationship with opera singer and fellow Greek María Cállas.
- Christína (1950—1988), his only daughter, and his only surviving child and heir when he died in 1975 (his son Aléxandros having died in a plane accident in 1973). She married four times and like her brother, died young. She only had one daughter out of her marriages, Athiná Onássis-Roussel (b 1985), and as his only surviving heir at all, she now possesses 55% of her grandfather's fortune (reportedly over a billion dollars; the rest of it went to either Jackie Onassis or the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, established in honor of Aristotle's son).
- Démis Roússos (1946—2015), a singer who was a famous and unlikely sex symbol in the 1970s.
- Míkis Theodorákis (b 1925), Greece's other famous composer, best-known for scoring Zorba The Greek, Z and Serpico.
- Vangelis or full name Evángelos Papathanassíou (b 1943), an electronic film music composer, probably most famous to non-Greeks for the theme to Chariots of Fire (played at the 2012 London Olympics by Rowan Atkinson) and the theme from 1492: Conquest of Paradise.
- Alíki Vougioukláki (1934—1996), Greece's most famous actress, well known for her blonde hair and for starring in many, many films of the 1960s.
See also:The Greek flag
The equilateral cross at the canton represents the Greek Orthodox Church, the nation's dominant religion (97% of the total population). The nine stripes have various interpretations — one popular version equates it with the syllables of the words "Ελευθερία ή θάνατος" (Eleftheria i Thanatos — "Freedom or Death"), the battle cry of the anti-Ottoman La Résistance; another has it simply as the letters of the word "Ελευθερία" (Eleftheria — "freedom"), and still another equates them with the Muses, goddesses of art and civilization in Greek mythology. The flag's blue and white colors also have varying meanings, such as the sky and the sea, or the traditional colors of the Greek people since antiquity.