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Greece achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1830. 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 other anti-Communists and Communist rebels. Following the latter's defeat in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. In 1967, a group of military officers seized power, establishing a military dictatorship that suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country. In 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 European Economic and Monetary Union in 2001. In 2010, the prospect of a Greek default on its euro-denominated debt created severe strains within the EMU and raised the question of whether a member country might voluntarily leave the common currency or be removed.


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Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey

Geographic coordinates
39 00 N, 22 00 E

Map references

Area World Ranking: 97
Total 131,957 sq km
Land 130,647 sq km
Water 1,310 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly smaller than Alabama

Land boundaries
Total 1,228 km
Border countries
Albania 282 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Turkey 206 km, Macedonia 246 km

13,676 km

Maritime claims
Territorial sea 12 nm
Continental shelf
200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Temperate; mild, wet winters; hot, dry summers

Mostly mountains with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Mediterranean Sea 0 m
Highest point Mount Olympus 2,917 m

Natural resources
Lignite, petroleum, iron ore, bauxite, lead, zinc, nickel, magnesite, marble, salt, hydropower potential

Land use
Arable land 20.45%
Permanent crops 8.59%
Other 70.96% (2005)

Irrigated land
15,500 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
72 cu km (2005)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 8.7 cu km/yr (16%/3%/81%)
Per capita 782 cu m/yr (1997)

Natural hazards
Severe earthquakes
Santorini (elev. 367 m) has been deemed a "Decade Volcano" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; although there have been very few eruptions in recent centuries, Methana and Nisyros in the Aegean are classified as historically active

Environment - current issues
Air pollution; water pollution

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
Signed, but not ratified
Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds

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


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  GPS points from Greece (Athens)

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Skoinea Greece (general)

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Troulos Greece (general)
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