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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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Government

Country name
Conventional long form Hellenic Republic
Conventional short form Greece
Local long form Elliniki Dimokratia
Local short form Ellas or Ellada
Former Kingdom of Greece

Government type
Parliamentary republic

Capital
Name Athens
Geographic coordinates 37 59 N, 23 44 E
Time difference
UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time
+1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions
13 regions (perifereies, singular - perifereia) and 1 autonomous monastic state* (aftonomi monastiki politeia); Agion Oros* (Mount Athos), Anatoliki Makedonia kai Thraki (East Macedonia and Thrace), Attiki (Attica), Dytiki Ellada (West Greece), Dytiki Makedonia (West Macedonia), Ionia Nisia (Ionian Islands), Ipeiros (Epirus), Kentriki Makedonia (Central Macedonia), Kriti (Crete), Notio Aigaio (South Aegean), Peloponnisos (Peloponnese), Sterea Ellada (Central Greece), Thessalia (Thessaly), Voreio Aigaio (North Aegean)

Independence
1830 (from the Ottoman Empire)

Constitution
11 June 1975; amended March 1986, April 2001, and May 2008

Legal system
Civil legal system based on Roman law

International law organization participation
Accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Suffrage
18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch
Chief of state
President Karolos PAPOULIAS (since 12 March 2005)
Head of government
Prime Minister Antonis SAMARAS (since 20 June 2012)
Cabinet
Cabinet appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
Elections
President elected by parliament for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 3 February 2010 (next to be held by February 2015); president appoints leader of the party securing plurality of vote in election to become prime minister and form a government
Election results
Karolos PAPOULIAS reelected president; number of parliamentary votes, 266 out of 300

Legislative branch
Unicameral Parliament or Vouli ton Ellinon (300 seats; members elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)
Elections
Last held on 17 June 2012 (next to be held by 2016); note - there was a legislative election on 6 May 2012 in which none of the leaders of the top three parties (New Democracy, Coalition of the Radical Left, and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement)were able to form a government
Election results
Percent of vote by party - ND 29.7%, SYRIZA 26.9%, PASOK 12.3%, ANEL 7.5%, Golden Dawn 6.9%, DIMAR 6.3%, KKE 4.5%, other 6.0%; seats by party - ND 129, SYRIZA 71, PASOK 33, ANEL 20, Golden Dawn 18, DIMAR 17, KKE 12; note - only parties surpassing a 3% threshold are entitled to parliamentary seats; parties need 10 seats to become formal parliamentary groups, but can retain that status if the party participated in the last election and received the minimum 3% threshold

Judicial branch
Supreme Civil and Criminal Court; all judges are appointed for life by the president after consultation with a judicial council; Supreme Administrative Court and Court of Auditors; Courts of Appeal; Courts of First Instance

Political parties and leaders
Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow or ANTARSYA [Petros KONSTANTINOU]; Coalition of the Radical Left or SYRIZA [Alexis TSIPRAS]; Communist Party of Greece or KKE [Aleka PAPARIGA]; Democratic Left [Fotis KOUVELIS]; Democratic Alliance or DISY [Theodora BAKOGIANNI]; Ecologist Greens [Nikos CHRYSOGELOS]; Golden Dawn [Nikolaos MICHALOLIAKOS]; Independent Greeks or ANEL [Panos KAMMENOS]; New Democracy or ND [Antonis SAMARAS]; Panhellenic Socialist Movement or PASOK [Evangelos VENIZELOS]; Popular Orthodox Rally or LAOS [Georgios KARATZAFERIS]

Political pressure groups and leaders
Civil Servants Confederation or ADEDY [Spyros PAPASPYROS]; Federation of Greek Industries or SEV [Dimitris DASKALOPOULOS]; General Confederation of Greek Workers or GSEE [Ioannis PANAGOPOULOS]

International organization participation
Australia Group, BIS, BSEC, CE, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECB, EIB, EMU, ESA, EU, FAO, FATF, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, Schengen Convention, SELEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIS, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the us
Chief of mission Ambassador Vassilis KASKARELIS
Chancery
2217 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone [1] (202) 939-1300
FAX [1] (202) 939-1324
Consulate(s) general
Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Tampa
Consulate(s) Atlanta, Houston, New Orleans

Diplomatic representation from the us
Chief of mission
Ambassador Daniel Bennett SMITH
Embassy
91 Vasilisis Sophias Avenue, 10160 Athens
Mailing address PSC 108, APO AE 09842-0108
Telephone [30] (210) 721-2951
FAX [30] (210) 645-6282
Consulate(s) general Thessaloniki

Flag description
Nine equal horizontal stripes of blue alternating with white; a blue square bearing a white cross appears in the upper hoist-side corner; the cross symbolizes Greek Orthodoxy, the established religion of the country; there is no agreed upon meaning for the nine stripes or for the colors; the exact shade of blue has never been set by law and has varied from a light to a dark blue over time

National symbol(s)
Greek cross (white cross on blue field; arms equal length)

National anthem
Name
"Ymnos eis tin Eleftherian" (Hymn to Liberty)
Lyrics/music
Dionysios SOLOMOS/Nikolaos MANTZAROS
Note
Adopted 1864; the anthem is based on a 158 verse poem by the same name, which was inspired by the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Ottomans; Cyprus also uses "Hymn to Liberty" as its anthem


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  Greece (Athens):


  GPS points from Greece (Athens)

Lefkopetra Central Macedonia

Vasilaina Greece (general)

Apsalos Central Macedonia

Ousoun Oulouk Potami Greece (general)

Kotsiati Epirus

Alifia North Aegean

Akra Apella Greece (general)

Limni Vistonis Greece (general)




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