Grèce Greece

 
Carte Grèce
 
  • Accession to the EU: 1981
  • Accession to the Council of Europe: 1949
  • Surface area: 131 957 km2
  • Population: 11,06 million (Eurostat-January 2013)
  • Capital city: Athens (3,2 million inhabitants)
  • Official languages: Greek
  • Listen to Greek
  • Main religion: Orthodox
  • Currency: Euro
  • Political system: Republic
  • Head of state: Karolos Papoulias, President since 2005, re-elected in 2010.
  • Head of government: Antonio Samaras, Prime Minister since June 20th, 2012.
  • International code: +30
  • National holiday: 25 March
  • The Greek members of the European Parliament
 

History

 
Parthénon, Athènes
Le Parthenon, Athens
©Tourist Office of Greece
 
Greek history dates back more than 4,000 years. Much coveted by the Ottoman Empire, Greece has endured several confrontations with the Turks.
 
  • 1828 Following their defeat at the battle of Navarino, the Turks are forced to recognize Greek independence.
  • 1830 The London Protocol confirms the existence of an independent Greek State.
  • 1863 King George I inherits the throne (1863-1913).
  • 1912 Greece joins forces with Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro to form the Balkan Alliance. It is victorious against Turkey (1912-1913).
  • 1914 First World War breaks out, Greece declares its neutrality.
  • 1917 The Allies force the King to abdicate in favour of his son Alexander, who appoints Venizelos to govern. Greece enters the war on the side of the Triple Entente.
  • 1919 The Treaty of Neuilly awards Greece a slice of Bulgarian territory, Thrace, the territory of Smyrna, and several Aegean islands.
  • 1923 Greece and Turkey ratify the Treaty of Lausanne. This agreement formally acknowledges the borders between the two countries and above all includes a compulsory exchange of populations. Almost a million and a half Greeks leave Turkey to set up home in Greece.
 
  • 1924 Proclamation of the Republic (March 25th).
  • 1935 Following a military coup, power passes to George II. A dictatorial regime is set up.
  • 1940 The country is attacked by Mussolini’s armies. The Italian troops are pushed back into Albania.
  • 1941 Invasion by German troops.
  • 1944-1949 Civil war between Communists and Royalists.
  • 1952 Greece joins NATO.
  • 1967 A group of army officers led by Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos organizes a coup d’état. Beginning of the dictatorship known as the “colonels’ regime”.
  • 1975 A new Constitution sets up a democratic Republic.
  • 1981 Greece joins the EEC.
  • 2004 Victory of the right (“New Democracy”) during the parliamentary elections, following eleven years of socialist government.
  • 2007: the party "New Democracy" of the former prime minister Kostaas Karamanlis wins the Greek legislative elections.
  • 2009: the snap elections are won by the social-democtratic party PASOK under George Papandreou.
  • 2010: Karolos Papoulias is confirmed in his office.
 

Athens

 
Athènes
Athens
©Tourist Office of Greece
 
This capital city owes its name to Athena, the goddess of wisdom and knowledge. As a major Mediterranean port and a commercial hub, Athens accounts for a major percentage of the country’s economic activity, chiefly thanks to its port of Piraeus. Home to a third of the Greek population, Athens is a dynamic city. It is the headquarters of a large number of engineering, iron and steel, chemical, textiles, and food product companies. Inhabited since Neolithic times, the city of Athens is rich in historical features. Great monuments such as the Acropolis, the Agora, the Parthenon, the temple of Athena Nike, and the sanctuary of Dionysos have made Athens world-famous. The city also includes a large number of monuments from its more recent past, including mosques dating from the time of the Ottoman occupation, and Byzantine churches. This is a city of contrasts, which offers tourists a huge range of historical periods, styles, and traditions waiting to be discovered.
 

Olympic Games

 
Athènes 2004
Olympic Games in Athen 2004,
©CIO
 
Greece is famous for having created the Olympic Games, which have today become a genuine worldwide sports festival. The games date back to 776 BC, the date on which the first competitions were held in honour of Zeus. For approximately 1,200 years, the games were held in Olympia, where they were a shining example of the Greeks’ philosophy of life, with the emphasis on the body and spirit. A number of sporting competitions were held including the discus, javelin, jumping, running, wrestling, and horse riding. Only Greek men were invited to take part. Women and slaves were not allowed in the stadium. The athletes trained in advance in training camps, in which they underwent intensive physical preparation. At the end of the competition, only the most valiant among them would win prizes. These Olympic champions were then granted a large number of privileges. In 1896, the modern version of the Olympic Games was revived in Athens by Pierre de Coubertin. Chosen to organize the Olympic Games in 2004, Athens has continued this long and proud tradition, bringing the games back to their country of origin.
 
 

Europe

 

©BCE
 
The word “Europe” is derived from a character in Greek mythology. The daughter of King Agenor, King of Phoenicia, Europa was taken away by Zeus, who had fallen madly in love with her while she was playing along the seashore. Disguised as a white bull to escape the jealousy of Hera, Zeus took the young princess to Crete. The couple produced three sons, Rhadamanthus, Sarpedon, and Minos, the future King of Crete. The geographical name Europe, which appeared for the first time in a hymn to Apollo, refers to the continent to which the young woman was taken, and where she became “the mother of noble sons”. This mythical tale, illustrated by the Greek two-Euro coin showing a bull and a princess, remains as fascinating today as ever. It bears witness to the importance attached to mythology in this country.
 
 

Did you know?

 
Until recently, Greece had no common border with any of the Member States of the European Union, not even following the enlargement of the Union in May 2004. It was only when Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007 that the Greeks finally gained European neighbours.
 
Football
Greece made football history and provided more than a few surprises by winning the European cup final in 2004. By beating Portugal, the host nation and the main favorite, the Greek team confounded all forecasts and completed an amazing string of victories.
 
 
 
 
 

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European diary


    • From 1 january 2015 to 30 june 2015

      Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union

    • From the 1st of January to the 30th of June 2015, the presidency of the Council of the European Union is held by Latvia. Latvia succeeds Italy and precedes Luxembourg.

      For 6 months, Latvia will preside over the work of the Council of ministers of the member countries of the EU.
    • From 1 january 2015 to 31 december 2015

      Mons and Plzen - European cultural capitals

    • After Sweden and Latvia in 2014, it is now up to Belgium and the Czech Republic to shed light on the cultural influence of their two cities. Mons and Plzen were designated European cultural capitals for 2015. These two cities will offer a vast range of cultural events.

      For further information