Greece lies at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Hundreds of islands of the country constitute about one-fifth of the total land area. The world’s first travel writer was Pausanias who wrote ‘The Guide to Greece’ in the second century BC. Greece achieved its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829.

Greeks celebrate festivals and events throughout the year. One of the most significant and joyous occasions is Easter. This festival is celebrated with candlelight processions, feasting and firework displays. Gynaikratia is a day of role reversal in villages in northern Greece celebrated on January 8. On this day, women spend the day in cafes and other social centres whereas men stay home to do the housework. February and March constitute the Greek carnival season, which features fancy dress, feasting, traditional dancing and general merrymaking. The most famous summer festival is the Hellenic festival, which host’s drama and music in ancient theatres. The public holidays are — Feast of the Assumption, Christmas Day, St Stephen’s Day, Epiphany, Ohi Day, Spring Festival, First Sunday during Lent, New Year’s Day and Independence Day.

One of the major attractions of the country is the city of Athens. The city is famous for its myths, legend and history. The other attractions are the museums of Crete, Dodecanese Islands, Ionian Islands, the monasteries of Meteora and Northeastern Aegean Islands. Crete’s museums display the Island’s history. Dodecanese Islands is beautiful with white washed sand, deep blue sky, olive groves and fig trees. Ionian Islands is known for its culture and cuisine, ancient olive groves, famous wines and white beaches. The monasteries of Meteora are one of the most extraordinary sights in Greece. There are seven major islands in the north eastern group — Samos, Chios, Ikaria, Lesvos, Limnos, Samothraki and Thasos.

Greeks cuisine includes “Mousakas” — eggplant baked with minced meat and béchamel sauce, stuffed tomatoes and freshly grilled seafood. Greek snacks are “souvlaki” — skewered, grilled meat in pita bread and “spanakopita” — spinach and cheese pie. The most famous Greek diet is yoghurt and country salad called “horiatiki salata” consisting of cucumber, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese and olives.

Location: Southern Europe

Highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917 m

Climate: Temperate

Full country Name: Hellenic Republic

Government: Parliamentary Republic

head of the state: President Kostis Stephanopoulos

Major industries: Tourism, shipping, food and tobacco processing, textiles, metal products, mining and petroleum products

Major Trading Partners: Germany, Italy, France, UK and USA

Major Imports: Machinery, fuels and chemicals

Major Exports: Food and beverages, manufactured goods, petroleum products, chemicals and textiles

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Population: 10,647,529

Language: Greek, English and French

REligion: Greek Orthodox, Muslim, other