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currency: Euro (EUR)
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strategic location dominating the Aegean Sea and southern approach to Turkish Straits; a peninsular country, possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands
Greece history
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-Communist 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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Conventional long form: Hellenic Republic
Conventional short form: Greece
Local long form: Elliniki Dimokratia
Local short form: Ellas or Ellada
Formerly known as: Kingdom of Greece
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Greece's capital city is Athens
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Greece Constitution:

11 June 1975;
amended March 1986, April 2001, and May 2008
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Greece population growth rate: 0.04%
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Greece highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917 m
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Greece lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
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About 19% of Greece's land is arable.
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Haliacmon river (Aliakmon) is the Longest River in Greece
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Greece birth rate is 9 births/1,000 population
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Greece infant mortality rate is 5 deaths/1,000 live births
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Greece fertility rate is 1.4 children born/woman
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Greece climate:

temperate;
mild, wet winters;
hot, dry summers
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Top 10 cities of Greece with populations (2012 est.) are:
1. Athens: 3,074,160
2. Thessaloniki: 790,824
3. Patras: 214,580
4. Heraklion: 173,450
5. Larissa: 163,380
6. Volos: 144,420
7. Rhodes: 118,623
8. Ioannina: 111,740
9. Chania: 108,310
10. Chalcis: 102,420
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unicameral Parliament or Vouli ton Ellinon (300 seats; members elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms)

Administrative Divisions:
13 regions (perifereies, singular - perifereia):
1. Anatoliki Makedonia kai Thraki (East Macedonia and Thrace)
2. Attiki (Attica)
3. Dytiki Ellada (West Greece)
4. Dytiki Makedonia (West Macedonia)
5. Ionia Nisia (Ionian Islands)
6. Ipeiros (Epirus)
7. Kentriki Makedonia (Central Macedonia)
8. Kriti (Crete)
9. Notio Aigaio (South Aegean)
10. Peloponnisos (Peloponnese)
11. Sterea Ellada (Central Greece)
12. Thessalia (Thessaly)
13. Voreio Aigaio (North Aegean)

autonomous monastic state (aftonomi monastiki politeia)

1. Agion Oros (Mount Athos)
Political parties and leaders:
Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow (ANTARSYA) - Petros KONSTANTINOU

Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) - Alexis TSIPRAS

Communist Party of Greece (KKE) - Aleka PAPARIGA

Democratic Left (DIMAR) - Fotis KOUVELIS

Democratic Alliance (DISY) - Theodora BAKOGIANNI

Ecologist Greens - Nikos CHRYSOGELOS

Golden Dawn - Nikolaos MICHALOLIAKOS

Independent Greeks (ANEL) - Panos KAMMENOS

New Democracy (ND) - Antonis SAMARAS

Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) - Evangelos VENIZELOS

Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) - Georgios KARATZAFERIS