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Greece Country Guide

  1. Country Facts
  2. Health
  3. Media
  1. Intro
  2. Geography
  3. People
  4. Travel
  5. Embassies & Visas
  6. Finance
  7. Cities/Regions

Quick Facts

Region: Europe
Full Name: Hellenic Republic
Capital City: Athens
Language Spoken: Greek 99% (official), English, French

Greece Travel Insurance

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Geographic data

39 00 N, 22 00 E

Elevation Extremes

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917 m

Land boundaries

total: 1,228 km border countries: Albania 282 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Turkey 206 km, Macedonia 246 km

Natural hazards

severe earthquakes

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)

Environmental current issues

air pollution; water pollution

Climate

Greece has a warm Mediterranean climate. In summer, dry hot days are often relieved by stiff breezes, especially in the north and coastal areas. Athens can be stiflingly hot, so visitors should allow time to acclimatize. The evenings are cool. Winters are mild in the south but much colder in the north. November to March is the rainy season. Required clothing Lightweight clothes during summer months, including protection from the midday sun. Light sweaters are needed for evenings. Rainproofs are advised for autumn. Winter months can be quite cold, especially in the northern mainland, so normal winter wear will be required.

Time difference

time difference: UTC+2 daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Population

10,688,058 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 14.3% (male 790,291/female 742,902) 15-64 years: 66.7% (male 3,562,251/female 3,566,097) 65 years and over: 19% (male 891,620/female 1,134,897) (2006 est.)

Median age

total: 40.8 years male: 39.7 years female: 42 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate

0.18% (2006 est.)

Birth rate

9.68 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate

10.24 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate

2.34 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 79.24 years male: 76.72 years female: 81.91 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.34 children born/woman (2006 est.)

Business Practices

Business meetings are formal with suit and tie expected. Greek business people are astute bargainers. Success in business dealings depends on a combination of patience and quick judgment. Greeks are warm and cordial in their personal relationships. A wealth of good restaurants and places of entertainment makes it easy for a business visitor to reciprocate the courtesies shown. Greek is spoken by 96 percent of the people and is used for all business and official purposes. Language is not a major barrier to foreign business visitors since a relatively high percentage of local officials and business people speak English or French. Government office hours are 7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday from October to May. The hours change May through September to 7:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Private sector office hours are 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (with one hour for lunch). Manufacturing establishments operate from 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Banking business hours are 8:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Crime

Serious crimes involving personal injury relatively uncommon in Greece. Armed violence and random assaults are rare. Only very recently have narcotics and related offences become a public concern. This gradually emerging problem receives dramatic media attention, but few facts and figures are available for a serious assessment. Athens and other major cities in Greece are relatively safer in terms of violent crime than similar sized cities. Tourist areas are generally safe day and night, although pickpockets as well as snatch-and-run thefts appear to be on the increase. Normal precautions will minimize the risk of victimization. Police report a significant increase in burglaries of unoccupied houses and apartments, and thefts from parked vehicles with valuables left in view. Police link this increase in property offenses with a substantial increase in illegal immigration since 1991. Burglars and thieves are invariably looking for small high value items, particularly jewelry.

Hotels

Olympics Note: Accommodation in Athens during the 2004 Olympics (August 13-29) will be scarce and should be booked as early as possible. Hotel reservations can be made through the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels (Filoxenia). Filoxenia is managing the many private apartments, villas and houses being rented out by locals (website: www.filoxenia2004.com). Elsewhere, modern and comfortable accommodations can be found in most areas that a foreign traveler is likely to visit. Growing tourist travel makes advance hotel reservations advisable, particularly during late spring and summer. Prices for accommodations compare favorably with those in other Western European countries.

Communications

Telephone IDD service is available throughout the mainland and islands. The country code is 30, followed by (1) for Athens, (31) for Thessaloniki, (81) for Heraklion and (661) for Corfu. The outgoing international code is 00. Main post offices and large hotels have fax facilities. GSM 900 and 1800 cellular networks exist. Coverage is good around the major towns on the mainland and on many islands. Main operators include Cosmote, Stet Hellas, and Vodafone

Electricity

is at 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round 2-pin plugs are used. Electricity 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are used.

Plug Types

C,F

Food And Dining

Restaurant and taverna food tends to be very simple, rarely involving sauces but with full use of local olive oil and charcoal grills. All restaurants have a standard menu which includes the availability and price of each dish. A good proportion of the restaurants will serve international dishes. Hours are normally 1200-1500 for lunch and 2000-2400 for dinner.Opening hours vary according to the region and local laws. Waiter service is usual. National specialties
? Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves).
? Moussaka (aubergine casserole with minced lamb, cinnamon, red wine and olive oil).
? Kebabs and avgolemono (chicken broth with rice, eggs, salt and lemon juice).
? Taramasalata (a dip made from fish roe, bread, onion, olive oil and lemon juice).
? Squid (kalamari) or octopus.
? Keftedes (hot spicy meatballs).
? Tzatziki (a dip made from yogurt, olive oil, garlic, shredded cucumber and dill).
? Salads ( feta cheese, tomato, cucumber and fresh olive oil).
? Gigantes (large white beans).
? Kolokithakia (small boiled courgette with oil and lemon).
? Baklavas (filo pastry filled with almonds and topped with honey, vanilla and sugar).
? Loukoumades (honey-drenched pastry puffs). National drinks
? Retsina wine (made with pine-needle resin).
? Ouzo (an aniseed-based clear spirit to which water is added).
? Local brandy (sharp and fiery).
? Greek coffee (thick and strong, and sugared according to taste).
? Greek beer is a light Pilsner type.

Tipping:
12 to 15 per cent is usual.

Nightlife
This is centered in main towns and resorts with concerts and discos. Athens offers many local tavernas, particularly in the Plaka area, and ouzeris (typical Greek bars). Regular concerts and evening shows are also held at the Odeion of Herodes in Attica. Nightclubs featuring Greek bouzouki music are extremely popular. There are some casinos in Greece, such as the Mount Parnes Casino in Athens, the Corfu Casino in Corfu and the Casino at the Grand Hotel Astir in Rhodes.

Entry departure requirements

Note Greece is a signatory to the 1995 Schengen Agreement. Entry restrictions (a) Greece refuses admission and transit to holders of travel documents issued by Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic), unless accompanied by a special visa form; holders of Somalian passports issued or extended after 31 January 1991; Norwegian Fremmedpass or Reisbevis; Ethiopian emergency passports; holders of travel documents issued by the area of Cyprus not controlled by the Government of Cyprus; holders of UN laissez-passers; and holders of Turkish travel documents with visas or stamps indicating previous or planned visits to Cyprus. (b) Some nationals may have to register with the Aliens Department of the nearest police station within 48 hours of arrival. It is advised to contact the nearest Embassy/Consulate to determine whether this is necessary prior to travel.

Visa immigration information

Passports

Passport valid for at least three months beyond length of stay required by all except:
(a) 1. EU/EEA nationals (EU + Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) and Swiss nationals holding a valid national ID card.
Note: EU and EEA nationals are only required to produce evidence of their EU/EEA nationality and identity in order to be admitted to any EU/EEA Member State. This evidence can take the form of a valid national passport or national identity card. Either is acceptable. Possession of a return ticket, any length of validity on their document, sufficient funds for the length of their proposed visit should not be imposed.
(b) nationals of Monaco, holding a valid national ID card.

Visas

Required by all except the following:
(a) nationals of the countries referred to in the chart above for stays of up to 90 days;
(b) nationals of Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Honduras, Hong Kong (SAR) (blue and red passport holders), Iceland, Israel, Korea (Rep), Liechtenstein, Macau (SAR), Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela for stays of up to 90 days;
(c) those continuing their journey to a third country within 48 hours, provided holding tickets with reserved seats and other documents for their onward journey, except: nationals of Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Congo (Dem Rep), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey who always need a visa, even if transiting by the same aircraft.

Types of visa and cost

A uniform type of visa, the Schengen visa, is issued for tourist, business and private visits. There are three types of Schengen visa. Short-stay, Transit and Airport Transit: US$44 . Prices depend on exchange rates. Contact the Consulate/Consular section at Embassy for further details.

Note

Spouses and children of EU nationals (providing spouse's passport and the original marriage certificate, or child's original birth certificate (with certified translation into English, if applicable), are produced), and nationals of some other countries, receive their visas free of charge (enquire at Embassy for details). Minors under 18 years should be accompanied by both parents. Otherwise, a letter from both parents or legal guardians is needed, authorizing the minor to travel and stay in Greece, appointing a person responsible for the minor during stay (authenticated by man of law or consular officer of applicant's nationality), parents' passports, birth certificate of the minor and proof of legal guardianship enclosed.

Validity

Depends on nationality.

Application to

Consulate (or Consular section at Embassy); see Passport/Visa Information. Travelers visiting just one Schengen country should apply to the Consulate of that country; travelers visiting more than one Schengen country should apply to the Consulate of the country chosen as the main destination or the country they will enter first (if they have no main destination).

Application requirements

(a) Passport or travel document valid for at least three months after expiry date of visa, with blank pages to affix visa, showing valid Residence Permit. (b) Completed application form (signed by legal guardian in case of minors). (c) Two recent passport-size photos. (d) Fee (payable in cash or postal order only). (e) Return or onward ticket (necessary for transit and airport transit visas, which also require a visa for onward country to be submitted, if applicable) or proof of booking/itinerary from travel agent. If visiting friends or relatives, a letter duly certified by a police station in Greece must be submitted. (f) Proof of sufficient funds to cover stay (bank statement or travelers cheques). (g) Proof of reason for visit; a letter of reference from employer detailing wages, and letter of invitation from Greek company for business trips; a letter from school for school trip. If self-employed, a letter from a solicitor or an accountant. (h) Original and photocopy of proof of travel insurance to cover intended stay in Greece. (i) Transport documentation, eg air ticket, confirmed ferry booking or, if driving, registration document, proof of legal ownership of vehicle and insurance certificate. (j) Those who claim visas in the UK and live more than 200 miles from London do not have to collect their visas in person at the London Embassy but may supply a Special Delivery self-addressed envelope instead.

Note

Applications can be made in person only. Appointments must be made through the automated booking service for those residing in the UK and in the vicinity of London (tel: (09065) 540 744). A limited number of visas are issued each day on a first-come, first-served basis. All documents must be submitted both in their original form and with photocopy.

Working days required

At least two weeks.

Note

Nationals from the following countries should allow several weeks from the date of appointment for the processing of their application: Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Bahrain, Belarus, Burundi, China (PR), Colombia, Egypt, Georgia, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea (Dem Rep), Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Oman, Palestinian Authority passport holders, Pakistan, The Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Surinam, Syrian Arab Republic, Taiwan (China), Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Temporary residence

Apply to the Aliens Department in Athens.

Important note

Persons arriving in and departing from Greece on a charter flight risk having the return portion of their ticket invalidated by the authorities if, at any time during their stay, they leave Greece and remain overnight or longer in another country.

HIV entry requirements

Test is required only for people arriving to work as legal prostitutes

Departure tax

Euro;12.00 (when arriving at Athens airport an additional Euro;11.20 is payable).

Embassies

Embassy of Greece (Hellas) in the UK

1A Holland Park, London W11 3TP, UK
Tel: (020) 7229 3850 or 7221 6467 (visa section) or 7313 5600 (visa helpline) or (09065) 540 744 (visa appointment booking line).
Website: www.greekembassy.org.uk
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0930-1300.

Embassy of Greece (Hellas) in the USA

2221 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 939 1300 or 1318 (consular section).
Website: www.greekembassy.org

Travel Advice

Most visits to Greece are trouble-free but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate international terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organizations for the latest travel advice:

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Tel: (0845) 850 2829.
Website: www.fco.gov.uk

US Department of State

Website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html

Currency

The Euro is now the official currency of 12 EU member states (including Greece). The first Euro coins and notes were introduced in January 2002; the Greek Drachma was in circulation until February 28 2002, when it was completely replaced by the Euro. Euro (?) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of ?500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of ?2, 1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

Currency restrictions

There are no restrictions on the import or export of either local or foreign currency.

Banking hours

Mon-Thurs 0800-1430, Fri 0800-1400. Banks on the larger islands tend to stay open in the afternoon and some during the evening to offer currency exchange facilities during the tourist season. The GNTO bureau in Athens can give full details.

Currency exchange

Foreign currency can be exchanged at all banks, savings banks and bureaux de change. Exchange rates can fluctuate from one bank to another. Many UK banks offer differing exchange rates depending on the denominations of currency being bought or sold. Check with banks for details and current rates.

Credit cards

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and other major credit cards are widely accepted (although less so in petrol stations), as well as Eurocheque cards. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Travellers cheques

All major currencies are widely accepted and can be exchanged easily at banks. Generally, banks in Greece charge a commission of 2 per cent with a minimum of ?0.15 and a maximum of ?13.21 on the encashment of traveller's cheques. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US Dollars.

City/RegionCity/Area codeFollowed by
Aghios Vassilios (of Patras)261+ 7 digits
Athens21+ 8 digits
Heraclion281+ 7 digits
Kavala251+ 7 digits
Larissa241+ 7 digits
Thessaloniki231+ 7 digits
Tripoli271+ 7 digits
  1. Health Information
  2. Recent Disease Outbreaks
  3. Hospital Database

Dental care

Reliable and hygienic dental care is available in Greece

Medication Availability

Supplies of international medications are generally available in Greece

Blood supplies

Blood supplies are considered safe and screened to international standards

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are adequate, and some in Athens and Thessaloniki are quite good, though nursing care, particularly in public hospitals, may be less than adequate.

General caution

Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications as well as any necessary personal hygiene items, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary. Take personal protective measures against insects. Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water. Do not use ice cubes or eat raw seafood or rare meat. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors. Only pasteurized dairy products should be consumed.

Specific concerns

Air pollution is a major problem in Athens. Greece has reportedly banned many medications containing codeine. Without a physician's note explaining the need for the drug, anyone bringing it into the country faces fines of $850 to $85,000 or up to 10 years in prison.

Immunization

Hepatitis A: Consider active immunization with hepatitis A vaccine or passive immunization with immune globulin (IG) for all susceptible travelers. Especially consider choosing active immunization for persons planning to reside for a long period or for persons who take frequent short-term trips to risk areas. The importance of protection against hepatitis A increases as length of stay increases. It is particularly important for persons who will be living in or visiting rural areas, eating or drinking in settings of poor or uncertain sanitation, or who will have close contact with local persons (especially young children) in settings with poor sanitary conditions. Hepatitis B: Vaccination is advised for health care workers, persons anticipating direct contact with blood from or sexual contact with inhabitants, and persons planning extended stays of 6 months or greater (especially those who anticipate using local health care facilities, staying in rural areas, or having intimate contact with the local population). Typhoid: Vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 3 weeks, adventurous eaters, and those who will venture off the usual tourist routes into small cities, villages and rural areas. Importance of vaccination increases as access to reasonable medical care becomes limited. Contraindications depend on vaccine type. Note: All routine vaccines (such as DTP or Td, Hib, MMR, polio, varicella, influenza and pneumococcal) should be kept up-to-date as a matter of good health practice unrelated to travel.

Disease risk summary

Insect-borne illness: Leishmaniasis (visceral and cutaneous) - occurs Sandfly fever - occurs Typhus (Murine and tick-borne) - occurs West Nile fever (mosquito-borne) - occurs (The above occur in Mediterranean coastal areas.) Encephalitis (tick-borne) - occurs Hemorrhagic fever - occurs Food-borne and water-borne illness: bacillary dysentery and other diarrheas and typhoid fever are more common in the summer and autumn in southeastern and southwestern areas. Brucellosis - occurs Echinococcosis (hydatid disease) - occurs Hepatitis - common Other hazards: Diseases such as measles and diphtheria are commonly reported. Influenza risk extends from November to April.

Entry requirements

AIDS: According to the Department of State, testing is required for women intending to work in entertainment centers. Foreign test results are accepted under certain circumstances. Contact Greece's embassy for details. Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers over 6 months of age coming from infected areas.

Recent disease outbreaks

No recent disease outbreaks

NameAddress
Apollonio Hospital Therapeutic & Medical Research Centre1 Andersen and Papada Str 11525 Psychico Athens
Athens Euroclinic9 Athanassiadou Street Athens 115 21
Athens General Clinic15M Geroulannou Athens 115 24
Athens Medical CentreDistomou 5-7 151 25 Maroussi Athens
Dragini Diagnostic and Medical Clinic S. A10-12 Ilias Street Glyfada Athens 166 75
Errikos Dynan Hospital107 Mesogion Athens 115 26
EuroclinikiAthanasiadou St No 9 Athens
Euromedica Clinic1 Viziis Street 54636 Thessaloniki
Evoniki - LITO Maternity Clinic15 Mousson Street Psihiko Athens 11524
Geniki Kliniki ThessalonikiGravias 2, N. Paralia Thessaloniki Makedonia Central 54645
Hellenic Eye Centre 'Orasis' S. A.7 Ymittou Street 17564 Paleo Faliro Athens
Hygeia HospitalDiagnostic & Therapeutic Center of Athens Hygeia SA Kifissias Ave. & 4 Erythou Stavrou Street Maroussi Athens 151 23
Hygeia Hospital Diagnostic & Theraputic Centre of AthensKifissias Ave. & 4 Erythrou Stavrou Str. 151 23 Maroussi Athens
IASO Healthcare Centre37039 Kiffisias Avenue 151 23 Maroussi Hellas Athens
IASO Hospital37-39 Kifisias Avenue Marousi Athens 15123
Interbalkan European Medical Centre10 Asklupiou Street Pylaia Thessaloniki 57 001
Medical Centre of AthensDistomou st. No 5-7 Marousi Athens 15125
Metropolitan Hospital9 Eth. Makariou & El. Venizelou 1 N. Falio Athens 185 47
Mitera Maternity and Surgical CenterKifisias Avenue and 6 Erythrou Stavrou Street Marousi 151 23
Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center356 Sygrou Avenue Kallithea Athens 176 74
Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre356 Sygrou Avenue 17674 Athens
Paleon Faleron Clinic Athens Medical Centre36 Areos Str 175 62 Pal Faleron Athens
Paros Medical CenterParikia Paros 84400
Sismanoglio General Hospital1 Sismanogliou Street Marousi 151 26
St. Luke HospitalPanorama Thessaloniki 55236
The Group Practice111 Marathonodromon Street Paleo Psychiko Athens 154 52

Media

A free press operates in Greece, although material deemed offensive to the president or religious beliefs can lead to the prosecution of editors and publishers. It was only in the late 1980s that the virtual monopoly of state-run broadcasters came to an end, with the introduction of new commercial TV services. Peak-time TV schedules are dominated by news, domestically-made variety programs, comedies and game shows. The country hosts about 1700 private radio and TV stations, many of which are unlicensed, since broadcasting in Greece is relatively unregulated by European standards. An attempt made in 2001 to better regulate the FM dial in Athens resulted in a political row.
Press: There are numerous daily newspapers in Athens including Eleftherotypia, Kathimerini (in English) and Ta Nea. Athens News is published weekly in English.
TV: Publicly-owned ERT operates ET1, NET and ET3. Commercial channels include Mega TV, Antenna TV and Alpha TV.
Radio: Publicly-owned ERA operates ERA1, ERA2 (entertainment), ERA3 (culture) and ERA4 (sport and music). Commercial stations include Antenna FM, Skai 100.3 and Sfera 102.2. Municipal Athens station Athena 98.4 was one of the first non-state radio stations.

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