Useful country information
Land area: 50,502 sq mi (130,800 sq km); total area: 50,942 sq mi (131,940 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 10,775,557 (growth rate: .01%); birth rate: 8.8/1000; infant mortality rate: 11/1000; life expectancy: 80.3
Capital (2011 est.): Athens, 3.414 million
Other large cities: Thessalonki, 883,000
Monetary unit: Euro (formerly drachma)
National name: Elliniki Dimokratia
Languages: Greek 99% (official), English, French
Ethnicity/race: Greek 93%, other 7%; note: numbers represent citizenship, since Greece does not collect data on ethnicity
Religions: Greek Orthodox 98%, Islam 1.3%, other .7%
National Holiday: Greek Independence Day, national holiday celebrated annually in Greece on March 25,
Literacy rate: 97.3% (2011 est.)
Greece has been inhabited since the Paleolithic era. In ancient times there have been three main civilizations in Greece, the Trojan civilization in Troy, the Cretan or Minoan civilization centered on Crete, and the Helladic or Mycenaean civilization of the Greek mainland. Greek's victory against the Persian invaders at the beginning of the 5th century strengthens Athens' role as the leader of the Greek world. It marks the beginning of an epoch called "The Golden Age of Pericles," in which Athens became the cradle of democracy itself. In the following Hellenistic Period, Greek civilization has spread, and the Greek language became official in the eastern Mediterranean.
Followed by the Greco-Roman civilization and a long period of foreign occupation through Romans, French, Spanish, and the Ottomans, Greece achieved its 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 with Greek-speaking populations. In 1945, Greece became a member of the UN.
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