Essential info for Greece


Official name: the Hellenic Republic

Population: About 12 million

Major religions: Christianity (Greek Orthodox)

Capital city: Athens (also the largest city)

Other major cities: Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Larissa, Volos

Neighbouring countries: Greece consists of the mainland, a peninsula on the southern tip of the Balkans, and 227 inhabited islands. The mainland is bordered by Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north. Across the Ionian Sea to the west is Italy and across the Aegean Sea to the east is Turkey. Across the Mediterranean Sea to the south is Egypt.

Political system: Parliamentary republic, where most political power is held by the prime minister and the president holds a mostly ceremonial position.

Main languages: Greek (official). English is also widely spoken

Time: GMT +2 (GMT +3 between the last Sunday in April and the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: 220 volts, 50Hz. European-style two pin plugs are most common. Adaptors are recommended for US appliances.

Internet domain: .gr

International dialling code: +30

Money: Greece uses the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. Expats are able to open a bank account in Greece provided they obtain a Greek tax number (AFM). Generally, ATMs are widely available, although some may not offer services in English.   

Tipping: For restaurants, If there isn't already a service charge, tips are normally 10 percent of the bill. Taxis also appreciate tips of around 10 percent. 

Emergency numbers: As with other European countries, the general emergency number is 112. For local services, dial 100 (police), 166 (ambulance) or 199 (fire). Despite the severity of the Hellenic Police's reaction to riots, it is generally easy to deal with and effective. The biggest hospitals are in Athens and Thessaloniki and, in certain cases, medical emergencies requiring special care may be evacuated from more remote locations to these areas.

Transport and driving: Traffic drives on the right hand side. Travel between islands is usually done by ferry. Metro networks and intra-city bus systems are restricted to larger cities such as Athens and Thessaloniki. Inter-city transport can be done via buses and trains. Commercial taxis are often available, and defensive driving is highly recommended.

Education: The standard of public education in Greece varies between schools but, for the most part, is comparable to education in other developed countries. The quality of public education has suffered to some extent as a result of Greece's economic difficulties. Given that teaching takes place in Greek, many English speaking expats elect to place their children in private international schools.

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