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Editor: Karen Ellicott
Date: 2002
From: Cities of the World(Vol. 3: Europe and the Mediterranean Middle East. 6th ed.)
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Geographic overview
Length: 16,010 words
Content Level: (Level 4)
Lexile Measure: 1160L

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Athens, Greece Athens, Greece

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The Hellenic Republic

Major Cities:
Athens, Thessaloníki, Rhodes, Patras, Kavala

Other Cities:
Canea, Corfu, Corinth, Iráklion, Larissa, Piraeus, Sparta, Tripolis, Vólos

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This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 2001 for Greece. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


Greek legend tells that Titans battling Olympian gods once hurled giant rocks at Zeus in an attempt to knock him out of the sky. Their missiles piled up to become the mountains which blanket Greece, and stray boulders splashed into the sea to form the islands that serve as stepping stones across the Aegean.

In the past 30 years, Greece has changed from an agrarian to a semi industrial economy, but on the few fertile plains and many rocky slopes of this tip of the Balkan Peninsula, farmers herd sheep or tend olive groves, wheat fields, and vineyards, as did their ancestors for a thousand years. Each province preserves its traditional costume, brightening the festivals held in the small, square dominated villages. Throughout the storied isles of Greece-some 400 lie in the Aegean and Ionian Seas and account for a fifth of the nation's area-the white of house and church glints against the blue of sky, and men go down to the sea for sponges and fish. This seafaring tradition gives Greece the world's largest merchant tonnage-more than half of it registered under foreign flags for tax reasons.

During the Bronze Age (3000-1200 BC) a maritime civilization flourished. By 800 BC Greece was undergoing a cultural and military revival, with the evolution of city-states, the most powerful of which were Athens and Sparta. This period was followed by an era of great prosperity known as the classical or Golden Age. During this time, a tradition of democracy was ushered in. The classical age came to an end with the Peloponnesian Wars (431-404 AD) in which the militaristic Spartans defeated the Athenians.

Greece became a part of the Byzantine Empire in 395 AD. By the 12th century, the Crusades were in full flight and Byzantine power was much reduced by invasions.

For 25 centuries a crossroads between Europe and Asia to both merchant and conqueror, Greece did not achieve political unity until rebellion brought independence after 400 years of Turkish rule in 1830. The Acropolis in Athens stands as an enduring monument to the "glory that was Greece," fountainhead of Western culture and democracy. Below its marble ruins and glass-faced offices serve shipping, tourism, and flourishing light industries in a developing nation that still must import much of its food, machinery, and raw materials.

The arts have been integral to Greek life since ancient times. In summer, Greek dramas are staged in the ancient theaters where they were originally performed. Greek literature's ancient heritage spans poetry, drama, philosophical and historical treatises, and travel-ogues. Western civilization's mania for logic and "ideas" can be traced directly back to ancient Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and the West's sciences, arts, and politics are also deeply indebted to classical Greece.

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Athens (Athínai, in Greek), the capital of Greece, is situated 300 feet above sea level in east-central Greece on the Attica Plain, bordered by the Aegean Sea and Mounts Parnis, Penteli, and Hymettus. The city proper is built around the historic Acropolis and picturesque Lycabettus Hill. The Attica Plain is the ancient division which outlines the territory of Athens; it is agriculturally rich, but surrounded by semiarid hills and mountains. Athens is the commercial, cultural, and political center of Greece. Like many larger U.S. cities, Athens is a "mother city," the central point of a group of suburban townships with separate entities. Some northern suburbs are Psychico, Filothei, Kifissia, and Ekali. Old phaleron, Kalamaki, Glyfada, and Voula border the sea.

The architecture of Athens varies from the antiquity of the Acropolis to the contemporary structures of the modern suburbs. The city is burgeoning with construction, especially of apartment and office buildings in the downtown area. Like Boston, it is a "mother city," the central point of a group of suburban townships with separate entities. The northern suburbs are Psychico (Psyhiko), Philothei, Kifissia, and Ekali. Old Phaliron, Kalamaki, Hellenikon, Glyfada, and Vouliagmeni are on the seafront.

Ancient Athens began as a city-state in the seventh century B.C. It reached the height of its splendor two centuries later, during the time of its great statesman, Pericles, and of its philosophers and dramatists, Socrates, Anaxagoras, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. During these years, the magnificent white marble Parthenon was built on the Acropolis.

The Spartans captured Athens in 404 B.C., during the Peloponnesian War and, although the city eventually
Temple of Olympian Zeus/Arch in Athens Susan Rock. Reproduced by permission. Temple of Olympian Zeus/Arch in Athens Susan Rock. Reproduced by permission. regained its freedom, it never again basked in the power and glory of its earlier days. Athens eventually came under Macedonian and Roman rule, then was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1456, and remained under Turkish control until 1833. It became the capital of modern Greece in 1835. During World War II, the city was occupied for more than three years by the Germans.


On the local market, fresh meat, both local and imported, is cut in the European manner and is expensive; good pork and lamb are available. Local beef is not aged and lacks the tenderness of American beef. Fresh chickens, eggs, and cheese are good buys. Many Greeks shop daily, so the local shopping centers are an important part of every neighborhood. Each has its own grocer, butcher, florist, greengrocer, pharmacy, and a fish merchant. Fresh produce, fruits, plants, eggs, and sometimes fish can also be purchased at the colorful weekly neighborhood farmers' markets. Fish is available but expensive. The huge central market daily sells fresh meats, game, chicken, seafood, spices, and a surprising variety of other commodities. A recent phenomenon is the neighborhood Greek equivalent to the U.S. supermarket. Many of these establishments cater to the demands of clientele with international tastes, so they stock delicacies from around the world in addition to national products. Although some specialty items are expensive, there are also bargains. In any case, there is almost nothing that cannot be found in the Greek food market. Greek bakeries offer a tasty variety of home-style bread from wheat to French and Arabic all made without preservatives. Sweet shops specialize in a variety of Greek pastries and European-style cakes and chocolates. Health food stores are a new fad and located in many areas. Greek wines are plentiful, varied and inexpensive, and some of the finer ones compete well internationally.


Wardrobes for Greece should include hot and cold weather clothing similar to that worn in Washington, D.C., although outer wear for snowy conditions is not necessary, except in northern Greece and in mountainous areas. Warm winter clothes and sweaters are necessary because apartments, houses, and some offices are not adequately heated. Summer clothing should be Page 223  |  Top of Article lightweight and include many washable items.

Shoes wear out quickly because of dust, dirt, and uneven pavements. Fashionable shoes in average sizes and widths are available and of good quality but are expensive. People with large, narrow, or wide feet or who are more comfortable in shoes with a special American brand should bring a good supply with them or order through mail-order companies.

Men: Medium-to-heavyweight wool suits are most comfortable during late fall and winter. For outdoors, supplement these with a sweater or a medium weight coat. A lightweight raincoat is also useful. One or two dark conservative suits are a must. Dark suits are worn year round for official functions, receptions, and informal dinners. In spring, summer, and early fall, lightweight suits of Orlon, Dacron, and tropical-worsted gabardine are ideal. English and good Greek woolens are available locally but are expensive. Since the weather is pleasant most of the year, bring informal sportswear (sport shirts, slacks, or jeans, loafers, etc.) for picnics, beaches, and at home. Order shirts, ties, underwear, pajamas, socks, etc., from the U.S. or purchase locally at higher prices.

Women: Lightweight cotton, cotton-linen blends, silk, or other natural fibers in simple styles are preferred during the summer season. Slacks are popular casual attire. Shorts are not popular unless on an island/beach. Dark cottons, shantungs, silks, and polyesters are worn during spring and fall. Suits and jacket dresses give versatility to clothes, particularly for changes of temperature and occasion. Wool dresses, suits, and sweaters are worn from October through April. Leather skirts, jackets, and coats are popular. Any cloth coat is appropriate in winter, as are fur coats. One or two raincoats are desirable. European women dress fashionably, particularly for social occasions. Black is always in style for dressy occasions. Simple dresses are suitable for cocktail parties. Short as well as long dresses are worn for formal occasions.

Stoles or evening sweaters are recommended for evening garden parties in summer. Ready-to-wear clothes of all kinds are a standard item in Greece. Prices and quality vary. Sales held twice yearly (August and February) offer good buys. Local shops carry good purses, belts, buttons, and jewelry. Imported or handmade items are expensive.

Greek markets offer a variety of yard goods. Imported silks, woolens, and cottons are available, but the best quality fabrics are expensive. Some local silks are attractive; Greek cottons, though less expensive, are seldom colorfast or pre-shrunk and never drip dry. Notions of European origin are plentiful. Dressmaking services range from local seamstresses to expensive couturiers. Local seamstresses are expensive. Local silver jewelry is attractive and reasonable. Yarns for knitting are available. Fur jackets, stoles, and coat, are available locally. Prices vary according to styles, kind of fur, and whether the skins are pieced or whole. Stone martens are native to Greece.

Sports clothes are practical. Purchase sports and walking shoes in the U.S. Greek and American women wear blouses or sweaters and skirts year round. These are available locally. Bring several swimsuits, since saltwater and bright sun wear them out rapidly. Attractive European-style swimsuits are available locally but are expensive.

Children: Ready-made clothing for children is available locally, but good quality apparel is expensive. Most families obtain children's clothing through catalog companies. As in the U.S., boys wear jeans or slacks to school, and girls wear dresses or skirts or jeans or slacks with blouses or sweaters. Sweaters are necessary, especially during colder months when building heat is inadequate.

Supplies and Services

Athens has several main shopping areas in the city and the suburbs, where you can find a good variety of locally made and imported goods. Stores of one specialty cluster together-furniture stores in one section and light fixtures in another. Large supermarkets and economy merchandise chains throughout the city carry a wide variety of cleaning and cosmetic products, as well as everyday household items. Each neighborhood has its own dry-cleaner, shoe repair shop, hair-dresser, and men's hair stylist. A contracting dry-cleaning service is available through the employee's association. Hair stylists and beauty shops are expensive compared to U.S. prices for the same service. Friends, neighbors, and associates are helpful on where to find auto mechanics, plumbers, electricians, or carpenters.

Domestic Help

Many house dwellers employ a part-time gardener/handyman. These workers usually speak English, French, or German, in addition to Greek. By government decree and custom, in addition to regular compensation, servants receive bonuses at Christmas (a month's salary); Easter (half a month's salary); and vacation time (8-15 days' wages). Live-in servants also receive food, clothing, and medical care. The servant's medical care is provided under IKA (Greek social security). A legislative decree provides for obligatory insurance enrollment with IKA for all full-time, live-in domestic employees as follows: gardeners, butlers, and cooks pay 35%--45% of monthly wage (13.25% by employees and 22.20% by employer).

General house workers, chambermaids, and laundresses are paid whether living in or out. Some take their meals in the household and other receive food allowance. Mandatory insurance payments provide old-age pension and medical care. Those who employ day workers are not obliged to pay this insurance fee; the workers are responsible for their own coverage.

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Religious Activities

In addition to the Greek Orthodox church, several other faiths are represented in Athens. St. Andrew's Protestant and Interdenominational Church has services in central Athens, Kifissia, and Voula/Glyfada. Centrally located are: St. Paul's Anglican, Church of the Latter-day Saints, Grace Baptist Church, Trinity Baptist Church, Crossroads International Christian Center, Glyfada Christian Center, and First Church of Christ, Scientist. Catholic Mass in English can be heard at St. Paul's in Kifissia. The central Cathedral has services in Greek, with readings and announcements occasionally in English. Beth Shalom Synagogue is located in Athens, and a mosque occupies the top floor of the Caravel Hotel. Sunday school and CCD classes are available through several churches.


The American Community Schools (ACS) (tel. 639-3200) is a private, nonprofit school incorporated in Delaware. The governing body is an eight-member Board of Education elected by the Parents Association.

ACS provides an American educational program and offers the international baccalaureate program to interested students. ACS has two limited special education resource centers for learning disabilities. Admission to these centers is limited and is based on evaluation of records. ACS has a current enrollment of 800. Pupils with American citizenship comprise 50% of the student body; English-speaking citizens of more than 50 other countries make up the remainder. About 150 students graduate from high school each year, and, of these, 80% continue their education at colleges and universities. The school complex is located in Halandri, 7 miles from downtown Athens. It consists of three schools: an elementary school (junior kindergarten through grade 5), a middle school (grades 6-8), and a high school (grades 9-12), as well as administrative offices. Bus service is available. Curriculum includes advanced placement and college preparatory courses, as well as the international baccalaureate program, business education, industrial and fine arts, home economics, physical education, extensive foreign language program, and work-study program. All faculty members are certified and more than 75% hold master's degrees. The international address is: 129, Aghias Paraskevis Street, 152 34 Ano Halandri, Athens, Greece.

Tasis Hellenic International School (tel. 808-1426) is a branch of the American School in Switzerland. It was founded in 1979 in a merger between TASIS Greece and the Hellenic International School, which was established in 1971. It prides itself on having a caring, student-centered community. TASIS Hellenic enrolls 323 students at the Middle and Upper School on the Kifissia campus. TASIS Hellenic offers American college preparatory, Cambridge University I.G.C.S.E. and A-level preparation, American advanced placement courses in all disciplines, and English as a second language. Classes are small; the average class has 15 students. All faculty are certified, and 92% of the graduating seniors continue their education at colleges and universities in the U.S. and the U.K. The academic year extends from September to mid-June. The school year is divided into 2 semesters, with a 3-week Christmas vacation and a 2-week spring break. Grades and teacher comments are sent to parents four times yearly. Bus transportation is provided from all major residential areas in and around Athens.

Tasis also has an elementary school (pre-K to grade 5) with a curriculum that is designed to meet the special needs of the young child. The elementary school is located 12 minutes from the middle and high school campus. The mailing address is: TASIS Hellenic International School, P.O. Box 25 Artemidos and Xenias Street, 145 62 Kifissia, Greece.

St. Catherine's British School (tel. 282-9750/282-9751) is coeducational and caters for children aged 3 to 13 years. Some families are permanent residents of Athens while others are more internationally mobile. The curriculum is closely modeled on the British National Curriculum but has certain adaptations and additions that take into account the school's unique circumstances. All children follow programs of study in English, mathematics, science, art and design, geography, history, music, physical education, religious/moral education, and technology. Every effort is made to keep class size small. The school occupies a site in Lykovrissi, bordering the residential suburb of Kifissia, and is within easy access of other northern suburbs of Athens. All children are required to wear a school uniform, which is designed so that most items are relatively easy to obtain. The school's facilities in terms of playground space, campus environment, and outdoor swimming pool are excellent. Mailing address for overseas mail is: PO. Box 52843, Nea Erithrea, Greece 146 10. Local address is: c/o British Embassy Plutarchou l, Athens 106 75.

Campion School (tel. 813-3883) is an all-age, coeducational international school run on British lines, admitting pupils of any race or nationality. Senior pupils are prepared for the "A," "O," and AP level exams and the SAT. Campion is registered in Massachusetts and has been a member of the Governing Bodies Association in the U.K. since 1970. Campion operates two elementary schools, one in the northern suburb of Halandri and the other in the coastal suburb of Glyfada. The senior school is situated in Ekali, 1.5 kilometers north of Athens. Bus service is available. One-third of the student body is British; the remainder represent 50 other countries. Computer and technical studies are available, and a particularly wide range of foreign languages is taught. The mailing address is: Dimitros & Antheon Street 145 65, Ekali, Greece.

St. Lawrence College (tel. Glyfada: 894-3251) is an independent coeducational school registered in Page 225  |  Top of Article England. A British public/prep school prepares students for "A" and "O" level exams, as well as SAT's. Current enrollment is 400 pupils from 18 countries between the ages of 3 and 18 years. The school is located in the Hellenikon area of Athens. Bus transportation is available. Mailing address is: 3 Delta Street, 166 77 Glyfada.

Foreign Language Schools Japanese School (tel. 682-4278). Instruction is in Japanese. Address is: Embassy of Japan, 64 Vassilissis Sophias Avenue 115 28, Athens, Greece.

Dorpfeld Gymnasium (tel. 682-0921). Private German School in Paradissos, Amaroussion.

Italian School (tel. 228-3258). Elementary, high school, and lycee. Instruction is in Italian. Address is: 18 Mitsaki Street 11141, Athens, Greece.

Special Educational Opportunities

Special teachers and speech therapists are available for private hire through the Center for Psychic Health, 58 Notara Street, 10683 Athens, phone 881-2944 and 823-2833. (A private, independent organization called CARE/HELLAS also has a listing of specialists.

The American College of Greece or Deree College (tel. 639-3250) serves nearly 2,000 students at its two campuses. The college is an independent, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Association for Schools and Colleges and under American direction. Primarily a coeducational liberal arts college in the English and American tradition, the main campus offers a 3-4 year program leading to a bachelor's degree in business administration, economics, psychology, sociology, English, history, and dance. The downtown center offers business and economics courses in the afternoon and evening and offers a 2-year associate degree in secretarial studies. Most Derree students are Greek; 20 other nationalities are also represented. Instruction is in English. Pierce College
© Ted Spiegel/Corbis. Reproduced by permission. The Parthenon above a modernized Athens, Greece © Ted Spiegel/Corbis. Reproduced by permission. The Parthenon above a modernized Athens, Greece (tel. 639-3250) is an affiliated secondary school on the main campus. The mailing address is: 6 Gravias Street, 153 42 Aghia Paraskevi, Greece FAX: 600-9811.

The University of LaVeme (tel. 810-0111) is fully accredited with academic requirements identical to the main school in California. Evening classes are held at TASIS School in Kifissia. BA and BS degrees can be pursued in business administration and economics, business management, behavioral science, sociology, history, political science, psychology, social science, and mathematics. Courses leading to a master's degree are available in business administration, management, and history. The mailing address is: Xenias & Artemidos Sts. 145 62 Kifissia, Greece FAX: 620-5929.

College Year in Athens is a program intended as a year abroad to enrich education at the sophomore, junior, and senior levels. Instruction is given in English by visiting U.S. and Greek professors. Courses are Greek civilization, archaeology, culture, art, literature, and politics. A limited number of qualified adults may be accepted as part-time special students for credit. The mailing address is: 59 Denocratous Street, 106 76 Athens, Greece.

Tel.: 726-1622/726-0749, FAX: 726-1497 American School of Classical Studies is primarily a research institute for a limited number of Page 226  |  Top of Article students sent from the U.S. by their graduate schools. The mailing address is: 54 Souidias Street, 106 76 Athens, Greece, Tel.: 723-6313, FAX: 725-0584.


Opportunities for sports participation abound in Greece. Many tennis clubs exist, from elite to affordable. A superb and rigorous test of golf is available at the 18-hole Glyfada Golf Course. Reasonable annual fees of around $1,000, plus slightly more tourist-oriented daily greens fees, are available. Only four other courses exist in Greece; in Rhodes, Porto Carras (Halkidiki) serving Thessaloniki and Northern Greece, Rhodes, Corfu, and a small 9-hole course at the VOA Station in Kavala. American-style 10-pin bowling lanes are available in a few locations.

The annual Athens marathon group and weekly runs of the international Hash House Harriers welcome joggers wishing company. Roller skating and ice-skating rinks are accessible, and health clubs have become popular. Yachtsmen moor their craft in numerous marinas along the Saronic Gulf, and organized racing is available. The less affluent can charter various size yachts with or without a skipper to cruise the islands. Sailing classes are also available.

Windsurfers love the balmy breeze of the Aegean Sea, and water skiing, although not as popular, is available. Scuba divers and sailors must understand Greek regulations and have knowledge of local waters. For those who enjoy a sandy beach and cool swim, many beaches are available in close proximity to Athens. Some government-operated beaches offer lockers, sports equipment, parking, umbrellas, chairs, and restaurants in various locations.

Eight or more riding clubs are located in Athens, some with indoor and outdoor menages; lessons given in English can be arranged. All riding is English style. Horse racing takes place three afternoons weekly at the Faliron Race course. When the waters cool, the mountains beckon.

Greece has several ski areas with lifts, good rental equipment, and instructors. The closest to Athens is near Delphi on Mount Parnassus; Mount Helmos in the Peloponnese is 317 miles from Athens; to the north are Mount Pelion and Metsovo. From mid-September to June, Athenians spend much time rooting for their favorite soccer team in one of two major stadiums in Athens or in Piraeus. The new Olympic Stadium is used for a variety of national and international sports events.

There are mountaineering, hiking, parachuting, track, table tennis, badminton, basketball, boxing, cycling, fencing, field hockey (not ice), riding, rowing, and volleyball associations. The American Women of Greece (AWOG) gives bridge lessons, and there are several Greek bridge clubs.

Fishing enthusiasts will find excellent trout streams 3-5 hours from Athens. Sole, bass, pike, mullet, tuna, red snapper, and perch can be caught in the Aegean Sea. Greece is not a hunter's paradise, and access to overcrowded areas is difficult. The country-wide hunting license does not indicate the holder has any gun safety knowledge. Dove season lasts from mid August to mid-March; partridge season from mid-September to mid-November; and other birds and game from mid-September to mid-March. Decoys and calls are prohibited. European and American hunting equipment, such as boots, guns, jackets, etc., are locally available, although American-made ammunition is difficult to obtain.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

The heart of an assignment to Greece is definitely its availability of touring and outdoor activities. Outside the greater Athens area, one finds Greece. Even with a 2-or 3-year posting, careful planning is necessary to see what Greece offers, whether with numerous organized tours and cruises or using good guidebooks and literature published by the National Tourist Organization.

Representing every era are historical sites and museums throughout Greece. Within a few hours' drive are Delphi (the ancient navel of the world), Corinth, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Tiryns, and other renowned sites. By ferry, hydrofoil, cruise liner, or on Olympic Airways, the numerous islands are accessible-each with its distinctive character-Crete, Santorini, Rhodes, Hydra, Corfu, and the innumerable picturesque smaller spots. Back in Athens are the Acropolis, Agora, Byzantine churches, Roman ruins, and 10 fine museums. Accommodations are available year round in Greece; however, during peak tourist season, advance reservations are wise, and in mid-winter, many hotels are closed. Hotels vary from deluxe class to back-packer quality, and recently the National Tourist Organization renovated several typical old Greek villas in several areas for tourist use. Camping is also popular in Greece, and grounds have been established throughout the country. Charter flights fly in and out of Greece regularly, but are not permitted to originate here. Compensating for this, numerous, inexpensive package tours are developed by AWOG and private agencies.


Greece is characterized by the informality, spontaneity, simplicity, and individuality of its entertainment. Night life in Athens is diversified and interesting. Taverna-style restaurants throughout the city and suburbs offer music for dining and dancing. More sophisticated establishments offer floor shows. In summer, outdoor restaurants in the city, the suburbs, and on the sea front are popular. Athens' better restaurants and hotels serve Greek and continental food; several restaurants specialize in Asian and other ethnic food. In restaurants, cafes, bars, and nightclubs, a service charge of 15% is included in the bill; however, it is customary to round the bill up to the nearest Drs 100.

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Athens and the suburbs have many movie theaters. Recent American films are popular and widely shown, as are Greek, French, Italian, Spanish, and German films. Most films are shown in their original language, with Greek subtitles.

In summer, most movie houses are traditionally closed, and outdoor theaters take their place. Acoustics at the outdoor cinemas are poor, but the ambiance makes up for it. Theater and movie ushers expect a small tip. The theater, a tradition firmly rooted from classical days, operates in modern Greece year round but suffers the same economic restrictions faced in the U.S. and Europe. Even so, most of the private long-established Athenian theaters have full seasons. Greek translations of classical and contemporary plays by foreign playwrights are included in the repertory. A revival of the ancient outdoor theater, with the plays of Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes, is the basis of the annual Athens Festival held from June through August. Performances are given in three locations: in Athens at the imposing Roman-era Herodus Atticus theater; at the modern Lycabettus Hill theater, dramatically situated overlooking the city; and at the fourth century B.C. amphitheater, noted for its superb acoustics and setting in the Peloponnese at Epidaurus, 2-1/2 hours from Athens.

There is a dance company that performs at the theater on Philopappou Street (opposite the Acropolis) during summer. Karagiozi shadow theater performances are held in public squares in summer. Greek commercial firms regularly organize recitals and theater and ballet performances with foreign artists and troupes during winter. The National Opera Company and the Athens Ballet Company perform in winter; the Athens State Orchestra and the Athens State Opera offer regular year-round programs. The Athens concert hall, the Megaron, has many classical music and ballet performances and hosts performers from around the world. "The Players," an amateur theater company, and the Hellenic Amateur Musical Society (HAMS), which performs musical plays and light opera, give several productions in English each year and are always looking for volunteers. National and religious festivals are colorful, impressive, and worth seeing. It is also possible to be an armchair viewer, as most significant festivals are shown on TV Typical of such festivities are Epiphany (January) and the pre-Lenten carnival season. Common sense and good taste should govern photographing certain religious celebrations.

Art exhibits are held at many galleries and cultural centers in Athens. The National Gallery of Art, opposite the Hilton Hotel, on Vasileos Constantinou Avenue, contains a collection of works by Greek painters. There are many museums devoted to folk art and handicrafts, where articles of high quality may be found in Athens, as well as in shops, villages, and islands. Greece has a reciprocal agreement with the US. concerning amateur radio operation. Currently, licenses are available. Applicants must have a valid U.S. amateur license issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Greek Government does not allow third party traffic.

Social Activities

Activities includes American clubs, fraternal organizations, and church groups that invite membership. For adults: AWOG; Newcomers; Greek Red Cross; American Legion; Masonic Order; Parent-Teacher Association; Propeller Club; YWCA; Women's International Club. AWOG was founded by the spouse of the American Ambassador in 1948 and is open to all American women, spouses of U.S. citizens, and to a smaller number of Greek and international members. The honorary president is always the spouse of the current American Ambassador. Originally founded as a study group, it has expanded to raise funds for welfare work in Greece, including bazaars, dances, musical programs, etc. It grants scholarships, aid to schools, orphanages, and hospitals. AWOG has an extensive fine arts program, with weekly and monthly tours and lectures. It publishes "Hints for Living in Greece," which is helpful to all newcomers.

Newcomers is an informal and popular women's group with a wide international membership. Newcomers has no club dues, and the only membership requirement is the ability to speak English. Monthly meetings are held in members' homes. Other group activities include Greek cooking, international cooking, potluck dinners and cocktail parties, tennis, golf, play groups, tours, bridge, and walking groups. Religious groups include Catholic Women's Guild; Catholic Youth Organization; Protestant Women of the Chapel; Saint Andrew's Women's Guild; Saint Ann's Sodality; American Jewish Community Group. For young people there are Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Due to the many Americans and other English-speaking foreigners who live in Athens, international contacts are diverse and abundant. Thus it is easy to make social contacts among those with common interests. Americans are invited by Greek friends to weddings, christenings, and other ceremonies in churches and homes. Dress and etiquette vary according to occasion.

Dozens of clubs and organizations in Greece are dedicated to public service, charity, philanthropy, and the exchange of ideas and cultural aspects of Greece and other countries. It is important to note that Greeks tend to dress more formally for events, and the Greek notion of "informal" is usually business attire.

Membership in the Hellenic American Union is open to Greeks and Americans desiring to strengthen their cultural and friendship ties. The Union holds conferences, offers Greek language and art classes, lectures, and recitals; raises funds for scholarships; and promotes other worthwhile activities. The Propeller Club of the U.S. promotes business, Page 228  |  Top of Article
Seascape of Mykonos, Greece Courtesy of Molly Flint Seascape of Mykonos, Greece Courtesy of Molly Flint public relations, and cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Greece. Members are Greek and American business representatives, Mission officers, and Greek government personnel. The club holds monthly meetings with guest speakers, and its activities include granting scholarships and aiding schools, orphanages, and hospitals. The club's activities are financed by initiation fees, annual dues, and proceeds from an annual carnival ball cosponsored with AWOG.


With over 1 million inhabitants, Thessaloniki is Greece's second largest city, located 300 miles north of Athens in the ancient province of Macedonia. Built around the shores of the Thermaikos Gulf and framed by its acropolis and Mount Hortiatis, Thessaloniki enjoys a splendid natural setting.

Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Kassandros, brother-in-law of Alexander the Great, probably on the site of classical Therme. Kassandros named the city after his wife, the daughter of Philip of Macedon and half-sister of Alexander the Great. Just two decades earlier King Philip had won a decisive victory for his Thessalian allies at Chaeronia. He named the daughter born to him that year Thessaloniki ("Thessalian Victory") to commemorate his triumph. When Alexander's half-sister was wed to General Kassandros, the city was given to them as a home and renamed after her.

In 146 AD Thessaloniki, by then under the domination of Rome, became an imperial provincial capital governing the area from the Adriatic to the Black Sea. During this era the famous Via Egnatia was constructed as a through-road between Rome in the west and Constantinople in the east. The Via Egnatia is one of the great commercial roads of history and remains one of Thessaloniki's major arteries.

Thessaloniki achieved its greatest prominence during the late Roman and Byzantine periods when it became the first city of the "province" of Greece, far surpassing Athens in commercial and administrative importance. Its large natural port and location at a crossroads in southeastern Europe made it a tempting target for successive conquerors. As the Byzantine Empire declined, Saracens, Normans, and Venetians at various times gained control of the city. Venice bought Thessaloniki in 1423 AD, but the city was seized by the Ottoman Empire in 1430 and suffered a decline in importance under the 482-year Turkish occupation. Many Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 settled in Thessaloniki, giving it, by the 19th century, one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. Turkish rule ended on October 26, 1912, with the recapture of the city by Greek troops. October 26 is also the name-day of the city's patron saint, Demetrios, and the liberation is celebrated every year on that day.

The central part of Thessaloniki was rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 1917 using a design drawn by the French architect Hebrard. During World War 11 the Germans occupied the city for nearly 4 years, until their withdrawal in October 1944. More than 50,000 members of the city's vibrant Jewish community perished during the Holocaust. Since the war, and particularly in the last 30 years, the city has expanded rapidly, its population rising from 380,000 in 1961 to 871,500 in 1981. Thessaloniki's character changed during this time from that of a prosperous provincial city to a booming, modern metropolis with all the urban problems that plague the world's large cities.

Thessaloniki is second in Greece only to the Athens/Piraeus area as an industrial and commercial center. Industries in the area produce petrochemical products, textiles, wood and paper products, steel, and assorted manufactured goods. As throughout the city's history, transportation services and shipping remain significant sources of revenue for Thessaloniki. The city dreams of regaining its Byzantine role as a pan-Balkan commercial center.

Although the overwhelming majority of its inhabitants are of Greek ethnic origin, Thessaloniki has small numbers of various other Balkan nationalities, as well as a few thousand members of the once-thriving Jewish community. Thessaloniki also houses two of Greece's largest universities and two US.-affiliated private colleges that Page 229  |  Top of Article attract students from throughout Greece and the southern Balkans.

The post's consular district encompasses the two northernmost Greek provinces-Macedonia and Thrace-extending from Albania in the west to the Turkish border in the east and from the Aegean Sea and Thessaly in the south to The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria in the north.

Some 3,500 U.S. citizens live in the Thessaloniki area. Most are of Greek origin and reside permanently in Greece. Several Americans are employed by local English speaking private schools; others teach and study at the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki under Fulbright and other programs.


Most Thessalonicans still shop at their small neighborhood stores. These stores come in a variety of distinct flavors: bakeries, pastry shops, butchers, cheese merchants, produce sellers, grocers, and fishmongers. All provide a wide selection of quality products. Additionally, there is a large, covered central market area that sells regional produce and other foodstuffs, and many neighborhoods have weekly farmers' markets. The fresh fruits and vegetables are usually of excellent quality and relatively inexpensive, although more seasonal than in the U.S. Seafood is readily available, but often rather pricey. Cheeses and dairy products are excellent, as is the large variety of bread available locally.

In addition to these traditional sources, there are two American-style supermarket chains with outlets in the city. These supermarkets stock, however, a European style inventory. Diet drinks and low calorie foods are difficult to find.

The city's unfluoridated water is potable but not particularly tasty. Most people drink bottled water, which is readily available at all locations. Local wines are inexpensive and of excellent quality. European and American brands are also obtainable. Beer and liquor are not duty-free outside the commissary. Most Greeks prefer beer or scotch whiskey to wine, so there is no need to purchase other alcoholic beverages.

Shopping, Services, and Transportation

Barbers, hairdressers, and dry cleaners are available at US prices and quality, and traditional tailors and cobblers have shops throughout the city. Electronic, appliance, and automotive repair is also readily available in Thessaloniki, although spare parts for American and some other non-European models are often unavailable. Ford, Honda, Chrysler (Jeep only), Toyota, Hyundai, and all European manufacturers have service and parts facilities in the city but may be unfamiliar with models not sold in Europe.

Taxis in the city are numerous if a bit feisty. Drivers routinely pick up other passengers en route and often refuse to take customers to destinations deemed inconvenient. Radio taxis can be ordered at a slight additional cost but are sometimes unavailable at peak hours. Buses are frequent and inexpensive but often crowded. Traffic is heavy in the city center-often at unusual hours by U.S. standards but generally acceptable in most other neighborhoods. Many city streets are oneway, causing additional confusion. Street parking is difficult everywhere in town. Minor streets are very narrow and crowded with parked cars. Inter-city roads are well marked but of wildly varying quality. Road surfaces are more slippery than in the U. S. and stopping distances longer.

Telephone service is generally reliable and most of the network has been upgraded to all-digital lines. Local providers sell Internet access at approximately U.S. prices, but line speed is limited to 33.6 KB. Modems may require user software reconfiguration to detect local dial tone. Phone calls cost about 100 Drs./minute. Cell phones are ubiquitous and reasonably priced. Officers are provided with mobile phones for official use. Other utilities are normally reliable, but water pressure and supply can be problematic in some areas during the summer.

ATMs connected to U.S. bank networks (Cirrus, Plus) dispense local currency around the clock.

Most shops are small family operations. As described above, the city also has several large supermarkets (which also sell clothing, appliances, electronics, office supplies, and other items), as well as a bulk purchase discount warehouse, Foot-locker shoe stores, a large toy store modeled on Toys "R" Us, and two large hardware stores similar to Home Depot. Numerous shops sell antiques, and there is a weekly open-air flea market near the Rotunda. Sporting goods are expensive and difficult to find.

Most larger stores will have at least one employee who speaks some English. At smaller establishments, communication can require a bit more creativity on the part of the non-Greek speaker.

Prices for clothing, appliances, electronics, toys, cosmetics, toiletries, and most other items are generally higher than in the U.S. The selection of over-the counter medications is limited and available only at pharmacies. Shops are open three evenings a week but otherwise close in mid-afternoon. Virtually all are closed Sunday and holidays.

As in the rest of Greece, Thessaloniki's public hospitals provide nearly free healthcare; however, most foreigners choose to use private hospitals. Saint Lucas Clinic, a private hospital in Panorama, provides quality healthcare for slightly below U.S. prices. The Inter Balkan Medical Center, a state-of-the-art private hospital affiliated with the Medical Center Hospital in Athens, opened in 2000. Many physicians speak English and are US.-trained. Local dental and optical care providers are good.

Nearly two dozen television stations broadcast locally around the clock. Page 230  |  Top of Article Most programs are in Greek, but normally there are one or two English-language movies on each evening as well as National Geographic and other documentaries. Many more American movies are broadcast late in the evening, usually after midnight. U. S. network evening news broadcasts are shown live early each morning. Satellite service is available free with a dish but offers only two channels in English, with the remainder broadcasting in French, Italian, German, and Polish. Pay cable TV includes movie and cartoon channels. Many shops rent videos (SECAM system) inexpensively. There are many radio stations, some featuring a mix of Greek and American music.

Domestic Help

Full-time domestic help is difficult to obtain, and wages are high. Part-time help is reasonably available for about $30 for a 6-8 hour day. English-speaking childcare for evenings can be located with a little persistence but is difficult to find it for days.

Religious Activities

A synagogue serves the long-established Jewish community. The Greek Evangelical Church, located downtown, serves the small Greek Protestant community. The Church of the Immaculate Conception downtown holds Catholic Mass; services and sermons are in Greek and are in French on Sunday evenings. Confessions are heard in Greek, French, and Italian. An Anglican Episcopal vicar conducts services in English on Sunday in the Armenian Church on Dialetti Street.


The Pinewood Schools Association. Inc. is a private, nonprofit corporation providing pre-kindergarten (ages 3 and 4) through grade 12 education for English speaking, mostly non-Greek children. The school year consists of two semesters running from early September to early January and from mid-January to mid-June. Curricula, teaching plans, and materials conform to US. standards, and the school has been accredited in the U.S. An elected 11-member board, including the Consul General as an ex officio member, governs the school.

Pinewood has 20 full-time and 7 part-time teachers, about half of whom are American. Total enrollment averages 240 children. Roughly a quarter of the students are American and the rest are a diverse group from 32 different countries. With a student-to-teacher ratio of around 10:1, classes are normally small with frequent individual attention.

Pinewood has decently equipped and maintained facilities, including a chemistry/biology laboratory, small gym/auditorium, library/audio-visual center, music and art rooms, and computer room. The school offers instruction in music and Greek and provides a limited after-school activities program. There is an on-campus snack bar, and school bus service is available to most areas.

Pinewood can be contacted at: Director Pinewood Schools Association, PO. Box 21001, 555 10 Pilea, Thessaloniki, Greece. Te1.:30-31-301-221 Fax: 30-31-323-196 E-mail:

The American College of Thessaloniki provides a U.S.-accredited, liberal arts undergraduate education in English. Additional information is available at the: American College of Thessaloniki, c/o Anatolia College, PO. Box 21021, 555 10 Pilea, Thessaloniki, Greece. Tel.: 30-31-316-740 Fax: 30-31-301-076

The Aristotle University in Thessaloniki offers (in Greek) a foreign students program, including an excellent intensive Greek course, that does not require applicants to take an entrance examination. City University offers part-time (day and evening) undergraduate and graduate classes in English through the University of Sheffield (England).


Several small but good tennis clubs are available through club membership. In addition to public and YMCA courts, Anatolia College rents two tennis courts during summer. The American Farm School also has a court available. The YMCA in the center of the city has a swimming pool, handball, and basketball courts, and offers aerobics, yoga, art classes, and other activities (in Greek). Several small private gyms offer members access to facilities of varying quality around the city.

Northern Greece's one golf course, on the Halkidiki peninsula, is currently closed. For horse lovers, several excellent riding schools (English saddle only) with inexpensive instruction in English operate in Thermi and Panorama.

Private tennis, swimming, pottery, and other lessons are available at a reasonable price. Cycling can be difficult due to traffic and dogs, but short, pleasant and safe rides are possible along the waterfront. Mountain biking possibilities exist in the forests and hills near the city. Athletic equipment is, however, both difficult to find and expensive.

Soccer is the most popular spectator sport in Thessaloniki, though basketball is also well attended. The city has three athletic associations that field both soccer and basketball teams in Greece's premier leagues.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

The nearest beaches, including one with bathhouses, snack bars, chairs, and umbrellas, are 15-20 miles from the city. Some 45-75 miles from the city, crystal-clear water and isolated beaches provide excellent bathing and snorkeling. The more isolated beaches have no cabins or bath-houses to provide protection from the hot sun. Beach and snorkel equipment is available locally in season. Modest apartments near the beach are available for summer or year round rental at reasonable prices. VOA/Kavala (3 hours by car) boasts a modest nine-hole golf course, club house, and private beach. Ferry service from Thessaloniki to many Greek islands is available throughout the summer. A Page 231  |  Top of Article local hotel offers free pool use for families during the summer with the understanding that parents will purchase beverages and snacks during their visit.

Three yacht clubs provide anchorage but only limited service for small craft. Small motorboats are available but expensive. Most week-day mornings see a few sculls rowing across the main harbor. Good hiking is possible in nearby mountains, and ambitious hikers can climb 10,000-foot Mt. Olympus (40 miles distant), overnighting at one of the two hikers lodges near the summit. There are ski resorts within 2 hours at Selli in the Vermion Range, Tria-Pente Pigadia in Naoussa, Lialias in Serres, and 3 hours distant in Bulgaria. Locally purchased equipment is expensive.

Partridge, quail, dove, hare, and wild boar can be hunted in fall, but hunting is poor in the immediate vicinity of Thessaloniki. Waterfowl hunting can be arranged but is expensive. Salt water fishing and spear fishing is good in nearby Halkidiki, but nearby lakes are too polluted for fresh water fish to thrive. More isolated rivers and lakes are better choices.

Like all of Greece, the area around Thessaloniki boasts numerous archaeological sites and museums. Pella, ancient capital of Macedonia and birthplace of Alexander the Great, is 45 minutes from Thessaloniki. Several beautifully preserved mosaics and numerous artifacts are on display. At nearby Vergina, several royal tombs were discovered in 1977. One is believed to be that of Philip II, father of Alexander. The principal finds are on exhibit in new underground museum onsite. Naoussa, noted for its fruit trees, wine, and fresh trout; Edessa, with its dam and picturesque waterfalls; Kastoria, a picturesque, provincial town, noted for its Byzantine churches, scenic beauty, and fur industry; and the islands of Thasos and Samothrace are all within easy driving or ferry distance. The unique Mount Athos peninsula is also nearby. The monasteries of the Mount Athos (known as the "Holy Mountain" in Greek) form an independent ecclesiastical government dating from medieval times. Visitors travel to Ouranoupolis by road (2 hours) and then by small boat out onto the peninsula. Entry to the peninsula requires a visa (issued locally), and no women or minors are allowed.


Local and international artists present a variety of Greek-language plays, concerts, lectures, and exhibits throughout the year. The Opera Company, the National Theater, and other Athens companies come to Thessaloniki annually for l-to 2-week runs. The National Symphony Orchestra of Northern Greece performs weekly fall through spring, and in the summer an outdoor theater brings high-quality cultural events to a hillside venue above the city. The Thessaloniki Concert Hall, a new facility for classical music, and the fully remodeled Royal Theater opened their doors in 2000. Both host performances by international and Greek groups, including well known ensembles such as Britain's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The International Trade Fair of Thessaloniki is held annually during September with industrial exhibits, consumer goods, and entertainment activities. The city holds a wine festival during the fair, as well as a Greek song festival and a week-long cinema festival. An outdoor flower exhibit and international jazz festival open each May, and the city hosts a major cultural festival each October and an international film festival each November. Various colorful and interesting religious festivities occur throughout the year.

The city has a good-size waterslide park with tube rides and wave pool, and a year-round, carnival-style amusement park. There are a number of both indoor and outdoor movie theaters, including three state-of-the-art multiplexes. Theaters show mostly big-budget American films (which tend to appear 3 to 6 months after they debut in the States); movies are always shown in their original language with Greek subtitles, except for cartoons, which are usually dubbed.

Thessaloniki has an active nightlife centering on the three club districts and a strip of cafes along the water-front. Clubs are loud, trendy, and packed. The more popular places often charge significant covers even for nights with recorded music. Hyatt Regency operates an upscale casino just outside the city that features slots and gaming tables. A large nightclub and open-air theater complex just beyond the western edge of the city offers a variety of jazz, rock, and (Greek) comedy performances.

Thessaloniki is reputed to have over 3,000 restaurants, including hundreds of charming Greek restaurants and tavernas, many of them featuring al fresco dining. Non-Greek cuisine is confined to a few Italian, French, European, American, and Chinese restaurants of varying quality. McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Applebee's, and Haagen Dazs have outlets in the city.

Anatolia College (a local US.-affiliated high school) and the British Council Library have English-language books and periodicals for loan. Local bookstores have a fair selection of English-language books at high prices. Pinewood School keeps its library open 1 day a week during the summer for children who wish to borrow books when classes are out.

Social Activities

Northern Greeks adhere to a daily schedule that does not always fit well with an American workday. Offices open between 8 and 9 a.m., but many close permanently for the day in mid-afternoon. Lunch rarely occurs before 1:30 in the afternoon-later on the weekends-and tends to last several hours. Dinner in private homes and at restaurants seldom begins before 9 p.m. and can start as late as 10:30 or 11 p.m. on weekend evenings. Nightclubs and similar centers generally do not begin to fill with people before midnight and often remain active until dawn, Page 232  |  Top of Article even during the week. The city's large university population (about 60,000) ensures that such establishments are always busy.

Social life among Americans is informal and casual. The principal social activity is entertaining at home: luncheons, buffet dinners, cards, cocktails, etc. Greek hosts take their guests to restaurants, although home entertaining is becoming more common.

Several pleasant outdoor restaurants offer dancing in summer, and charity balls are held during the 3-4 weeks in the pre-Lenten carnival season. Some Americans study Greek folk dancing at the American Farm School. Four Rotary Clubs welcome Americans, but Greek is the primary language used. Other clubs include the Lions Club; Propeller Club; International Women of Greece, which provides lectures and sightseeing trips for its members and engages in local charity work; and the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.


Rhodes is a modern city of 41,400 residents, and is the largest, most cosmopolitan resort in Greece. It is located on the Island of Rhodes, which lies on the southeastern coast of the Aegean Sea, 225 miles southeast of Athens and only 12 miles south of Turkey. Rhodes, the most important of the 12 Greek islands known as the Dodecanese, is about 65 miles long and 25 miles wide.

The city is the capital of both the island and of the Dodecanese. Each year, three-quarters of a million tourists swell its population and bring business to its large shopping area, its restaurants and casino, its travel agencies, and its many hotels.

The city is, as well as a famous resort, a manufacturing center and port. There is an international airport with daily flights to Athens by Olympic Airways (45 minutes) and chartered flights to Europe and the Middle East. During summer, Olympic Airways also has flights to London and Cairo, and to Mykonos, Santorini, Kos, Karpathos, Kasos, and Iráklion (Candia). There also are regular ship connections to all the Dodecanese islands, Piraeus (Athens' port), Crete, Cyprus, and Israel. The trip to Piraeus on large ferries takes approximately 20 hours.

The private American community is small, including a few families engaged in philanthropic work or the arts, and a number of retired persons, mostly Greek-Americans.

Rhodes enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate, with cool summers and relatively mild winters, creating an excellent condition to produce crops such as figs, olives, grapes, vegetables, etc. During summer, a breeze called meltemi keeps temperatures below 90°F near the sea, although inland the temperature and humidity are higher. Freezing temperatures in winter are unusual. January and February are months of heavy rainfall.

Rhodes as an island was colonized in 1,000 B.C., but the city itself dates to 408 B.C. The present city is on the site of ancient Rhodes, and in its harbor is the famous Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Some of the powerful fortifications built by the Knights Hospitalers, who dramatically resisted Turkish siege in the Middle Ages, are part of the present harbor.


Interesting sites to explore in Rhodes include the Citadel; Kameiros Temple; and the medieval group of buildings in the old section of the city—the Palace of the Grand Master (of the Order of St. John), the hospital, and the various inns, or billets, of the nationalities of knights forming the order. The Inn of Auvergne is a handsome 15th-century building set in the Square of the Amory. Interesting collections are on display in the Archaeological and the Byzantine museums, and the Museum of Decorative Arts.

Rhodes has an 18-hole golf course located at Afandou, near the transmitter plant, and playable year round. The course is part of a resort complex which includes clubhouse, tennis courts, Olympic-size swimming pool, and shallow pool for youngsters.

The Rhodes Tennis Club is open for membership for a very reasonable fee. The club has two clay courts in downtown Rhodes. Several of the tourist hotels have hard-surfaced courts, and these can be rented at an hourly rate.

The Rhodes Palace Hotel is the only place on the island with bowling facilities. The four-lane alley has AMF automatic pinsetters.

The main summer activities are swimming and sunbathing, with many available beaches. Swimming hazards are few, and shark attacks are unknown. The water is clear and clean.

Because of the narrow roadways in most villages, bicycling is an excellent, although tiring, way to see the island. Bicycles can be rented in the city of Rhodes at an hourly rate.

Arrangements can be made to rent or charter boats. Membership in the Rhodes Yacht Club is available; dues are quite reasonable, but facilities are minimal. Club members moor their boats free. Small boats are usually dry-docked during winter. Marine supplies are not available in Rhodes.

Special Information

Rhodes is considered one of the most beautiful places in Greece, but it is an island, isolated for most practical purposes from involvement and interests of mainland living. The main highway and almost all city streets are paved; however, many villages, popular beaches, and points of interest can be reached only by rocky roads. Streets in town are often quite narrow, and parking space is scarce.

Some services are limited, such as medical care, but in general the

Page 233  |  Top of Article

© Wolfgang Kaehler. Reproduced by permission. Fortifications and palace of the Grand Master in Rhodes © Wolfgang Kaehler. Reproduced by permission. Fortifications and palace of the Grand Master in Rhodes training and competence of physicians and dentists is good. There is a hospital, where minor surgery can be performed, and which has X-ray and laboratory facilities.

Basic services and supplies are readily available. However, items such as spare parts for cars are in short supply, and local mechanics have limited capabilities for automotive repair.

Rhodes does not have English-language libraries. The International Herald Tribune and many other papers and magazines can be found at various newsstands, but papers often are delayed on weekends and holidays.

Most hotels will not accept pets, so boarding arrangements must be checked in advance. Several veterinarians practice in Rhodes, but no kennels are available.


Patras, with a population of more than 142,000, is located in the northern Peloponnesus, and connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Ionian Sea. It is a major industrial center and the country's main western port. Its chief exports are currants, wine, olive oil, and sheepskins.

A city of lovely, arcaded streets, Patras is the center of Greece's elaborate pre-Lenten Carnival celebrations. Its old fortifications, dating from the Middle Ages, and its famous Claus winery are among the principal points of interest. A university was founded in the city in 1966.

Patras (in Greek Pátri) was occupied by the Turks during the 18th and 19th centuries (until 1828), and it was here that the Greek War of Independence began in 1821. For three-and-a-half years during World War II, from April 1941 until October 1944, the city was again occupied, this time by Axis powers.

History tells that it was in Patras that St. Andrew, one of the Twelve Disciples, was martyred on an x-shaped cross, which came to be

known as a St. Andrew's cross. He had been a missionary in Asia Minor and in Macedonia.


Kavala, with about 70,000, is a mixture of old and new. Its seaport accommodates light shipping, and fishing boats operate from there. It is a popular tourist city, with a picturesque old quarter, Turkish fortress, and Roman aqueduct. Kavala has an international airport near Chryssoupolis, 20 miles east of Kavala, from which Olympic Airways operates daily flights to and from Athens.

A few miles from Kavala are the ruins of the ancient city of Philippi, named by Alexander the Great in honor of his father, and the site of St. Paul's first sermon in Europe. There, the theater of Philippi is still in use during summer, and portions of St. Paul's first churches in Europe still remain.

The climate is comparable to that of the U.S. southern states. In winter, temperatures are in the 30s and low 40s, with a few days of below-freezing weather. Northern Greece gets its rain in winter and early spring. In the summer months of July and August, temperatures range around 90°E.

The Kavala Relay Station is one of VOA's largest overseas radio relay stations. The Relay Station site occupies a 2,000-acre plot of flat land bordered on one side by the Aegean Sea. Near the western border of the plot is the mouth of the Nestos River. The site contains the transmitter plant building (housing the station's administrative offices and the transmitting plant operation), the power plant building (with nearby storage tanks that have a capacity of 1 million gallons of diesel fuel), the warehouse/garage facilities building, an antenna field, 15 houses for American families, and private beach facilities.

The transmitter plant receives RFE/RL VOA radio programs from the U.S. via satellite. Programs are rebroadcast to target areas, including east and central Europe, central and south Asia, the Middle East, and Africa by medium-and short-wave radio broadcast transmitters using directional antennas. The telephone number for Kavala Relay Station is (0541) 61120 and 61130.

Religious Activities

Mass is celebrated at the small Catholic church in Kavala on Sundays. Page 234  |  Top of Article No nearby religious services in English are available.

Recreation and Social Life

An extensive sandy beach winds along the south boundary of the station and can be enjoyed during summer. A 9-hole golf course and two tennis courts are available.


CANEA, or Khaniá, the capital of Crete since 1841, lies on the north coast of the island known to the Greeks as Kríti. The arsenal and medieval fortifications testify to the history of the Venetian colony which flourished here in the 13th century. The town and the island itself have been, through the ages, under Roman, Arab, Byzantine, Venetian, Turkish and, finally, Greek rule. In May 1941, the area was heavily damaged and captured by German airborne forces. Canea is a seaport city with a population of 47,500. Greek Orthodox and Catholic bishoprics are located here.

The city of CORFU, on the beautiful island whose name it bears, is called Kérkyra in Greek. Churches, villas, museums, libraries, hotels, and parks are surrounded by the Ionian Sea in a setting that draws thousands of tourists throughout the year. The narrow, medieval streets of this island port belie the modern accommodations and resort facilities found here. The Greek royal family, now in exile, once maintained a summer villa outside the city. Corfu was a major port during its four centuries (1386-1797) as a Venetian possession.

CORINTH, as a new city, was founded in 1858 after a devastating earthquake leveled the ancient town which had stood near the present site for 10 centuries. Another earthquake in 1928 caused considerable damage, and extensive rebuilding was done again. Corinth lies on the Gulf of the same name in the northeastern Peloponnesus, and is home to about 22,500 people. The ruins of the ancient and once powerful city, about three miles from the modern community, include vestiges of the Agora (forum), theater, fountains, and some of the columns of the archaic temple of Apollo. Modern Corinth is a transportation center for wines and raisins. Like so many other strategic Greek cities, it was occupied by German troops during World War II.

IRÁKLION (also known as Candia or Heraklion) is a seaport city of 102,500 residents on the north shore of Crete. The largest city on the island, it is an episcopal see (Greek Orthodox), and also the site of a famous museum of Minoan antiquities. Founded in 832 by the Saracens, it was occupied by the Venetians between the 13th and 17th centuries. Still remaining around the town are some of the Venetian walls and fortifications. Iráklion is another of the many Greek cities devastated during World War II (spring of 1941) by German troops. The city is located on some of Crete's best farmland; exports include grapes, wine, olives, and leather.

LARISSA, with a population of about 113,000, is a rail and agricultural trading city on the Piniós River in eastern Thessaly. It was the ancient capital of the Pelasgians, a fifth-century Christian heretical sect who defied the accepted doctrines of theology. It was at Larissa that the Turkish military governor, Ali Pasha, maintained his headquarters in the Greek War of Independence in 1821. The city did not become part of Greece until 1881. In more recent times, it was the scene of bitter fighting between the German and the British-Greek armies in April 1941. Today, Larissa is linked with the port of Vólos by rail.

PIRAEUS, a part of Greater Athens, is linked to the capital by electric railway and highway. Situated six miles south of Athens on the northern coast of Greece, this major port and commercial city's population exceeds 196,000. Industries here include the manufacture of textiles, chemicals, and machinery.

Piraeus' harbor has been significant since the fifth century B.C., when it was Athens' naval base. The city's port was destroyed during World War II, and was restored after the war.

The ancient city of SPARTA, situated in the Eurotas valley of southern Greece, was renowned in history as the leading power of the country. Today, modern Sparta, with an estimated population of 12,900, lies near the remains of the old city, less than 75 miles south of Corinth. The few reminders of ancient Sparta are in poor condition. However, the Byzantine town of Mistra, founded in about 1250, is four miles west and is well preserved. Helen, wife of the Spartan king, Menelaus, was supposedly taken from Sparta. Her abduction is said to have instigated the Trojan War. During the eighth century Sparta was prosperous, and became a cultural center. It was a meeting hub for artists and poets. Currently, the city is the capital of Laconia Department; its economic mainstays are olives and grapes.

The capital city of Arcadia Department, TRIPOLIS (also called Tripolitsa or Tripolitza) is situated about 40 miles southwest of Corinth. Located in southern Greece, Tripolis is an important center for tanning, woodworking, agricultural trade, and textiles. The city was the regional capital of Morea under Turkish rule. It was severely damaged in 1821 and 1825 during the war for independence. Tripolis has a population of about 120,000.

VÓLOS is a seaport city in southeastern Thessaly on the Gulf of Vólos, an inlet of the Aegean Sea. It is a transportation, communications, and industrial center which has developed considerably in recent years; its population is around 71,000. Grain, wine, tobacco, and olives are the principal goods shipped from here. Close to Vólos are the ancient ruins of Iolcus and Demetrias.

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Geography and Climate

Greece, a rugged country of mountains and islands, is bordered on the north by Bulgaria, the former Yugoslav Federal Republic of Macedonia, and Albania; on the east by Turkey and the Aegean Sea; and on the south and west by the Mediterranean and Ionian Seas. The land area, including the islands, is 50,270 square miles (about the size of Alabama). Only 25% of the land is arable, and much of that is dry and rocky. Greece is 2 hours east (ahead) of Greenwich mean time and at about the same latitude as New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia.

Greece has mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Athens daytime summer temperature averages 90°F and often exceeds 100 °F for periods in July-August. Humidity is low and the heat is tempered by sea breezes. Summer evenings are comfortable outdoors. Spring and fall temperatures are pleasant, and winter temperatures are 30 °F-55 °F. Snow flurries occur, particularly in the northern suburbs, but seldom accumulate. Air pollution is a major problem in Athens throughout the year, but the climate is otherwise healthy.

Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, experiences high temperatures and humidity from the end of May until the end of September. Summer heat is sometimes tempered by late morning and early evening breezes. July and August nights can be uncomfortably warm. In winter, periods of mild, sunny, and spring-like weather are interspersed with uncomfortable cold periods. Thessaloniki has periods of chilly and damp weather, with considerable rainfall and occasional snow. Temperatures often fall below freezing in winter. Although snow does not linger, the city has been struck by blizzards. One feature of Thessaloniki's climate is the vardari, a strong northwesterly wind that appears suddenly and irregularly from the area of the Axios (Vardar) River Valley.


Greece's population is about 10.1 million. Metropolitan Athens, including Piraeus, has about 4,250,000 people, and greater Thessaloniki 1 million. Other population centers are the cities of Patras, Volos, Iraklion, Kavala, Larisa, Kalamata, and Tripolis. Most of the remainder of Greece is sparsely populated. About 28% of the population is agricultural, a percentage that is declining with greater economic development and increasing urbanization.

Greeks claim continuity with ancient Greeks, whose language achieved its first written form in Mycenaean times 14 centuries before Christ. The modern Greek language, "Dimotiki," maintains most of the vocabulary and some of the grammar of ancient Greek. "Katharevousa," a 19th century attempt to eliminate foreign influences and return the language to its classical roots, has been almost completely phased out since 1974 as a language of culture and administration.

During Byzantine and Ottoman times, Greece received Slavic, Albanian, Turkish, Gypsy, and other population inflows. Since the 1821 War of Independence, however, Greece has been the subject of a nation building process that has resulted in one of the most ethnically homogeneous societies in Europe. The only officially recognized minority is a Muslim population (130,000 persons) concentrated in Western Thrace, though most Gypsies and many Vlach, Slav, and Albanian speakers continue to use their traditional languages at home. Urban Greeks strongly encourage their children to learn foreign languages. Most leading shops, hotels, and restaurants in Athens and Thessaloniki employ clerks who speak English. This is not the case outside major tourist centers, however, where some knowledge of Greek makes life easier and more rewarding. The Greek Orthodox Church is the predominant religion in Greece, professed by 98% of the population. The Church is self governing under the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece and has historic ties to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. American citizens residing in the Athens area are estimated to be approximately 30,000. Many Greek Americans are retired in Greece, and several multinational corporations who have local or Middle Eastern operations based in Athens employ US. citizens. Athens and the rest of Greece have a steady flow of US. tourists each year.

Public Institutions

Greece's current constitution dates to the restoration of democracy following the 1967-74 military dictatorship (junta). The 1975 constitution establishes Greece as a parliamentary democracy, the Hellenic Republic, with the President as its largely ceremonial head of state. The Prime Minister, as head of government, is responsible to a 300-seat Parliament of the Hellenes elected every 4 years by a system of reinforced proportional representation. Greece has an independent judiciary along European models. The constitution guarantees a wide range of civil liberties.

The largest political party in Greece's parliament is the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), which won 41.5% of the popular vote in the September 1996 general election and achieved 162 seats in Parliament. PASOK president Constantine Simitis is Prime Minister. Since winning its first election in 1981, PASOK has governed the country for about 13 years. The largest opposition party, the center right New Democracy Party (ND), holds 108 parliamentary seats after winning 38.1% of the vote in September 1996.

Three smaller parties, each of which received at least 3 percent of the popular vote in the last election, Page 236  |  Top of Article together hold the remaining 30 seats. The current President of the Republic, Constantine Stephanopoulos, an independent conservative politician widely respected across the political spectrum, was elected by Parliament to a 5-year term in 1995.

The current government places its highest priority on entry into the European Union's Economic and Monetary Union (common currency union). To do this, Greece must satisfy the economic criteria in the Maastricht Treaty for acceptable performance on inflation, budget deficit, and government debt. If Greece meets expectations on the Maastricht criteria, it can look forward to EMU entry on January 1, 2001. Greece has been a member of the European Union since 1981, and Greek policy on most international issues follows the EU consensus. Greece is also a member of NATO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the Western European Union, and the United Nations.

Arts, Science, and Education

Greece has rich cultural roots, and a continuing literary, artistic, and musical life. Modern writers carry on the heritage and tradition of the giants of ancient and recent Greek letters. The writings of Nikos Kazantzakis and the Nobel Prize laureates, George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis, are available in English, as are many others.

Although Greek art suffered neglect during the centuries when Greece was under foreign domination, art is again flourishing with works from the primitive through realism to extreme avant-garde. Athens has scores of active and interesting commercial galleries, as well as other urban art centers.

Greek museums are also numerous, from the world class Cycladic Art Museum to the assortment of masterpieces in the National Archaeo-logical Museum. Other important museums in Athens include the Benaki Museum, the Folk Art Museum, the Byzantine Museum, and the Goulandris Natural History Museum.

Folk art and handicrafts survive in Greece, but, as a result of commercialization and tourism, it is difficult to distinguish between "souvenirs" and the genuine article. Greek popular music, with its delightful melodies and rhythms, can be heard on numerous radio stations around the clock, as well as at frequent public concerts and in nightclubs. Many Americans fall under the spell of more exotic music featuring the "bouzouki," a stringed instrument, heard not only on the radio, but also in "bouzouki clubs," where performances usually start at midnight. Rebetika (turn-of-the-century popular folk music) is experiencing a strong revival throughout the country. Folk dancing can sometimes be seen in the Greek countryside, especially on holidays, and city dwellers may spontaneously break into traditional dances at parties and other social functions. In the Plaka district of Athens, several taverns have live dance shows, as well as some other more authentic (but far from the center) folk music nightclubs. Athens has many theaters. Most performances are in modern Greek. Occasionally, foreign touring companies perform in English. The Karagiozi shadow puppet theater, with oriental and Turkish antecedents, is also worth seeing.

The Athens Festival, held every year from June to July, features performing arts ranging from Greek tragedy to modern dance and rock groups, often with internationally famous groups or stars from the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere. Cultural centers of interest to the English-speaking community are the Hellenic American Union (HAU), the British Council, and the Athens Center. Their programs, which normally extend from October through May, include concerts, films, exhibits, lectures, and panel discussions. Education is revered in Greece, and the hunger for education in both the humanities and sciences remains high. Greeks attach great value to higher education, and many study abroad. The HAU in Athens is a private, nonprofit, binational educational and cultural institution with close ties to the Public Affairs Office. Its main function is English teaching, but the HAU also offers a variety of courses, including all levels of modern spoken Greek, Greek studies, Greek dance, creative arts, and writing skills. The library, which is currently closed for renovations, includes remnants of the former USIS library, including about 5,000 volumes on all subjects related to the U.S., as well as periodicals and on-line services. The library can be reached through the HAU switchboard. Athens has several libraries, most of which are non-circulating, e.g., the National Library of Greece, the Parliament Library, and the Athens Municipal Library. Some of the lending libraries open to the public are the following:

HAU, American Library, 22 Massalias Street, Athens

British Council Library Kolonaki Square, Athens, 363-3215

French Institute Library, 31 Sina Street, Athens, 362-4301

Goethe Institute Library, 14-16 Omirou Street, Athens 522-9294

National Research Foundation Library (periodicals only), 48 Vas. Konstantinou Ave., Athens, 722-9811

Evgenides Foundation Library, 387 Syngrou Ave., Athens, 941-1118

Commerce and Industry

During the past three decades, Greece has changed from an agrarian to a semi industrial economy. This shift has resulted in rapid urbanization, so that most of the country's 10.5 million inhabitants live in towns of more than 10,000 people.

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In 1996, agriculture output accounted for 11% of the total GDP, industry 18%, while services (primarily tourism and shipping) totaled 63%.

Shipping is a major economic activity. The Greek commercial fleet is the largest in the world. The Greek flag flies on 946 ships with a total gross registered tonnage of 27.8 million tons (February 1998 data). Another 2,412 ships of 1.1 million tons are controlled by Greek interests under foreign flags (February 1998 data).

Greece's most important industries, it terms of production and employment, arc food processing, tobacco, textiles chemicals, including refineries nonmetallic minerals, metallurgy shipbuilding, aerospace and military equipment, cement, and pharmaceutical; Greece is a leading world producer of bentonite, magnesite, and perlite, as well as an important European producer of bauxite, cement, ferrochromium, emery, and marble. A plant processing bauxite into alumina, then into aluminum, is operated by the French firm Pechiney on the Gulf of Corinth. A Greek-Russian agreement to complete a new plant to process bauxite into alumina in Domvraina (Biotic) near the bauxite of Mount Parnassus is still undecided. Greece is also endowed with lignite reserves, which are exploited for domestic energy uses.

U.S. investment in Greece is estimated at $2.2 billion, representing almost a third of all foreign investment. Major U.S. investments include: Mobil Oil ($170.2 million); Pepsico foods and beverages ($101.6 million); Hyatt Hotels ($106.2 million), Philip Morris Group ($97.8 million), and Procter & Gamble ($97.2 million).

Development projects by the Greek state include: a natural gas network for industrial and household use in Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissia, and Volos; hydroelectric power plants in northern and central Greece; a new international airport at Spata near Athens; metro systems for the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki; a 1.5mile bridge linking Rion and Antirrion at the western end of the Gulf of Corinth; a tunnel linking Aktion-Preveza in Western Greece; an irrigation and hydroelectricity project in Thessaly (Acheloos river diversion); computerization of the Greek Postal Service; wastewater treatment plants for the cities of Athens, Iraklion, Volos, and Larissa; upgrading of the highway network; completion of ports infrastructure; and modernization of the main north-south railway system.

Greece's low levels of investment during the last decade have not expanded its industrial base sufficiently to meet domestic demand. As a result, imports are twice as large as exports. The merchandise trade deficit, however, has been largely counterbalanced in most years by strong inflows from tourism, emigrant remittances, shipping earnings, and net transfers from the EU.

In 1997, imports totaled $25.5 billion and exports $10.9 billion. The EU accounts for about 64% of the Greek import market due to increased infra-EU trade. U.S. exports in 1997 reached $978.3 million, while imports from Greece were $487 million, producing a record $491 million trade surplus. Major Greek exports to the U.S. are textiles and apparel, foodstuffs, iron and steel, construction materials, tobacco, shoes, and petroleum products. The EU remains Greece's major market, absorbing 46.7% of Greek exports. The other European countries and Asia are the second and third largest markets. In 1997, the U.S. absorbed 4.5% of Greek exports.

Greek labor unions play an important role in determining wages, fringe benefits, and working conditions. Unemployment has dropped from 10.3% in 1997 to 10.1 in 1998 and is projected to decrease in 1999 to 9.8%. Although emigration has dramatically decreased over the last three decades, more than 5 million Greeks are estimated to live abroad, mainly in the U.S., Australia, Germany, and Belgium. Per capita income is estimated at $11,305 for 1998, a steady increase from previous years.

Greece became an associate member of the EU in 1962 and was elected the tenth full EU member on January 1, 1981. New inflows from the EU reached $4 billion in 1998. These funds from the EU (about $20 billion for the period 1994-1999, and another $30 billion for the period 20002006) will go to projects such as building highway and rail networks, ports, bridges, the Athens and Thessaloniki metros, and the new international airport at Sparta.



Automobiles are necessary for trips outside the cities and for commuting from the suburbs. Small cars are most suitable for driving on the narrow Greek roads and city streets. Air conditioning is desirable during hot, dusty, summer months. Traffic moves on the right. To obtain license plates, you must present a valid international drivers license or a valid Greek license. (Without a valid U.S. license, you may apply for a driving test but this will create considerable delay, and the test is in Greek). A license plate will not be issued to persons presenting only a U.S. drivers license. It is therefore imperative to obtain valid international drivers licenses prior to arrival. AAA offices in the U.S. are a good source for information/application. The Greek Government requires third-party liability insurance for all motor vehicles. Vehicles cannot be driven prior to purchase of insurance.


Main streets and highways are paved; secondary roads are rough and ungraded. Most roads are two-lane, except for parts of the National Road. The road network is good and constantly being expanded. In response to tourism, road surfaces are improving; however, in some remote areas, be prepared to find unimproved Page 238  |  Top of Article conditions. The roads to Belgrade and Sofia are good. The borders between Greece and Turkey, FYROM, Bulgaria, and Albania are open to private automobiles. Before driving to Greece through FYROM, Bulgaria, or Albania, however, you might want to check with the U.S. Embassy to find out which border crossings you may use.

The Athens area now is home for more than 40% of Greece's 10.1 million people. The number of passenger cars in the Greater Athens area has increased dramatically from 111,000 in 1968 to 791,000 in 1989. The total number of vehicles circulating in Athens, including buses, trucks, motorcycles, etc., is more than 1 million. Many Athens streets are narrow and lined with parked cars. Heavy traffic flows in and out of the city from early morning until after midnight are typical. This causes noisy and irritating driving. In an effort to control the pollution problems in Athens, driving is restricted in the central area every day, except Sundays, holidays, and the month of August. Vehicles with license plates ending in an odd number may drive in the restricted area only on odd-numbered days, and those with even numbers may drive only on even-numbered days. Only public transportation, motorcycles, and vehicles with diplomatic license plates are exempt from these restrictions.

Because of congestion in the city, shopping trips and commuting can be extremely time-consuming. Commutes of about an hour each way are not uncommon. Athens has a good and inexpensive but very crowded public transportation system consisting of buses, trolleys, and a metro running from Kifissia to Piraeus. Additional metro lines are expected to open between 1999 and 2006. Taxis are inexpensive, but getting one can be frustrating. Cab drivers take more than one passenger or group of passengers and sometimes decline to pick up passengers at all. Radio taxis can be obtained by telephone but often require waits of 30-45 minutes to arrive. Parking is a perennial problem throughout most of the city and environs, even at supermarkets. Private vehicles are not allowed in the "historical center" of Athens. In the inner city, however, many historical sites, museums, and shops are within walking distance for avid walkers.


Olympic Airways, British Airways, Delta, Air France, Ethiopian Airways, Scandinavian Airlines System, Swiss Air, Royal Dutch Airlines, Sabena, and Lufthansa connect Athens with the Near and Far East, North Africa, and Europe, often with daily flights. Daily service within Greece is available from Athens to Thessaloniki, Alexandroupolis, Kalamata, Kavala, Corfu, Crete, Rhodes, and the other larger islands. Railroad service within Greece is good but not extensive. As a maritime nation, Greece has extensive interisland ferry and hydrofoil service. The main ports serving Athens are Piraeus and Rafina. Except for an occasional cruise ship, no direct ship service is available between Greece and the U.S.


Telephone and Telegraph

Greek OTE telephone billing is different from that in the U.S. OTE bills cover two-month periods, arrive at least 6 weeks after the end of the billing period, and must be paid within 5 days after the payment expiration date to avoid disconnection. Calls are metered and charged per unit. Long-distance calls are metered and charges vary according to distance. A call to the U.S. costs about 75¢ plus 18% tax per minute. Residents of most Athens suburbs can request both touch-tone service and itemized billing. However, certain residential pockets still rely on rotary dialing and metered long-distance service. Direct-dial calls to the US. can be made by dialing the prefix 001 followed by the area code and the local U.S. number. Direct-dial calls may also be made to European countries and some nearby Middle Eastern countries. Long-distance calls, collect calls, person-to-person calls, or credit-card calls may be made through the OTE operator by dialing 161. Public telephones are located at many newspaper kiosks. Local calls may be made for 7¢. Also, card phones are available throughout Greece.

Cellular phone use has proliferated throughout Greece. While somewhat expensive, there are a number of reliable networks to choose from. U.S. cellular phones are not compatible with the Greek telephone system.

Internet providers are plentiful in Greece. Typical subscription fees average $25 per month plus separate telephone charges from OTE for the local connection.

Radio and TV

Reception in Athens is good, with most programs broadcast in Greek. However, major networks run recent U.S. movies and sitcoms in English, with Greek subtitles. AFRTS television service is available in private residences for a minimal fee. EWSA manages the distribution of the AFRTS decoders. Television reception can be augmented by erecting a satellite dish and subscribing to various pay for view satellite services. Unfortunately, Greece is located beyond the southern edge of SKY and other popular European satellite broadcasts, though CNN and EURONEWS are available. Greece has many English language programs on radio standard broadcast, and local stations offer a variety of good musical programs, both classical and modern. VOA broadcasts by shortwave in Greek and in English, and London BBC can be received on short-wave radios. Daily news is broadcast in English on several Greek radio stations. Greek TV has about 10 channels.

All channels broadcast in color using the European PAL/SECAM system. U.S. standard televisions will not receive this signal. Purchase of a multi-format, adjustable voltage television set and VCR, Page 239  |  Top of Article available from AAFES or locally, which includes NTSC, PAL, and SECAM, is highly recommended. Video movies are popular in Greece. The EWSA rents videos in VHS NTSC. Numerous local clubs rent videos in VHS PAL/SECAM format at modest prices. U.S. standard TVs brought to Greece can be used with VCRs and computer games only from the U.S., without modification.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Newspapers, including the daily English language Athens News, on newsstands every morning but Monday, cover international and local news and contain information on current cultural events in Greece, as well as cinema and TV schedules. The Athens News Agency publishes a daily bulletin in English. The International Herald Tribune publishes an English-language insert, a condensed version of Kathemerini, which is available everyday except Sunday. Store the next working day after publication. The International Herald Tribune is now available six mornings a week, while airmail editions of other English-and foreign-language newspapers arrive a day late. Also available are a multitude of foreign magazines such as Paris Match and Oggi, (Italian). Locally published English language magazines, such as The Athenian (monthly), Business and Finance (weekly), Greece's Weekly, and 30 Days (monthly) are available by subscription or at newsstands. The Athenian covers what is happening in Athens and contains informative articles on all aspects of historic and contemporary Greece. Kiosks all over Athens offer a wide assortment of current events listings, technical and women's magazines, children's comic books, and paperbacks. International editions of Time and Newsweek arrive promptly; other American magazines arrive 3-4 weeks late.

In the streets near Syntagma Square, several bookstores carry a good selection of English-language books on all subjects, including the latest bestsellers. Prices, however, are almost double what you would pay in the U.S.

Athens has a number of first-rate movie theaters which show recent U.S. and foreign films. Open-air theaters are a popular summer venue for movie lovers.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Medical Facilities are good. For specialized care, Athens has several general hospitals and clinics, including separate pediatric and maternity hospitals. The level of care at these facilities is good, with the only weakness being the level of nursing/support-type care. Most hospitals are equipped with modern diagnostic equipment and trained technicians. Therefore, emergency and most routine surgery, as well as general hospitalizations, can be handled at local facilities. If an individual requires medical evacuation for further treatment, the evacuation points for all posts within Greece are London and Germany. Routine dental care is available throughout Greece. In Athens, pediodontic and orthodontic care is available from American or Greek dentists or orthodontists, with a few who have received their training in the U.S. Athens has oral surgeons, if needed. If possible, individuals with corrective lenses should have extras made in the U.S. before arrival in Greece. Local opticians can fill optical prescriptions, however, and some local ophthalmologists have extensive experience with contact lenses. Additionally, bring sunglasses for sun-drenched Greece. In Greece, few facilities are available for handicapped individuals, and those that do exist are not up to Western standards. Some hospitals and other medical institutions are equipped for wheelchairs.

Community Health

The level of community health is considered high in Athens. Although the enforcement of regulations concerning the storage and sale of foods and drugs is less strict than that in the U.S., most local restaurants and taverns are safe and good places to eat. The local fruits and vegetables are excellent and do not require any special preparation beyond cooking and cleaning. Most meats can be procured locally and are safe. Pasteurized milk in Athens is safe for consumption.

The sanitation practices in the cities are good, unless a public works strike occurs; trash can sometimes accumulate up to a week at a time. In Athens and its suburbs, the garbage is collected 3-7 days a week, depending on the area. Local sewage drainage and treatment are adequate. The water in most cities throughout Greece is potable, but use a fluoride supplement for children up to age 13. When visiting small villages and the islands, however, consume bottled water, as the water source may be limited and not well treated. Insects and vermin pose no particular problems, but mosquitoes, garden pests, and ants can be annoying.

The major endemic, communicable diseases of concern to Americans are respiratory infections, which are caused by high levels of pollution present in Athens at periods of time throughout the year. Therefore, individuals with chronic respiratory disorders such as severe allergies, asthma, and emphysema may experience difficulty breathing during heavy pollution periods. Otherwise, no unusual health risks are involved in living in Greece. Traffic accidents can be a cause of injury, both in Athens and outside of major cities. Defensive driving and wearing seat belts are crucial.


Passage, Customs and Duties

A passport is required but no visa is needed for tourist or business stays of up to three months. An AIDS test is required for performing artists and students on Greek government scholarships; U.S. test results are Page 240  |  Top of Article not accepted. For other entry questions, travelers should contact the Embassy of Greece at 2221 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20008, telephone (202) 939-5800, or Greek consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco, and Greek embassies and consulates around the world. Additional information is available at .

Travelers may be required to declare U.S. dollars and travelers checks to customs officials on arrival. Importing dollars and dollar instruments is not restricted. Sporting and camping equipment and furs are registered in the owner's passport and must be reexported. Drugs and narcotics may not be imported under any circumstances.

Americans living in or visiting Greece are encouraged to register at the consular section of the U.S. Embassy/Consulate General and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Greece. The U.S. Embassy in Athens is located at 91 Vasilissis Sophias Boulevard, tel: (30)(1) 721-2951. The U.S. Consulate General in Thessaloniki is located at Plateia Commercial Center, 43 Tsimiski Street, 7th floor, tel: (30)(31) 242-905. The Embassy's website is . The e-mail address for the consular section is . The e-mail address for the U.S. Consulate General Thessaloniki is .


In compliance with World Health Organization (WHO) requirements, pets (dogs and cats) entering or departing Greece must have a health certificate stating that the pet is in good health, free from infectious disease, and has had a rabies inoculation not more than 12 months (for cats 6 months) and not less than 6 days before arrival or departure. The certificate must be validated by the appropriate medical authority in the country, where travel begins. In the U.S., validation is performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (DOA). In Washington, D.C., take the papers to the Greek Consulate for validation. Parrots may not be imported, unless they are coming from a country free from psittacosis, in which case no more than two may be imported and must have the same health certification as for dogs and cats. Greece has few boarding kennels available. Those available are not of Western standards, and bookings must be made in advance.

Firearms and Ammunition

Greek law prohibits importation of rifles and handguns of any kind. Shotguns of any gauge and air rifles may be imported. Shotguns may be imported by the owner only. The shotgun is written on his/her passport, then, the owner must go to the Greek Forestry Department to submit the proper papers for the issuance of the gun's ID.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures

As a member of the European Community, the Greek monetary unit is the Euro, which is divided into 100 cent. Coins in circulation are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cent and 1 & 2 Euro. Bank notes are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros. The exchange rate approximates 1.15 euro to $1 US.

The value-added tax (VAT) was first implemented in Greece on January 1,1987, in accordance with the European Economic Community requirements, and replaced previous indirect taxes. Today, income from VAT totals 50% of indirect taxes and 35% of total state revenues. VAT ranges from 8% percent on mass consumption goods, e.g., food, to 18% imposed on most goods and services, and 36% for all luxury goods, such as tobacco products, alcohol, cosmetics (some foodstuffs fall under this percentage)

Greece uses the metric system of weights and measures. Gasoline is sold by the litre.


Jan.1…New Year's Day


Feb/Mar.…Clean Monday (beginning of Lent)*

Mar. 7…Dodecanese Accession Day (observed in Rhodes only)

Apr/May…Good Friday*

Apr/May…Holy Saturday*


Apr/May…Easter Monday*

May 1…May Day


May/June…Holy Ghost Day/Penetecost Monday

Aug 15… Assumption Day

Sept. 13… Finding of the True Cross

Oct. 4… Liberation of Xanthi (observed in Xanthi only)

Oct. 25… Independence Day

Oct. 26… St. Dimitrios Day (observed in Thessaloniki only)

Oct. 28… Ohi Day

Dec. 25…Christmas Day

Dec. 26…Boxing Day



The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Biers, William R. The Archaeology of Greece: An Introduction. Cornell University, 1980.

Grinnel, Isabel H. Hellas; A Portrait of Greece. Efstathiadis, 1987. (out of print)

Kitto, Humphrey. The Greeks. Penguin, 1951.

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MacKendrick, Paul. The Greek Stones Speak: The Stones of Archaeology in Greek Lands. Norton, 1983.

Ruck, Carl. Ancient Greece: A New Approach. M.I.T. Press, 1972.

Andronikos, Manolis. Greek Museums. Caratzas Bros., 1975.

Avery, Catherine B. The New Century Handbook of Greek Art and Architecture. Appleton, 1972. (out of print)

Broadman, John. Greek Art. Oxford, 1985.

Matthew, Gervase. Byzantine Aesthetics. (Icon Edition Series), Harper and Row, 1971. (out of print)

Pollitt, Jerry J. Art and Experience in Classical Greece. Cambridge University Press, 1972.

Pollitt, Jerry J. Art in the Hellenistic Age. Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Woodford, Susan. An Introduction to Greek Art. Cornell University Press, 1986.

Description and Travel
Antony, Anne. Greece: Hut and Highrise. Constantinidis and Michalo, 1971. (out of print)

Durrell, Lawrence. The Greek Islands. Penguin, 1980.

Ellingham, Mark. A Rough Guide to Greece. Routledge, 1982.

Fodor, Eugene, ed. Fodor's Greece 1991. McKay, 1990.

Miller, Henry. Colossus of Maroussi.New Directions. History, Politics, and Government.

Alexander, G.M. The Prelude to the Truman Doctrine: British Policy in Greece, 1944-47. Oxford University Press, 1983.

Couloumbis, T.A. Foreign Interference in Greek Politics: An Historical Perspective. Pella, 1976.

Couloumbis Theodore and John O. Iatrides, editors. Greek American Relations: A Critical Review. (out of print).

Clogg, Richard A. A Short History of Modern Greece. Cambridge University Press, 1979.

Gage, Nicholas. Eleni: A True Story of Love, War and Survival. Random, 1983.

Hamilton, Edith. The Greek Way.Avon, 1973.

Iatrides, John, ed. Ambassador MacVeagh Reports: Greece, 1933 to 1947. Princeton, 1980.

Koumoulidis, Johm. Greece in Transition. State Mutual Books, 1977.

Legg, Keith R. Politics in Modern Greece. Stanford, 1969.

McNeil, William. The Metamorphosis of Greece Since World War II. University of Chicago, 1978.

Raizis, Byron M. and Papas, A. Greek Revolution and the American Muse: A Collection of Philhellenic Poetry 1821-1828. Coronet Books, 1972.

Toynbee, Arnold. The Greeks and Their Heritages. Oxford, 1981.

Woodhouse, C.M. Modern Greece: A Short History. Faber and Faber, 1977.

Woodhouse, C.M. The Rise and Fall of the Greek Colonels. Watts, 1985.

Literature and Poetry
Avery, Catherine B. Handbook of Greek Literature. Appleton, 1972. (out of print).

Hadas, Moses. A History of Greek Literature. Columbia University, 1950.

Keeley, Edmund and P.A. Bien. Modern Greek Writers. Princeton University Press, 1972.

Sherrard, Phillip. The Wound of Greece: Studies in New-Hellenism. St. Martin, 1979. (out of print).

Trypanis, Constantine. Greek Poetry from Homer to Seferis. University of Chicago, 1982.

Trypanis, Constantine. PenguinBook of Greek Verse. Penguin, 1971. (out of print)

Buckert, Walter. Greek Religion. Harvard University Press, 1987.

Ware, Timothy. The Orthodox Church. Penguin, 1963.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3410700128