Posted on Aug 7, 2013 |

 The views expressed by the author and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Project Unify Team.

Contents:

Introduction

Hello! My name is Angelo and I am 16 years old and obviously I come from Greece! I have been living here since I was born and the capital of Greece (Athens) is my hometown! I have spent my holidays in different parts of Greece and I have to say that each place has its own beauty. Although all places in Greece can relate and they have common things with each other, each place is unique in different ways like natural beauty or local celebrations etc. So for example despite we will all celebrate some things on certain days here in Greece, some places will celebrate it differently than others doing some regional traditional customs or rituals that other places in Greece may not have. By the way if you are wondering about the title, Greece comes from the word Graeci which was used since ancient years by foreign countries to characterize the people of Hellas and has prevailed nowadays all over the world. Greece has two things that every Greek (but also tourist) misses when he goes abroad! These two things are the beautiful beaches and the good food! Well, enough with the small talk though, let’s dig a bit deeper into my country and start knowing it a bit better than before!

History

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So as most people know, Greece has a very rich historical background and as a country it has been more famous for ancient events and achievements than modern day doings. From the beginning of world history Greece was the one to take the leading role in both culture and science. Not only did the Greek nation had some of the best leaders of all times ( for instance “Alexander the Great” ) who managed to expand the Greek civilization to the whole ancient world (geographically speaking) but the Greeks were also the first to speak of democracy. Democracy supports the ideas of freedom, equality and the power of the citizens and has put the bases in modern day developed countries of the world. Moreover, Greek scientists and especially philosophers (but also Mathematicians) were they first to start making theories about life that are still now used and studied in universities all over the world but also put the fundaments to modern day science.And all that, about 4000 years ago! In addition, Greece from the very beginning started to have a rapid growth in the arts and architecture, leaving us an abundance of monuments and historical evidence whose studies have given us an in- depth understanding of the ancient world. Take for example the Homerus’s “Odyssey” or the Acropolis of Athens which are still admired despite the lapse of time! Finally the Greek alphabet was the base of the Latin one which is now the base of many European languages spoken all over the globe (like English).

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Geography

Greece is divided into 9 geographical “apartments” like they are shown in the picture above. Starting from north heading downwards I am going to tell you some things about each geographical apartment.image.STWV1W

 

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Thraki is the geographical apartment nearest to Bulgaria and Turkey. It is characterized by small villages and traditional way of living. The picture on the right is the traditional local costume of a woman from Thraki.

image.PGGG1WMacedonia is one of the biggest geographical apartments in Greece and has the most diverse geographical structure as you can find beaches, forests, mountains, rivers and lakes. Thessalonika (which is the second biggest city of Greece) is in Macedonia, and has been a popular large cultural and emporia center since antiquity. The picture on the left is a traditional local costume of a man from Macedonia.

image.TNBW1WIpiros is the geographical apartment with the most mountainous. During Greece’s enslavement from the Ottoman Empire, people from Ipiros had the hardest time as life in the mountains was very tough. The picture on the right is a traditional local costume of a woman from Ipiros.

image.QNSH1WThessalia consists of mountains and valleys. The ground is very rich in minerals. Most people work in the agriculture sector producing cereals cotton and vegetables.The picture on the right is a traditional local costume of a man from Thessalia.

image.0JZR1WSterea Ellada is the geographical apartment in which the capital of Greece (Athens) is located. In Sterea Ellada the climate has the full meaning of Mediterranean climate as it always has mild winters and warm summers. The picture on the right is a traditional local costume of a woman from Sterea Ellada.

image.X4NV1WPeloponnese is the biggest peninsula of Greece. It has been the birth place of the Mycenaean civilization which puts the bases for the development of Greece’s ancient world. It has one of the biggest productions of olive oil in Greece. The picture on the left is a traditional local costume of a man from Peloponnisos.

image.QQ8O1WIslands of Ionion is a complex of 7 islands in the Ionion Pelagos. Kerkyra is the most well known island as it is a cosmopolitan center and has very beautiful cities and stunning natural heritage. The picture on the right is a traditional local costume of a woman from Ionion.

image.6MUL1WIslands of the Aegean is a complex of 71 islands that are divided into smaller regions (groups). Aegean has some of the most beautiful islands in the world (like Santorini) but it also has a lot of petroleum sources which has stirred up a commotion among neighboring nations. The picture on the left is a traditional costume of a woman from the Aegean.

image.9AHJ1WCrete is the biggest island of Greece and has a unique historical and cultural background. The people of Crete are said to have one of the longest life spans in the world which is a result of many factors but mainly due to their healthy diet. The picture on the right is a traditional local costume of a man from Crete. Cretes are the people who wear their costumes most.

In general, Greece’s geographical morphology is diverse but is mainly characterized by mountains. Only 21% of the land can be cultivated. In the northern part of the country there are many forests and lakes but as you head south the land gets drier. Greece also has many islands ( 2500 = islands from which only 165 are inhabited).

People

In Greece people are usually open and warm, friendly and hospitable. Foreigners have the opinion that as a race we are very welcoming, sociable, easy going and happy. That’s all true! Of course there is also the other part (negatives) like for example that Greek people may be very easily frustrated, or too loud and maybe sometimes some Greeks can be too patriotic, but this is not the majority of people and they cannot characterize the whole Greek nation.

We (Greeks) have the tendency to like parties and celebrations, but we also find pleasure in other things like spending time with friends and family, relaxing on the beach during summer and eating good food from taverns.

Although Greek adults always speak of the generation gap between them and their children, Greek youth population has many positive aspects about it. Teenagers are very well educated and very open minded and opinionated.

The majority of people are Christians Orthodox as babies get baptized in a very young age (about 2 years old). Greek people can easily relate to other people from the Balkans like Turkey, Bulgaria etc.

Places

This is a list of places you must not miss if you ever visit Greece!

image.674F1W1. Even if you don’t care about archaeology or ancient monuments,you cannot come to Athens and not visit the Acropolis. The Parthenon is a symbol of what the mankind can achieve and is one of the wonders of the ancient world. The best time to visit the Acropolis would be during June that the climate-atmosphere is very good-enjoyable in Greece, maybe at an evening hour towards night time so you can watch a beautiful sunset from one of the most well known ancient monuments of our world. And remember that with the ticket you can also enter the Ancient Market, the Theatre of Herod Atticus and the Acropolis Museum.

image.7ZGO1W2. Another place you must definitely not miss when visiting Athens is Thisio and Plaka. They are right down from the Acropolis and they are two of the most beautiful areas of Athens as they have a very different atmosphere than other parts of Greece’s capital. They are peaceful and very scenic and the architecture of buildings is old-classical. You can there enjoy a very nice walk, very good food, or watch a film in the summer cinema called “Thision” or “Cine PARIS” which both have a view of Acropolis. Of course to ?nd the best parts of these two areas you must walk a lot but also have a guide to take you there.

image.MICL1W3. Santorini is one of the most beautiful and most touristy islands of Greece. There are many reasons why it is so popular and to name few like the amazingly beautiful scenery,traditional taverns and beautiful black sand beaches are unforgettable to any tourist who has visited it.

image.M0SF1W4. Zakinthos is another very beautiful island which is mainly characterized by beautiful unspoilt natural beauty (for example beaches). There you must definitely go to the Shipwreck Beach (photo below) and also the Blue Caves (photo below). Also Zakinthos is well known for a conservation project taking place there by Zakinthos National Marine Park to save the endangered sea turtle species called caretta-Caretta.

image.0FKR1W5. Thessaloniki is one of the most popular cities of Greece as it is the most important port of the Balkans and has been culturally affected by many civilizations throughout history. The influence wines of the East are more pronounced though. There are so many things you can do in Thessaloniki as it has many cultural events, a great nightlife and very good restaurants with delicious food.

image.GM0N1W6. Meteora is a complex of high rocks on which monasteries were built, located in Thessalia. From the 30 monasteries built only seven are now in use and are inhabited by monks. Meteora is included in the catalogue of international monument heritage of UNESCO since 1988.

image.V98P1W7. Nafplion is one of the most picturesque cities of Greece. Located in Peloponnisos it is its largest port and it’s a very popular destination not only for tourists but also Greeks. You must definitely not miss to climb up the Castle of Nafplion and also do not forget to visit The Ancient Theatre of Epidavros on the way home.

image.666C1W8. Last but not least is the beautiful Nimfeon in Florina of Macedonia which is a small beautiful village that is away from touristic life and noise. It’s the right place to live traditionally for a few days and enjoy some mind peacefulness and relaxation while being very close to Greek nature. Nimfeon is also the place where ARCTUROS (an organization for the protection of wildlife in Greece and especially the brown bear) has it’s facilities center which you can visit and watch the brown bears and wolves who live in Arcturos’s shelter.

Achievements

Greece has had some brilliant people throughout history that have influenced the world and have left a great work behind them.

1. Dominikos Theotokopoulos (or else as commonly known “El Greco” ) was born in Crete in 1541 and his work has been admired and appreciated by many but also inspired other artists’ work.

2. Odysseas Elitis is one of the most important Greek literature authors of all times. He has been awarded with a Nobel literature prize and his work has been translated into many languages.

3. Melina Mercouri was a Greek actor and politician. As an actor she was popular on an international scale and had managed to get the first award for woman performance at the Festival de Cannes but she had also gotten many other awards including an Oscar nomination. As a politician she fought against Fascism and she had also started a campaign to bring Greek ancient monuments that were stolen from Elgin, back to Greece.

4. Georgios Papanikolaou was the doctor to invent a PAP test which is now used worldwide to help doctors predict and prevent or cure cervical cancer in women. PAP test has saved a lot of women’s lives over the years since it was invented.

5. Maria Kallas is what has been called by many the most important Opera diva and she comes from Greece although she built her career mainly in the USA and Italy.

– Of course there are many other Greek people that have very good reputation and have had a great impact on the world but I noted some of the most important. Nowadays Greek people are all over the globe and many of them have managed to integrate so well in their new countries and have worked so hard that are now university professors, or very well known scientists or have high positions in big companies.

– Nowadays Greeks are very strong competition as far as the Olympics are concerned, as many Greek athletes win medals every four years at such a big event proving how powerful and dedicated Greek people can be.

– Finally, in April of 2013 students of the Law School of Athens won the 1st prize in the 6th International Roman Law Moot Court prevailing other group of students from university of Oxford and Cambridge.

To conclude I tried to give you a taste of what the Greeks have achieved for the past to the present, and in a variety of fields-sectors. These were just a sample of Greek’s accomplishments over the years.

Misconceptions

1. Greek people are lazy – that is a lie. Greek people are hard working and very dedicated in what they do. Of course some people are lazy but lazy people can be found in all countries. Many people don’t work because of the high unemployment rate due to the economic crisis and not because of laziness.

2. We are very patriotic and we think Greece is the best – this is a serious misconception. Are there people who are very patriotic? Yes there are! Are they the majority of the Greek population? No they are not! Of course you may ?nd people who believe that the centre of the world has been Greece since antiquity and that everything is Greek or that there is no better place,but nowadays the majority of people are more open minded and they are very accepting to the different and the foreign. Maybe extreme patriotism- nationalism has caused many problems and has stirred up trouble the last years in Greece but I believe it is something that will hopefully end sometime in the near future. On the other hand,facts are facts (Greece was the base for many civilizations and had the rapidest growth in so many levels in the ancient world as many historians and researches have shown) despite some people may over do it and say that Greece was the 1st in everything.All in all we are not all patriotic,but rather open to anything new.Besides patriotism up to a certain point is not bad,it is love and proudness for your country.

3. In every celebration people throw dishes and smash plates – unfortunately this is a misconception. I wish it happened but it doesn’t. If there is a very big celebration like a wedding in an island or Easter celebration you may find some people who do this during the ecstasy of the celebration, but it doesn’t happen everyday. I have personally been to a celebration that people smashed plates only once when I was a young kid and we visited some family members in Macedonia during Easter. I have to admit that it was very exciting and that I still remember the willingness and happiness of the people to break their own plates from their home. It was a bit strange but also very exhilarating!

4. The people of Greece don’t like mixing with people from other countries – well this is not exactly a misconception but it is also partially true. The people of Greece have been mixing with people from different nationalities a lot as they have immigrated abroad but also people from foreign countries have immigrated to Greece. Despite Greeks have generally been used to the idea of immigrants in Greece, there are still some stereotypes and negative ideas about those people and in a way some kind of minorities intolerance or else xenophobia but this happens because Greece hasn’t managed to integrate them in our society which is quite unfortunate, but I hope these changes in the future.Still I have to be honest with you that there are many incidents – fights between Greeks and immigrants during the last years.

5. Germans don’t like Greekswrong! I am not representing German people but I am saying my opinion based on what I see. German people may be different from the Greeks but we are not enemies because of the whole crisis situation and the relation of Greek- German government. I personally have friends from Germany and I like Germany a lot as a country, and to tell you the truth most tourists in Greece during summer, are Germans! Moreover many Greeks go to study in Germany and they have no problems fitting in the society. So I don’t think the hate us as I don’t think we hate them. We are all humans first and then Germans, Greeks, Turks etc. . . .

Conclusion

Greece is my home country and I will never forget it when I am abroad, though I am Greek and the background I have gained here in Greece makes me who I am, I leave geographical borders and nationalism behind, feeling more of an international citizen than anything else.

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I hope I gave you a good perspective of my country being as objective as I could. But of course my article wouldn’t have been complete if I didn’t write about the most important thing in Greece, something that makes it very famous. FOOD! Greek Mediterranean food is not only very delicious but also very healthy.

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Home made and traditional food but also seafood is very popular for anyone who comes to Greece! I made a collage for all of you who haven’t tasted Greek food before, just to make you an appetite and give you an idea of how delicious food is here in Greece!

 

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