Moving to Greece: What you need to know
Greece is a country recognised across the world for its heroic history, its breath taking islands and beaches, as well as its warm weather and warm people. Here is some information you should know if you are planning on moving to Greece:
Greece, also named ‘Hellas’ in ancient times, is a country situated within Southern Europe with a dense population of around 11 million. It is divided into various different regions: Macedonia, Epirus, Thessaly, Thrace, Peloponnese, Central Greece, the Ionian Islands and the Aegean Islands. There are over 200 inhabited islands scattered around Greece with Crete being the largest one. To visit them all would be a challenge, but an enjoyable one!
The 3 metropolitan cities in Greece with the densest populations, are, the capital, Athens (with a population of around 3 and a half million), Thessaloniki and Patra. A large part of Greek land is covered by mountainous regions, including Mount Olympus, Greece’s highest mountain and infamous home of the Greek Gods, as told by Greek mythology. The coast is enveloped by the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean Sea.
The vast majority of the Greek population speak Greek, the country’s official language, with a number of regional dialects. There are also minority languages such as Albanian, Romanian and Bulgarian that are prevalent within Greece’s society as it shares a border with these countries, creating a gateway for foreigners to enter Greece and add to its multiculturalism. English is the most popular foreign language learnt amongst Greeks and tourists are often surprised by how willing most locals are to communicate in English. French, Italian and German are also amongst the most popular foreign languages learnt by Greeks, with many schools including the learning of a foreign language within their curriculum.
The weather is one of the country’s main attractions, annually drawing in large numbers of tourists from all over the world. Average summer temperatures vary between the mid 20s into the mid 30s according to each region. Southern parts of Greece and Greek islands tend to experience a more Mediterranean climate. Interestingly enough, the seasons of autumn and spring are quite short transitional periods.
The severity of winter temperatures also depends on the location of each individual region. Cities closer to the coast experience milder winter winds and rain, whereas northern, mountainous regions experience snowfall. As a result, mountains such as Parnasso have become popular locations for skiing and snowboarding throughout the winter months.
Greece’s history is very dense and is considered to be a driving force in the development of the Western world in many ways. It is widely considered to be the birthplace of Western civilisation, democracy and celebrated philosophers such as Socrates and Aristotle. It is also the birthplace of the international sports competition, the Olympic Games, first held in the country’s capital, Athens.
Additionally, legendary Greek writers of comedy and drama plays, historically performed in ancient amphitheatres, are famous for helping create the basis for the development of Western dramas and plays.
One characteristic customary amongst Greeks is that they are very patriotic and have a lot of pride in their country’s history. They never cease to celebrate it and never intend to forget it.
Greeks are famous for their hospitality and their nurturing and friendly approach towards everyone, whether they are strangers or not. A common hospitable etiquette that was carried out in Ancient Greece and is still practiced in modern times is the offering of drinks, food or some sort of dessert or fruit to guests visiting someone’s home. It is normally considered very rude to decline these offers. As a society, Greeks are slowly but surely adapting to multiculturalism, due to an influx of foreigners from various countries.
Greek humour can be considered to be quite tongue in cheek or bawdy. Sarcastic jokes are quite popular, especially ones concerning politics and international affairs. This can also be said about general conversations that revolve around politics and football- two very passionate topics!
Food and drink
The Greek Mediterranean cuisine is bursting with a variety of dishes that appeal to many different tastes. One of the most popular foods is the ‘gyro’ or ‘souvlaki,’ essentially a pita bread wrap that can be served with pieces of chicken or pork. Although the Greeks are known for their devotion to meat, there is an assortment of flavoursome vegetarian dishes that are incorporated into their cuisine as well.
Appetisers or ‘mezedakia,’ are eaten at any time during the day and can include an assortment of cheeses, olives, and dips – the most popular being a garlic infused yoghurt dip, famously known as ‘tzatziki.’
Cherry red or golden wines are a trademark drink for the Greeks. Other popular drinks include the liquorice flavoured ‘ouzo’ or the distilled spirit, ‘tsipouro.’
Foods such as olives, olive oil and feta cheese are some of Greece’s popular exports. Petroleum oils, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel products and marble, are also popular exports.