The Greek mentality and way of life are, of course, significantly influenced by the Mediterranean. But the historical tension between the Christian West and the Ottoman Empire in the East also left its mark on traditionally Orthodox Greece. The Greek economy has been facing an ongoing crisis for about two decades, which fortunately has not had a negative effect on the mood in the country. Greeks enjoy their lives and many visitors to Greece subsequently rave about that unspecific feeling of freedom and lightheartedness that is so often experienced in Greece.
The formal name of the country in Greek is Ελλάς, so it directly refers to the proper name of Greece in ancient times. And this tradition is mentioned – wherever possible – since, after all, ancient Greece is considered an early European advanced civilization and the birthplace of modern democracy, philosophy and literature. Greece is a member of the United Nations, the European Union and – since 1952 – NATO. Since the violent episode of Greece's military government (between 1967 and 1974), the country has been a stable parliamentary republic. Today, almost 11 million people live in an area of just over 130,000 km². The country has been ravaged by massive forest fires for years – almost every summer – and has become, along with Portugal and Spain, a European symbol of the climate crisis. Normally, Greece has a predominantly Mediterranean climate, with a mild, humid winter and a hot, dry summer. The country's many coasts are remarkably mild in winter, but rainfall is frequent; snow, on the other hand, is extremely rare. The summers in Greece are sometimes very hot and there are only occasional summer thunderstorms.
The animal and plant world of Greece has found special protection zones and retreats in 10 national parks and 2 marine national parks. This is necessary, because on the one hand Greece is very rich in species, on the other hand many species are at the same time very endangered. The high species richness is caused by the climatic differences between mountainous regions and the coast, as well as between the Greek mainland and some islands. Those who are only somewhat familiar with classical Greek mythology know that gods there often take the form of natural phenomena or animals, or are connected to nature in some other way – which can be easily seen in the case of Pan, Hera or Chloris.
But the ancient world was certainly not a time of environmental protection, as in different periods of antiquity huge forests were cleared, because the wood was then needed for heating, cooking or as timber (also for ships). The effects of these actions can still be seen today throughout the Mediterranean. Today in Greece there are almost 4 million hectares of forest and 3 million other wooded areas, with over 75% of all forest owned by the Greek state.
Some parts of the “European Green Belt” – a special conservation project that winds along the border strip of the former Iron Curtain – are located in Greece. The two main goals of the project are the preservation of endangered species and barrier-free connectivity between different areas in the region. If you take a trip along the line of the Green Belt, you will notice how species-rich the flora and fauna are in the different habitats in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
Turtles are a very good example of the biological diversity found in Greece. Both Turtles and tortoises attract visitors from all over the world every year, but are now endangered due to the degradation of their habitat, the disturbance of their nesting sites and the many consequences of climate change. Faced with these threats, the NGO Archelon has been implementing various measures since 1983 to safeguard marine turtles and their living environment. Its main activities are monitoring and research, rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured turtles, and public awareness, especially among children.
Astypalea, a Greek island with a population of 1,200, is becoming a 100% electric island. Thanks to a partnership between the car manufacturer Volkswagen and the Greek government, all the vehicles on the island are gradually being replaced by electric versions, from carpooling to police cars. As well as being CO2-free, they will also run on 100% green electricity from a solar power plant to be installed on the island by 2023. This will power all the electric vehicles and cover about 60% of the island's energy needs.
Finally, the Panhellenic Biocyclic Vegan Network proves that innovative organic farming initiatives are also at work in Greece. Biocyclic agriculture is an all-plant organic farming method. This means that all commercial breeding and slaughter of animals is excluded, and no inputs originating from animals, such as manure, are used. The emphasis is on promoting biodiversity and soil. The PanHellenic network already includes around 80 family farms following these principles. Thanks to a sophisticated traceability system, it is then very easy for the final consumer to find the precise place of origin of his oranges, kiwis or lemons.
Alongside trade, tourism is the key growth driver of the Greek economy, and the Greek authorities are making every effort to ensure that tourism-related procedures are as uncomplicated as possible. Worthy of note are the increasingly popular opportunities to live and work in Greece as a digital nomad. On numerous portals and websites you can find many fans of the lifestyle as a digital nomad in Greece – and in the foreseeable future you will also find some rental properties on our portal that are aimed at these modern nomads.
· Organic agricultural land: 9,5%
· Surface area of protected land: 35 % of Greek territory.
· Number of national parks: 10 + 2 marine parks
· Number of natural and cultural properties listed as UNESCO heritage: 18
· Number of intangible cultural assets & good safeguarding practices (UNESCO): 9
· Number of PDOs (1): 100
· Number of Eurovelo routes: 3 (Eurovelo 8, 11 et 13)
(1) Protected Designation of Origin