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Τετάρτη, 16 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Greece General Informations

A flavourful melting pot of sparkling night spots, fresh seafood, sizzling Mediterranean passion and mythical legend, Greece is a fascinating and enchanting destination - whether lounging on a sandy stretch, or exploring ancient relics.
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Greece's urban hubs are home to some of the world's most glorious and prized ancient and medieval architecture - such as Athens' white marble Parthenon and Thessaloniki’s proud Byzantine churches - and the setting of some of humankind's oldest tales. On the coast, find bustling, umbrella-peppered beaches and secluded sandy coves, washed by turquoise waters and regularly doused in sunshine.

Off shore, Greece's 1400 islands, such as party-hard Mykonos and picturesque Santorini, offer a rainbow of paradisiacal settings for an idyllic island-hopping adventure. Find true Mediterranean peace on Kefalonia and Amorgos, ideal hiking terrain on the peaks and troughs of Crete, and prime scuba diving and sea kayaking conditions around pretty much every coastal corner.

But to explore the islands in the best way possible, you should charter a sailing boat. This can be bareboat (where you only hire the boat, but one of your group will need to have a sailing license), with a skipper, or as part of a flotilla (a group of six to ten boats, lead by an expert). Most sailing holidays last one week, and give you the luxury of being able to explore hidden coves, put down anchor in an emerald bay and swim, or moor up along the quay in one of Greece’s countless little fishing villages.

Feast on healthy Mediterranean fare, prepared with local seasonal produce and plenty of olive oil. Greek cuisine is more than just standard moussaka and kebabs, as the plethora of eateries serving ‘modern taverna’ fare attest - think salads with rocket and pomegranate, tasty casseroles combining pork and prunes, and delicious seafood dishes served with unexpected flavours such as aubergine or fennel. Some of the wines are pretty good too.

Do as the locals do a take an afternoon nap to restore energy for Greece’s hedonistic nightlife – chi-chi cocktail bars, open-air concerts and dancing on the beach below a starlit sky. Call it narcisstic, but the Greeks certainly know how to party.

When it comes to places to stay, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Those looking for extreme comfort might opt for a five-star resort complete with a luxurious spa and villas with private plunge pools, or a quaint boutique hotel furnished with traditional antique furniture, while those who prefer a back-to-nature escape can simply pitch a tent under a tree with a sea view at one of Greece’s many well-equipped campsites.

And don’t be put off by what the newspapers say. It’s true, the Greek economy is having a rough ride, but the sun is still shining, the locals are as hospitable as ever, and as tourism contributes 16% of the national GNP (plus tens of thousands of jobs), if you come here on holiday you’ll be putting your money where it’s much needed. Kalos irthate stin Ellada - Welcome to Greece!


http://www.worldtravelguide.net/greece

Geography and climate

Greece consists of a mountainous, peninsular mainland jutting out into the sea at the southern end of the Balkans, ending at the Peloponnese peninsula (separated from the mainland by the canal of the Isthmus of Corinth). Due to its highly indented coastline and numerous islands, Greece has the 11th longest coastline in the world with13,676 km (8,498 mi); its land boundary is 1,160 km (721 mi). The country lies approximately between latitudes 34° and 42° N, and longitudes 19° and 30° E.

Greece features a vast number of islands, between 1,200 and 6,000, depending on the definition, 227 of which are inhabited. Crete is the largest and most populous island; Euboea, separated from the mainland by the 60m-wide Euripus Strait, is the second largest, followed by Rhodes and Lesbos.


The Greek islands are traditionally grouped into the following clusters: The Argo-Saronic Islands in the Saronic gulf near Athens, the Cyclades, a large but dense collection occupying the central part of the Aegean Sea, the North Aegean islands, a loose grouping off the west coast of Turkey, the Dodecanese, another loose collection in the southeast between Crete and Turkey, the Sporades, a small tight group off the coast of Euboea, and the Ionian Islands, located to the west of the mainland in the Ionian Sea.

Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains or hills, making the country one of the most mountainous in Europe. Mount Olympus, the mythical abode of the Greek Gods, culminates at Mytikas peak 2,917 m (9,570 ft), the highest in the country. Western Greece contains a number of lakes and wetlands and is dominated by the Pindus mountain range. The Pindus, a continuation of the Dinaric Alps, reaches a maximum elevation of 2,637 m (8,652 ft) at Mt. Smolikas (the second-highest in Greece) and historically has been a significant barrier to east-west travel.

The Pindus range continues through the central Peloponnese, crosses the islands of Kythera and Antikythera and find its way into southwestern Aegean, in the island of Crete where it eventually ends. The islands of the Aegean are peaks of underwater mountains that once constituted an extension of the mainland. Pindus is characterized by its high, steep peaks, often dissected by numerous canyons and a variety of other karstic landscapes. The spectacular Vikos Gorge, part of the Vikos-Aoos National Park in the Pindus range, is listed by the Guinness book of World Records as the deepest gorge in the world. Another notable formation are the Meteora rock pillars, atop which have been built medieval Greek Orthodox monasteries.


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Topographical map of Greece.

Northeastern Greece features another high-altitude mountain range, the Rhodope range, spreading across the region of East Macedonia and Thrace; this area is covered with vast, thick, ancient forests, including the famous Dadia forest in the Evros regional unit, in the far northeast of the country.

Extensive plains are primarily located in the regions of Thessaly, Central Macedonia and Thrace. They constitute key economic regions as they are among the few arable places in the country. Rare marine species such as the Pinniped Seals and the Loggerhead Sea Turtle live in the seas surrounding mainland Greece, while its dense forests are home to the endangered brown bear, the lynx, the Roe Deer and the Wild Goat.


The climate of Greece

The climate of Greece is primarily Mediterranean, featuring mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. This climate occurs at all coastal locations, including Athens, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, Crete, the Peloponnese and parts of the Sterea Ellada (Central Continental Grece) region. The Pindus mountain range strongly affects the climate of the country, as areas to the west of the range are considerably wetter on average (due to greater exposure to south-westerly systems bringing in moisture) than the areas lying to the east of the range (due to a rain shadow effect).


The mountainous areas of Northwestern Greece (parts of Epirus, Central Greece, Thessaly, Western Macedonia) as well as in the mountainous central parts of Peloponnese – including parts of the regional units of Achaea, Arcadia and Laconia – feature an Alpine climate with heavy snowfalls. The inland parts of northern Greece, in Central Macedonia and East Macedonia and Thrace feature a temperate climate with cold, damp winters and hot, dry summers with frequent thunderstorms. Snowfalls occur every year in the mountains and northern areas, and brief snowfalls are not unknown even in low-lying southern areas, such as Athens.

Phytogeographically, Greece belongs to the Boreal Kingdom and is shared between the East Mediterranean province of the Mediterranean Region and the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature and the European Environment Agency, the territory of Greece can be subdivided into six ecoregions: the Illyrian deciduous forests, Pindus Mountains mixed forests, Balkan mixed forests, Rhodope montane mixed forests, Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests and Crete Mediterranean forests.


Tourism

An important percentage of Greece's national income comes from tourism. Tourism funds 16% of the gross domestic products which also includes the Tourism Council and the London-Based World Travel. According to Eurostat statistics, Greece welcomed over 19.5 million tourists in 2009, which is an increase from the 17.7 million tourists it welcomed in 2007. The vast majority of visitors in Greece in 2007 came from the European continent, numbering 12.7 million, while the most visitors from a single nationality were those from the United Kingdom, (2.6 million), followed closely by those from Germany (2.3 million). In 2010, the most visited region of Greece was that of Central Macedonia, with 18% of the country's total tourist flow (amounting to 3.6 million tourists), followed by Attica with 2.6 million and the Peloponnese with 1.8 million. Northern Greece is the country's most-visited geographical region, with 6.5 million tourists, while Central Greece is second with 6.3 million.
In 2010, Lonely Planet ranked Greece's northern and second-largest city of Thessaloniki as the world's fifth-best party town worldwide, comparable to other cities such as Dubai and Montreal. In 2011, Santorini was voted as "The World's Best Island" in Travel + Leisure. Its neighboring island Mykonos, came in fifth in the European category.

Transport

Since the 1980s, the road and rail network of Greece has been significantly modernized. Important works include the A2 (Egnatia Odos) motorway, that connects northwestern Greece (Igoumenitsa) with northern and northeastern Greece (Kipoi); and the Rio–Antirrio bridge, the longest suspension cable bridge in Europe (2250 m or 7382 ft long), connecting the western Peloponnese from Rio (7 km or 4 mi from Patras) with Antirrio in Central Greece.
Important projects that are currently underway include, the conversion of the GR-8A, connecting Athens with Patras and further towards Pyrgos in the western Peloponnese, into a modernised motorway throughout its length (scheduled to be completed by 2014); upgrading unfinished sections of motorway on the A1, connecting Athens to Thessaloniki; and the construction of the Thessaloniki Metro.
The Athens Metropolitan Area in particular is served by some of the most modern and efficient transport infrastructure in Europe, such as the Athens International Airport, the privately run Attiki Odos motorway network and the expanded Athens Metro system.
Most of the Greek islands and many main cities of Greece are connected by air mainly from the two major Greek airlines, Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines. Maritime connections have been improved with modern high-speed craft, including hydrofoils and catamarans.
Railway connections play a somewhat lesser role in Greece than in many other European countries, but they too have also been expanded, with new suburban/commuter rail connections, serviced by Proastiakos around Athens, towards its airport, Kiato and Chalkida; around Thessaloniki, towards the cities of Larissa and Edessa; and around Patras. A modern intercity rail connection between Athens and Thessaloniki has also been established, while an upgrade to double lines in many parts of the 2,500 km (1,600 mi) network is underway. International railway lines connect Greek cities with the rest of Europe, the Balkans and Turkey, although as of 2011 they have been suspended, due to the financial crisis.

Telecommunications

Aerial view of OTE Headquarters. OTE is the dominant telecommunications provider in Greece and one of the largest telecom groups in South Eastern Europe.
Modern, 100% digital, information and communication networks reach all areas. There are over 35.000 kilometers of fiber optics and an extensive open-wire network. Broadband internet availability is widespread in Greece: there were a total of 2,252,653 broadband connections as of early 2011, translating to 20% broadband penetration. According to 2012 ELSTAT data, 53,6% of the households used the internet regularly and of which 94,8% of them had broadband connection.
Internet cafés that provide net access, office applications and multiplayer gaming are also a common sight in the country, while mobile internet on 3G cellphone networks and Wi-Fi connections can be found almost everywhere. 3G mobile internet usage has been on a sharp increase in recent years, with a 340% increase between August 2011 and August 2012. The United Nations International Telecommunication Union ranks Greece among the top 30 countries with a highly developed information and communications infrastructure.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greece

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