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August 2007



Greece, a parliamentary republic, is officially known as the Hellenic Republic or Elliniki Dhimokratia. Covering a land area (area: 51,146 sq. mi. / 131,957 sq. km.) slightly smaller than the size of Alabama and population (July 2006 estimate) of 10,688,058 million, Greece is located on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. The land area we know as Greece today has been inhabited for more than 5,000 years and, at various times home to, among others, the Minoan, Mycenean, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine civilizations. By the late 15th century existing Greek city states were absorbed into the Ottoman Empire. The Greek War of Independence began in 1821 and concluded in 1830 when England, France, and Russia forced the Ottoman Empire to grant Greece its independence under a European monarch, Prince Otto of Bavaria.

Greece is a parliamentary state with a Chief of State, a Head of Government, and a unicameral parliament (Vouli ton Ellinon) with 300 seats. The president is elected by parliament for a five-year term; presidents may only serve two terms. Tourism provides 15% of Gross Domestic Product. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, mainly in agricultural and unskilled jobs. Greece's main industries include: tourism, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, metal products; mining, and petroleum. Greece adopted the euro as its common currency in January 2002.

For more information on the fires in Greece see NASA's Earth Observatory page and search "fires Greece 2007."

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes, 8/2007; 6/2007

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