Greece

Flag of Greece

Orthodox church with blue domes in village of Oia on Santorini Island

Country Greece (formal name is Hellenic Republic)

Link to physical map of Greece)

Continent Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey
Capital Athens
Population About 11 million
Language Greek (~1% English and French)
Religion Greek Orthodox is the official religion: 98%

Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7% (as of January 2017 – not counting refugees))

Terrain mountainous with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands
Sports Greece started the Olympics

Running was the only sport in the first ever recorded Olympics held in Athens back in 776 BCE. Running is the second oldest sport in the world (behind wrestling); Chariot racing was once an Olympics sport.

Today, Greeks play soccer and other popular sports.

Animals Because Greece is near many continents (Europe, Asia, and Africa), it has very diverse species.

Many birds migrate through Greece. Over 450 species have been seen.

Flocks of goat, sheep and cows are common and iconic

Greece has 116 species of mammals. 57 of them belong to endangered species, such as the Brown Bears of Epirus Source: www.greeka.com

Facts of Interest The Greeks call their country “Hellas” or “Ellada”

Ancient Greece invented the “polis” or city-state which provided protection, taxed inhabitants, and had a set of laws or sort of constitution in about 800 B.C.

The Book of Acts records Paul’s visit to Greece (Acts 17-19, Thessaloniki, Corinth, Ephesus, now in Turkey, and Philippi).  For some fun info, see Rev. Nancy Mikoski’s Sabbatical page (http://pennpres.org/rev-nancy-mikoskis-sabbatical/)

The Church of St. Paul (see picture) is in Thessaloniki.

The Bible (i.e. Old Testament) was translated to Greek in 3 B.C.

Concerns Over 1 million refugees have arrived by sea in the last few years.

In 2015, 9,101 refugees from Syria, 5,411 from Tanzania, and 5,223 from Afghanistan arrived in Greece

The Greek people are suffering from a severe economic crisis since 2009.

Talks continue with Turkey regarding boundaries in the Aegean Sea.

Many Greeks from the Macedonia region in Greece feel like their identity is being stolen by the part of Yugoslavia that is now named the Republic of Macedonia.

Mass migration of unemployed Albanians into Greece is thought to add additional financial stress

Sources CIA.gov, Total Sportek (totalsportek.com), Infoplease (infoplease.com), History (history.com), BBC (bbc.co.uk), Pennington Presbyterian Church (pennpres.org/), Greek Island Specialists (greeka.com), Thessaloniki travel site (https://www.thessaloniki.travel/en/exploring-the-city/themed-routes/in-the-footsteps-of-apostle-paul/item/1060-church-of-aghios-pavlos-church-of-st-paul)