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Greece History, Language and Culture

History of Greece

Greece is often referred to as the birthplace of European civilisation. In Athens, evidence from the Neolithic Period (before 3000 BCE) was found on wells on the slope of the Acropolis. The city flourished and expanded rapidly under Peisistratus and his sons (approximately 560-510 BCE). After the Persian Wars, Athenians rebuilt the city and became a leading city-state in Greece.

In the year 507 BCE, Cleisthenes (the Athenian leader) introduced a political system that he called demokratia, or "rule by the people". Demo means "the people" while kratos means "power". It was the first known democracy in the world. Although this system was used for only two centuries, it paved the way for other nations to adopt respectively.

The Roman came and occupied Greece from 146 BCE to 324. During this time, several of the Roman emperors were fond of Greece and embraced the Greek influence, promoting Horace to comment Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit, meaning captive Greece took captive her savage conqueror.

The Byzantine Greece period started in 324 to 1453, followed by the Ottoman period from 1453 until the Greek Revolution of 1821. In 1832, Greece became an independent state and the European powers turned Greece into a monarchy, installing King Otto (from Bavaria), George I (from Denmark), and subsequently the heirs of George I ruled the nation. The last king was Constantine II when Greece (under military regime at that time) voted to abolished the monarchy in 1973.

In 1981, the socialist PASOK Party won the election and ushered Greece into a period of stability. Greece joined the European Union in 1981 and adopted the euro as its currency in 2001. As a member state of the EU, Greece flourished briefly, before the 2008 economic crisis hit and from late 2009, Greece has been rescued by the EU multiple times.

In 2019, there was a renewed hope that the Greek economy was recovering. But with the government owing billions to other Eurozone governments, European Central Bank and other German banks, though austerity measures are likely to stay until the debts are paid.

Did you know:
• Greece is the birthplace of the Olympics Games, first recorded in 776BC at Olympia. It also hosted the inaugural modern Summer Olympics in 1896 and again in 2004.
• The principal gods of Ancient Greek mythology were the 12 Dodekatheon who lived on Mount Olympus ruled over by Zeus.
• The Greek merchant navy has the world’s largest merchant fleet.

Greece Culture

Religion in Greece

98% Greek Orthodox, with Muslim, Roman Catholic and Jewish minorities.

Social Conventions in Greece

Greeks are very aware of their strong historical and cultural heritage. Traditions and customs differ throughout Greece, but overall a strong sense of unity prevails. The Greek Orthodox Church has a strong traditional influence on the Greek way of life, especially in more rural areas. The throwing back of the head is a negative gesture. Dress is generally casual. Smoking is prohibited on public transport and in public buildings.

Language in Greece

Greek (Ellenika) is the official language. Most people connected with tourism, and younger generations generally speak some English, French, German or Italian.

Phrases

  • Beer = Bira

  • Cheers! = Giamas

  • Closed = Klistó

  • Do you speak English? = Miláte anglika?

  • Doctor = Iatrós

  • Eight = Okhtó

  • Eighty = Ogdhónda

  • Entrance = Issodos

  • Exit = Exodos

  • Fifty = Penínda

  • Five = Pénde

  • Forty = Saránda

  • Four = Téseres /tésera

  • Friday = Paraskebí

  • Goodbye = Andío sas

  • Hello = Giásou

  • Hotel = Ksenodhohío

  • How are you? = Ti kánis / ti kánete?

  • How much does it cost? = Póso káni?

  • I'm very well = Kalá ímeh

  • I don't understand = Dhen katalavéno

  • I feel ill = Ímeh arostos

  • Menu = Kataloghos

  • Monday = Deftéra

  • My name is … = Meh léne …

  • Nine = Enyá

  • Ninety = Enenínda

  • No = Óhi

  • One = Éna

  • One Hundred = Ekató

  • One Thousand = Hílies

  • Open = Aniktó

  • Please = Parakaló

  • Restaurant = Estiatorio/ taverna

  • Saturday = Sábato

  • Seven = Eftá

  • Seventy = Evdhomínda

  • Six = Éksi

  • Sixty = Eksínda

  • Sunday = Kiriakí

  • Ten = Dhéka

  • Thank you = Efharistó

  • Thirty = Triánda

  • Three = Trís/tria

  • Thursday = Pémpti

  • Today = Símera

  • Toilets = Toualétes

  • Tomorrow = Ávrio

  • Tuesday = Tríti

  • Twenty = Íkosi

  • Two = Dhío

  • Wednesday = Tetárti

  • Where is …? = Pou ine …?

  • Wine = Krasi

  • Yes = Néh