Greece, deemed the birthplace of western civilization, gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. It was then occupied by Axis forces during World War 2. Prior to World War 2 Greece became a founding member of NATO and was at the forefront of the cold war, where a civil war erupted between communist guerillas and supporters of the king. In 1967 a military dictatorship took over the country and banished the king and royal family, which lasted seven years, until eventually in 1974 the dictatorship fell and this saw the forming of Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic. Greece joined the European Commission, now the European Union, in 1981 and has since become a major partner of the European Union. During its second half of the 19th century and into the 20th century it acquired numerous islands in the Mediterranean Sea off the Ottoman Empire, now known as Turkey, these islands now largely contribute to Greece’s large tourist industry. There are not many expatriates who actually relocate to Greece; nearly all foreigners in the country are tourists. Round about 14.01 million tourists a year visit Greece, compared to its approximately 10 million Greek citizens. Because of the large tourist industry Greece has infrastructure in regard to health to cater for these large numbers.
The Greek Health Care System can be characterized as a mixed health system: being made up of both private health insurance and the National Health System of Greece (ESY). The Health System of Greece, which was established in 1983, guarantees free health care for all Greek residents and citizens. The National healthcare system covers the entire Greek population, without any special entitlement condition, regardless of profession or region of occupancy. Health care services are also provided to EU and non-EU citizens on the basis of multilateral or bilateral agreements. Furthermore in Greece if you are a foreigner, expatriate, and pay your taxes to the Greek government you are entitled to the national healthcare plan just as much as Greek citizens.
Greece spends approximately 10.1% of its GDP on healthcare. This is well above comparisons with other developed nations, the U.K, The U.S and Australia who all spend an average of 7.5-8% of their GDP on their health. This large amount of spending by the Greek government is mainly to cover all of its numerous islands, many of which are home to large tourist resorts which are very busy continuously throughout the year. These islands usually have a small government run health clinic or small hospital.
Although Greece can offer wide coverage on medical facilities, these facilities are not present on every Greek island. Furthermore Greek islands which do have medical facilities on them are usually fairly limited in what resources they have. If you plan to spend your time in Greece in any of the Greek islands and happen to require any major surgeries, you would most likely have to be flown or taken by boat to the nearest main hospital on the mainland.
If you plan to enter Greece as an EU citizen and plan to be covered by the Greek national healthcare plan, you forego your right to choice of hospital or medical facilities. This in the summer or winter may be particularly disturbing as some facilities do not have air-conditioning or heating, meaning you are most likely to be uncomfortable on top of being ill or injured in a foreign country. In addition to this many public hospital workers can speak little or no English or any other language used frequented by tourists. It is there for advised that comprehensive medical insurance is taken out so that this situation can be avoided.
Overall Greece has a well rounded healthcare service. As is true with any country in the world, there are some problems inherent in the system; however most people are able to receive the care that they need when they need it, except of course if you happen to be on an outlying island. The only way to avoid the issues and concerns of any healthcare system in the world is through a quality international health insurance plan. These plans give you the flexibility to go to the doctor or hospital of your choice, meaning that no matter where in the world you may be located, from Afghanistan to the United States of America, you will always be able to receive the highest standard of care available.
Greece, officially known as the Hellenic Republic, is located in the south eastern part of the European and is said to be the birth place of many aspects of western society, including fundamentals in mathematics, politics, philosophy, drama and medicine. The north of Greece borders Albania, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the East borders Turkey and on the West and South lays the coast line of the Mediterranean Sea. Greece also has thousands of islands, some of which are uninhabited by people and are used as day drip islands either by plane or by boat. Greece has been a full member of the European Union since 1981 and NATO since 1952.
Whenever you travel to a new country it can be daunting and because of this it is often important to have some background information on your destination. Because of this we have provided a general outline of Greece below. Please be advised that information contained in this page is subject to change without prior warning or knowledge, and as such you should consult an expert for the most accurate details.
Official Name: The Hellenic Republic
Capital city: Athens
Location: Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. Land borders include Albania, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey.
Size: 131,940 sq km, comparatively this is marginally smaller than the U.S state of Alabama, and slightly bigger than North Korea.
Climate: Greece experiences mild fairly wet winters, and hot arid summers.
Population: Greece has a population of 10,722,816; this is slightly more than Portugal and a little bit short of Zimbabwe.
Life Expectancy: At birth the average Greek can expect to live for up to 79.52 years of age.
Major Illness: There are no major illnesses present in Greece that are not present throughout the rest of Europe, however there are about 100-200 people every year who die from AIDS and about 9200 people living with AIDS.
Ethnicities: 93% Greek, 7% foreign citizen. (Note Greek authorities do not collect data on ethnicity types)
Languages: 99% of the population speak predominately Greek, the other 1% include English, French and Turkish.
Religion: 98% of the Greek population who are religious are part of the Greek Orthodox Church, 1.2% Muslim and 0.8% other Christian denominations.
Head of State: Karolos Papoulias, is the current president of Greece.
Economy: Greece is largely a capitalist economy with the private section making up 40% of the GDP, and 75% of the GDP per capita. Tourism is by far the largest industry in Greece contributing 15% annually to the GDP. 25% of the GDP is made up of immigrant workers, mainly from Turkey, who predominately work in the unskilled and agricultural jobs. The Greek economy saw a booming period where GDP grew at a yearly average of 4% during the years 2002-2007. This can be mainly contributed to the 2004 Athens games success, the large state and private run tourism advertisements it ran prior to and post the 2004 Olympics and the increased availability of credit which has spurred large amounts of consumer spending, rapidly accelerating GDP. In Greece there is a major problem with labour unions which have a lot of sway over the government and strikes, particularly those in the construction and public transport industries, are quite common.
GDP: The purchasing parity of the Greek GDP is equal to 351,300,000,000 (USD). In comparison to the world this is just above Hong Kong and marginally below Sweden.
Greece, officially known as the Hellenic Republic, is located in the south eastern part of the European and is said to be the birth place of many aspects of western society, including fundamentals in mathematics, politics, philosophy, drama and medicine. The north of Greece borders Albania, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the East borders Turkey and on the West and South lays the coast line of the Mediterranean Sea. Greece also has thousands of islands, some of which are uninhabited by people and are used as day drip islands either by plane or by boat. Greece has been a full member of the European Union since 1981 and NATO since 1952. Greek healthcare has many healthcare facilities and can cater for many the many different needs of its 14.01 million visitors per year
Greece Travel Tips
Whenever you travel overseas it is often useful to understand the local laws and customs in the destination country, as they can often be very different to your own. The Greek legal system may be similar to that of many western countries; however there are a few differences in culture which are worth noting as to avoid possible trouble. As such we have provided some Greek travel advice so that you may stay safe and better enjoy your travels, throughout Greece, the birth place of western civilization.
Please be advised that the information contained on this page is not fully comprehensive and may be liable to change without prior warning; as such you should consult a travel expert or your local embassy prior to departing on your journey.
- The largest threat of terrorism in Greece is by a local terrorist group known as the anarchists. The anarchists’ favorite targets are those frequented by tourists and expatriates. It is therefore advised that you stay aware throughout your travels in Greece.
- In Greece it is advised you act in mannered custom at al times. Local police do not accept rowdy or indecent behavior, even whilst under the influence. Greek courts hand out strict punishments to those who act in an ill mannered, rowdy, or indecent behavior.
- During the autumn of 2008 widespread riots took place in Athens and many other major cities. This lead to closure of public transport and many other services in the city including some small healthcare facilities. Caution should be taken when traveling to Greece during 2009 in the same period as it has been predicted that similar events may occur. It is advised you check with your local airline or travel agent for the most up to date information about the situation in Greece.
- Currently there is a farmer’s riot in Greece which has lead to the closure of many roads, and some air traffic control in some regions. Thus it is advised those who are traveling by road to check which roads may be blocked or sectioned off prior to traveling to Greece.
- Most visits to Greece are trouble free. However those who are planning to travel to Greece during the tourist season are warned that purse snatching and pick pocketing incidents are significantly higher during this period in comparison to the non tourist season.
- In Greece rape and sexual assaults are infrequent. However on large tourist resorts, where there are predominately youth visitors, this may not be the case. Large scale beach parties in resorts have in the past lead to many tourists reporting cases of sexual assault and rape.
- Greece is a stable democracy, however protests are a standard feature of Greek political life and therefore it is advised you remain cautious, as protests sometimes can lead to riots.
- Generally there are no local travel restrictions, but you should be aware that certain areas near the Greek borders are militarily sensitive. Although these areas can be visited without any problems, do not take photographs or make notes near military or official institutions. In addition, travelers should seek permission before photographing individuals.
- You are strongly advised not to hire motorcycles, scooters, mopeds or quad bikes, as accidents involving these forms of transport are common and can often result in very serious or even fatal injury. You should check that your travel insurance covers you for the relevant activity and you should note that failure to wear a crash helmet might void your travel insurance if you are involved in an accident.
- Indecent behavior, including mooning, is not tolerated. The police have made it clear that they will not hesitate to arrest those who do it. You should be aware that the courts impose heavy fines or prison sentences on people who behave indecently.
- Mainland Greece and most of the Greek islands popular with tourists are in seismically active zones, and earth tremors are common. Serious earthquakes are less frequent but do occur.
- Forest fires are comparatively common during Greek hot and dry summers. Please take care when visiting or driving through heavily forested areas.