Greece is located in south-eastern Europe, on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. It lies at the meeting point of three continents – Europe,Asia and Africa. Greece is bordered by Bulgaria and the former Yogoslav Republlic of Macedonia, Albania to the northwest, and Turkey to the northeast. The country consists of three maingeographic regions. These are the peninsular mainland, the largest area, the Peloponnese peninsula that is separated from the mainland by the canal of the Corinth Isthmus and thirdly, the more than 2000 islands scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas of which approximately 170 are inhabited; some of the better known islands are Crete, Rhodes, Mykonos and Corfu.
80% of the country consists of mountains or hills, making Greece one of the most mountainous countries in Europe.
Because of its geographical position, Greece was a crossroad of several civilizations that had left their traces everywhere. Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of Ancient Greece. Considered the cradle of all Western civilization, Greece is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy and the Olympic Games. This rich legacy is partly reflected in the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Greece. The modern Greek state, which comprises most of the historical core of Greek civilization, was established in 1830 following the war of independence from the Ottoman Empire.
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, the Peloponnese, the Ionian Islands and parts of the Central Continental Greece region.
An important percentage of Greece's national income comes from tourism. Greece is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, ranking in the world's top 20 countries. Visitors are drawn to the country's beaches and reliable sunny summer weather, its nightlife, historical sites and natural beauty. The nation's terrain is just as varied as its architectural heritage: idyllic beaches, towering mountain ranges, wine-producing valleys, vast stretches of olive orchards in the south, and lush forests in the north. Greece's historical sights are just as varied; the country is littered with just as many medieval churches and castles as classical ruins and temples
Athens is the city where most visitors first enter the country and is the centre for many major museums, archaeological sites, and other attractions, as well as being a major national transportation hub.
It is also a starting point for the many island cruises which vary in length and quality.
Thessaloniki is Greece’s second largest city and is a lively cosmopolitan centre. It boasts a large number of Byzantine churches and has a history dating back 3000 years.
Of the islands, the best known are Corfu, a lush green island with excellent beaches, Crete, not only known for its beaches but also for its Roman and Turkish architecture and ancient Minoan ruins, Mykonos, a sophisticated vacation centre and Rhodes which offers beaches as well as mountain scenery and is the home of ancient site of the Colossus, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world.
On the mainland, Delphi is known as the mystic site of the famous Oracle of Apollo and Olympia is known for being the site of the ancient Olympic Games.
With its many varied attractions, a visit to Greece will be a rewarding experience.
- Goverment:Parliamentary democracy
- Total Area:20700 km2
- Language: Currently, Israel has two official languages: Hebrew and Arabic. Other spoken languages: English, Russian, German and others
- Religion:Judaism and Christianity
- Electricity:220 V /50Hz
- Calling Code:+972
- Internet TLD: il
- Time Zone:UTC+2
Israel is a small, narrow, semi-arid country on the southeastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. It entered history some 35 centuries ago when the Jewish people forsook its nomadic way of life, settled in the Land and became a nation.
The history of the Jewish people, and its roots in the Land of Israel, spans some 35 centuries. In this land, its cultural, national and religious identity was formed; here, its physical presence has been maintained unbroken throughout the centuries, even after the majority was forced into exile. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence, lost almost 2,000 years earlier, was renewed.
Israel is located in the Middle East, along the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. It lies at the junction of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.
Israel's climate is characterized by much sunshine, with a rainy season from November to April. Total annual precipitation ranges from 20-30 inches (50-70 cm.) in the north to about an inch (2.5 cm.) in the far south. Regional climatic conditions vary considerably: hot, humid summers and mild, wet winters on the coastal plain; dry, warm summers and moderately cold winters, with rain and occasional light snow, in the hill regions; hot, dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley; and semi-arid conditions, with warm to hot days and cool nights, in the south.
- Flora and Fauna:
The rich variety of Israel’s plant and animal life reflects its geographical location as well as its varied topography and climate. Over 500 kinds of birds, some 200 mammal and reptile species, and 2,600 plant types (150 of which are endemic to Israel) are found within its borders. Over 150 nature reserves and 65 national parks, encompassing nearly 400 square miles (almost 1,000 sq. km.) have been established throughout the country.
The scarcity of water in the region has generated intense efforts to maximize use of the available supply and to seek new resources. In the 1960s, Israel’s freshwater sources were joined in an integrated grid whose main artery, the National Water Carrier, brings water from the north and center to the semi-arid south. Ongoing projects for utilizing new sources include cloud seeding, recycling of sewage water and the desalination of seawater.
Israel is a country of immigrants. Since its inception in 1948, Israel's population has grown almost ten-fold. Its 7.8 million inhabitants comprise a mosaic of people with varied ethnic backgrounds, lifestyles, religions, cultures and traditions. Today Jews comprise some 75.4% of the country’s population, while the country's non-Jewish citizens, mostly Arabs (20.5%), number about 24.6%.
About 90% of Israel’s inhabitants live in some 200 urban centers, some of which are located on ancient historical sites. About 5% are members of unique rural cooperative settlements - the kibbutz and the moshav.
- Main Cities:
Jerusalem, Israel's capital (population 788,100), has stood at the center of the Jewish people’s national and spiritual life since King David made it the capital of his kingdom some 3000 years ago. Today it is a flourishing, vibrant metropolis, the seat of the government and Israel’s largest city.
Tel Aviv-Yafo (population 404,300), which was founded in 1909 as the first Jewish city in modern times, is today the center of the country’s industrial, commercial, financial and cultural life.
Haifa (population 268,200), a known coastal town since ancient times, is a major Mediterranean port and the industrial and commercial center of northern Israel.
Be'er Sheva (population 195,400), named in the Bible as an encampment of the patriarchs, is today the largest urban center in the south. It provides administrative, economic, health, education and cultural services for the entire southern region.
- System of Government:
Israel is a parliamentary democracy with legislative, executive and judicial branches. The head of the state is the president, whose duties are mostly ceremonial and formal; the office symbolizes the unity and sovereignty of the state. The Knesset, Israel's legislative authority, is a 120-member unicameral parliament which operates in plenary session and through 12 standing committees. Its members are elected every four years in universal nationwide elections. The government (cabinet of ministers) is charged with administering internal and foreign affairs. It is headed by a prime minister and is collectively responsible to the Knesset.
The National Health Insurance Law, in effect from January 1995, provides for a standardized basket of medical services, including hospitalization, for all residents of Israel. All medical services continue to be supplied by the country’s four health care organizations. Life expectancy is 83.4 years for women and 79.7 years for men; the infant mortality rate is 4.0 per 1,000 live births. The ratio of physicians to population and the number of specialists compare favorably with those in most developed countries.
- Social Welfare:
The social service system is based on legislation which provides for workers’ protection and a broad range of national and community services, including care of the elderly, assistance for single parents, programs for children and youth, adoption agencies, as well as prevention and treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse.
The National Insurance Institute provides all permanent residents (including non-citizens) with a broad range of benefits, including unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, survivors’ benefits, maternity grants and allowances, child allowances, income support payments and more.
Thousands of years of history, the ingathering of the Jews from over 70 countries, a society of multi-ethnic communities living side by side, and an unending flow of international input via satellite and cable have contributed to the development of an Israeli culture which reflects worldwide elements while striving for an identity of its own. Cultural expression through the arts is as varied as the people themselves, with literature, theater, concerts, radio and television programming, entertainment, museums and galleries for every interest and taste.
The official languages of the country are Hebrew and Arabic, but in the country’s streets many other languages can be heard. Hebrew, the language of the Bible, long restricted to liturgy and literature, was revived a century ago, accompanying the renewal of Jewish life in the Land.