Flag Description: Nine equal horizontal stripes ofblue alternating with white; there is a blue square in the upper hoist side bearing a white cross; the cross symbolizes Greek Orthodoxy, the established religionof the country.
Location: Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey 39 00 N, 22 00 E
Area (slightly smaller than Alabama):
- total: 131,940 sq km
- water: 1,140 sq km
- land: 130,800 sq km
Border countries: Albania 282 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Turkey 206 km, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 246 km
Climate: temperate; mild, wet winters; hot, dry summers
Terrain: mostly mountains with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands.
Lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
Highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917 m
Natural resources: bauxite, lignite, magnesite, petroleum, marble, hydropower potential
Natural hazards: severe earthquakes
Environmental issues: air pollution, water pollution
Geographical note: strategic location dominating the Aegean Sea and southern approach to Turkish Straits; a peninsular country, possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands.
Background: Greece achieved its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829. During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, it gradually added neighboring islands and territories, most with Greek-speaking populations. Following the defeat of Communist rebels in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. A military dictatorship, which in 1967 suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country, lasted seven years. Democratic elections in 1974 and a referendum created a parliamentary republic and abolished the monarchy; Greece joined the European Community or EC in 1981 (which became the EU in 1992).