The Greek mainland and its approximately 1,500 islands have an area of 137,00 square kilometers. About 100 of the
islands have stable, year-round populations (Quick history lessons).
The population of Greece all tolled is 11,000,000.
Political System: Greece is a presidential democracy. The president of the Democracy is elected by the parliament
members. The prime minister is the second in the hierarchy but first in responsibility. He and his cabinet are
responsible for the internal and foreign policy that Greece follows. The 300 members of the parliament are voted in
by the Greeks every 4 years; the president of the winning party usually is the prime minister.
Health System: Greece has a socialistic health-care system. Treatment at public hospitals is either free of charge or
costs very little. Health care is generally above average; however the public hospitals don't offer the same services
and facilities as private hospitals (which cost more).
Tourists are usually treated at minimum cost at public hospitals, particularly if an accident occurs.
Language Barrier: Most Greeks speak English, however, it's helpful for tourists to learn a few basic words in
Greek, such as please (pa-ra-ka-lo), thank you (ef-har-i-sto), hello and good-bye (both yia-sas). On the larger
islands, 90% of locals speak English, 40% speak French, 30% speak Italian, and 20% speak German.
Criminality and Terrorism: Despite the negative press that Greece has suffered, all in all it is a very safe place.
There is some petty theft, particularly in Athens near tourist spots like the Parthenon, and some political crimes
against institutions, but not against individuals. The biggest risk for foreigners in Greece is probably driving a vehicle
-- Greeks are very aggressive drivers who don't always obey the rules of the road! Foreigners visiting Greece must
have an international driver's license to rent a car or a motorbike (not advisable if one is not an experienced motorbike
driver) available in the U.S. at any AAA office for a small fee if a valid U.S. license is presented.
Diving: Snorkeling is of course wonderful in the crystal-clear waters of the islands, but Greece is not the tropics (no
coral reefs!) so there are no tropical reef fish. Scuba diving is not permitted unless you are part of a group with a
licensed guide, as there are too many antiquities on the ocean floor that could be taken out of the country. You must
carry your diving license, and you can rent equipment and join a group for scuba diving.
Greece Sailing Charters
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