Greece, also known as Hellas or the Hellenic Republic, is a country whose location is at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece has about 6,000 islands, but only a small proportion of them, 227, have human inhabitants. The country is situated on hilly or mountainous terrain with eighty percent of the country covered by mountains, Mount Olympus being the highest. The country is also steeped in history with 18 UNESCO world heritage sites. If you are planning to visit Greece on a stopover flight, here are some interesting facts you should know.
1. The furthest point away from the sea is only 137km away
Greece and its people are positively associated with the sea. The country is also one of the most seafaring nations in the world. They have the second-largest merchant marine fleet after Japan. At any given point in Greece, you are merely 137km (85 miles) away from the sea. Other than its many islands, the country has about 4,000 islets and sea rocks within its territory.
2. The white and blue colours of the Greek flag represent the sky and sea
Greece used many flags throughout its history. In 1978, Greece adopted the current flag as the country's sole national flag. The Blue and White colours of the flag symbolize the colours of the seas and sky. However, there are many theories regarding the nine stripes of the flag. Some believe they represent the nine syllables of the phrase Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος ("Freedom or Death"). There is a theory that they represent letters of the word ελευθερία (Freedom).
3. Greece was the cradle of western civilization
Ancient Greece was the birthplace of democracy, western philosophy, western literature, political science, mathematical principles, western drama, and many other cultural aspects. Another noteworthy contribution of ancient Greece was art and architecture, which draws worldwide attention to this day. The Greeks also earned a good reputation for their military, which helped expand the Greek empire by establishing overseas colonies.
4. Greek mythology is influencing the arts and literature to this day
Greek mythology is the myths that originated in ancient Greece and a genre of ancient Greek folklore. These folklores explain the origin of the Earth, natural phenomenon, and activities of deities. Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Hercules, and Hades are famous gods and heroes of Greek mythology. These Ancient Greek mythologic characters, themes and storylines to this day influence the arts, movies, and literature.
5. Greek is one of the oldest living languages in the world
The Greek language has a long-documented history spanning over 3000 years, which is longer than any other Indo-European language. The language played a significant role in the development of other European languages. Around 6% of the English vocabulary is of Greek origin. And many scientific, mathematical symbols are Greek letters.
6. Greek cuisine is originated on the triad of wheat, olive oil, and wine
Greek cuisine is famous all over the world. Like many Mediterranean cuisines, wheat, olive oil, and wine are the basis of Greek cuisine. It uses the traditions from ancient Greece and Byzantine cuisines while adopting Ottoman, Balkan and Italian influences. Amygdalota (almond cookie), Spanakopita (Spinach Pie), Tzatziki (an appetizer), Gyros and Greek Baklava are some foods to try during a Greek stopover.
7. Santorini has different colour beaches
Santorini is an island in the southern Aegean Sea, located about 200km away from the Greek mainland. The island was the site of the largest volcanic eruptions in history, which occurred about 3,600 years ago. Black, white, and red beaches of Santorini result from the volcanic past of the island. Santorini is one of the most popular tourist destinations today, with around 2 million visit the island every year.
8. Greece is the birthplace of the Olympic games
The Olympic Games began in ancient Greece in July of 776 BC at Olympia as a festival of athlete events to honour the god Zeus. Two hundred ninety-three consecutive games were held every four years between 776 BC to 393 AD before Greece became a Roman colony. Roman emperor banned the event until the modern Olympic games started in 1896.
9. Greece has a custom involving smashing plates and glasses
Greeks have a custom of smashing plates or glasses during celebratory occasions such as weddings. Some people believe that the tradition brings good luck. Greece's military dictatorship banned the plate smashing custom in 1969, and today the tradition is hardly practiced in Greek culture.
10. Greece has a massive debt crisis
Greece faced a massive debt crisis in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007-08. As a result, the economy suffered the most prolonged recession of any developed country to date, even overtaking the US great depression. The country required several bailout loans during the period. Even though Greece finished its bailout program in 2018, the Greek people continue to suffer from poverty and other economic issues.