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Learn more about doing successful business in Greece. This page has information about Greece’s economy, history and even some useful Greek phrases. Expand your international business expertise with Lingo24’s International Business Knowledge Base.

General information

Greece has long been hailed as the cradle of Western civilisation and that is partly true as it contributed massively to it by creating and initiating much of what we take for granted today in science, architecture, art, medicine, theatre and literature.

Greece may not be the world power that it was, but it continues to exert an enormous influence on the minds and actions of world leaders. The diaspora, its dispersed people, has attained important positions in almost every field of human endeavour.

One can enjoy seas and sun, ouzo and souvlakis along with all the historical grandeur for which one could wish, to say nothing of the world’s greatest literature.

Greece has much more to offer than the superficial enjoyments that occupy visitors. It has a language of extraordinary plasticity, people of great inventiveness and tenacity, at once serious and fun-loving, a history in political and philosophical adventuring and much more. Greece has all this along with an unusual communal togetherness, based on strong family values and openness towards each other, personal honour, courtesy and respect.

Location

Situated in the southeast of the Balkan peninsula, Greece shares borders with Albania, the former Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The mainland is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea on the south, the Aegean Sea on the east and the Ionian Sea on the west. More than 2000 Greek islands are scattered throughout the sea, with 170 of them inhabited.

Greece is an integral part of the Balkans and around three-fourths of the mainland is covered by mountains. Surrounding the whole is a narrow coastal strip, completely commercialised where inhabitable.

Climate

Greece enjoys a temperate climate, which is characterised by short winters and long summers, just like every Mediterranean country, with few local variations occurring. One can speak of two seasons, summer and winter, as autumn and spring usually don’t last long. Of course, by springtime in Greece, the picture evoked is a burst of colours and smells dominating nature.

Greece’s weather pattern is produced by a low-pressure system which originates in the west, initiating the winter season; it is characterised by warm, moist winds. The summers are uniformly hot, especially in the southwest, while rainfalls are limited: this lack of moisture in the air produces Greece’s famous blue skies.

Agriculture

Agriculture represents about 12% of the GDP and is based on small-sized family-owned dispersed units, while the extent of cooperative organisation stays at low comparative levels, against all efforts that have been made over the last 30 years, mainly under the European Union’s supervision. Recently, one of the most promising sectors for foreign investors has been organic farming. The increasing demand for healthier food, the excellent climatic conditions, the low operating costs and the investment incentives rank among the main reasons for investments in organic farming. Among the agricultural products produced are: wheat, corn, barley, sugar beets, olives, tomatoes, wine, tobacco, potatoes, beef and dairy products.

Energy

Energy is one of the most important and dynamic sectors of economy. Electricity produced from renewable energy technologies is a high priority in the European Community, for reasons related to security and diversification of energy supply, environmental protection and social economic cohesion. Mainly, due to the structure of the production and weather conditions, the demand for energy consumption is now rising dramatically. After the electricity market’s transformation from state monopoly into one of the most exciting sectors in growth, along with the introduction of new regulations, Greece is ready to attract new investments.

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Telecommunications

Information technology and communications in Greece present investors with a dynamic area of growth and investment. Software development is a leading area as well as supporting the public sector, banking and finance, and manufacturing. The deregulation of the Greek telecom market has transformed the landscape from one of huge state monopoly to one that has dozens of new small, medium and large ICT companies active in developing and broadening ICT services and products. The fundamental backbone of Greece’s modernisation programme is one of the most advanced sectors in Greece. The country’s very well educated and highly skilled IT specialists have shown a strong interest in advanced research, having proved high efficiency, quality and overall performance. Also, the country’s potential to expand its R&D efforts is becoming recognised internationally.

Famous Greek Products

Olive oil: Today, Greece despite its small size is the third largest olive oil producer and the biggest exporter of Extra Virgin Olive Oil using more advanced methods of production and the most sophisticated technologies. There are six grades of classification for the olive oil: extra virgin, virgin or select, pure or edible, refined or commercial, lampante and sulfide.

Honey: Its exceptional quality reflects the country’s long sunshine periods and the landscape’s particularities. Also, the Greek flora is extremely rich with 7500 different species of plants, while 850 of them are found exclusively here.

That is the why certain varieties of honey (e.g. Thyme Honey) do not exist anywhere else in the world. There are varieties that come from coniferous trees, and others that come from flowers and aromatic plants.

Mastic: A 100% Greek product which is protected by the European Union as it is not produced in any other part of the world except Greece. The product comes from the mastic trees in transparent/opaque crystalline solid yellowish or originally slightly orange teardrop-shaped grains. Today mastic is exported to more than 50 countries and brings a huge profit to the country every year. As well as being used in cakes, in ice-creams and in other dishes, mastic is also used in cosmetics. Hair and skin lotions, tooth pastes as well as fragrances can be found everywhere in the market.

Tourism

Greece ranks in the top 15 destinations worldwide: miles of glimmering coastlines, dramatic mountains for excursions or paragliding, ancient sites, museums and theatre performances are all part of the Greek cultural heritage. The tourism industry is a vital part of the Greek economy as it is an undisputed fact that Greece is a highly attractive destination. Nevertheless, tourism is a very competitive sector and Greece has to keep up with the pace. In recent years there has been a shift toward upmarket and more diversified products and services, offering travellers the opportunity to enrich their activities by attending specialised programmes such as therapeutic-spa tourism, religious tourism, ecological tourism, agrotourism etc. Thus, the country has become a popular tourist destination for people interested in alternative holidays who, apart from relaxing and sightseeing, wish to enjoy the unique experience offered by the country’s nature and its “products”, its religious culture and the specialised infrastructure of the Greek tourist industry.

When in Greece…

  1. When taking a cab, bear in mind that it is usual to pick-up other passengers if there is room for them, though they should ask you first.
  2. It is almost imperative to buy your bus tickets in advance and make sure that you “validate” them on the bus by electronically stamping them.
  3. Greeks are shrewd bargainers. Don’t smile too often and be prepared to compromise.
  4. Before tasting the culinary delights of Greece, be prepared to re-educate your system and adjust to a whole new diet. Keep in mind that it is very offensive to the host to refuse a dish when offered.
  5. Medicines are obtained by prescription, 25% of which is payable by you. Collect receipts for each purchase as you should be able to obtain refunds for them from your health insurers.

Language

Modern Greek is one of the oldest Indo-European languages, part of an independent branch of this language family, with over 3,000 years of history, and is spoken by approximately 15 million people in Greece, Cyprus and Greek communities around the world. Its alphabet dates back to the 9th Century BC and was the first to introduce vowels. Greek grammar can prove quite challenging for those with no or little background in languages that use cases and Greek verb conjugation can be maddening. Countless words of Greek origin have been borrowed by most modern European languages. An understanding of Modern and/or Ancient Greek will give language enthusiasts a better understanding of these languages as well as provide scientists with a deeper understanding of the terms used by the international scientific and technical community. Amateur etymologists would be unwise to overlook such a rich source of vocabulary.

Useful Greek phrases

Phrase     Translation
Good morning!     Kalimera!
Hello or Goodbye     Ya sou/ Ya sas (plural and formal)
Excuse me     Me syghorite / Signomi
A coffee please     Enan kafe parakalo
The bill please     To logariasmo parakalo
Thank you     Efharisto
How much is it?     Poso kani?
What are these?     Ti ine afta?
Fill it up please     Yemiste to parakalo
Unleaded, please     Amolivdi, parakalo
I don’t understand     Den katalaveno
It was a pleasure to meet you     Harika ya ti gnorimia
Do you have a phone number?     Echis kapeo tilefono?

 

Prepared in cooperation with Translab Hellas.

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