by Franz Rothenbacher
The nation state building of Greece began with the fight for independence on 25th March 1821. On 22nd March 1829 it became a tributary dukeship under the sultan with the protocol of London (after the defeat of the Turkish fleet at Navarino). Some months later, on 22nd January 1830, the same territory was proclaimed an independent monarchy. With the London Convention of 7th May 1832, Greece was given protection by the three big powers Great Britain, France and Russia. It is located at the southeastern periphery of Europe. In 1981 Greece became a member of the European Community. Industrialization is still rather low, therefore it is called a semi-peripheral country by some authors. The political system has changed several times since the state was set up: it was a monarchy from 1832 to 1923, a republic from 1927 to 1936, the Metaxas dictatorship lasted from 1936-41, the post-war period with the monarchy from 1946 to 1967, the dictatorship of the generals from 1968 to 1974, and since 1975 Greece has been a republic again.
Modern Greece has suffered several catastrophic events since the war of liberation. The "megali idea" of reuniting all territories where Greeks are living was destroyed by the Asia Minor catastrophy when over one million refugees had to be integrated. Greece also suffered a lot under Italian and German occupation and the civil war.
In socio-cultural terms Greece is a highly homogeneous country, with about 98% (the latest figures available are from the 1951 census) of the inhabitants being Greek-orthodox. There are only small linguistic minorities (Turkish-speaking Greeks in Thrace, Slavs, Vlachs: about 5% according to the 1951 census). Greece is still an agricultural country with 22% of the labour force being employed in the primary sector in 1991; industry is not fully developed, therefore the service sector, and especially the public sector, is overproportionally large. The main industrial sectors are shipping (Greece has the largest commercial fleet in Europe), cement production, textiles and agricultural products (olives, wine, fruits, etc.). Industry is concentrated in the two big urban centres of Athens/Piraeus and Thessaloniki (other important centres are Patras and Volos). In the 1980s economic development and growth slowed down, and the gap between Greece and its partners in the European Union grew. This is mainly the result of losses in productivity. The unemployment rate is rather high (9.1% in 1995), the central government deficit (in % of the GDP) has been rather high since the 1980s and amounted to -11.98% in 1992 (second after Finland with-14.76%); inflation is the highest in the EU (9.3% in 1995). The government is trying to consolidate public finances in order to meet the Maastricht criteria. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita amounted to 8,785 US-$ in 1993; thus, Greece is in the group of the lower 20% within EU15. Greece has a population of 10 million people and is therefore located in the group of the middle-sized EU countries. Population growth is moderate due to very low fertility rates. Greece is now a highly urbanized country, but urbanization is bicephalic, with about half of the country's population living in the two big urban centres. The mountaneous structure of the country and the many islands require high investments into the infrastructure (roads, shiplines, airlines, airports on the islands, power stations, etc.). Nevertheless the distances between the different parts of the country are rather small. Most Greeks have two flats, one in a big urban centre and one on the islands or in the countryside. The house ownership rate is high with about 75%.
One specific feature of Greece is migration in the two forms of internal migration form the country to the cities and emigration. Until the 80s internal migration was high, as the declining population figures of the mountaineous regions and the islands show. But since the eighties this development has stopped, and most of the islands and the inner parts of mainland Greece now have an increasing number of inhabitants. Emigration to the United States of America already started at the end of the 19th century and has thus a long tradition in Greece. After 1945 emigration to Australia began and was furthered since the 1960s by labour migration to Western Europe, especially to West Germany. Emigration has more or less stopped now, and remigration is now stronger than out-migration.
Table: Statistical comparisons
Regional disparities exist in several respects. On the average, population density in Greece is low. But population density varies strongly over the country, with the Attika region being highly populated, whereas in the montaineous regions and on the islands population density is low. There are no remarkable regional differences regarding fertility; in all regions fertility is now under replacement level (the Total Period Fertility Rate in 1994 was one of the lowest in Europe with 1.34). In all regions the fertility rate is below the European average. The mortality rate is also very low in Greece, and life expectancy is rather high despite the low state expenditures on health. The infant mortality rate is still a little higher than in Europe on the average. The age structure does not differ fundamentally from the European average. In central Greece and on the Aegean Islands and Crete the active age group is smaller than in other regions; on the other hand the proportion of the elderly is higher. In northern Greece and in Attika the proportion of the elderly is lower and the active age bracket is larger. These figures demonstrate the consequences of internal migration processes, with the active persons migrating to the big urban centres, and the young and the old staying behind. Births out-of-wedlock are very seldom in Greece and marriage is of high importance. Only 2% compared to 15% of all live births are outside marriage, and there are few regional variations, with the largest number to be found in Attika. On the average, material wealth in Greece is only half of that of the European Union average. Greater Athens is the region which is wealthiest, whereas the islands constitute the poorest region. Employment in agriculture is over three times as high as in Europe on the average, and both the industry and the service sectors are smaller. With 40% central Greece has the highest share in agriculture. Industry is located mainly in the two big urban centres of Thessaloniki and Greater Athens (30%). The share of services is highest in Greater Athens as well as on the Aegean islands (50%) due to tourism. The overall economic activity rate is clearly lower than in Europe on the average, and the regional differences are marginal with the exception of Greater Athens, where the employment rate is the lowest. This is a consequence of the high unemployment rate in Attika, being for all groups above the Greek average. The female activity rate is rather low in Greece, being over 10% below the European average. Youth unemployment is extremely high in almost all regions of Greece, only the Islands have a rate that is comparable to the lower European rate. The population is still growing, and still faster than in the rest of Europe. To some extent this seems to be a result of high immigration/remigration rather than a result of fertility. Thus, net migration is much higher than the European average.
The Athens/Piraeus region shows on the one hand typical population characterictics of a big urban centre - low share of children, fewer elderly people, higher frequency of births out-of-wedlock. But there are some exceptional features: the share of employment in services is the highest with 70%; and in the capital massive employment problems exist.
In 1832, when the Greek nation-state was founded, its territory was still very small and embraced only the Peloponnesis, the Cycladic islands, Attika and Central Greece with about 712,000 inhabitants. During the 19th century several additions to the territory took place: the Ionian islands were added in 1864, Thessaly in 1881 after the Congress of Berlin. The biggest territorial gains were made during the Balkans wars of 1911-13, when Macedonia, Epirus, Crete and the East Aegean islands were incorporated. In 1920, parts of Eastern Thrace were added. The last territorial gains were made after World War II when Italy in 1947 ceded the Dodecanese islands to Greece. Greece still is a unitarian centralized state, and there are no federal elements in the state structure. But there are tendencies towards decentralization as in most other European countries with the tendency to strengthen the competences of local government. Due to the growing territory of Greece, the administrative structure has changed dramatically over the last 160 years. The main territorial unit was and still is the Nomos (prefecture), which embraces several Eparchies, which in turn are composed of Demoi and Koinotites (communities); the Demoi and Koinotites embrace several Oikismoi. In 1991, according to the most recent census of population, there were 51 Nomoi, 147 Eparchies, 361 Demoi, 5,560 Koinotites and 12,817 Oikosmoi. Statistical data are published for the territorial divisions of the 52 Nomoi, the Eparchies, the Demoi, Koinotites and Oikismoi. But there are no regional statistical authorities, and the statistical system is strongly centralized.
National Statistical Institute: National Statistical Service of
Greece (NSSG), 14-16 Lycourgou Str., 101 66 Athens, +30-1-3244-746
Social Science Research Institutions: National Centre for Social
Research (EKKE), 1, Sophocleous Street, 105 59 Athens +30-1-32-12-611,
Social Science and Political Journals: The Greek Review of Social Research (in Greek, quarterly, GR ISSN 0013-9696); Modern Greek Society. A Social Science Newsletter (biannual, ISSN 0147-0779); Modern Greek Studies Yearbook (annual); Yearbook 19.. - ELIAMEP; Journal of Modern Greek Studies; Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora.
The largest part of data relevant for the social sciences are published by the National Statistical Service of Greece (NSSG). The NSSG covers the whole country and all regions. Data are chiefly available in printed form. The main statistical publications are the "Statistical Yearbook of Greece" and the "Monthly Statistical Bulletin". Special statistical series cover all fields of statistical reporting. The statistical system is heavily centralized, and only few statistical data published by national ministries (industry, energy and technology; welfare; health) or the numerous social security institutions are available. Special reference should be made to the "Monthly Statistical Bulletin" published by the Bank of Greece which specializes on economic statistics (money and banking, public finance, balance of payments, production, prices).
The latest population census was held on March 17th, 1991. Meanwhile two volumes presenting the resident population in deep disaggregation down to the level of localities are available. As for the census of 1981 thematic volumes and several volumes grouped according to main territorial subdivisions will be published. In general, data in machine-readable form are not yet distributed to the wider public.
The Centre of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE) (cf. pp. 9-13 in this newsletter) also collects data to some degree (but its main task is data analysis), but it is predominantly concerned with the field of economics. KEPE maintains a statistical database and conducts macroeconomic simulations. KEPE also publishes data in the field of social insurance and social care.
The National Centre for Social Research (EKKE) conducts its own social surveys mainly on sociological topics such as employment, demography, family, the elderly; thus, the publications of EKKE are a good counterpart to the offical statistical system. In addition, EKKE publishes the main sociological journal in Greece, the "Greek Review of Social Research".
Clogg, Richard 1992: A Concise History of Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge
EURODATA Newsletter No.4, p.22-24