Photograph by CT Feng,The Greek island of Santorini, also called Thira, is known for the whitewashed houses and churches perched along its volcanic cliffs. The picturesque village of Oia in the north is the island's most outstanding example of this architectural style. Here, a twilight image shows another of the town's claims to fame: its sunset views.
Herodes Atticus Theater
Photograph by Massimo BorchiIn a ritual that has taken place for centuries, an expectant assemblage awaits a dramatic entrance by performers under darkening skies in the Herodes Atticus Theater in Athens. Greek philosopher and rhetorician Herodes Atticus built the steep-sloped amphitheater around A.D. 160 as a tribute to his wife.
Photograph by Lukasz Warzecha, My ShotRock climbers in the know refer to the Greek island of Kalymnos as "Kaly." Climber-friendly formations on its towering beachside cliffs have made this Aegean jewel an international climbing destination since the mid-1990s.
Photograph by Karolos Trivizas,At one time, there were 24 peak-top monasteries in the region of Meteora in central Greece. Built on sandstone megaliths that rise up to 1,800 feet (550 meters) from the valley floor, the first of these precarious enclaves dates to the 14th century. Now accessible by road and bridge, earlier monks and pilgrims had to rely on ladders and baskets raised by winches to reach the top.
Photograph by Rodney Furgason,Greece's Santorini Island was once aptly named Calliste, meaning "most beautiful." Its cliffside towns, with colorfully painted houses overlooking a crystal blue lagoon, are considered to be among the most picturesque on Earth.
Photograph by Helena Kupljen,From above, the glassy blue waters of the Navajo Beach lagoon on Greece's Zákinthos island make boats appear to float on air. This beautiful, cliff-rimmed island is part of the Ionian chain off Greece's west coast.
Mount Athos Monastery
Photograph by Travis DoveIn the ancient monastic community of Mount Athos in northern Greece, Eastern Orthodox Christian monks live much as their brethren did a thousand years ago. A steady influx of young men over recent decades has actually increased their ranks. Mealtimes in the ornate refectory of the Xenofontos monastery, shown here, are a communal (though silent) affair.
Photograph by Ira BlockThe mineral-filled soils on Paxos are ideal for growing olives, and groves literally blanket the hills of this Ionian island. These olives are headed for a press to become Paxos olive oil, considered by many to be Greece's finest.
Photograph by J-C & D. Pratt/Photo LibraryThe Acropolis, built in the 5th century B.C. to glorify Greece following its defeat of the Persians at the Battle of Marathon, stands awesome and aloof on its limestone mesa above hectic modern Athens. Its shimmering, white-marble Parthenon (top right) is among the most recognizable structures on Earth.
Photograph by Agnieszka Zur,Low rainfall, poor soil, and a diminishing workforce have caused the agricultural sector in many parts of Greece to stagnate. Government efforts to revitalize the industry include the creation of a private company to sell Greek farm products over the Internet.
National Archaeological Museum
Photograph by Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated PressThe National Archaeological Museum in Athens is Greece’s largest museum, with over 20,000 exhibits. Built in 1889, the museum's collection contains artifacts from throughout Greece's history, including kouros and kore (shown here), marble statues from the country's Archaic period depicting the idealized human form.
- Athens; 3,238,000
- 131,957 square kilometers (50,949 square miles)
- Greek Orthodox
- Life Expectancy:
- GDP per Capita:
- U.S. $19,100
- Literacy Percent:
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Membership in the European Union has helped stimulate industry, agriculture, and shipping. Greece's maritime fleet is the largest in Europe. Recent economic growth, lower inflation, and lower unemployment have helped Greece somewhat overcome its position as one of the poorest of the EU countries in terms of per capita income.
The unique ecosystems of the Prespa Lakes region and the dense woodlands of the Rhodope Mountains have been set aside as international preserves. Athens stepped into the global spotlight as host of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. Greece's ancient treasures, striking landscapes, and pleasing climate are irresistible, enticing some 12 million visitors a year.
- Industry: Tourism, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals
- Agriculture: Wheat, corn, barley, sugar beets; beef
- Exports: Food and beverages, manufactured goods, petroleum products, chemicals