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A southern European country bordering Albania, The Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey, Greece includes a continental mainland and over 1400 islands. After a period of civil war and authoritarian military rule, Greece adopted a new democratic constitution in 1974. Major human rights issues in Greece include the treatment of migrants and ethnic minorities in official and public settings - exacerbated and increasingly violent during the increased political tensions caused by the country’s severe economic problems.
Greece is a country in southeastern Europe located on the far south of the Balkan peninsula. It has land borders with Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. Greece comprises a mountainous mainland and more than 1400 islands, the largest of which is Crete. The capital city is Athens.
Population and Language
The population of Greece stands at around 11.3 million people. About 98 per cent of the population is Greek in ethnicity, but there are also pockets of Turks, Macedonian Slavs, and Albanians among others.
The main language is Greek.
History and Politics
Greece is a parliamentary republic. Karolos Papoulias was voted in as president, a largely ceremonial post, for a final term in 2010. The Prime Minister is George Papandreou.
Greece has long been at odds with its close neighbour, Turkey, over territorial disputes in the Aegean and the divided island of Cyprus.
The legal system is based on codified Roman law. The judiciary is divided into civil, criminal, and administrative courts
Greece was hit particularly hard by the financial crisis of the late 2000s, and the country has a heavy debt burden. In 2010, due to fears of default on debt payments, Greece's fellow eurozone countries agreed an unprecedented $145bn package to rescue its economy. The main condition attached to the loan - drastic cuts in public spending and tax hikes - prompted fears of protracted social unrest and instability. Services account for more that 73 per cent of the GDP. Exports include manufactured goods, food and beverages, petroleum products, cement, and chemicals. Major trading partners include Germany, Italy and Bulgaria. Almost nine per cent of the world’s merchant fleet is Greek-owned, making the Greek fleet the largest in the world.
Media and Civil Society
The press enjoy considerable freedom in Greece. However, in 2009 Reporters Without Borders warned of a growing trend of violence against the media and death threats against journalists. It said these were often claimed by anarchists and extreme leftists.
Human rights and Children's Rights
A number of human rights groups have consistently criticised the lack of a functioning asylum system in the country, and substandard detention conditions at border guard stations and immigration detention centres remain a concern. There have been reports of excessive use of force and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials. Human rights groups also note with concern the increase in incidents of racial violence against migrants and asylum-seekers.
Greece ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 11 May 1993, the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict on 22 October 2003, and the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography on 22 February 2008.
- World Bank, Greece Country Profile
- US Department of State, Background Note: Greece
- UN Treaties Collection
- BBC, Greece Country Profile
- UNICEF, Greece Country Profile
- Amnesty International, Annual Report 2011: Greece