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Greece today

Greece Today
Greece today is a description of the present. It is the profile of modern Greece and its multifaceted civilization and culture.
In this section you may find important and useful information about the principal activities in the country: politics, economy, culture, tourism, transport, research and science, media, environment, sports. Search for the information that interest you in the sub-categories available and use the links provided for further and more specialized information
Politics :Greece is a parliamentary democracy; the official name of the country is "Hellenic Republic". The present form of political system was ratified in the referendum on  December 8, 1974, when 70% of the population voted in favour of a non-monarchical democracy. The Constitution currently in force was voted for on  June 11, 1975, and has been reviewed twice, in 1986 and 2001. The supreme authority in the Hellenic Republic is the President, who is elected by the Hellenic Parliament to serve for a five-year period. The current President of the Republic is Mr. Carolos Papoulias, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was elected in this position for the first time on  February 8, 2005, by a 93% majority. Before Mr. Papoulias, President of the Hellenic republic was Mr. Kostis Stefanopoulos, lected in February 8, 2000, with a majority of 90%. The New Prime Minister of Greece is Mr. George Papandreou, (6-10-2009 )president of the PASOK party. The Mr. George Papandreou cabinet was brought to office for the second time through the last nation-wide parliamentary elections held on  September 16, 2007. In the same elections representatives from a total of five political parties (New Democracy, PASOK, the Communist Party of Greece, the Coalition of Radical Left and L.A.O.S.) were elected and hold the 300 seats in the Hellenic Parliament.
In administrative terms, Greece is divided into 13 regions, 51 prefectures and the autonomous administrative region of Mount Athos. At the level of local government, the recent "Kapodistrias Programme" reorganized the administrative map of the country, abolishing the plethora of previously existing 'communities' and creating uniform, larger municipalities. The mayors and the prefects of the country are elected by ballot of the people every four years, while heads of regions are appointed directly by the government. The right to vote in Greece is universal and mandatory for all citizens aged over 18 in the country. The supreme courts of Greece are the "Areopagus" (the Supreme Court of Cassation) and the Council of State. Finally, it should be noted that in Greece the death penalty does not apply. Following its last review in 2001, the Constitution of Greece expressly repeats this specific prohibition, which also applied in the previous text of the Constitution
Economy :Undoubtedly, the New Year of 2002 was a particularly significant one for Greece, which together with Finland, due to their geographical position, where the first European countries to welcome in the Euro, the new, common European currency. For the Greek economy, membership of economic and monetary union (EMU) was the capping stone of a significant and labourious effort over the course of many years. It is characteristic that for six consecutive years, Greece's rate of growth in GDP was higher than the corresponding European average. At the end of 2001 Greece had the highest rate of real convergence with the average European level of income since 1981, the year that Greece joined the European Community. Despite this, completion of true convergence in the context of EMU remains one of the central issues for the Greek economy. The careful economic policy that has been followed over recent years was primarily intended to bring about a general improvement in the performance of the Greek economy, to increase employment, combat social exclusion and maintain the cultural heritage of the country. In addition to these objectives, the Greek government is also focusing its efforts on reducing the level of unemployment, which in 2001 was around 10.9% Despite the important achievements over recent years, changes in the landscape of the Greek economy are continuing at rapid rates, mainly at the level of reforms in the public sector and public administration in general. In parallel, the programme of privatizations is continuing with specific targets for 2002 being to transfer holdings in the Piraeus Port Organization, Olympic Airways, the Athens Piraeus Water Supply Company (EYDAP), the Public Power Corporation, the Public Gas Corporation of Greece S.A. (DEPA), Hellenic Petroleum, the Hellenic Post Office, the Post Office Savings Bank, the General Bank of Greece, the Athens Stock Exchange and HELEXPO to the private sector. In addition funds from the 3rd Community Support Framework, public works for the 2004 Olympic Games and public and private investment in general are expected to significantly bolster the productive capacity of the Greek economy. Continuing growth of the Greek economy has already created significant firm bases capable of withstanding strong fluctuations in the economy, such as the general unfavourable economic climate which emerged at an international level following the events of 11th September. Economic climate indicators have already begun to improve again and are even at higher levels than the corresponding indicators for the European Union and the Euro Area (Source: Results of Economic Convergence Surveys, December 2001 - The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research). For Greece entry into EMU offered economic actors an environment with reduced interest rates and reduced exchange risk. Consequently, the conditions for an increase in confidence in the market and the undertaking of more intense investment initiatives have been created. It is worth noting the significant efforts made by the Greek economy to integrate new technologies in operational terms into development plans via the information society programme, the Standing E-Business Forum and the “Go-online” programme. The effective operation of the online taxation transaction system “Taxis-Net” should also be noted, a system which has been recognized as one of the most functional and successful at European Union level in the context of e-government programmes.
The Programme of Stability and Development for Greece for the period 2001-2004 was approved by the European Commission during the recent visit of the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Simitis, to Brussels.
Culture :Greek culture is the result of interactions between cultural elements and influences from East to West, North to South. The evolutionary trajectories of great civilizations around the Mediterranean basin aligned on Greece leaving behind their indelible mark. The resulting Gestalt of Greek civilization surpassed its constituent elements. During the course of history, and the crossing of the Hellenic spirit with other civilizations, the rich mosaic of Greek civilization was created as is reflected in the spheres of tradition, artistry and attitudes that give substance to Greek identity and uniqueness. The Greeks kept an open mind to ideas irrespective of origin and were keen on experimentation: the zest to hold fast onto the past alternated with the spirit of novelty and innovation in all aspects of life. This is what makes Greek civilization unique, a fact recognized by modern world. This also gave birth to magnificent achievements, perpetual points of reference for the entire human race. It is true that Greece is a country that time and again culture is equated to progress and cultural heritage. Increased consciousness of the past, the facts of the present and contemplation about the future are barely distinct from each other -- one infiltrates, inseminates or impregnates the other. The cultural heritage of Greece includes all those monuments that are distinguished for their originality, novelty, historical significance and quality of the message transmitted from one age to the next. Such monuments are historical, religious, archaeological, pieces of art, as well as all material and intellectual achievements of Greek tradition – customs and morals, objects of daily use, etc.
Transportation :A large part of the projects and infrastructures being implemented in Greece have to do with transport. Greece has a modern transport network which is constantly being upgraded with projects which continue uninterrupted, day after day. The unique geography of Greece requires multifaceted and expensive construction efforts for implementation of the relevant plans, so one can easily under the extent and difficulty of these projects. Transport projects are characterized by wide ranging planning throughout all regions of the country. Greece, with its pivotal geographical position is a trade transport and transportation gateway between the East and West, since via its network rapid, safe and comfortable transports of people and goods towards to countries of the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean are carried out. The main project with functional, but also symbolic, importance for the connection between East and West is the Via Egnatia which is nearing completion. Via Egnatia is the main northern road which crosses the country horizontally from west to east uniting the port of Igoumenitsa with the border at Evros, at the same time serving all exists from the country to the countries of the Balkans peninsula.
The Metro
The Railway Network
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