Greece can in many ways be seen as the cradle and birthplace of European civilization. To understand this and more, we bring you the 10 things you didn’t know about Greece.
10: Economic Doldrums
Greece has the worst economy in Europe and it’s been suffering catastrophic financial losses and stagnation for years now. Greece has been artificially inducted into the eurozone despite it not actually meeting the economic requirements.
The Greek government debt crisis began in 2008 and this led to a crisis of confidence. Which saw a widening of bond yield spreads and rising costs of risk insurance on a credit default swaps compared to other eurozone countries. The Greek government implemented 12 rounds of tax increases, spending cuts and reforms. This was done between the years of 2010 and 2016 in an effort to bring the economy under control. Instead, this led to local riots and nationwide protests. Despite these efforts, Greece still requires bailout loans in 2010, 2012 and 2015 from the international monetary fund, Euro group and the European central bank.
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9: Golden Dawn
The golden dawn is one of the great political organizations that have arisen as a consequence of Greece’s near-permanent state of economic and social turmoil. The golden dawns inception can be traced back to the early 1980s when it was a small and relevant group of malcontents. Most people never paid attention to but events in the last decade in Greece have changed its relevance and people’s perception of the group immensely with mass unemployment and government failure. People often turn to extreme measures and look for other ways of finding hope and the golden dawn. A far-right leaning and in some ways the fascist organization is the political organization that promises to bring back Greece’s glory and bring stability to the country.
Unfortunately, in terms of bringing Greece back from the brink of economic and social debt, the golden dawn has been less than successful. Instead, its policies have alienated the great majority, as they seem to be consistently xenophobic and even fascistic in many ways. People outside of Greece are increasingly giving Greece a wide berth due to the popularity of the golden dawn. The golden dawn as opposed to refugee’s immigrants. Anything being poor and to Greek interests and in some instances, has even resorts of violence in an effort to keep these forces at bay and is invoked the use of Nazi iconography in its own immaturity. The future of Greece is bleak and for this reason, the golden dawn is not only likely to stay could grow influence and power as a consequence.
8: Glorious Past
Things were not always bleak in Greece at one point in time. More than two millennia ago, Greece was at the forefront of just about every discipline of relevance in the world. Including, but not limited to philosophy, science, literature, theatre, historiography, medicine, mathematics, political theory and more. Modern Greece might be a place of squalor and failure, but ancient Greece has left a legacy that few if any other place in the world has done.
In addition to the countless foundations of knowledge of ancient Greece left to us, the language itself has become part of the essential vocabulary of virtually every European language. Particularly in the rounds of philosophy, politics, science and all other matters of intellectual importance, whatever the current and future degradation of modern Greece, Greek people can always look to the past, and revel in its glory.
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Due in large measure to the film “300” many people have heard at least superficial accounts of the ancient Greek, polity called Sparta. As exaggerated the some of the film was, much of it was in principle based on a good measure of truth. Brutally efficient and cruel by all modern standards, the Spartan methods knew no mercy. The Spartan military philosophy was first developed by the near-mythical Spartan legislator by surges describing Sparta’s having a “wall of men” instead of bricks and stone. He sought to reform Spartan society by creating a military focus lifestyle in accordance with traditional virtues, such as equality for all male citizen, austerity, strength and fitness.
A Spartan man’s involvement with the army began in infancy. Who had proven their merit throughout their lives? If the baby was found weak or disabled, he was loft at mount ages to die. Since the world of the Spartans was no place for those who don’t fend for themselves. These brutal methods sound alien to us in the modern age. But formed the bedrock of Spartan society. Which made the Spartan military a virtually unstoppable force in the ancient world. The legend of the 300 comes from an allegedly true story of 300 Spartans soldiers holding off a pass against more than 300.000 Persian soldiers. Who knows maybe it’s true, deservedly anyone could have done it, it would have been the Spartans.
6: Greek Food
Greek food is probably Greece’s greatest asset in these modern times of turmoil and economic hardship. This food is a symbol of culture, it indoors when all else falls apart. Famously delicious stuffed grape leaves, Fasolakia, fresh green beans stewed with potatoes, zucchini and tomato sauce, sutzukakia, long shaped meatballs with cumin cinnamon and garlic. Boil the tomato sauce with whole olives often serve with rice or mashed potatoes, fresh salads and more. The key to great cuisine is in the consistent use of fresh ingredients for each and every dish. These cuisines have more than just a few things for the sweet juice as well. Such as baklava, final pastry layers filled with nuts and drenched in honey. Querido pita, a cake of crushed walnuts soaked in syrup, cool rakia or olive oil cookies and more. Whatever your taste, Greek food a sure only accommodated but surpass it.
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Aristotle could well be considered the most influential figure of western thought. He was undeniably Greek in origin. More than 2300 years after his death, Aristotle remains one of the most influential people who ever lived. He contributes to almost every field of human knowledge that in existence. He was the founder of many new fields. According to the philosopher Brian Magee, “it is doubtful whether any human being has ever known as he did”. Among countless other achievements, Aristotle was the founder of formal logic. He pioneered the study of zoology and left every future scientists and philosopher in his debt through his contributions to the scientific method.
Despite these achievements, an influence of Aristotle errors is considered by some to have held back science. Considerably, British philosopher Bertrand Russell noted that. “Almost every serious intellectual advance has had to begin with an attack of some Aristotelian doctrine”. Russell notes at these errors make it difficult to do historical justice to Aristotle. Until one remembers, how large of an advance he made compared to all of its predecessors. Mistakes aside, Aristotle was and remains the very definition of the intellectual and philosopher.
4: Greek Mythology
Many of the myths of Greek mythology hold great pedagogical importance concerning human nature. The Greek gods unlike the infallible god of modern Abrahamic monotheism were advanced simply exceedingly powerful. Yet deeply flawed beings would often suffer from the same faults and weaknesses as humans. Vengeful, jealous, possessive, destructive and at times murderous, the gods were very much reflections of human nature itself. Writ large and the tales surrounding them can often teach us about ourselves.
This can be interpreted as not only the futility of human actions in the face of death and personal annihilation. But also, the inherent and relentless repetition of human existence. Many other such stories exist and even in modern times, we can still learn much from Greek mythology.
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Cyprus is not technically Greece, but it does have an undeniably Greek character to it. However, the reason why one might be hesitant to assign anything Greek to the island. It is the fact that it has been occupied illegally by the Turkish for over 40 years. The result of an invasion that took place on 20th of July 1974, had no international approval. It was indeed was a violation of both international treaties and laws. The Turks remain there to this day. Many Turks justify the invasion-occupation on historical grounds, citing the Ottoman Empire. But even in those days, Cyprus has maintained a clearly great character. The international community has remained silent on the matter to this day. Which leaves the Greek Cypriots to fend for themselves.
There are more than 120 Million olive trees in Greece. Some are centuries old and still sprouting olives for the creation of food and oil. Which is perhaps more than any other country in the world. Olives form a stable part of the Greek diet in the form of food. The symbolic olive oil extracted from the pitted fruit. The olive lading component of Greek cuisine is often associated with health and longevity. Olives are perhaps more symbolic about Greece in this culture than anything else.
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1: Tourism in Greece
Perhaps, more than any other country Greeks lives in its past and indeed lives on its past too. Every year more than 17 Million tourists arrive in Greece, to partake in the faded glories of Greece’s ancient heritage. Which is more than 50% of its current population? Because Greece’s economy is in turmoil, tourism is a vital aspect. And perhaps the most important aspect of Greece in the modern age. That’s something that the Greek simply cannot live without.
So, that’s a wrap on our list of 10 things you didn’t know about Greece. What are the other things you know about Greece? Tell us in the comments down below.