This page is dedicated to facts about Greece! So if you’ve ever wondered things like “Why isn’t Friday the 13th Unluck in Greece”? Or “why were most people in ancient Greece were called idiots”, then you’ve landed in the right place.
Besides fun facts about Greece, you’ll discover facts about the Greek Flag, modern Greece, their spectacular islands, and even the Greek gods.
There are facts for kids, adults, travelers, and the curious! So get ready! As you are about to learn more about Greece than you’ve ever thought possible!
117 Fun and Interesting, Facts About Greece
Greece Gets 3,000 Hours of Sunshine a Year
Greece is one of the sunniest places on the planet. The country has over 300 sunny days each year, and over 3,000 hours of sunshine. That is a fact about Greece, that makes me want to pack my bags!
80% of Greece is Mountainous Terrain
Because it’s in the Mediterranean, you might think that Greece is all beaches.
In fact, a majority of the countries the opposite, 80% of Greece is mountainous terrain.
Up until the 1990s, the sidewalks in downtown Athens were paved with marble.
The first female mayor of Athens, Dora Bakoyannis, made the change to the pavement because the sidewalks would get slippery after it rained.
The population of Greece is just over 10.5 million
That’s similar to the population of Sweden. But compared to many other countries in Europe Greece has a tiny population.
For example, Italy and Spain have a population of 60 and 50 million respectively.
Surprise Surprise, the official language of Greece is Greek
Greek has heavily influenced English. In fact, about 12% of English words have roots in the Greek language.
Mt Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece at just over 9,500 feet
It’s a relatively easy climb to the top.
It takes two days to reach the top. At a little over halfway there’s a rustic hotel where you can sleep, shower – in chilly mountain water; or talk with other climbers.
It’s an epic climb with sweeping views over the home of the gods. I know! It was one of the first things I did when backpacking Greece.
The Unibrow was Attractive
That’s a sentence I never expected to write in my life! But in ancient Greece, the Unibrow was a sign of beauty and intelligence in Ancient Greece.
Greece is located in Southern Europe
Greece lies in the southern part of Europe known as the the Mediterranean. It’s Mediterranean neighborhoods are Italy, Spain, and Portugal.
P.s.I highly recommenced backpacking Italy.
Greece is roughly the size of Alabama
Greece has just under 50,000 square miles making it similar in size to the state of Alabama. And a little bit smaller than Arkansas.
School Means Something Totally Different
School doesn’t mean what you think. The word “school” comes from the Greek word that means “free time”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think students fill like school is “free time”.
Greece Only Has 21 Small Rivers
Yep, the country has 21 small rivers, and none are navigable. It’s ironic that a country with this much water only has small rivers.
21 might sound like a lot, but let’s compare. Italy has 1,000 rivers. Spain 1,800. And the United States have 250,000. Yep, Greece is short on rivers.
Greece Has a Massive Coastline
Yes, the majority of the country is mountains. But Greece still has a lot of rocky coastlines. The coastal country has just under 10,000 miles of pristine coast.
The Greeks Invented the Yo-Yo
Did you know that the ancient Greeks invented the Yo-Yo?
It’s true. And after the doll, it is the second oldest toy in the world. I was obsessed with Yo-Yos growing up. (and there’s your interesting fact about me for the day!)
Greece is the 3rd Largest Producer of Olives in the World
Greece produces 2.2 million metric tons of olives every year. I’m guessing a eat around half a ton my self.
Greece Has More Archaeological Museum Than Any Other Country
Greece has 100 Archaeological Museum, that’s more than any other country in the world. It goes to show the wealth of artifacts that have been preserved from the ancient world. This is one of the facts about Greece that has drawn a lot of tourism to the country.
100,000 Birds Migrate Through Greece Each Year
Tourists aren’t the only people who travel to flock (no pun intended) to Greece A lesser known, but one of the interesting facts about Greece is that each year thousands of birds stop in the wetlands of Greece on their way to Asia. Over 100,000 birds travel through Greece each year!
Our Theaters Today Are Based Off the Ancient Greeks
Even the word theater is Greek and most modern theatres are based on their plans. Think about that. The way Greeks designed theaters 3,000 years-ago is still in practice today!
Greece Was Home to the Worlds Most Famous Philosophers
Famous of Philosophers Socrates, Thales, Plato, and Democritus, and Protagoras.
The Word Dinosaur Comes from Ancient Greek
Yep, even the word Dinosaur comes from the ancient Greeks and translates to; “terrible lizard.”
Fun Facts About Ancient Greece
The Age of Classical Greek Culture lasted hundreds of Years
The Classical Age of Greek culture was at its height between the 5th and 4th centuries BCE.
Ancient Greek’s Loved Naps
The Greek Capital of Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world. And the city’s history has been traced back over 3,400 years.
Athens is the oldest capital in Europe
Just like many countries in the Mediterranean, the Ancient Greeks loved taking naps, or siestas in the middle of the day. This mainly happened in the dead heat of summer.
Athens has more theatrical stages than anywhere else in the world
The ancient Greeks loved theaters so much so they built them everywhere. In Athens alone, they have found 148 stages. (And I wonder how many still remain lost to time.)
The Greeks were the first to Theorize that Planets Revolved Around the Sun
Yep, the Greeks beat Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo by almost 1800 years. The first theory that the sun was the center on the solar system and that the earth revolved around it was proposed by Aristarchus and Samos in the 3rd century BCE.
Ancient Greeks Had no Word for Religion
Yep, for how religious the Greeks were they had no word for Religion in ancient Greece.
Nafplio – not Athens – was the 1st Capital of Greece
The first capital of Greece was actually on the eastern side of the Peloponnese. The stunning port town of Nafplio was the first capital of Greece.
Nafplio was named after Poseidon’s son. To this day Nafplio’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
The Oracle of Delphi Would High Off Volcanic Fumes
For nearly 2,000 years – from 1,400 BCE to 400 AD – the Pythia would enter a trance at Delphi by breathing in volcanic fumes seeping out of the ground.
High on these fumes, she would make prophecies to the people.
Greeks Changed How Economies Were Run
During the height of classical Greece (the 5th and 4th centuries BCE), the Greeks had the most advanced economy
Athena is the Patron Goddess of Athens
The warrior goddess is the patron of Athens.
The Parthenon was dedicated, Athena. And had a huge statue of her, which was one of the most renowned statues in the ancient world.
Greek Culture Influenced the Romans
It’s a fact about Italy. Romans were notorious for stealing ideas. So it’s easy to see that the Greek culture heavily influenced the Romans. In fact, Greek culture, through the Roman Empire, is the foundation of our modern-day western world.
Teenagers Were Mentored By The City’s Elders
If you were a wealthy teenager in Ancient Greece, an enormous part of your education was being mentored by an elder.
The Olympic Games started in Greece over 2,000 years ago
In 2004, the Olympic Games were once again held in Greece. This time in Athens.
Rhodes Held One of the Ancient Wonders of the World
The Colossus of Rhodes once stood nearly 100 feet tall as you entered the cities harbor. It was a statue that depicted the god Helios. The statue was destroyed in 226 BCE after a massive earthquake shook the city.
The Greek Empire Was Massive
Their Empire stretched all over Europe. And even made it as far as France, Bulgaria, and Turkey. The ancient Greeks were conquerors. This is one of the facts about Greece I feel gets overlooked.
Slaves Made Up A Large part of the Population of Ancient Greece
It’s estimated that somewhere between 40% to 80% off the population of ancient Greece were captives, slaves, or children from slaves.
Slaves Were Bought With More Than Money
Slaves were often bought by ancient Greek and Romans with salt. This is how the phrase “not worth his salt” came into being. This fact about Greece makes me sad. But history isn’t always pleasant
Greece and Northern Macedonia Both Claim Alexander the Great
These two countries have had a rocky relationship throughout history. Even to this day, they argue over if Alexander The Great belongs to the Greeks or Northern Macedonians.
Ancient Greeks Invented Spiked Dog Colors
Spiked dog collars – or melium – were invented in Ancient Greece. And were used to protect dogs from wolf bites.
Education Started at Age 7
If you lived in Athens, you would start school at age 7. If you were a Spartan this is the age you would be taken to the barracks to begin military training.
Greek is one of the oldest languages in Europe
The Greek language dates back 3,000 years. This makes it one of Europe’s oldest languages.
Ancient Greece Was Divided Up Into City-States
Greece was divided up into city-states like Athens, Sparta, and Thebes. Each city-state had its own laws and government.
The City-States Were Connected By Religion and Language
City-states had their own systems of government and currency. Strange for being a part of the same country! So what unified them? A shared language and religion.
At the Height of Its, Empire Greece Had 1,000 City-States
The most popular of these city-states include Athens, Sparta, Corinth, Thebes, and Rhodes.
Ancient Greeks Invented Democracy
The word democracy is Greek. And it’s translated as “government by the people.” This is perhaps the greatest legacy that the ancient Athenians left us.
The Ancient Greek Democracy Lasted Less Than 200 Years
One of the most well-known facts about Greece is that they are famous for democracy. but, the ancient Greek democracy lasted for only 185 years.
Shaking Hands Comes from Greece
Shaking hands with a person dates back to the Ancient Greeks.
It’s well known that Ancient Greeks worked out in the nude.
Ancient Greek’s Pioneered Ideas We Still Use Today
Ancient Greek’s developed new ideas in science, philosophy, religion, art, and science. We use many of these same ideas today!
Most People in Ancient Greece were considered Idiots
In the modern age as well. The ancient Greek word “Idiot” referred to anyone that wasn’t a politician.
The Greeks Developed the First Alphabet With Vowels
The Greeks created the first alphabet with vowels. The name alphabet comes from the first two letters from the Greek alphabet – alpha and beta.
Ancient Greece Influenced Modern-Day Literature
Greek’s pioneered story forms like epic’s, poetry, comedy, tragedy, and history. All of which are popular today!
I wonder if they have a teenage, vampire novel buried in ruins somewhere?
Spartan Men Could Live With Their Until After Military Service
Spartan Men were not allowed to live with their families until age 30 when their active military service was over.
Greek Flag Facts
The design has been the flag of Greece since 1822
This is when Greece was fighting for independence. Greece was under the Ottoman rule but wished for religious freedom.
No one knows who designed the Flag
Where the current design comes from is a mystery but some think the design was inspired by Kallergis Family of Crete.
The Flag Stands for a Phrase
Each strip in the flag represents a word in the phrases “Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος”. Which translates “Freedom or Death”.
Freedom and Death Was a Chant Used During the Fight for Independence
The chant “Freedom or Death” was an important battle chant in the war for independence which ended with the Ottoman Empire leaving Greece.
The Greeks at Epidaurus officially adopted the flag in 1822
Up until that point the flag had only been used as a military ensign and state flag.
The Stripes and Shape Bear a Meaning
The Greek flag is a rectangular shape. It has nine stripes, 5 blue stripes, and 4 white. The flag has the blue and white cross which is meant to symbolize the wisdom of God.
The Flag Has a Nickname
The flag is sometimes referred to as the blue-white in Greek.
Facts About Greece: Culture
Greeks are famous for Hospitality
Greeks are friendly and take hospitality seriously. Especially on the islands, and at meals. It’s not uncommon to get a free glass of wine, ouzo, or dessert at the end of each meal. Just a small “thank you for visiting”… and perhaps an enticement to come back tomorrow.
Greeks Declared Love By Throwing Apples
In ancient Greece, you could declare love for someone by throwing an apple at them.
Tuesday (not Friday) the 13th is unlucky in Greece
Greeks don’t think Friday the 13th is unlucky! Instead, they believe that Tuesday the 13th is an unlucky day.
Greeks are Superstitious
Greek has a very superstitious culture. Even in light of their strong religious beliefs.
Superstitious Vary Greatly Depending on Where you Are in Greece
Speaking on superstitions, they differ by town and village. And change depending on where you are in the country.
Jinx, buy me a coke! Well, not in Greece
In Greece, if you say the same thing, at the same time it is considered a bad omen! If this happens Greeks must say “ piase kokkino” and touch something red. This will protect you from the omen.
Most Greeks are Named After Religious Figures
Religion is important in Greece. Because of this most Greeks are named after religious saints.
Greeks Celebrate Name Days More Than Birthdays
Greeks celebrate name days or “ onomastiki eorti” rather than birthdays. Name days are closely associated with the Greek Orthodox Church.
Greeks Celebrate Ohi Day
October 28th is Ohi Day in Greece. This holiday celebrates when Metaxas, the dictator of Greece, was refused entry to the country by the Italians.
Interesting Facts About Greece
Greece has 18 UNESCO Sites
Out of Greece’s 18 UNESCO sites, 16 of them are marked as cultural sites.
And the other two, Meteora and Mount Athos, are marked as both cultural and natural sites.
Mt Olympus was the home of the Greek Gods
From here, Zeus watched over the Greeks. The Greek gods loved to interfere (and not always for the better) in the lives of humans.
Ancient Artist Painted on Wooden Boards
Evidence shows that ancient artists and painters painted on wooden boards and walls.
The Titans Lived in Greece Before the Gods
Before the gods, there were the Titans. They were the first gods of Greece. There were 12 titans who were more powerful!
The twelve Olympian gods lived on Mount Olympus
Zeus was the Leader: Zeus was the most powerful of the Olympians. He was the god of sky and lightning.
Prometheus Defied Zeus and Gave the Humans Fire
Zeus didn’t want humans to have fire because it would make them more powerful! The gods always wanted to keep the humans in check.
Greece Has a Shortage of Fresh Water
For all the large amounts of water in the country, the vast majority of it is the ocean. Greece has very little freshwater. In fact, conversing water is an important part of life in Greece.
Greek stems from the Indo-European Languages
And Around 15 million people around the world speak Greek.
Greek Wine Dates Back over 6000 Years
The first evidence of wine in Greece dates back to 6,500 years ago.
Romans Loved Greek Wine
Speaking of wine, Romans loved Greek wine. It was widely sought after, and a popular trade item.
The Word Music Derives from a Greek Goddess
Even our word “music” can be traced back to Greece. The word derives from the Greek word Muses. Muses was the Greek goddess of art.
Zeus’ wife was Hera (His Sister)
Hera was the queen of the gods. She is the goddess of family and marriage. His symbols are the lion, cow, pomegranate, and peacock.
Poseidon’s More Than Just God of The Sea
Everyone knows Poseidon as the god of the ocean. He’s also the god of horses and earthquakes. He is the brother of Zeus and Hades. His symbol is a trident.
Greek Islands Facts
The Greek Islands are Deserted in the Off-Season
The Greek Islands are a popular tourist attraction in the summer. But in the winter and fall they rarely get any visitors. Many locals even leave the islands when the tourists aren’t around. This is a interesting fact about Greece for travelers looking to escape the tourist crowds.
7% of the World’s Marble Came the Greek Islands
In the ancient world the Greek Islands, especially Naxos, were known for their marble production.
Greece has 6,000 Islands
Greece has over thousands of islands.That means if you visited one island for a day it would take you sixteen and a half years to visit every island. Although the only 227 are populated.
Naxos is the largest of the Cycladic Islands in Greece
The island is massive! And is easily spotted on a map!
The Islands Have to Boat in Freshwater
Because there’s no little freshwater, some islands have water brought to them by tanker.
Naxos Plays an Important Role in Mythology
Zeus was partly raised in Naxos. The island also has temples to Demeter, Apollo, and Artemis.
Delos was the Islands Version of Delphi:
The tiny island of Delos, off the coast of Mykonos, was the most sacred place on the islands. It was the equivalent of Delphi on the mainland. It’s also the birthplace of the Greek god Apollo.
Santorini Has More Wine than Water
The idyllic islands of Santorini get such a little amount of rain that the island has more wine than water. That’s a Santorini fact that make me want to pack my bag!
Santorini Grape Vines Were Spared From the Great French Wine Blight
In the 1850s a blight, known as phylloxera, wiped out almost all the older grapevines in western Europe. The only grapevines that were unaffected in this area where the vines on Santorini.
Meaning if you want to taste wine from the oldest grapevines in western Europe it has to be Santorini wine.
Volcanic Ash Protected the Santorini Vines from the Blight
This isn’t so much one of the fun facts about Greece; but it is heavily speculated that the vines were protected from the blights because they grow in volcanic ashy ground.
Santorini’s One of the Most Visited Islands in Greece
Out of the entire wealth of Greek Islands, there are two names that stand out as tourism powerhouses. That’s the islands of Santorini and Mykonos.
Celebrities Flock to Santorini In the Summer
Famous personalities like Kurt Russel, Dwayne Wade, Julianne Hough, and more have been seen in Santorini. The Greek islands are a magnet for the rich and famous.
Santorini Might Be Atlantis
Ok, this is another theory, but it is said that Santorini, called Thera, at the time is a possible location of Atlantis.
Much of the island was lost and devastated in a volcanic eruption almost 4,000 years ago. This is only a legend. But hey it’s still fun to imagine the possibility. Just another reasons this is one of beautiful place in the world.
Santorini Gets 100X More Visitors Each Year Than Residents
Santorini’s one of the best islands in Greece. Its popularity draws over 1.5 million visitors each year. And only 15,000 people live on the island.
Santorini Has Colorful Beaches
The beaches in Santorini come in uncommon colors. There’s the black pebble beach. White sandy beaches, the pale red beaches, and of course, normal beaches.
Facts About Crete
The Largest Greek Island is Crete
Crete’s the largest of the Greek Islands. Crete is absolutely massive. Not only is it the biggest island in Greece, but it’s the 5th largest island in the Mediterranean.
Crete has over 160 Miles of Beaches
Continuing with the sheer size of Crete did you know that the beaches in Crete Stretch for over 160 miles. These beaches also differ in color. Two of the beaches on Crete are pink. It’s hard to find the words to describe all the beauty of Crete.
Crete is the Home of the Minotaur
The ancient city of Knossos, on Crete, was home to the fabled beast the Minotaur. The Minotaur was kept in the labyrinth underneath the city.
Zeus Was Born on the Greek Islands
The thunder god grew was hidden from his father (who wanted to eat him) in a cave on Crete. Here he grew up until he eventually killed his father. That an interesting fact about Crete, and a great point to start Greek mythology..
The Greeks Weren’t The First People in Greece
The Minoans and the Mycenaean’s were the two earliest civilizations that developed in Greece.
The Mycenaean’s who lived on the mainland were the first civilization we have evidence for in Greece.
The Minoans came soon after and lived mostly on Crete.
The God Apollo Left a Big Mark on the Greeks
Apollo’s the Greek god of music, light, and archery.
He was one of the most popular gods of the ancient Greek world. They have found more temples dedicated to Apollo than any other god or goddess.
His symbols are the sun, bow and arrow, and lyre.
The Greek’s Had a God for Parties
The Greeks loved celebrating so much that they had a god who was the lord of wine and celebrations. Dionysus, son of Zeus was the youngest god, and his symbol is the grapevine. And he’s the god dedicated to shindigs!
Facts About Modern Greece
Greece gets Alot of Tourists
On average Greece gets 16.5 million visitors a year. Personally, I’ve been to Greece a few times. And I have a few visits left in me.
Fun Facts About Greece: The Country joined the EU in 1981
The country was the 12th member to join the EU, and switched to their currency to the Euro in 2001.
Around 60% of Greece’s population live Urban Areas and Cities
Meaning there’s a lot of free lands in Greece. However, Greece is mountainous and therefore hard to live on.
Greece’s Real Name is the Hellenic Republic
Yep, Greece’s name isn’t really Greece. The official name is the Hellenic Republic. And I’m guessing if you did a street poll 100% of people wouldn’t know this fact about Greece.
Thousands of English Words Stem from Greek
Thousands of words in English have their roots in the Greek language. Even the word alphabet stems from Greece.
Athens was the first Capital named the European Capital of Culture
The idea of the title came from Melina Mercouri, a famous Greek actress.
70 Years Ago Less Than Half of the Greek Adults Could Read and Write
In the 1950s only 30% of adults in Greece could read and write. Today it’s in the upper 90’s. That’s a great turnaround in a short time.
Today Greece has a Literacy rate of 97%
Things have improved since the 1950s as today Greece has a literary rate of 97%. Tied with 4 other countries for the 4th place for the highest literary rates in the world.
Greece’s government is a Unitary Parliamentary Republic
And everyone over 18 is required to vote. It’s a law.
Greece Might Have Played A Role in the Republic of Macedonia Changing its name
Greece Played A Part in the Country of Macedonia Changing its name. Because Greece has a region called Macedonia, they didn’t like that it’s northern bore the country name of “The Republic of Macedonia”.
In 2018 the country of Macedonia changed its name to Northern Macedonia. When I was in Skopje, the capital of Northern Macedonia, many locals told me that Greece was blocking them from entering the EU until they changed their name.
44% of Greeks Live in Athens
Athens is booming. A little over a hundred years ago the city’s population was 10,000. Today it’s over 3.1 million.
Many of the Locals Hop Between The Mainland and Islands for Work
A majority of the locals that live on the islands flee to the mainland during the low tourist season. They move to Athens for work. Then head back to the islands when the tourists start to arrive.
I don’t know about you! But if I lived on one of the best islands in Greece, I would never leave.
Compulsory Military Service
It’s required for Greek men to serve 18 months in any branch of the armed forces.
Around 6% Off Greek budget goes towards funding the military
That might seem like a lot but pales in comparison to the United States, who spends around 54 percent of their budget on military.
Hundreds of Ancient Theaters and Temples
Ancient Greeks loved theaters and temples. They built hundreds of them during the golden age of Greece.
Modern-day archaeologists have found hundreds. (There are over a hundred theaters in Athens alone). Just imagine how many haven’t been discovered yet.
And there we go! 100+ facts about Greece!
What did you think of the post? Which fact was your favorite?