Greece is in the southern part of the Balkan peninsula in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece's four neighbours are Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to the northwest, Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the east. It is surrounded on three sides by sea: the Aegean Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the west and the Libyan Sea to the south. Greece's long, rocky coastline extends over 15,000 km. It is broken up by thousands of inlets and bays that run deep into the mainland.

Mainland Greece is divided into the following regions: Thrace, Macedonia, Epirus, Thessalia, Sterea Ellada and Peloponnese. Nearly one-fifth of Greece's area is made up of islands. The greatest number of islands are in the Aegean Sea. They are grouped into the Sporades off the eastern coast, the Cyclades off the southeastern coast, the Dodecanese to the east of the Cyclades and the North Aegean group of islands. To the south lies Crete, the largest Greek island. The Ionian islands, including Corfu, are off the west coast.

Three-fourths of Greece is hilly. The rugged Pindus range in western Greece is the country's mountain backbone. The famous Mount Olympus, in northern Greece, is the country's tallest mountain.

Much of the land of Greece is composed of limestone, either bare or covered with thorny, woody shrubs called thámnoi (thyme). However, several large coastal and interior areas have rich soil. Except for scattered pines and cypresses, lowland Greece has few trees.

Only about a fifth of the land in Greece is suitable for farming. Much of the usable land has poor soil or is too dry for crops to be grown without irrigation. Some fertile soil has been washed away by erosion, which is caused by the runoff of winter rains from the mountains.

Greece has a typical Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. In general, temperatures are higher in the south, and the rainfall greater in the west. January is usually the coldest month, but below-freezing temperatures and snow occur only in the mountains. Except for a few thunderstorms, almost no rain falls during the summer months.

Summary Fact Sheet

Official Name: Hellenic Republic
Capital: Athens
Type of Government: Parliamentary Republic
Population: 10.5 million
Area: 131,990 square km
Major Ethnic Group: Greek
Languages: Greek (official)
Religion: Greek Orthodoxy
Unit of Currency: Drachma
National Flag: Blue and white stripes with a white cross on a blue background in the top corner on the hoist side.