Greece's economy is based on agriculture, manufacturing, shipping and tourism. Greece's markets have expanded since 1981, when the country joined the European Union.

Wheat is Greece's main crop. Greece is famous for its olive trees and grapevines and is among the world's leading producers of olives and raisins. The most important livestock raised in Greece are sheep and poultry. Although livestock production has increased in recent years, Greece still imports meat and dairy products from other countries.

Manufacturing now ranks ahead of agriculture as a source of income for Greeks. Most Greek factories are small and are clustered around Athens and Thessaloniki. Many Greeks own their own businesses and there are many small shops and companies.

The chief manufactured goods in Greece are processed foods and beverages (including wines), metals and metal products, textiles, clothing, chemicals, tobacco products, and refined petroleum products. Small deposits of petroleum were discovered in the northern Aegean Sea, off the island of Thasos, in the early 1980s.

Greece has a busy fishing industry. Nearly 250 species of fish are found in Greek waters. Greeks have been famed as sailors since ancient times. Greece is still a leading shipping nation and its merchant fleet is the largest in the world. Many Greek business people have made their fortunes in shipping. There are 444 ports in Greece; 123 of them can handle large passenger liners and freighters. Piraeus, just south of Athens, is the country's main port and the fourth largest in the world.

Tourism is an important industry in Greece. Beautiful islands, beaches, plentiful sunshine, ancient ruins and Greece's reputation for hospitality make it a favourite vacation spot. The number of tourists who visit Greece every year almost equals the population of the country. The Acropolis, where the Parthenon stands, was once the centre of Ancient Athens, and is Greece's most famous tourist attraction.

Many people work in the morning, rest in the afternoon when it is very hot, and go back to work in the early evening. In addition to their twelve monthly salaries, Greek workers get a month's salary as a Christmas bonus. An additional half-month's salary is paid at Easter and another half month's salary is offered as a vacation allowance.

Did you know?

Greece was once a centre for silk production. The Peloponnesus is sometimes called the Morea because of the mulberry trees that grew there and were used to feed the silkworms.

Did you know?

Many of the ships that made up the North Atlantic convoys during the Second World War were of Greek ownership and registry.