Greece Country Report
Several issues could potentially present inconveniences for tourists visiting Greece (population 11.8 million).
The 2008 international financial crisis has had a considerable impact on the country; the national economy and public finance remain in a precarious state, fomenting negative political and social repercussions. Social tensions have been fueled by drastic austerity measures implemented by national authorities, such as the lowering of salaries and retirement benefits and lengthening of the working day. These austerity-based reforms were imposed by the so-called "troika" - composed of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund, all of which lent money to Greece - in order to reduce the country's enormous public financial deficit.
Heightened social tensions continue to incite strikes, marches, and anti-austerity demonstrations. The strikes typically affect transportation services around the country including trains, buses, taxis, metro (subway) trains, and ferries.
In Athens, large-scale protests generally take place at Omonoia Square, Syntagma Square (facing the parliament building), near Athens Polytechnic, and in the Exarcheia neighborhood. Protests in Thessaloniki (400,000 inhabitants) are common near the White Tower, in Aristotelous Square, and along Egnatia Street (in the university quarter).
While most protests remain non-violent, the potential for violent outbreaks, including clashes with police and acts of vandalism, is always present. All demonstrations should be avoided as a precaution.
The next legislative elections are due to take place by October 2019, while the next presidential election is scheduled for 2020.
Petty crime is not uncommon, particularly in Athens (pickpocketing, car theft, etc.). Most incidents occur within popular tourist areas and on the metro (subway) rail system. In the past year, there has been an increase in residential burglaries and thefts from parked vehicles. Some foreign governments advise their citizens to avoid walking at night in the Monastiraki and Omonoia neighborhoods, as well as near the train stations in the Larissa and Peloponnese regions.
A low threat of terrorism persists in Greece due to the presence of extremist left-wing groups in Athens and Thessaloniki, where government buildings have regularly been attacked over the past few years. Left-wing extremist attacks generally target Greek state institutions and Western commercial and diplomatic interests, but typically are not intended to inflict physical harm on Greek citizens or foreign nationals.
As mentioned above, the country is struggling to deal with an increasing number of migrants from the Middle East and Africa who use Greece as a transit point to reach other European countries. Hundreds of thousands of refugees entered the country in 2015 and 2016, with most making their way to the northern border with Macedonia.
An enhanced border security presence remains in place as of the second half of 2017. The border with Macedonia may experience restrictions or closures with little given notice. Many of the islands in the Aegean Sea have been overwhelmed with the number of migrants and are currently unable to provide sufficient temporary housing.
Greece is exposed to some natural risks due to its geographical location.
The country is in a highly active seismic zone; in 1999, a powerful earthquake (magnitude 5.9 on the Richter scale) occurred near Athens, killing 150 people. A 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck near Kos on July 21, killing two people and injuring more than 100 others. Several older buildings were damaged and thousands of tourists visiting the island were forced to evacuate their hotels. Kos International Airport (KGS) suffered some damage, disrupting operations for several weeks, along with ferry services.
Floods also often strike the country during the spring and winter months.
Forest fires frequently occur in summer months throughout Greece due to high temperatures and dry winds. A state of emergency was declared on the island of Kythira in August 2017 due to wildfires.
Greece is a member of the European Union and uses the euro as its national currency. It is also a member of the visa- and border-checkpoint-free Schengen Area.
Greece has a Mediterranean climate which is regularly tempered in coastal regions by maritime winds. Temperatures can be scorching in the summer (40°C to 45°C). Winters are mild in the south and a bit colder in the northwest (mountainous region). The country receives its highest levels of rainfall in the winter.
Useful NumbersCountry Code: +30 Police: 100 Ambulance: 166 Fire Dept.: 199
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz
Greece: Large demonstration to take place in Athens February 4
TIMEFRAME: from 2/2/2018, 12:00 AM until 2/9/2018, 11:59 PM (Europe/Athens).
Greece: Anti-austerity protests in Athens and Thessaloniki January 15
TIMEFRAME: from 1/16/2018, 12:00 AM until 1/18/2018, 11:59 PM (Europe/Athens).
COUNTRY/REGION: Athens, Thessaloniki