The atmosphere of the Greece is famously friendly and laid back, and the locals pride themselves on their 'no problem' attitude to tourists. However, there are a few rules of etiquette to be observed.
Nude bathing is illegal on some beaches and can be very offensive to more traditional Greeks, particularly if you are close to a church.
The 'mikro ipno', Greece's answer to the Spanish siesta, is widely observed, so excessive noise during the hours of 3 and 5pm is generally frowned upon.
Any sort of disrespect to the Greek state or the Orthodox Church will not be taken kindly. Verbal insults can be taken seriously and are punishable in the courts.
Family values are very strong throughout the islands and the family is the nucleus of the social structure. Elders are respected and children expect to take care of their parents and grandparents as they become older.
For security reasons, photography is forbidden near military installations. (Remember the case of the British plan spotters who ended up in a Greek jail in 2001!)
Service charges are included in most hotel, restaurant and taverna bills. However, a small additional tip is always appreciated as a reward for excellent service.
98% of Greeks are Greek Orthodox, with Muslim, Roman Catholic and Jewish minorities.
Greece is a country particularly rich in ancient history, with the first known settlement dating back to the Paleolithic era around 3000 BC. Other notable civilizations from this early period include Minoan, Mycenaean and Cycladic civilizations.
The golden age in Greek History came with the Classical period, which saw the arrival of marvelous monuments, great philosophers and revered mathematicians. Unfortunately for many years to follow Greece became prone to invasion - Macedonians, Romans, the Byzantine Empire and Turkey successively ruled, which has contributed towards the mix of architectural styles present today. The Ottoman rule lasted for 400 years and was a dark period for the citizens of the ex-Byzantine Empire. In a bid for freedom, the Greeks started to organize themselves and various revolts exploded against their Turkish oppressors.
The Independence War started from the Peloponnese in 1821 and ended in 1831 with the establishment of the new and independent Greek State. A monarchy was established a few years late. Eleutherios Venizelos was elected Prime Minister but only a few years later, he was assassinated. A civilian war followed swiftly by German and Italian occupations, and the dictatorship of Metaxas, which ended in 1974.
The population of Greece and the Greek Islands is approximately 10.9 million, with 98% of the inhabitants being of Greek ethnic origin. The population density is around 83 people per square kilometre and the population growth rate is 0.19%.
The official language is Greek, but English is widely spoken in the major resorts and bigger towns. The Greek language has been spoken continuously for over 3500 years.
Eastern Orthodox Christianity is the official and dominant religion in Greece. Even during centuries of Ottoman rule, the Greek Orthodox Church preserved Greek language, values and national identity and was an important rallying force in the struggle for independence. Around 40,000 Greeks still use the ancient Greek language.