Greece Population and Economy 2001

Greece Population and Economy 2001

Population

Southern European state, located on the Balkan Peninsula. According to the 2001 census, the population amounts to 10,964,000. The demographic dynamics, both natural and migratory, are very modest, and continue in the wake of previous years, still highlighting significant internal shifts from the poorest to the richest areas. In addition to Athens, the capital (3,761,000 residents including the urban agglomeration), other important cities are Thessaloniki (1,047,000) and the conurbations of Patras (334,000), Iraklion (294,000) and Larissa (278,000). The clearly prevalent ethnic group is the Greek one (93%); the rest of the population is made up of Albanians (4 %), Asians (1 %) and others (2 %). The dominant religion is the Greek Orthodox (97.5 %), followed by the Muslim (1.5 %). The official language is Greek in its two forms: Katharevoussa (formal language) and Demotiki (common language, also taught in schools). Knowledge of English and French is widespread.

Economic conditions

From 1 January 2002 the drachma, the national currency, was replaced by the euro, testifying to the full integration of the country into the European Union. Despite this, the economy still appears to be underdeveloped, although extremely open to foreign products and investments. Industry, traditionally small in size, contributes just over a fifth to the formation of GDP; the 10-12 % up to the manufacturing sector alone. However, there are some particularly dynamic sectors, such as telecommunications and information technology. The weight of the agricultural sector on GDP (6-7 %) is significant, and far above the European Union average (2.5%), a spy of a country that is still heavily agricultural and poorly modernized, which also suffers from the phenomenon of the continuous exodus from the countryside. The primary sector is characterized by small production units, with typically Mediterranean productions (olive oil, citrus fruits, tobacco and cotton), which represent a considerable share of exports. The tertiary sector is quite developed (it participates in GDP for just over two thirds), above all due to the contribution of the tourism sector. Although already starting from 1998 a privatization program has been launched, aimed at the objective of entry into the European Monetary Union, the process is at a very backward stage, and the public apparatus retains an extremely significant presence in the management of economic activities, with a strong influence on the real competitiveness of companies. The sectors where the state monopoly is more marked are those of energy and telecommunications. In the past, industrial concentration in the areas of Athens and Thessaloniki, together with the lack of infrastructure in the northern regions and islands, penalized economic decentralization towards these latter areas. Subsequently, thanks also to the funding of the European Union, important road, railway, ports and airports, with a clear improvement in the situation. In the early years of the 2000s, Greece experienced a constant growth, attested around an annual average of 4 % and driven by the expansion of domestic demand, in turn facilitated by a significant growth in per capita income, which in 2003, according to the World Bank, recorded an increase of 3.4 %, reaching $ 19,670. In reality, GDP growth is affected by two factors: public investments, mainly linked to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and the financial contribution of European Union aid (Third Community Support Framework). The latter weigh on the increase in GDP to the extent of 2%, which halves the real entity. Despite the positive dynamics of GDP, in fact, about one fifth of the population lives below the poverty line, against 15 % of the European Union average. All this in the face of inflation of around 3 %, which grew slightly in the early 2000s and subsequently decreased, mainly due to the appreciation of the euro against the dollar and the consequent decrease in the price of imported goods, especially unprocessed ones. However, various pressure factors remain on the price level, such as the costs of the pension reform and the expansionary dynamics of the oil price on international markets.

The unemployment rate, steadily albeit slowly declining in the first five years of the 21st century, stood at around 10 %; but long-term unemployment remains high, placing the country in second place in Europe after Italy. As far as the trade balance is concerned, there is a growing negative balance, which highlights the country’s dependence on the import of various goods, including, in addition to some consumer products, also intermediate products, chemicals and machinery. The main trading partners are Germany, with 12.6 % of imports and 12.9%% of Greek exports, followed by Italy. In essence, the growth of the country’s economy appears to be fueled by positive factors of a temporary nature, which stimulate domestic demand, but do not seem suitable for ensuring sustained levels of growth in the long term, as these are more closely linked to structural reforms, which are still incomplete. in Greece. As for the Olympics, they have benefited mainly the capital, a victim of the fifties 20° sec. of a highly penalizing anarchist urbanization. Very populous, squeezed between the mountains and the sea and very polluted, Athens has benefited not only from the construction of impressive sports facilities (which unfortunately, however, raise doubts about the future costs of their maintenance), also from important architectural restoration works and public green. In addition, a tram that connects it to the sea, a new international airport (E. Venizelos), a ring road and a three-line subway have also been created.

Greece Population and Economy 2001

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