Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, historically also known as Hellas, is a country in southeastern Europe, with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2015. Athens is the nation’s capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki. Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilization, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature, historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama.

 

Greece is a democratic and developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life, and a very high standard of living. Greece’s unique cultural heritage, large tourism industry, prominent shipping sector and geostrategic importance classify it as a middle power. It is the largest economy in the Balkans, where it is an important regional investor. Greece has universal health care. In a 2000 World Health Organization report, its health care system ranked 14th in overall performance of 191 countries surveyed. In a 2013 Save the Children report, Greece was ranked the 19th best country (out of 176 countries surveyed) for the state of mothers and newborn babies. Life expectancy in Greece is 80.3 years, above the OECD average of 79.5, and among the highest in the world.

 

Tourism has been a key element of the economic activity in the country and one of the country’s most important sectors. In 2010, Lonely Planet ranked Greece’s northern and second-largest city of Thessaloniki as the world’s fifth-best party town worldwide, comparable to other cities such as Dubai and Montreal. In 2011, Santorini was voted as “The World’s Best Island” in Travel + Leisure. Its neighboring island Mykonos, came in fifth in the European category.