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Language and population of Greece


GREECE, Hellas, officially known as the "Hellenic Republic" is the southeastern most country in Europe, occupying the southernmost part of the Balkan Peninsula. It is bordered by Albania, X-Yugoslavia (the Republic of Skopje) and Bulgaria from the north, and the European part of Turkey from the northeast.

From the east by the Aegean Sea, from the south by the Mediterranean Sea, and from the west the Ionian Sea, including more than 400 islands, which occupy more than one fifth of its total land territory the total area of the country is 131,957 square kilometers (50,949 square miles).


The population of Greece is about 98% ethnic Greek.

About 1% of the population is classified by the Greek Government as Muslim. Most of the Muslims are of Turkish descent. About 100,000 Muslims live in Thrace.

The remainder of the population includes people of Slavic, Albanian, and Armenian descent, as well as Vlachs, a people who speak a Romanian dialect.

Population Characteristics

The population of Greece at the 1994 census was 10,264,156.

The estimated population in 1997 was 10,564,630, giving the country an overall population density of about 80 persons per square kilometer (207 per square mile).

The population of Greece is very large in relation to the size and economic capacity of the country, and poverty exists. Both the birthrate (formerly one of the highest in Europe) and the death rate have declined in recent years, and in the mid 1990s the annual rate of population growth was less than 1%.

About 63% of the population is urban. Much of the urban population is concentrated around Athens, Thessaloniki (Salonika) in Macedonia, in the western Peloponnisos, and on the islands. Kerkira (Corfu), Zakinthos, and Khios are among the most densely populated islands.

Famous ancient cities such as Argos, Korinthos (Corinth), and Sparti (Sparta) are only small towns today.

The official language of Greece is Modern Greek, which is also spoken by the majority of the people.

The vernacular Modern Greek and language of popular literature is Demotiki or Kathomiloumeni, as opposed to Katharevousa, a more formal Modern Greek or Purist Greek.

Demotiki became the official language of the country by an act of parliament in 1976.

It is used by the government, the newspapers, the media, and educational institutions.

Great differences exist between the language of the educated classes and that used by the majority of the people. English and French are widely spoken (see Fact Page ).