countryaah, Greece became a member of the Monetary and Economic Union
in 2001. Prior to membership, Greece had had several years
of low economic growth, but during the period 2002-2005,
growth rose to around four per cent. This is due mainly to
investments and upgrades of infrastructure in connection
with the 2004 Summer Olympic Games held in Athens.
Since the start of the economic crisis in 2008, Greece
has experienced negative growth and a steadily declining
gross domestic product. Greece has long struggled with high
unemployment. This peaked during the economic crisis.
Greece was occupied by Germany during the Second World
War and suffered a civil war for years after. This was
devastating for the Greek economy, and from 1948 economic
recovery was therefore a priority area. In the 1960s and
1970s, the annual growth rate in the Greek economy was among
the highest in Europe. At the same time, there was a change
in the economic structure in which agriculture, which was
traditionally the most important trade route, was bypassed
by industry, measured by production value, export revenue
Tourism is one of the country's most important growth
industries. Greece has a large trading fleet that plays an
important role for the country's economy. Compared to other
EU countries, Greece has a large agricultural sector and a
small industrial sector.
Agriculture is still an important part of Greece's
business. Primary industries (agriculture and forestry,
fishing) account for just under 13 per cent of the labor
force and account for around 4 per cent of the country's
gross domestic product (2017). Greece is the largest
producer of cotton and pistachios in the EU. Other products
that are grown are rice, olives and figs.
Membership in the EU led to a major improvement in the
agricultural sector. In the 2000s, there was a major shift
to organic farming in Greece. According to a report on
sustainable development in EU countries, organic farming in
Greece increased by a whopping 885 per cent in the period
The topography, climate and soil have hindered effective
agriculture. Around 30 per cent of the land is cultivable
and about 40 per cent is meadow and pasture. The most
important agricultural areas are Thessalia and Macedonia.
Due to periodic drought, the cultivation of grain is not
intensive. The city grows sugar beets, halibut, tomatoes,
maize and fruit.
The dry climate is a good choice for growing olives, and
Greece is one of the world's foremost producers of olive
oil. The cultivation of olives is particularly important on
the islands and in coastal areas up to 750 meters above sea
level. Grapes are also grown in the same area. The grapes
are dried for raisins and Corinthians or used for wine.
Tobacco is cultivated in Macedonia, Thessalia and Western
Thrace. The cotton breeding takes place on irrigated land in
Macedonia, between the other at Thessaloniki, and in Viotía
Animal husbandry is mostly based on natural pastures and
is driven from the field, half nomadising between the
highlands in the summer and the lowlands in the winter.
Sheep and goat dominate (around 15 million animals
registered in the EU official count in 2010, compared to
629,000 registered cows), and many cities have led to
overgrazing. Milk production is of greater importance in the
lowlands and near the towns. Also great production of yogurt
Greece is poor in forests and has to import large
quantities of wood. Most of the forest is state forest where
farmers have a right of use for fuel and pasture.
Production of a selection of growths in 2016 *
||1 354 754
||1 698 031
||1 869 693
||2 343 383
|Lemon and lime
||1 044 346
* Except for olive oil, all figures are taken from the
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Fishing has long been an important part of Greek
business, and fish is an important part of the Greek diet.
Most of the catch goes to domestic consumption and fishing
therefore accounts for only 3.1 per cent of the country's
gross domestic product. In 2016, 15 226 fishing vessels were
registered in Greece. Despite the fact that Greece accounts
for one fifth (18.1 per cent) of the total fishing fleet in
the EU, the catch volume is small, as most of the Greek
fishing vessels are smaller than the EU average. The catch
volume in 2016 was around 75,000 tonnes - 1.7 per cent of
the total catch in the EU.
One specialty is our mushroom fishing. Before the Second
World War, Greek fishermen captured about 80 percent of all
mushrooms brought ashore from the Mediterranean, which
accounted for half of the world's total catch. Mushroom
fishing has, after that time, greatly reduced basic
competition from synthetic products.
In spite of the country's varied geological structure,
Greece is relatively poor in valuable minerals.
Nevertheless, the mineral resources are being exploited
intensively and production increased somewhat in the 21st
century. An increasing part of the mineral is processed
domestically, and not exported as raw materials.
Since the 1960s, Greece has undergone rapid industrial
growth. The industrial sector (including mining and
construction) accounts for around 15 per cent of employment
(2017) and contributes to around 16 per cent of Greece's
gross domestic product (2017). The food and beverage
industry, the metal industry, the chemical industry and the
textile and clothing industry are the most important
With the help of large foreign investments, among others
from the EU's structural and regional fund, a more versatile
industry has been developed with petrochemical and chemical
plants, steelworks, shipyards and the like. This is
especially true in the areas around Greater Athens and
The Greek government has encouraged greater privatization
of the industrial sector in recent years. This means that
fewer and more large companies are under state ownership.
The Service sector
The southern fish sector is the largest sector in terms
of employment - 72.1 per cent (2017) - and contribution to
the country's national product - 80.2 per cent (2016). The
southern sector has grown in recent years as a result of
increases in tourism, and is the only sector that has not
been noticeably affected by higher unemployment as a result
of the Greek financial and debt crisis.
Tourist traffic is one of Greece's most important sources
of revenue. The number of tourists has increased from one
million in 1968 to nearly 30 million in 1968.
The main travel destination is the capital Athens and the
Greek islands, between Anna, Crete, Naxos and Rhodes
(Rhodes). Tourists in Greece are the main players from other
Industrialization and strong growth in exports have not
prevented a deficit in Greece's trade balance with foreign
countries. This is somewhat compensated for in other large
sectors such as shipping and tourism. Despite major economic
problems in recent years, there has not been a major decline
in Greek foreign trade.
In 2016, exports of goods and services accounted for
around 30.5 per cent of Greece's gross domestic product.
Exports include other textiles and clothing, fruits and
vegetables, oil products, wine and tobacco. Greece exports
goods primarily to Italy, Germany, Cyprus, Turkey, Bulgaria,
USA, UK and Lebanon.
Imports include other machinery and transport equipment,
crude oil, foods, chemicals and iron and steel. Greece
imports primarily from Germany, Italy, France, the
Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
In 2014, exports to Greece accounted for one per cent of
Norway's total seafood exports.
Transport and Communications
Greece has a long history as a shipping nation. Shipping
and related sectors account for around seven percent of
Greece's gross domestic product and employment of just under
200,000 people - four percent of Greece's total workforce.
The most important port cities are Piraeus, Thessaloniki
and Patras. The Corinth Canal, opened in 1893 and again in
1948, is still important for shipping.
The majority of the Greek-owned merchant fleet is
controlled by small and medium-sized private companies and
more than half of the vessels are registered abroad. In
2017, 4585 Greek-owned vessels with a capacity of more than
1,000 gross tonnes were registered. Measured in deadweight
tonnage (dvt), the Greek fleet is the largest in the world
(308 836 933 dvt as of January 2017).
The road network is well developed. The rail network is
less efficient and most important for passenger traffic.
Aviation is important for domestic traffic, especially
between Athens and the islands, and for foreign tourist
traffic. There are international airports in Athens,
Thessaloniki, Alexandroupoli, Kerkýra, Lesbos, Andravida,
Rhodes, Kos and Crete, as well as 25 domestic airports.
Athens International Airport " Eleftherios Venizelos "
officially unveiled Athens's old "Ellinikon" airport on
March 29, 2001. The Eleftherios Venizelos airport is an
important hub between Europe and the Austen.
Greek airline Aegean Airlines dominates air traffic after
it acquired in 2014 the former state-owned company Olympic
Airways, which was privatized as Olympic Air in 2009.
Olympic Air flies domestically as part of Aegean Airlines'
Greece has struggled with high unemployment and high
inflation. The unemployment rate averaged around 8-10 per
cent in the years 2001-2010. In the years following the
Greek financial and debt crisis, unemployment rose steadily
and peaked in 2013 with 27.5 percent and 60 percent for
young people aged 15-24. The high unemployment rate has led
many Greeks to leave the country.
Unemployment in Greece, 2006-2010
||Age group 15–29 years (%)
||Age group 15-24 years (%)
* November 2017