In 2018 Greece had an estimated population of 10,770,290. Declining birth rates have resulted in a very low rate of population increase. In 1951 the birth rate was 20.3 per 1,000 persons; by 2007 it had decreased to 9.6 per 1,000. In 2007 male life expectancy at birth was 77 years, and female life expectancy was 82 years. Since World War II (1939-1945), Greece has witnessed significant migration from rural areas—particularly mountain villages—to cities and towns. In 2005, 61 percent of Greece’s inhabitants lived in urban areas. More than one-third of the population was concentrated in the Athens metropolitan area, where job opportunities have been most plentiful. After Athens, the principal city in Greece is Thessaloníki, a major port city and a center of international shipping for the southern Balkans. Other major cities include Piraeus, a major port and industrial center, located near Athens; Pátrai, the most significant port on the Pelopónnisos; Iráklion, the capital of Crete; and Vólos and Lárisa, commercial centers in Thessaly.
In the 1950s and 1960s more than 10 percent of Greece’s population emigrated. Many of the emigrants left to live as guest workers in western Europe, West Germany in particular. A significant number have since returned to Greece. The current rate of emigration is very low. Greece witnessed a flood of immigrants, most of them illegal, in the 1990s. The country’s immigrant population is estimated to be between 500,000 and 800,000 people. Many of them have come from economically troubled Albania.
The first language of the overwhelming majority of the population is Modern Greek. The Greek language demonstrates a remarkable degree of continuity. Modern Greek uses the same alphabet that was used for the Greek language spoken in ancient times. During much of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Greek language was a subject of controversy. In the 19th century Greek scholars attempted to purify the modern language to make it more similar to ancient Greek. These purists introduced the formal Katharevousa form of Greek. Katharevousa differs in grammar, syntax, and vocabulary from Demotike, the spoken vernacular. Until the 1970s many of Greece’s books and newspapers were in Katharevousa. In 1976 Demotike was made the country’s official language.
About 97 percent of Greece’s population is at least nominally Greek Orthodox. Baptisms, marriages, and burials according to the rites of the Orthodox Church are the norm for a great majority of Greeks. Civil marriage was introduced in the 1980s. The Orthodox Church is governed by a synod of bishops, which is headed by the archbishop of Athens. Although church attendance is in decline, there has been a significant revival of religious life on Mount Athos, a self-governing monastic republic on the Khalkidikí Peninsula consisting of 20 monasteries. Easter and the Feast of the Dormition (Assumption) of the Virgin are the main religious holidays. Many Greeks return to their native villages or islands for Easter festivities, which usually involve the roasting of whole lambs. Some 10 percent of Greece’s Orthodox Christians are Old Calendarists, who reject the Gregorian calendar (adopted in Greece in 1923) and still adhere to the Julian calendar. Muslims, mostly people of Turkish descent living in Thrace and on the Dodecanese Islands, constitute the largest religious minority. Greece has a small Roman Catholic population, found principally on some of the Aegean Islands, and an even smaller Protestant community. Until the German occupation during World War II, Thessaloníki had a significant Jewish population. The Germans sent the great majority of the country’s Jews to Nazi death camps in Eastern Europe. However, small Jewish communities still exist in Thessaloníki and Athens. "Greece" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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