Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic and known since ancient times as Hellas, is a country in Southern Europe. According to the 2011 census, Greece's population is around 11 million. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city.
Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Western Asia, and Africa, and shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the northeast. The country consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, the Aegean Islands (including the Dodecanese and Cyclades), Thrace, Crete, and the Ionian Islands. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands (approximately 1,400, of which 227 are inhabited).
Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest, at 2,917 m (9,570 ft).
Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of Ancient Greece, which is considered the cradle of all Western civilization. As such, it is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy. The cultural and technological achievements of Greece greatly influenced the world, with many aspects of Greek civilization being imparted to the East through Alexander the Great's campaigns, and to the West through the Roman Empire. This rich legacy is partly reflected in the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Greece, ranking it 7th in Europe and 13th in the world. The modern Greek state, which comprises much of the historical core of Greek civilization, was established in 1830 following the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire.
Greece is a democratic, developed country with an advanced, high-income economy, a high standard of living and a very high Human Development Index. Greece is a founding member of the United Nations, a member of what is now the European Union since 1981 (and the eurozone since 2001, and is also a member of numerous other international institutions, including the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, OSCE and the WTO.
Greece's economy is also the largest in the Balkans, where Greece is an important regional investor.
An important percentage of Greece's national income comes from tourism. Tourism funds 16% of the gross domestic products which also includes the Tourism Council and the London-Based World Travel. According to Eurostat statistics, Greece welcomed over 19.5 million tourists in 2009, which is an increase from the 17.7 million tourists it welcomed in 2007.
The vast majority of visitors in Greece in 2007 came from the European continent, numbering 12.7 million, while the most visitors from a single nationality were those from the United Kingdom, (2.6 million), followed closely by those from Germany (2.3 million). In 2010, the most visited region of Greece was that of Central Macedonia, with 18% of the country's total tourist flow (amounting to 3.6 million tourists), followed by Attica with 2.6 million and the Peloponnese with 1.8 million. Northern Greece is the country's most-visited geographical region, with 6.5 million tourists, while Central Greece is second with 6.3 million.
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.