Modern Greek(Demotike) is the predominant language, and is around 3000 years old. English, French and sometimes German are also spoken in places, thanks in part to the tourist industry. The Greek alphabet is not based on the Roman one, and is difficult to grasp.
The tourist industry is a huge source of income, followed by shipping. Always an agricultural country, the importance of this in terms of the economy has dropped off in recent decades. Textiles, mining and metals are some of the other contributors to the GDP. Exports include fruit, tobacco and wheat. Important trade partners include the UK, USA, Germany and France. Following a depression in the 80's, inflation has been cut to three per cent, and the stock market is once more buoyant.
Virtually all of Greece belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church. The remainder are a mix of Jews, Roman Catholic and Muslims. Religion is predominant in Greek life, and festivals and events form the Greek calendar. Churches are found just about everywhere out on the islands, and are most commonly built by a family giving thanks to their particular saint.
Traditionally very much the housewife, modern Greek society is moving towards equality almost on a level with countries such as the UK, even in rural areas. At least on paper and partly in practice this is true, with women achieving in politics and eminent professions; the reality can be sometimes be different, especially in terms of male attitude.
Children can be educated all the way from nursery(starting at five) through to tertiary, although those who can afford private kindergarten choose this. Primary school starts at six, hours are shorter than in the West(compensated for by more homework) and class sizes are large. They attend a gymnasio at 12, and can leave school at 15, or go to a lykeio to sit exams for going to a university. However, may people feel that the education system is under funded and hence lacking, and private education is a popular alternative for those who can scrape together the money. The literacy rate is 97 per cent.
If you haven't heard of Zeus and his friends by now, there is no hope. Ancient Greek mythology mostly stems from the poetry of Homer and Hesiod, and includes major deities like Zeus, Aphrodite, Poseidon and Apollo, along with heroes like Jason and his Argonauts. The legends can be looked upon as just stories, or deeper insights into man and the world, either way; they are responsible for a mass of literature and art that came in their wake.