Learn more about specific causes in Greece that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentGreece’s efforts to foster economic prosperity and greater economic integration with the European Union in recent years have often come at the expense of the environment. One example of this is the lifts ban on diesel cars which has noticeably worsened the air quality in urban areas. Previous to the lifting of the ban in 2012, Greece had shown huge air pollution improvements by banning diesel cars in cities.1 As the country has sought to cater to the needs of tourism, industrialization, and intensive agriculture, the environment has suffered the resulting smog and pollution. The most frequently cited problems include the problem of air pollution in the populous city of Athens, rapid urbanization of major cities, and marine litter. These issues are not adequately addressed Read More by environmental protection legislation. Furthermore, concerns with the funding and implementation of current environmental protections have hindered the efficacy of the existing legislation.2 Show Less
FamilyFamily unity has traditionally been a central component of Greek culture. Greece has one of the lowest divorce rates in all of Europe, which is attributed to Greek culture and social norms.1 Nearly 75% of all businesses in Greece are family-owned.2 47% of Greek women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.3 There were 13,700 cases of domestic violence reported between 2013 and 2017. 70% of victims of domestic violence are women. The number of women killed in domestic violence cases are double the number of men.4
Human RightsGreece was ranked the last EU country in the 2017 Gender Equality Index. Other major issues include the 47,000 refugees trapped on the islands living in camps. The EU-Turkey Migration deal has left thousands stranded in inhumane conditions as they await asylum proceedings. Unaccompanied children are a rising concern; the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture has brought attention to the instances of ill treatment of such children. Additional human rights concerns include forced labor and slavery, racism, and torture.1
EducationOne of the main issues facing the Greek education system is the arrival of thousands of refugee children on the country’s shores. These children have been out of school for at least one and a half years on average. The schools in refugee camps generally operate only two days a week, and organizations like the United Nations are pushing for five day school weeks.1 The Greek system has been criticized for the correlation that students display between family income and performance. Public school is available to all students, but it is increasingly necessary to get private schooling in order to get into university.2 The recent financial crisis has exacerbated the already poor conditions of the Greek education system through budget cuts.3
Poverty36% of the population in Greece lives under the poverty line. 22.3% of the population is unemployed. Extreme austerity measures have been put in place in an effort to combat the rising public debt which was 180% of GDP in 2017.1 Additionally, roughly 2.75 million Greeks are in danger of poverty, leaving Greece to be the nation most at risk for poverty in the EU. The sovereign debt crisis of 2010, followed by the strict austerity measures the government imposed, has left Greece’s economy crippled and lagging behind.2
Clean Water100% of the population has access to improved drinking water sources and 99% has access to sanitation facilities. This varies slightly depending on geographic location.1 One travel guide reports that springs and freshwater water sources in mountainous regions of Greece are safe to drink directly from the stream.2 As the population increases rapidly the government has to import water from nearby countries to provide water to some of the Greek islands. The 25% population increase that Greece sees in the summer due to tourism causes complications for the water system as well.3
EconomyGreece’s public debt is over 180% of its GDP. The economy is still floundering after the country absorbed a large portion of the repercussions from the euro crisis in 2009. The Greek economy makes up around 2% of the European Union, and estimated debt assistance is between $200 and $300 billion.1 Unemployment is around 23%, while 36% of the population lives below the poverty line.2 The austerity measures imposed by the government have had negative ramifications for a population already in crippling economic straits. Around 25% of the population in Greece is at risk of poverty; the highest in the European Union.3 The country’s largest trade partners are Italy and Germany. Exports include food, beverages, and manufactured goods, while the main imports are machinery and Read More transport equipment.4 Show Less
GovernmentThe government of Greece is a parliamentary republic. The president is the chief of state, and the head of government is the prime minister. There are twelve major political parties.1 It ranks 59th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index and the public scores them 48 out of a possible 100 for corruption.2 In 2016 the country was ranked the fourth most-corrupt developed nation behind Mexico, Turkey, and Italy.3
HealthHealthcare in Greece is comprised of public and private providers. All citizens are entitled to a basic level of care with the option adding supplementary care for extra cost. The lack of incentives to improve efficiency and quality of care in the public sector, the lack of cost-containment measures, and the high ratio of private spending in healthcare create regional discrepancies and inequality between public and private healthcare.1 25% of adults in Greece are obese. The government spends 8% of its GDP on health expenditures, and life expectancy is 80 years old. The maternal mortality rate is 3 deaths per 100,000 live births, and the infant mortality rate is 4.6 deaths per 1,000 live births.2
ChildrenOne of the greatest threats to children in Greece is poverty. Two out of every five children live in poverty. Child poverty rates have doubled since 2008. As NGOs become involved locally, they are having to divert resources meant for refugees to care for the children suffering from neglect due to their parents’ extreme poverty.1 There are increasing reports of families giving their children to charity organizations, religious institutions, and even schools because the families are not able to provide for the kids’ most basic needs.2 According to the Washington Post, more than 1,000 families have asked to place their children in SOS Children’s Villages since the start of the financial crisis in 2009.3 Austerity measures imposed by the government have significantly depleted the savings Read More of many families, further inhibiting their ability to provide for their children.4 Show Less
Religion98% of citizens in Greece identify with Orthodox Christianity. 1.3% are Muslim, and the remaining 0.7% identify with other religions.1 While religious freedom is observed in Greece, the Catholic Orthodox Church enjoys state benefits in the forms of subsidies, legal privileges, maintenance of church property and covering the salaries of priests in the Church. Non-orthodox sects of Christianity have petitioned the government for official recognition, but these requests have largely gone unanswered.2
AnimalsParts of Greece’s environment are covered by the Balkan forests. There are mixed oak species, as well as silver fir, pine, and Norway spruce forests. The coastline is home to the Sylvia warblers, buntings, blackbird, and rock bunting. Other local species include the wild boar, red fox, badger, wolf, and porcupine. The wildlife is threatened by density of human populations, harmful agricultural practices, and illegal logging.1
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