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Profile of Greece

Greece provides a challenging climate for business, both foreign and domestic. The country is contending with a large but declining government deficit (-9.4% in 2011, -6.5% in 2012), high public debt (170.6% of GDP in 2011, 157.5% projected for 2012 - IMF projection), and is entering its sixth year of recession. The economy is estimated to have shrunken by 6% in 2012 after a contraction of 6.9% in 2011, resulting in a 19.8% contraction since the beginning of the recession in 2008. A recovery is now expected no sooner than early 2014. The protracted economic crisis has lead to a contraction in bank lending and investment. There has been recent improvement in investor sentiment since Greece’s European partners confirmed their support for Greece’s future in the Eurozone by releasing additional financial assistance for the country at the end of 2012. This improvement, however, has not yet led to a significant increase in actual investments.

In spite of the institutional challenges and ongoing economic downturn, areas of opportunity remain in the Greek market for U.S. companies. The keys to successfully doing business in Greece include finding an effective local partner and sourcing financing for either commercial transactions or project implementation. As indicated above, the contraction in bank lending has drained capital from the market. Otherwise, U.S. products are viewed favorably in Greece for their innovation and quality and are ubiquitous in this market despite stiff competition from E.U. and Asian suppliers.

NOTE: Because of the fluid state of the local economy, the U.S. Commercial Service Athens strongly recommends close consultation with our office before conducting business in Greece.


Conventional long form: Hellenic Republic

Conventional short form: Greece

Capital: Athens

Government: Parliamentary republic

Population: 10,767,827 (July 2012 est.)

0-14 years:
14.2% (male 785,922/ female 739,868)

15-64 years: 66% (male 3,545,946/ female 3,559,718)

65 years and over: 19.8% (male 935,054/ female 1,201,319) (2012 est.)

Ethnic groups: Population: Greek 93%, other (foreign citizens) 7% (2001 census)
Note: percents represent citizenship, since Greece does not collect data on ethnicity

Religion: Greek Orthodox 98%, Muslim 1.3%, other 0.7%

Language: Greek 99% (official), other 1% (includes English and French)
English is widely spoken throughout the population

Geography 37 59 N, 23 44 E
Time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Total: 131,957 sq km
Land: 130,647 sq km
Water: 1,310 sq km

GDP official exchange rate: $255 billion (2012 est.)

Real Growth Rate: -6% (2012 est.)

Per Capita: $25,100 (2012 est.)

Unemployment Rate: 24.4% (2012 est.)

Greece is an import-dependent economy

No significant non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports

Exports to the U.S.: $1.38 billion (2012 est.)

U.S. accounted for 5.2% of Greece’s imports in 2012 (latest available figures)