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The Greek landscape is conspicuous not only for its beauty but also for its complexity and variety. Greece is dominated by three elements: the sea, mountains, and the lowland. Arms and inlets of the sea penetrate deeply so that only a small, wedge-shaped portion of the interior mainland is more than fifty miles from the coast. Islands make up roughly eighteen percent of the territory of modern Greece. Approximately eighty percent of Greece is mountain terrain, much of it deeply dissected. A series of mountain chains on the Greek mainland enclose narrow parallel valleys and numerous small basins that once held lakes. The last dominant feature of the Greek landscape is the lowland. The lowland makes up about twenty percent of the land area and it has played an important role in the life of the country.
Approximately eleven million people live in Greece today. All but a very small part of the population belong to the Church of Greece (Greek Orthodox Church). The Muslim minority, which constitutes most of the non-Orthodox group, is mainly Turkish. Roman and Greek Catholics account for the rest, except for a few thousand adherents of Protestant churches and of Judaism. In terms of ethnic composition, Greeks make up all but a small part of the total, the remainder being composed of Macedonians, Turks, Albanians, Bulgarians, Armenians, and Gypsies. Despite a rapid rate of growth in the post-World War II period, Greece’s economy is one of the least developed in the European Union (EU). Rates of productivity remain low in both the agricultural and industrial sectors, and the development of the country’s economy has lagged behind that of its EU partners.
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