Rivermate | Greece flag


Comprehensive Country Overview

Explore the geography, history, and socio-economic factors shaping Greece

Country description

Greece is located at the southernmost tip of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeastern Europe. It has thousands of islands scattered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas, giving it the longest coastline in the Mediterranean Basin. The terrain is predominantly mountainous, with Mount Olympus as its highest peak. However, fertile plains and coastal areas also feature in its diverse landscape. The climate is primarily Mediterranean, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. However, regional variations exist based on altitude and distance from the sea.

Ancient Greece, the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, and Western literature, holds immense historical significance. Its legacy has profoundly shaped European culture. After the glory of ancient city-states like Athens and Sparta, Greece endured periods of Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman rule over many centuries. Greece gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821 after a long war for liberation. The 20th century was marked by wars and political upheavals, including World War II, a civil war, and a military dictatorship.

Greece has approximately 10.7 million inhabitants and faces demographic challenges, including an aging population and a low birthrate. It is a developed country with a high-income economy. Key sectors include tourism, shipping, and agriculture. Greece is known for its historical sites, beaches, and islands. It boasts one of the world's largest merchant fleets. Olives, grapes, and other agricultural products are important for the economy. Greece joined the European Union in 1981 and adopted the euro in 2001. In recent years, it endured a severe debt crisis that impacted its economic stability.

Ancient mythology, folk music, and traditional dances are integral parts of Greek culture. Greek Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion in Greece and a central part of national identity. Mediterranean flavors abound in Greek cuisine, with fresh seafood, feta cheese, and olive oil at the core.

Workforce description

The Greek workforce is characterized by a unique profile influenced by both broader European trends and the country's specific economic circumstances.


Greece is dealing with one of the fastest-aging populations in Europe, leading to a shrinking workforce and a greater burden on pension systems. The economic crisis has resulted in significant emigration of skilled professionals, particularly the younger generation, who are seeking opportunities elsewhere. There is also a gender imbalance in the labor force, with women having lower participation rates compared to men and facing a gender pay gap.

Skill Levels

The Greek workforce is relatively well-educated, but there can be a mismatch between the skills acquired and the demands of the labor market. Soft skills such as adaptability, problem-solving, and collaboration are increasingly sought after by employers in a changing economy. While there have been improvements, Greece needs to further enhance digital skills across its workforce to remain competitive in a knowledge-based economy.

Sectoral Distribution

The services sector is the primary employer in Greece, with key areas including tourism, trade and transport, and public administration. The manufacturing and construction sectors have declined in their overall share of employment. Agriculture, while less dominant than in the past, remains a vital source of employment, especially in rural areas.

Important Considerations

Greece is grappling with a persistently high unemployment rate, particularly long-term unemployment. Economic opportunities and job concentration vary between urban centers like Athens and more rural regions.

Cultural norms impacting employment

In Greece, the work environment is a blend of Mediterranean traditions, European influences, and the impact of its recent economic history. This culture plays out in employment situations in various ways.

Work-Life Balance

Greeks deeply value family bonds and social life. Extended family gatherings and obligations might occasionally take priority during work hours. While flexible work options are increasing, Greeks still tend to spend more hours at work compared to some other European countries. Many businesses slow down or partially close in August, as this is the customary holiday period for Greeks.

Communication Styles

While respectful, Greeks can be relatively direct in their communication compared to some cultures. Avoiding confrontation may not be as prevalent as in more indirect cultures. Non-verbal cues and body language play an essential part in communication. Greeks might converse with expressive hand gestures and animated facial expressions. Greeks value personal connections in business. Time invested in developing relationships and trust is seen as crucial for strong professional collaborations.

Organizational Hierarchies

Respect for seniority and authority figures is expected in Greece. However, a more consultative approach is also present compared to highly hierarchical cultures. Smaller businesses may still have a more centralized decision-making style, often with family members holding senior positions. While business attire is shifting, a more formal dress code may still be observed in some traditional industries. Addressing colleagues with titles and last names indicates respect.

Important to Note

Modern Greece is diverse, and these are broad generalizations. Workplace cultures might vary between urban centers versus rural areas and small businesses versus multinationals. Greek businesses are increasingly adapting to global corporate practices, creating a mix of traditional and contemporary workplace dynamics.

Key industries and employment sectors

Greece's economy is a blend of traditional strengths and emerging opportunities. The backbone industries include tourism, shipping, and agriculture. Tourism is a significant contributor to the GDP and job market, thanks to Greece's historical attractions, islands, and beaches. The country also has one of the world's largest merchant fleets, providing vital revenue and employment in shipbuilding, ship management, and maritime transport. Despite a shrinking share, agriculture remains important, focusing on olives, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables, and is a major employer in rural areas.

Sectors with Potential & Growth

Greece has been heavily investing in renewable energy, taking advantage of its ample sunshine and wind resources. This has led to job growth and the transition towards a greener economy is a key priority for Greece. The technology and innovation sector is also growing, with startups and tech hubs emerging, especially in Athens and Thessaloniki. The focus areas include cleantech, health-tech, and e-commerce. Greece's strategic geographic location positions it as a potential regional logistics hub for trade between Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The healthcare and wellness sector is also benefiting from an aging European population seeking healthcare and wellness tourism.

Major Employment Sectors

While some of the emerging sectors have high growth potential, traditional sectors still hold the largest share of employment. These include wholesale and retail trade, public administration, education, health, construction, and real estate. The wholesale and retail trade sector is key due to widespread consumer spending, and Greece has a sizable public sector. The construction and real estate sectors, which were previously hit by the economic crisis, are seeing some recovery.


Greece's economic recovery is ongoing, so the prominence of industries may continue to shift. The informal sector, though less prevalent than in the past, still contributes to the Greek economy.

Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

We're here to help you on your global hiring journey.