Greece. According to
Countryaah.com, the Greek economy is doing better, albeit not
well. During the year came reports that, for example,
Standard & Poor's in January raised the country's credit
rating to B from the former B-. The decision was justified
in January with the country's "steadily improving general
government finances and its gradually recovering economic
outlook". Later, the credit rating was raised to B + with
the "probable upgrade" extension. In Bloomberg's so-called
misery index, Greece came in fifth place with Turkey -
better placed than Venezuela, South Africa, Argentina and
Egypt. The misery index measures the sum of a country's
unemployment and inflation. The emergency loan rescue
program ended in August after a final payment was made in
June. Since 2010, € 289 billion has been paid out to the
Greeks in emergency loans, but now it is over; the acute
debt crisis is over.
Another gratifying message came in August: Greece's
unemployment rate was below 20% for the first time in seven
years. In August 2017, it was at 21.7%, now at 19.5%.
However, it is still the highest figure in the EU, and youth
unemployment continues to be alarmingly high, 40%. The
proportion of unemployed women is 25%.
Macedonia's parliament approved an amendment to its
constitution in October which means that the Republic of
Northern Macedonia can be renamed. The name change ever
since Macedonia was founded in 1991 has been a stumbling
block and a requirement from Greece to approve its neighbor
in the north to apply for membership in the EU and NATO. As
a result of the decision, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias
resigned in protest; Prime Minister Tsipras then took over
the leadership of the Foreign Ministry himself.
More than 90 people were killed in July in what is
suspected were fires, including in the city of Mati north of
Athens. It is believed that the fires may have been started
by criminals who have been out to plunder abandoned homes.
According to statistics for 2017, migrant flows to Greece
decreased significantly; only one-sixth was received
compared to 2016. The reason is the EU's refugee agreement
with Turkey and the fact that migrants sought new ways, to
Spain via Morocco and Algeria. During the year, however,
reports that the flow of refugees via the country road
between Turkey and northwestern Greece increased. In June,
6,800 refugees were reported to have taken that route -
comparing to 5,500 in total in 2017. But that does not
prevent several tragedies from taking place on the Aegean
Sea. In March, for example, at least 16 people, six of them
children, drowned when their smuggling boat crashed off the
island of Agathonisi south of Samos.
However, the UN Refugee Organization (UNHCR) announced in
November that the number of migrants to Greece via the
northeast border with Turkey during the year was 11,000, an
increase of 40% compared to 2017. Many of these are
unaccompanied children and young people.
Another stream that does not decrease, however, is
tourism. During the year, over 30 million tourists came to
Greece and the Greek island world. That is three times as
many as the country's residents. For example, Thera
(Santorini) has long been difficult to cope with the tourist
storm and has therefore limited the number of cruise ships
and visitors to the island.
Athens - newer architecture
In the period 1830-1930, Greek architecture was characterized by a romantic
neoclassicism. The castle, which now houses the parliament, was built in 1836-42
by the German architect Friedrich von Gärtner.
The Dane Christian Hansen was for a couple of decades (1833-50) Athens'
leading architect with the university (1839-60) and the cathedral Mitropolis (sm
the German architect Eduard Schaubert, 1842-62) as well as private houses,
schools, churches, hospitals etc. who became role models for the architecture of
the time. Theophilus Hansen's early works are inspired by his brother
Chr. Hansen's, eg the Observatory (1842-46) and Dimitrios' house, the current
Hotel Grande Bretagne (1842-43, later rebuilt).
In the 1840's, several buildings with Byzantine inspiration were built, such
as Christian Hansen's Eye Clinic and a number of churches. Theophilus Hansen's
mature Greek style is pompously expressed in the academy (1859-87), the
exhibition building Zappio (1874-88) and the national library (1885-92).
His pupil, the German architect Ernst Ziller, erected in the period 1870-1923
numerous public and private buildings in Athens and the province; he stood for a
Greek "renaissance" in European tradition with eg Heinrich Schliemann's house
"Ilion" (1878). Ziller began in 1869 the excavation of the Panathenaic Stadium
(330/29 BC), which was rebuilt according to his plans by Anastasios Metaxas and
inaugurated at the first Olympics in 1896.
The population growth in the 1920's radically changed the shape and
architecture of the city. Many historic buildings were demolished to make way
for functionalist apartment blocks and concrete office buildings. After World
War II, Athens grew without balance between city and surrounding landscape.
Among the city's newer notable buildings is the U.S. Embassy, designed
by Walter Gropius and H. Morse Payne jr. (1957-61), the Conservatory of I.
Despotopoulos (1969), the Supreme Court of J. Rizos and D. Katarropoulos (1973)
and the Athens Music House, Megaron (1991), of Tsonos.
In 1835, the Temple of Hephaestus was converted into a museum by Christian
Hansen and E. Schaubert; the collection was moved in 1874 to the National
Archaeological Museum, which is the most important museum in the world for
ancient Greek art with large collections of sculptures, vases and finds from the
Attica, Mycenae and Cyclades.
A modest museum on the Acropolis was replaced in 1865 by the Acropolis Museum
(see Acropolis in Athens). The significant finds from Agora have been exhibited
in Attalos II's reconstructed stoa since 1956, while the Oeberlaender Museum
(1938) houses finds from the ancient burial site at Kerameikos.
The Byzantine Museum was newly renovated in 1928 in the former private villa
"Ilissia", built 1842-46 by Christian Hansen.
There are collections on modern Greek history and folklore in the National
History Museum, established in 1960 in the old parliament building (1858-74),
and in the Benaki Museum. The City Museum was inaugurated in 1980; The National
Pina Library (Sutsos Museum) from 1966 houses modern Greek art.