Greece

Ease of Doing Business Rank: 79

Overview

 

Geographic location

Greece is a southeastern European country with mainland territory and thousands of islands.

Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria lie to the north, the Ionian Sea and Italy lie to the west, the Mediterranean Sea lies to the south and Turkey lies to the east.

Spoken language

The official language of Greece is Greek, spoken by 99% of the population.

The most common foreign languages are English (51%), German (9%), French (8.5%) and Italian (8%).

Population

The 2020 population estimate is 10.42 million.

According to 2011 census, Athens is the largest city (3.09 million), followed by Thessaloniki (824,676) and Patras (166,446).

Popular industries

The top industries in Greece are tourism, shipping, industrial products, food and tobacco processing, textiles, chemicals, metal products, mining and petroleum.

Education

The Times World University Rankings includes one Greek university in the top 500 in the world and a further eight in the top 1,000 in the world.

The Legatum Prosperity Index ranks Greece’s educational system 41st out of 167 countries.

Popular entity types

The most common type of business entities in Greece are Sole Trader, Limited Liability Company, General Partnership, Limited Partnership, Private Capital Company and Joint Venture.

The majority of businesses are in the form of a Limited Liability Company.

Greece incentives for business

Greece offers a foreign tax credit to offset the tax paid abroad, limited to Greek income tax due.

Qualifying banks, leasing and factoring companies may convert tax assets into credits in exchange for shares issued to the state, with restrictions.

Companies may qualify for deductions on employer contributions of up to 50% and up to 14 times the minimum wage of a single employee over 25 years of age.

The country also offers tax incentives and aid schemes under the provisions of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) of the European Commission. Aid is determined by company performance, territory and industry.

The general prerequisite is a minimum investment of 25%, not including state aid, support or subsidies. Investment requirements range between EUR 50,000 to EUR 500,000 for large companies. Projects should include an initial investment in machinery, buildings or intangible assets or increase value in existing assets.

Investments should relate to heat production from renewable sources, tourism, agricultural, fish, aquaculture products or logistic services. Eligible expenses include tangible and intangible assets, new employee costs and expenses not covered by state aid that improve value.

Aid provided may include corporate income tax exemptions on gross profits, subsidies for eligible investment expenses, lease expenses for equipment up to seven years and employment costs.

As well, companies may enjoy a fixed corporate income tax rate for 12 years after project completion on investments of up to 10 million Euros. Businesses may also qualify for funding through Greece’s intermediary ‘Funds of Funds’.

History & Features

 

Main cities for business

Athens is the capital and financial center of the country.

Popular historical & tourist attractions

Greece spans a massive area and its civilization is one of the oldest in the world. The country has 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the Acropolis in Athens.

Known as the greatest architectural and artistic complex of Greek Antiquity in the world, it an example of the city-state which laid the foundations of democracy.

Countless archaeological sites and ruins around the country attest the greatest of Ancient Greek civilization. Delphi welcomed pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean who came to honor Apollo. Olympia was the site of the first Olympic Games and includes an ancient stadium, gymnasium and temples honoring Zeus and Hera.

Greece is also known for its many islands, fabulous, beaches and sunny climate. The stunning cliffs, white buildings topped with blue domes and ample shopping make Santorini a favorite tourist destination.

Crete is the largest island in Greece and said to be the birthplace of Zeus. Corfu is a cosmopolitan island with Venetian architecture and sprawling sandy beaches.

Greece also has many other areas of outstanding natural beauty. The 9.9 mile trek through Samaria Gorge on Crete takes you through a National Park and World Biosphere Reserve. The Blue Caves of Zakynthos are a series of naturally-formed sea tunnels with a striking blue glow. The island of Lemnos has dormant volcanos and spectacular volcanic rock formations.

The capital city of Athens is the cultural hotspot of the country. It is home to the National Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis Museum and the highly-acclaimed Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology.

Greek cities and towns teem with restaurants, bars and nightlife. Visitors can enjoy everything from simple fare to gourmet meals and quaint accommodation to five-star hotels.

History

Many notable civilizations lived in area that is now known as Greece. The Minoans, Mycenaeans and Dorians all left their mark on the nation.

Between 700 and 480 BC, Greek culture was at its height. People were previously scattered throughout Greece and lived in small farming villages. Greeks invented the ‘polis’, or city-state, and produced great philosophers, mathematicians, architecture, sculpture and literature. They also started the Olympic Games.

Even though people shared a common language, customs, gods and rituals, every city-state differed. Nonetheless, all were ruled by wealthy aristocrats who monopolized the best land which led to emigration. Greek colonies emerged from the Mediterranean to Asia Minor and from North Africa to the coast of the Black Sea.

At the end of the 7th century B.C., Greece had more than 1,500 independent, self-ruling city-states. Trade led to much wealth outside of the ruling class and eventually political reforms and the establishment of ‘demokratia,’ the Ancient Greek system of democracy.

Classical Greek culture traveled to many parts of the Mediterranean and Europe and it is widely-considered the foundation of modern Western culture and civilization.

Later under the leadership of Alexander the Great, Greece crushed Persian forces and the empire stretched from Egypt to India. Greek culture and learning spread to Asia Minor.

After Alexander the Great’s death, the Roman Empire emerged and Greece eventually became a Roman province. the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD cast Greece under Byzantine Empire leadership.

Byzantine influence weakened and Greek influence strengthened. By the early 7th century, Greek was the official language of the Byzantine Empire.

Crusaders captured the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 1204, but many parts of the empire remained independent. Even though Byzantines recaptured Constantinople in 1261, the empire never recovered. A new threat emerged: the Ottoman Turks.

By 1453, the Ottomans had conquered the capital and the Byzantine Empire ended. Ottoman power peaked in the 16th century, but started to decline from the late 17th century onwards. During this time Greek nationalism grew.

By the early 19th century, many Greek expatriates united and sought Greek independence. Consequently, a rebellion erupted against the Turks In 1821. After years of negotiations three main European powers asked the Greeks and Turks to cease hostilities. They offered the Greeks independence through a treaty, but the Turks believed they had superior naval power and refused.

The Europeans crushed a combined Ottoman–Egyptian fleet in an overwhelming victory in 1827. Greece declared independence in 1829.

During the Balkan and World Wars Greece briefly became a republic, then fell under a pseudo-dictatorship and then under communist rule. By 1949, the US controlled Greece and democratic elections followed.

After a 1967 military coup the country fell under dictatorship which remained until 1974. The country created a new constitution that year and returned to democratic elections in 1977.

Today, Greece operates as a presidential parliamentary republic. They have a capitalist economy.

Other relevant facts

According to 2017 data, most Greeks identify with Orthodox Christianity (90%), followed by other Christian faiths (3%), irreligious (4%), Islam (2%) and other religions (1%).

According to 2011 data, most inhabitants identify as Greek (91.6%), followed by Albanian (4.4%) and other ethnicities (4%).

Additional Information for Business

According to Forbes’ 2019 Best Countries for Business, Greece is the 42nd best country in the world for conducting business.

The 2019 Index of Economic Freedom rates Greece 105th globally and states, “Despite exiting its latest economic adjustment program in 2018, the government is subject to huge policy constraints and faces an enormous level of general government debt.”

World Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings rate Greece 79th for ease of doing business in the world.

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