GreeceGreece is a fascinating country.  It has been home to the classic ancient Greek city-states of Athens, Sparta, and Corinth.  It has been part of the Eastern Roman Empire, otherwise known as the Byzantium Empire, as well as to the Ottoman Empire.  This diverse heritage has left its mark on Greek food, architecture, music, and art.  How much do you know about Greece?  Test your knowledge with these ten facts about this beautiful and important country.

1. Over 11 million people call Greece home, 54 percent of them women.

2. Greece is divided, for governmental reasons, into 51 prefectures, similar to U.S. States.

3. The Greek national holiday is March 21, which commemorates the day in 1821 when the war of independence (from the Ottoman Empire) began.

4. Greece was home to the earliest recorded European civilizations, the Minoans (on the island of Crete) and the Mycenaeans (on the southern Greek mainland).

5. Scores of non-Greek Europeans flocked to Greece in the mid-19th century to help the Greeks fight for independence.  Among them was the British poet, Lord Byron.  He died there in 1824, while training Greek soldiers.

6. In addition to mainland Greece, the country consists of over 3000 islands, scattered throughout the Aegean and Ionian Seas.

7. Over 80 percent of Greece is covered with hills and mountains, making it one of the most mountainous countries in Europe.  The tallest mountain in Greece is Mount Olympus, at 9754 feet.  It was once thought to be home of the gods.

8. Over 95 percent of Greek citizens are of the Greek Orthodox religion.

9.  Greece considers education a right of every citizen and offers each child schooling from kindergarten through university level, including textbooks.

10. Famous modern-day Greeks have included opera singer Maria Callas, author Nikos Kazantzakis best known for his novel “Zorba the Greek,” and actress Melina Mercouri, now Greek Minister of Culture.