THE EUROPEAN COUNTRIES

Greece, France, and Spain:

By: Haydin Freeman

Period 4



Greece

Some Information:

  • Government type is a parliamentary Republic.
  • Led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and President Karolos Papoulias.
  • Has a limited government.
  • Is a member of the European Union. Entered in 1981.

Current Government Event:

Greece resumed talk with lenders over budget gap. Starting in November, Athens government officials continue to speak with representatives of Greece's foreign creditors on a dispute over the size of a budget gap for next year and whether austerity measures would be needed to cover it.

Historical Political Event:

Some time during the late 1960's and early 1970's, hundreds of political activists are arrested under a regime characterized by brutality and repression.

Historical Monument:

Acropolis is one of the major monuments of antiquity, situated in the heart of Athens that was built in honor of Goddess Athena. You can also visit the Acropolis museum and admire many exhibits of the Parthenon.

History was changed...

In 336 B.C., Alexander the Great became the leader of the Greek kingdom of Macedonia. By the time he died 13 years later, he had built an empire that stretched from Greece all the way to India. It changed the world because it spread Greek ideas and culture from the Eastern Mediterranean to Asia. Historians called this era the "Hellenistic period."

Also...

  • Population = 11.28 million
  • arable land = 18.95%

Agriculture:

Greece's agricultural sectors suffer from a lack of natural resources. Approximately 70% of the land cannot be cultivated because of poor soil or because it is covered by forests. Most the agriculture is centered in the plains of Thessaly, Macedonia, and Thrace, where corn, wheat, barley, sugar, beets, cotton, and tobacco are harvested. Greece's low rainfall, its rural land ownership system, and the emigration of the rural community into urban areas or abroad are factors that hold back the growth of the agricultural sector. Although agriculture is not a thriving economic sector, Greece is still a major EU producer of cotton and tobacco.

Human Enviroment Interaction:

There is industrial smog and automobile exhaust fumes in metropolitan Athens. Over half of all industry is located in the greater Athens area. Greece has a lot of history with pollution, for example:

  • Government closed down 87 industries...
  • ordered 19 others to cut production,
  • banned traffic from the city center,
  • 73 factories were ordered to stop production ,
  • and cars were banned from the city.

All of that happened because the air pollution became too oppressive and reached danger points. The smog regularly sends hundreds of Greeks to the hospital with respiratory and heart complaints. So since they people of Athens, Greece created so much pollution in their environment, they, themselves are now suffering.

  • GDP: $249.1 billion USD
  • GDP per capita: $22,082.89 USD
  • Currency: euro
  • Exchange rate to US dollars: 1 euro = 1.36 US dollar
  • Major economic activities: Mainly tourism, agriculture and trade. Minor industry.
  • Famous brands: does it mean brands made in Greece or famous and worn in Greece?
  • Language: Greek
  • Religion: Christian Orthodox mostly by about 97%. The rest are Muslim, Catholic, or Jewish.
  • Famous Landmarks: The Acropolis, Rhodes, Olympia, Athens and Delos are just some of the many. However, these are the ones that would be mentioned in probably every travel guide, blog, or website.
  • Cultural Foods: Greek cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine, sharing numerous characteristics with Middle Eastern cuisines of the region. Contemporary Greek cookery makes wide use of olive oil, vegetables and herbs, grains and breads, wine, fish, and various meats, including lamb, poultry, rabbit, and pork. Also important are olives, cheese, eggplant, zucchini, and yogurt. Desserts are characterized by the dominant use of nuts and honey.
  • Music: The music of Greece is as diverse and celebrated as its history. Greek music separates into two parts: Greek traditional music and Byzantine music, with more eastern sounds. There is a continuous development which appears in the language, the rhythm, the structure, and the melody.
  • Literature: Modern Greek literature is written in the Greek language. It refers to literature written in Ancient Greek from the oldest surviving written works in the Greek language until approximately the fifth century AD and the rise of the Byzantine Empire.
  • Location (relative): Greece is positioned in both the northern and eastern hemispheres and in the southern region of the European Continent on the far southern edge of the Balkin Peninsula. Greece is bordered by the countries of Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey, and by the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, Sea of Crete, Thracian Sea, and Mediterranean Sea.
  • Climate: Mostly Mediterranean. Has a remarkable range of micro-climates and local variations. To the west of the Pindus mountain range, the climate is generally wetter and has some maritime features. The east is drier and windier in summer. The north areas have transitional climate between continental and Mediterranean climate. There are mountainous areas that have an alpine climate.
  • Topography: About four-fifths of Greece is mountainous, including most of the islands. The most important range is the Pindus, which runs down the center of the peninsula. Mt. Olympus is the highest peak and was the legendary home of the ancient gods. Greece has four recognizable geographic regions. The Pindus range divides northern Greece into damp, mountainous, and isolated Epirus in the west and the sunny, dry plains and lesser mountain ranges of the east. The eastern region comprises the plains of Thessaly and the "new provinces" of Macedonia and Thrace. Central Greece is the southeastern finger of the mainland that cradled the city-states of ancient Greece. Greek rivers are not navigable. Many dry up in the summer and become rushing mountain torrents in the spring.


France

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  • The government type: Presidential Republic.
  • Leaders: President- Francois Hollande & Prime Minister- Jean-Marc Ayrault
  • Government is limited.
  • Yes, a member of the European Union.
  • Current government event: A French Court ruled on Thursday that Kazakh tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov, accused of embezzling up to $6 billion from his former bank BTA and in French custody since last summer, should be extradited to Ukraine or Russia.
  • Historical Political Event: September 4, 1870: While still at war with Prussia, and Paris under siege, French republicans proclaim “Third Republic.”
  • A person who changed history: Charles de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who acted as the leader of the Free French during the Second World War. He was one of the most influential French politicians. He helped find the Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959-1969. He was a right wing conservative and was a keen French Nationalist.
  • Population: 65.7 million
  • Arable Land: 33.50%
  • Agriculture: France’s arable lands are located on both sides of the 45th parallel north and are under a mild climate, which allows a large diversity of production. Thanks to its climate, soils, and overseas departments and territories, France is the only European country able to produce almost all agricultural goods. Northern France is characterized by large grain farms. Dairy, pork, poultry, and apple production is concentrated in the western region. Beef production is located in central France, while the production of corn, fruits, vegetables, and wine ranges from central to southern France. Crop production accounted, in 2009, for 36.4 billion euros, that is to say 60% of the French agricultural gross product. Grains and wine are half of this value.
  • Human Environment Interaction: French people change their environment in many ways. There is some forest damage from acid rain in some parts of France, which contains acids that come from burning fossil fuels such as coal in power plants. Also, there is a lot of pollution from cars and other industrial plants. These things are causing global warming and France is helping contribute.
  • GDP: $2.613 trillion USD
  • GDP per capita: $39,771.84 USD
  • Currency: Euro
  • Exchange Rate: 1 euro = 1.36 US Dollar
  • Major Economic Activities: Industrial machinery, food and drink, and tourism.
  • Famous Brands: Tires- Michelin, Champagne- Bollinger, Car- Citroen, Water- Evian, Perrier, Vittel, Volvic.
  • Language: French
  • Religion: Majors are Catholic, Protestantism, Islam, and Judaism.
  • Famous Landmarks: Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, Dune of Pyla, Cite of Carcassonne, and Mont Blank are some of the biggest ones.
  • Cultural Foods: Bread is central to any meal. Cheese is also an essential part of any French meal. Cooking styles have been changed to emphasize lighter far but many still associate French cooking with heavy sauces and complicated preparations.
  • Music/Literature: French music is a mixture of a variety of music styles. For example, a little bit of Latin America, Africa, and Asia music, and is considered the Centre of music in Europe. French literature is written in the French language. Literature written in French language by citizens of other nations is referred to as Francophone literature. France itself ranks first in the list of Nobel Prized in literature by country.
  • Relative Location: France is located in Europe between the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. France’s eastern neighbors are Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.
  • Climate: Generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasionally strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral.
  • Topography: France topographically is one of the most varied countries of Europe, with elevations ranging from sea level to the highest peak of the continent, Mont Blanc. Much of the country is ringed with mountains. The core of France is the Paris Basin. The old, worn-down upland of the Massif Central, topped by extinct volcanoes, occupies the south-central area. The valley of Phone provides an excellent passageway from the Paris Basin and eastern France to the Mediterranean. There are three other main river systems: the Seine, the Loire, and the Garonne.


Spain

  • Government Type: Constitutional Monarchy
  • Leaders: Monarch Juan Carlos 1 and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
  • Government: Limited
  • Member of the European Union: Yes
  • Current Government Event: January 6, 2013- Legislation passed by Spanish government is set to take effect in 2014 drastically reducing payments to investors in solar energy, dropping per-kilowatt-hour payment system and effectively imposing retroactive cuts in payments.

  • Historical Political Event: 18th century - The War of the Spanish Succession loses Spain its European possessions outside the Iberian Peninsula. Bourbon dynasty, originally from France, centralises the Spanish state, shutting down many regional autonomous assemblies and modernising government and the military.

  • Historical Monument: Cuenca- It's located between Madrid and Valencia and is a perfect example of a medieval city, built on the steep sides of a mountain. The many “hanging houses” are built right up to the cliff edge, making Cuenca one of the most striking towns in Spain.
  • A Person Who Changed History: Salvador Fidalgo y Lopegarcía (6 August 1756 – 27 September 1803) was a Spanish explorer who commanded an exploring expedition for Spain to Alaska and Northwest during the late 18th century.
  • Population: 47.27 million
  • Arable Land: 25.05%
  • Agriculture: Spain’s rural population decreased and many farms disappeared because of the decline of agriculture since the 1960s. the amount of agriculturally productive land (especially land dedicated to organic farming) in Spain has increased through irrigation and the conversion of fallow lands.
  • Human Environment Interaction: Spaniards have adapted to their environment by finding usage for almost everything. Spaniards have changed the environment by building more buildings, structures, and displays. Spain is a very unique and beautiful place. Humans have made holes in the ground to collect these natural resources: coal, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, mercury, and hydro-power. Many of these resources will later be traded or sold to other countries like the U.S. Humans have also irrigated the land. There is 38,000 kilometers of irrigated land in Spain.
  • GDP: $1.349 USD
  • GDP per capita: $29,195.38 USD
  • Currency: Euro
  • Exchange Rate: 1 Euro = 3.6 US Dollars
  • Major Economic Activities: Spain produces large crops of wheat, barley, vegetables, tomatoes, olives, sugar beets, citrus fruit, grapes, and cork. Spain is the world's largest producer of olive oil and Europe's largest producer of lemons, oranges, and strawberries. Spain's greatest trade is with France, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain. Among the leading exports are machinery; motor vehicles; fruit, wine, and other food products; and pharmaceuticals. Major imports include machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, and medical instruments.
  • Famous Brands: Santander, Movistar, BBVA, Zara, and O2 are the largest.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Religion: The majority of the population is Catholic. Other religions also practised in Spain include Islam, Judaism, Protestantism, and Hinduism.
  • Famous landmarks: The most famous landmark in Spain is the Temple of Sagrada Familia, also known as La Sagrada Familia. Other famous buildings include glittering monumental Agbar Tower, Torre Mapfre and Hotel Arts, The Cathedral de la Santa Creu and Monestir de Pedralbes.
  • Cultural Foods: "La Siesta" is one of Spain's best-known customs. Many Spaniards take a midday break from work or school to eat lunch and relax, and some businesses close down for a few hours each afternoon. Spain's most common food is the tortilla de patata, or potato omelet, according to Fodor's. Other gastronomical delicacies include seafood paella, chorizo sausage, gazpacho soup and tapas.
  • Music/Literature: The music of Spain has a long history and has played an important part in the development of western music, and a particularly strong influence upon Latin America music. Outside of Spain, the country is often associated with traditional styles such as flamenco and classical guitar, but Spanish music is in fact very diverse, reflecting the large cultural differences between regions. Spanish literature generally refers to literature written in the Spanish language within the territory that presently constitutes the state of Spain. Its development coincides and frequently intersects with that of other literary traditions from regions within the same territory, particularly Catalan literature, Galician literature, and more recently a formal Basque literature.
  • Relative Location: Spain is located in the southeast of Europe, along the Atlantic Ocean on the Iberian Peninsula which it shares with Portugal. It is south of the Bay of Biscay and France, their common border including the country of Andorra in the Pyrenees.
  • Climate: The climate of Spain varies across the country. Three main climatic zones can be distinguished, according to geographical situation and orographic conditions: The Mediterranean Climate is characterised by dry and warm summers and cool and wet winters, the Oceanic Climate is located in the northern part of the country, especially in the regions of Basque County, Asturias, Cantabria and Galicia, and the Semiarid Climate is located in the south eastern part of the country, especially in the region of Murcia and in the Ebro valley. In contrast to the Mediterranean climate, the dry season continues beyond the end of summer.
  • Topography: Continental Spain is divided into five general topographic regions: (1) The northern coastal belt is a mountainous region with fertile valleys and large areas under pasture and covered with forests. (2) The central plateau, or Meseta, with an average altitude of about 2,200, comprises most of Castilla y León, Castilla–La Mancha, and the city of Madrid. (3) Andalucía, with Sevilla its largest city, covers the whole of southern and southwestern Spain and, except for the flat fertile plain of the Guadalquivir River, is a mountainous region with deep fertile valleys. (4) The Levante is on the Mediterranean coastal belt, with Valencia its chief city. (5) Catalonia and the Ebro Valley comprise the northeastern region.
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