Environment in Greece Essay

Cheap Custom Writing Service

This Environment in Greece Essay example is published for educational and informational purposes only. If you need a custom essay or research paper on this topic, please use our writing services. EssayEmpire.com offers reliable custom essay writing services that can help you to receive high grades and impress your professors with the quality of each essay or research paper you hand in.

Known as the “cradle of democracy,” Greece won its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829 and subsequently began adding neighboring islands and territories to its holdings. After a repressive military dictatorship ended in 1967, Greece began moving toward democracy and abolished the monarchy in 1974. Greece joined the European Community (EC) in 1981. Despite rich national resources that include lignite, petroleum, iron ore, bauxite, lead, zinc, nickel, magnesite, marble, salt, and the potential for developing hydropower, Greece is underdeveloped relative to other nations in the European Union.

Bordering the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean Seas, Greece has 8,479 miles (13,676 kilometers) of coastline. As a result of the temperate climate, the country experiences mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Major environmental concerns include extensive air and water pollution, and human resources are sapped by the sex trafficking and forced labor. A 2006 study by Yale University ranked Greece 19th of 132 countries in overall environmental performance, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Reports rank Greece 24th among nations of the world in overall quality-of-life issues.

Much of the land area of Greece is mountainous, and some ranges extend into the sea, forming peninsulas and island chains. Destructive earthquakes are common, and the combination of winter and autumn rains and mountainous terrain results in significant flooding and soil degradation as 100,000 tons of soil is redeposited on lower levels. The practice of mixed herding, in which sheep and goats are raised together, has further contributed to land degradation as protective vegetation is stripped. Additional damage occurs during the approximately 1,000 fires that take place in Greece each year, some intentionally set. By the end of the summer of 1990, for instance, 1,358 fires had occurred. Consequently, the government established its first forest protection program.

The population concentration in urban areas has led to major air pollution. Around Athens, for example, a smoggy cloud known as nephos, composed of sulfur, nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons, and dust, poses a constant health threat and sends hundred of people to hospitals. In 1987, a heat wave combined with nephos to cause several hundred deaths. In 1991 and 1993, Greeks were advised to stay off the streets of Athens when ozone levels soared. The greatest sources of the pollution have traditionally been steel works, cement factories, chemical industries, and refineries in conjunction with automobiles and central heating plants. In 1991, the government began promoting the use of environmentally friendly cars and moved toward eliminating all gasoline containing butane.

Water pollution has also presented a major challenge in Greece, particularly around the Saronic Gulf where waters were filled with sludge created by improper disposal of toxic metals and oil products. Before treatment systems were built in 1981, sewage effluents were released untreated into the gulf. Although tourism is essential to the Greek economy, the waters of the Athens Riviera became so polluted at one point that tourists were discouraged from bathing in the sea.

Oil tankers that pass through the Mediterranean each day are responsible for discharging some 650,000 tons of residues into the waters, and Greece works with 16 other nations to monitor this situation. To cut down on water pollution, toxic substances used in marine paint and pesticides effluents have been banned. Particular attention has been paid to the loggerhead turtle and the monk seal, which are threatened with extinction. Greek wildlife is also threatened by hunters who kill migrating birds as well as wild animals. Of the 255 bird species endemic to Greece, seven species are now threatened, and 13 of the 96 mammal species are in danger of extinction. The government has protected only 3.6 percent of the land.

During the latter part of the 20th century, a new commitment to environmentalism resulted in the passage of National Law 1650/86 and the adaptation of EC environmental regulations and directions. The Hellenic Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning, and Public Works was given the responsibility of overseeing programs and policies designed to protect and improve the environment while continuing to promote the industrial, tourism, and agricultural sectors. In addition, the government established a system of fines so that polluters are forced to pay for the problems they create; the government also set up precautionary measures and instituted technological interventions to prevent pollution before it occurs.

Greece has expressed its commitment to the global environment by participating in the following international agreements: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, and Wetlands. Agreements on Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants and Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds have been signed but not ratified.


  1. Danae Diakoulaki, ed., Environmental Signals (Athens: National Center for the Environment and Sustainable Growth, 2003);
  2. Kevin Hillstrom and Laurie Collier Hillstrom, Europe: A Continental Overview of Environmental Issues (ABC-CLIO, 2003);
  3. M. Pantelouris, Greece: Perspective 2000 (Blueacre, 1994);
  4. UNEP, Europe Regional Report: Chemicals (Global Environment Facility, 2002).

See also:


Always on-time


100% Confidentiality

Special offer!