The host country of ICEGOV2020 is GREECE, which comes from the Latin word Graecia (as used by the Romans) and literally means “the land of the Greeks”. In Greek, however, the country is known as Hellas and thus officially as the Hellenic Republic. Located in Southern Europe at the crossroads of three continents (Europe, Asia, and Africa), Greece is widely considered the cradle of Western civilisation, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, Western literature, historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, Western drama and, notably, the Olympic Games.
Due to its highly indented coastline and numerous islands, Greece has the 11th longest coastline in the world (~13 676 km) and borders four different seas: the Aegean lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian to the west, the Cretan and the Mediterranean to the south. Mount Olympus stands as the highest point at 2918 metres (9573 ft) and is notable in Greek mythology as the home of the Greek gods.
From the eighth century BC, the Greeks were organised into various independent city-states, known as Polis, which spanned the entire Mediterranean region and the Black Sea. Philip of Macedon united most of the Greek mainland in the fourth century BC, with his son Alexander the Great rapidly conquering much of the ancient world, from the eastern Mediterranean to India. Greece was annexed by Rome in the second century BC, becoming an integral part of the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire, in which Greek language and culture were dominant. Rooted in the first century A.D., the Greek Orthodox Church helped shape modern Greek identity and transmitted Greek traditions to the wider Orthodox World. Falling under Ottoman dominion in the mid-15th century, the modern nation state of Greece emerged in 1830 following a war of independence. Greece’s rich historical legacy is reflected by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The country is a unitary parliamentary republic and developed, with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life, and a very high standard of living. A founding member of the United Nations, Greece was the tenth member to join the European Communities (precursor to the European Union) and has been part of the Eurozone since 2001. It is also a member of numerous other international organisations.
LANGUAGE: the native language of the population is Modern Greek, which has its own alphabet. English is widely spoken as a second language by the majority of Greeks, while French and German are also spoken to a good extent.
TIMEZONE: Greece has only one timezone, known as Eastern European Time (EET), which is 2 hours ahead of UTC. Although Greece has adopted summer daylight saving time, this will not be in effect during the conference.
WEATHER: the climate in Greece is predominantly Mediterranean. However, due to the country’s unique geography, Greece has a remarkable range of micro-climates and local variations. Athens enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate and ample sunshine. During the conference, temperatures are expected to vary between 10°-20° Celsius (49°-68° Fahrenheit). Rain main occur.
HEALTH: emergency treatment is free to all visitors in public hospitals. It is recommended that citizens from the European Union bring their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The emergency number is 112, the same as in other European countries.
INSURANCE: the conference organisers or its agents will not be responsible for any medical expenses, loss or accidents incurred during the conference. Participants are strongly advised to arrange their own personal insurance.
CURRENCY: the currency in Greece is the euro (EUR, €), the same currency used in 18 other European Union member states. The euro coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, and 1 and 2 euros; the banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros. It is not common to find banknotes of 200€ and 500€, and smaller stores may refuse to accept such a high denomination. All major credit cards are widely accepted in Greece. Banks are open 8h00-14h30 (Monday to Thursday) and 8h00-13h30 (Friday), and are closed on public holidays and on weekends. It is recommended that you exchange your local currency for euros before arriving in Greece or withdraw money from ATM machines as needed, preferably using a bank affiliated with your bank. Euros can also be exchanged for notes of other foreign currencies at exchange offices that are situated at the airport and certain main ports, in the larger cities, as well as at many tourist destinations. A passport is required when exchanging currencies.
DRIVING: Greece is a right-hand traffic country. Traffic signs are standard international traffic signs, written in both Greek and English, measurements are metric, and international driving laws apply. For European Union citizens, a valid national driving license is enough to drive in Greece. However, for citizens outside the EU, an International Driving Permit (issued in your home country before arrival) is required.
MEASUREMENTS: all measurements in Greece are metric, as are weights; the temperature scale is Celsius.
SMOKING: Greece has approved a law which bans smoking, and consumption of tobacco products by other means, in all working places, transportation stations, taxis, passenger ships, trains, buses, and airplanes, as well as in all enclosed public places including restaurants, night clubs, casinos, etc. Fines are particularly heavy for smokers who do not comply. Tobacco products cannot be sold or supplied to people under 18 years old.
TAX: most goods in Greece are subject to Value Added Tax (VAT), available in three different rates depending on the product (24%, 13% or 6%). All prices listed include VAT, so you should never have to pay more than the advertised price.
TIPPING: it is not mandatory to tip in Greece, no matter the kind of service provided. However, you are expected to do it in most places, even if there is no set standard for how much to leave when service exceeds expectations.