Greece - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Greece has a modern infrastructure complete with airports, railways, and paved roads and highways. There are a total of 80 airports (1999 est.), 64 of which have paved runways. There are 2,548 kilometers (1,583 miles) of railways and 117,000 kilometers (72,703 miles) of highways, 107,406 kilometers (66,742 miles) of which are paved. As expected from a historically seafaring country, Greece has 12 ports and harbors and a large merchant fleet of more than 700 ships.

Communications are also modern. The country's telephone system is adequate, with networks reaching all areas for main telephone lines and mobile cellular phones. Most telephone calls are carried by microwave radio relay. Underwater cables transmit calls to the Greek islands. In 1997 there were 5.431 million main lines in use and 328,000 mobile phone users. As of 1998 there were 26 AM radio stations, 88 FM stations, and 4 shortwave stations. In 1999, 64 television stations were operating in Greece. Computers and communications are increasing in popularity and availability. By 1999 there were 23 Internet service providers (ISPs) operating in Greece.

During the 1980s, the government dissolved its monopoly on radio and televisions stations. Many private television and radio stations emerged, as well as European satellite channels. By early 2001, however, the Greek government moved to shut down dozens of the popular privately-owned radio stations, saying that their proximity to the new Athens airport could cause radio interference. The announcement was widely condemned by opposition parties and media unions, as well as large numbers of loyal listeners.

The press in Greece operates much differently than it does in the United States. Journalistic objectivity, where a reporter writes the facts of a news event without his or her own political or ethical viewpoint, is often not followed. Businesspeople with extensive commercial interests in the economy own many of the media outlets and use their newspapers, magazines, and radio and television outlets to promote their commercial enterprises as well as to seek political influence.

Electrical power in Greece is supplied by lignite-fueled power stations. Lignite is a type of coal. Hydro-electric power is also used. Solar energy and wind power are being considered as alternative energy sources. Total power production in 1998 amounted to 43.677 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), while consumption in that year was 42.18 billion kWh.

Natural gas is becoming a popular alternative to coal for electricity production. The gas comes from a pipeline shared by Greece and Russia and is considered more environmentally friendly and efficient than coal. In February 2000, the Ministries of the Environment, Natural Planning, and Public Works signed an agreement to replace coal with natural gas. Natural gas is a new energy source in Athens, and many homes and businesses are beginning to use it. Another benefit is that natural gas would reduce the high smog levels in Athens.

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