According to Topb2bwebsites, the most widespread formation in mainland Greece and the islands is the Mediterranean scrub, which affects the flat areas, the islands and the best exposed slopes of the reliefs up to an altitude of approx. 1000 m. In the flat regions there are also orange, olive, date, pomegranate and fig trees. The vine thrives on the hills. In the range between 1000 and 2000 m there are broad – leaved forests (beech trees) and higher up, especially on the wettest slopes, vast formations of fir and larch trees, which finally give way, at higher altitudes, to high mountain pastures. The richness of the country’s floristic heritage is evident from the presence of numerous species of endemic plants (subject to protection since 1981); most of these are concentrated on the island of Crete, where, among others, grows the silver bush of Crete (Ebenus cretica), known as the “down”. Numerous species of animals live in Greece including chamois, deer, wild boar, lynx, brown bear, jackal, badger and fox. The variety of birds is also rich. In addition to the heron, the stork, the seagull and the pelican, the archipelagos of Greece are also home to hundreds of rare species, including three quarters of the entire world population of the falcon d ‘). In Crete lives a rare population of wild goats also known as agrimi, an ancient species with horns similar to those of an ibex. Among the countless marine species characteristic of the Mediterranean basin and widespread in the Greek seas, there is a small population of monk seals and the sea turtle that nests in some islands of the Ionian (in particular the island of Zakynthos) and the eastern Aegean. Epirus and Macedonia, in the northern part of the country, still preserve vast forests, but in the other areas the landscape has been profoundly altered by millennia of deforestation, intense meteoric erosion and the extension of agricultural crops. Marine areas are subject to strong pressures from human activities, which risk profoundly altering their balance. In particular, the intense traffic of merchant ships (oil tankers and chemical tankers), the activities linked to fishing and the aggressions exerted by tourist infrastructures and the flow of visitors determine a progressive impoverishment of biological wealth. Air pollution is one of the most serious problems affecting large Greek cities, in particular Athens, which is one of the most polluted cities in Europe. In Greece, protected areas represent 21.4% of the entire territory. They are distinguished in National Natural Parks, including the Samaria Gorge, Mount Olympus, and Mount Parnassus and the Marine National Parks, such as the marine park of the island of Zakynthos and the marine park of Alonisso. Air pollution is one of the most serious problems affecting large Greek cities, especially Athens, which is one of the most polluted cities in Europe. In Greece, protected areas represent 21.4% of the entire territory. They are distinguished in National Natural Parks, including the Samaria Gorge, Mount Olympus, and Mount Parnassus and the Marine National Parks, such as the marine park of the island of Zakynthos and the marine park of Alonisso. Air pollution is one of the most serious problems affecting large Greek cities, especially Athens, which is one of the most polluted cities in Europe. In Greece, protected areas represent 21.4% of the entire territory. They are distinguished in National Natural Parks, including the Samaria Gorge, Mount Olympus, and Mount Parnassus and the Marine National Parks, such as the marine park of the island of Zakynthos and the marine park of Alonisso. Meteore (1988) and Mount Áthos (1988) have been inscribed on the UNESCO lists as a World Heritage Site due to their cultural and naturalistic relevance. However, the environmental protection policy does not appear to be adequate to address the dangers to which the natural heritage is subjected, despite the fact that Greece has joined the major international agreements on environmental protection including the Kyoto Protocol and the MAP (Mediterranean Action Plan); while it signed but not ratified the Convention for the elimination of persistent organic substances.
Since 1981, the liberalization of the market, the creation of ever greater ties with European states and the consequent intensification of industrialization, has produced an increase in the commercial movement; Greece now imports very large quantities of machinery and means of transport, fuels and raw materials, as well as a wide range of products that the local industry is not yet able to supply, while exports are mainly represented by food products, iron and steel, aluminum, tobacco, chemicals, raw and processed fabrics. Exchanges take place eminently within the EU, especially with Germany and Italy; however, trade relations with the Balkan countries, in particular Albania, and with those of the Black Sea basin are constantly growing, which absorb a significant percentage of Greek exports. Greek investments abroad have grown considerably, especially in the Balkan area, in some countries of the Near and Middle East and in south-eastern Europe, such as Romania and Bulgaria, where Greece is the leading foreign investor. Furthermore, Greece serves as the starting point for numerous multinationals to conquer the Balkan market. Despite these improvements, the Greek economy is still very weak compared to that of the other EU member states, and one of the structural causes of this state is the unsatisfactory communication network, both internal and connecting with the main trading partners. Eastern Greece is served by a much denser network of communication routes than Western Greece, but on the whole, railway communications are everywhere inadequate; discreet road ones. The European funds and those destined for the organization of the 2004 Olympics were mainly aimed at improving the land communication routes, with the construction of two new highways, Pathe and Egnatia and a bridge connecting the Pelopennese with the Sterea Ellada region. Maritime services, on the other hand, are developed, both small and deep sea: Greece has the fifth merchant navy in the world; except for small units, the ships are of foreign construction. One third of the income produced by the tertiary sector derives from these services. The main seaport is Piraeus, serving the capital, follows the port of Thessaloniki and that of Patras; Athens is home to an active international airport (national airline is Olympic Airways, which has good connections both within the country and with many foreign countries) and another modern airport, near the city, became operational in 2001. Since its liberalization at the end of the 1980s, the banking sector it has been the protagonist of good growth, reaching numerous institutes. At the top of the system are the Bank of Greece, which functions as a central institution, and some large commercial banks. The insurance market in Greece is small compared to that of the other EU member states, and this too, like the banking system, was deeply restructured in the 1990s. Since 2000, the Athens Exchange (Athens Exchange SA) has been controlled by a holding company, Hellenic Exchange Holdings SA (HELEX), which was completely privatized in 2003. The tourism sector represents a very important item of national income, and is constantly growing; the flow of tourists comes mainly from other European countries, has a seasonal trend and is directed mainly to the archaeological sites of the country and to the islands of the Aegean Sea. This entails considerable pressure on the country’s infrastructure, which has convinced the government to incentivize the expansion and diversification of the accommodation offer.