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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Population: demographic situation, languages and religions


1.Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

1.3Population: demographic situation, languages and religions

Last update: 27 November 2023

Demographic situation

The demography of Greece concerns the study of the population of Greece  in terms of statistics and in quality.  In Greece censuses examining other statistics, other than those about the total population and place of residence, are normally conducted every ten years since 1920. The body responsible for these, as well as for other censuses of population statistics , such as indicators of employment, education etc., is the Hellenic Statistical Authority.


Greece is located at the southern end of continental Europe, covering a surface of 132.049 square kilometers. 

According to the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) data, based on the 2001 census, the actual population in the country was at 10.934.080 inhabitants: 5,41 mn. (49,51%) were males and 5,52 mn. (50.49%) females.

According to the revised results of the Population and Housing Census of 2011, the resident population of the country was 10,816,286 individuals of which 5,303,223 were men (49.0%) and 5,513,063 were women (51.0%).

According to the preliminary results of the Population and Housing Census 2021, the Permanent Population of the country amounted to 10,432,481 individuals, of which 5,075,249 are men (48.6%) and 5,357,232 are women (51.4%).

The resident population refers to the number of persons whose regular residence is located in each region, regional unit, municipality, municipal section, municipal or local community and village of the country.  The resident population includes all people regardless their nationality, who in the framework of the Population - Housing Census 2021 declared their regular residence as being within the Greek territory.

The information below is expected to be updated after the results of the 2021 Census are finalised.


Source: ELSTAT, Greece in Figures, April-June 2022


Source: ELSTAT, Greece in Figures, April-June 2022.

Population trends

The information below is expected to be updated after the results of the 2021 Census are finalised.

According to the population figures for, 2020 the average life expectancy at birth stood at 77,5 years for men and 83 years for women (Living Conditions in Greece 5 January 2023).  However, the participation rate of the age group 0-14 in the total population has dropped, while on the contrary, the participation rate of the age group over 65 years has increased.  The proportion of the population of productive age (15-64 years) increased significantly during the last two decades, particularly among men, almost exclusively due to the mass influx of economic immigrants in the country.

Based on population forecasts of Eurostat, the population structure per age groups will be rather different in the upcoming decades due to adverse demographic changes and the trends of low birth rate and population ageing.  In particular, by virtue of the last available population projections, the total population of Greece shall stand at circa 8.920.000 individuals by 2050.

The population structure, however, will be different from the one of 2001, i.e the rate of children at the age of 0-14 is set to dwindle from 15,44% in 2001 to 12,1% in 2050, while the rate of over 65 age group is set to increase from 17,07% in 2001 to 36,5% by 2050.  The financially active population group rate aged 15-64 is forecasted to decrease by 16,1% and from 67,5% in 2000 to drop at   51,45% by 2050.

The information below is expected to be updated after the results of the 2021 Census are finalized.

2011 Census results show a total of  9.904.286 Greek nationals, 199.121 other EU-country nationals, 530.244 other European country nationals, 175.930 African, Caribean, South- or Central American, North American, Asian and Australian nationals and 6.705 residents without nationality or of unclear identity. The majority of foreign nationals (52,7%) residing in Greece are Albanian nationals, 8,3% are Bulgarian nationals, 5,1% are Romanian nationals and finally 3,7% are Pakistani nationals and 3,0% are Georgian nationals. (Population and Housing Census, 2011, ELSTAT 2016).

In Greece internal immigration, particularly in the postwar period, led to urban growth and the depopulation of rural areas.  Similarly, in recent years the urbanisation of the population continues to display an increasing trend.  Indeed, the participation of urban and suburban areas in the total population reached 76.6% in 2011 from 72.8% in 2001.  The rate of urbanisation, however, shows a marked slowdown in recent years, perhaps because it has already reached values that are already high for the Greek reality.

Urbanization in Greece 2001-2011

Areas 2001 2011
Population distribution (%) 100,0 100,0
Urban and suburban areas 72,8% 76,6%
Rural areas 27,2% 24,3%

Source: Hellenic Statistical Authority 2014


In the context of the Labor Force Survey, the following tables present the percentage of the labor force in the total population, as well as the percentage of the unemployed in the total labor force, for the years 2017-2021.


Source: ELSTAT, Greece in Figures, July-September 2022.

Also, a graph is presented with the evolution of the unemployment rate in the month of December from 2009 to 2022.


Source: ELSTAT, Labour Force Survey, December 2022.



Another interesting element in the demographic picture of Greece is the extensive inbound immigration flow, which is identified since the 1990s.

It should be noted that the following immigration data also includes persons living in the country on 1.1.2021 because of the refugee crisis.

Population Estimation of Foreign Citizenship as of 1st January 2021
Citizens of other E.E. member states 168.550
Citizens of EFTA countries 1.758
Citizens from countries about to access the E.E. (C.C.) 340.579
Citizens of VHDC countries¹ 34.598
Citizens of HDC countries¹ 74.097
Citizens of MDC Countries¹ 181.366
Citizens of LDC countries¹ 120.537
Total population of foreign citizenship 921.485

[1] Categorization of countries by the UN according to the Human Development Index

EU = EU Countries

EFTA = European Free Trade Association Countries

CC = Candidate Countries

VHDC = Very High Developed Non-EU Countries

HDC = High Developed Non-EU Countries

MDC = Medium Developed Non-EU Countries

LDC = Low Developed Non-EU Countries

Source: ELSTAT, Estimated population by sex, group of citizenship and age group on 1st January (2009-2021)

The education of all pupils that reside in Greece is a national issue.  Immigrant pupils are also included.  The existence of different groups of pupils with various linguistic and cultural characteristics (foreign nationals, repatriates, Roma, Thrace muslims) has led to the development of educational interventions within the framework of intercultural education. The latter helps the smooth integration of these pupils and combats the phenomenon of school dropout.

Educating the refugees’ children

Issues on the education of refugees are determined in Law 4415/2016 'Regulations Greek Education abroad, on Intercultural Education and other provisions', Law 4547/2018 "Re-organisation of support structures of primary and secondary education and other regulations" and Law 4559/2018 "University of Ioannina, Ionian University and other provisions".

Reception School Facilities for Refugee Education (DYEP) have been created for underaged refugees.  Education is provided to refugees through the school units of Primary and Secondary Education of the mainstream educational system.  Furthermore, taking into consideration the specific features of the refugee population, such as mobility, time of arrival and duration of stay in the hosting structure, as well as the size of the student population, Reception School Facilities for Refugee Education (DYEP) may be  formed which will function in the framework of mainstream educational system and apply specified courses of study of a short duration.

To support the education of refugees, the Institute of Educational Policy has created an online platform for collecting and disseminating the approved teaching material.

Additionally, teachers and staff instruction actions on issues of intercultural education,  reception class functioning and the production of educational material (IInstruction interventions for reinforcing school structures of the educational system” have been put to effect in the framework of the OP. “Human Resources Development, Education and Lifelong Learning 2014-2020”, which is an action co-funded by the ESF and National resources.


Greek is the official language of the Greek State, used in the entire territory and at all levels of education.

The Muslim minority, which accounts for approximately 1% of the total population of Greece residing in Thrace, numbers approximately 100,000 members, who are of Turkish, Pomak and Roma origin.  Minority schools operate for the Muslim minority, where the teaching takes place in the Turkish and the Greek language at the same time.


The relations between the state and the religious communities in Greece are defined by the Constitution, international conventions and executive laws.  The Greek Constitution states (Article 13) that:

  1. Freedom of religious conscience is inviolable. The enjoyment of civil rights and liberties does not depend on the individual’s religious beliefs.
  2. All known religions shall be free and their rites of worship shall be performed unhindered and under the protection of the law. The practice of rites of worship is not allowed to offend public order or the good usages. Proselytism is forbidden.
  3. The ministers of all known religions shall be subject to the same supervision by the State and to the same obligations towards it as  those of the prevailing religion.
  4. No person shall be exempt from discharging his obligations to the State or may refuse to comply with the laws by reason of his religious convictions.
  5. No oath shall be imposed or administered except as specified by law and in the form determined by law and in the form determined by law

Also, according to the Constitution of Greece (article 3) the prevailing religion in Greece is the religion of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ. It is pointed out that this recognition is purely affirmative, due to the fact that the great majority of Greeks are affiliated with the Orthodox Church and is therefore not a "state religion" or "official religion".

Education, in accordance with Article 16 of the Constitution, constitutes a basic mission of the State and shall aim at the moral, intellectual, professional and physical training of Greeks, the development of national and religious consciousness and at their formation as free and responsible citizens.

The Greek education system includes:

  1. Ecclesiastical Secondary Education Units Schools (general ecclesiastical lower secondary and general ecclesiastical upper secondary schools), with the main purpose of promoting and training Clergy and the laymen of the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece of high educational level and Christian ethics, as well as
  2. Muslim  Madrasas in Thrace, Secondary Religious Schools (lower secondary schools with upper secondary classes) where only pupils members of the Thrace Muslim minority can attend to fulfill the needs of their religious education. There are two Madrasas, one in Komotini and one in Xanthi.