Athens - City of USA
Athens the capital and largest city of Greece, dominates the Attica periphery; as one of the world's oldest cities, its recorded history spans around 3,400 years.
Athens is central to economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece. It is rapidly becoming a leading business centre in the European Union. In 2008, Athens was ranked the world's 32nd richest city by purchasing power and the 25th most expensive in a UBS study.
The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by a number of ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon on the Acropolis, widely considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains a vast variety of Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of remaining Ottoman monuments projecting the city's long history across the centuries. Landmarks of the modern era are also present, dating back to 1830 , and taking in the Hellenic Parliament and the Athens Trilogy consisting of the National Library of Greece, the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics, with great success.
Athens has been continuously inhabited for at least 4,500 years. Classical Athens became the leading city of ancient Greece in the 5th century BC, with its cultural achievements laying the foundations of Western civilization. By the end of Late Antiquity the city experienced decline followed by recovery in the second half of the Middle Byzantine Period , and was relatively prosperous during the Crusades, benefiting from Italian trade; after a long period of decline under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Athens re-emerged in the 19th century as the capital of the independent Greek state, and in 1896 hosted the first modern Olympic Games.
In the 1920s a number of Greek refugees, expelled from Asia Minor after the Greco-Turkish War, swelled Athens' population; nevertheless it was most particularly following the Second World War, and from the 1950s and 1960s, that the population of the city exploded, and Athens experienced a gradual expansion in all directions. In the 1980's it became evident that smog from factories and an ever increasing fleet of automobiles, as well as a lack of adequate free space due to overcongestion, had evolved into the city's most important challenges.
A series of anti-pollution measures taken by the city's authorities in the 1990s, combined with a substantial improvement of the city's infrastructure, alleviated pollution considerably and transformed Athens into a much more functional city.
Athens enjoys a typical mediterranean climate, with the greatest amounts of precipitation mainly occurring from mid-October to mid-April; any precipitation is sparse during summer and falls generally in the form of showers and/or thunderstorms.
Due to its location in a strong rain shadow because of Mount Parnitha, however, the Athenian climate is much drier compared to most of the rest of Mediterranean Europe. The mountainous northern suburbs, for their part, experience a somewhat differentiated climatic pattern, with generally lower temperatures and more substantial snowfalls during winter. Fog is highly unusual in the city centre but it is more frequent to the east, behind the Hymettus mountain range.
The city is one of the world's main centres of archaeological research. Apart from national institutions, such as Athens University, the Archaeological Society, several archaeological Museums , the city is also home to the Demokritos laboratory for Archaeometry as well as several regional and national archaeological authorities that form part of the Greek Department of Culture.
Additionally, Athens hosts 17 Foreign Archaeological Institutes which promote and facilitate research by scholars from their respective home countries. As a result, Athens has more than a dozen archaeological libraries and three specialized archaeological laboratories, and is the venue of several hundred specialized lectures, conferences and seminars, as well as dozens of archaeological exhibitions, per year. At any given time, Athens is the home to hundreds of international scholars and researchers in all disciplines of archaeology.
Athens has been a popular destination for travellers since antiquity. Over the past decade, the city's infrastructure and social amenities have improved, in part due to its successful bid to stage the 2004 Olympic Games. The Greek Government, aided by the EU, has funded major infrastructure projects such as the state-of-the-art Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, the expansion of the Athens Metro system, and the new Attiki Odos Motorway.
USA National Bird : Bald Eagle
USA National Flower : Rose Rosa
USA National Game : Baseball