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The Modern Greek People, their Character and Racial Mix Page 3

As for 'Mediterranean temperament' (returning to that original assertion by a Greek author that Greeks are a 'purely Mediterranean' people who just happened to have been subject to Ottoman influences), it can in no way be stated that all of modern Greece is a 'Mediterranean' country, despite the ubiquitous image presented to international tourists of white 'cubist' Cycladic houses and blue-domed churches, wide sandy beaches and seaside cafes. There is, in fact, a vast geographical difference between the southern part of modern Greece (indeed 'Mediterranean'in climate, topography, flora and fauna, etc, and the northern mainland regions whose landscapes and climate more resemble those of the Balkans, with high mountains, forests, large rivers, rolling land, large flat agricultural plains (Thessaly), lakes, and marshes. Geography and climate have a great influence on temperament, and the Greeks who live on the northern Greek mainland, not only differ from those in Attica or in the Peloponnese or the islands, are inevitably different from those farther south, though surely they share many common traits.

All this is pointed out to avoid the generalizations so commonly sought about countries and peoples, which goes so closely hand in hand with nationalism and, by default, outright racism. All this said, we can look at what sort of 'character', what kind of human qualities might be found with some kind of consistency in modern Greeks, keeping in mind that some of these qualities will be found in Turks as well, in the neighboring Balkan countries to the north, and in, Italians. It must be kept in mind that tourism has had a major effect on Greeks in areas where tourism is a major part of the economy, both on the large numbers of people who work in tourist related businesses (tavernas, restaurants, hotels and rooms complexes, tourist offices, etc.) as well as on local people who, though not directly connected with those enterprises, have seen their lives powerfully impacted by the presence of hordes of foreigners who come to enjoy the pleasure of their local turf, some of them with proper respect shown to the local inhabitants, but many others who merely see the place they are visiting as a kind of anonymous international playground set up for their own pleasure, and nothing in its own right. The latter are, sadly, all too common, and have had a very negative effect on the natural hospitality, or filoxenia (love of the foreigner/guest) which any Greek will tell you is the essence of Greekness (though very much noted by travelers in Turks as well, and certainly present in Balkan countries to the north). Because those working in tourist related jobs must deal with both the respectful and disrespectful foreign traveler, Greek filoxenia has been stretched to its full limits in some places, and one may find some very closed and abrupt behavior as well as the well-trained professional smile (and often one of genuine warmth).

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