Greece The Nineteenth Century
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
During most of the nineteenth century, the most important changes in the Greek economy were in the agricultural sector. The introduction and extensive cultivation of cash crops for export was the most significant innovation in the more fertile regions of the country. The earliest such crop was currants, which were introduced mainly in the Peloponnesus. Much later, tobacco was introduced as an export crop in more northern areas of the country. In the less fertile areas, subsistence farming predominated well into the second half of the twentieth century.
The profitability of export crops depended largely on Greece's merchant marine fleet, which had developed during the last decades of Ottoman rule around 1800. In that period, international treaties and political conditions were conducive to increased commercial movement in the eastern Mediterranean. After independence was achieved in 1832, domestic commercial growth was a further stimulus to expansion of the merchant fleet. Expanding trade in Greek agricultural products provided the impetus for development of the first Greek financial networks and a variety of domestic economic infrastructures.
The establishment of the National Bank of Greece in 1841 was an important development in the country's financial base. Endowed with the power to issue banknotes and able to deal in both domestic and foreign currency, the National Bank fostered the gradual unification of a national market, by making a uniform national currency available from its branches all over the country. This development greatly facilitated internal and external trade, domestic saving, availability of credit, and inflows of capital from abroad. By the 1870s, the National Bank was emerging as the country's major economic institutional force.
Other parts of Greece's economic infrastructure did not appear until the latter part of the nineteenth century, predominantly during the several terms of Prime Minister Kharilaos Trikoupis. In the 1880s and 1890s, paved roads, the first network of railroad lines, the opening of the Corinth Canal, and the construction or rehabilitation of several seaports contributed greatly to the development of an internal market in Greece, as well as to the movement of Greek products to foreign markets. The first manufacturing plants also appeared in Greece during Trikoupis's tenure, in conjunction with the large infrastructural projects of the period. Before 1900, however, industrial growth was hindered by economic crises, the instability of the agricultural export economy, and government debt.
Data as of December 1994
NOTE: The information regarding Greece on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Greece The Nineteenth Century information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Greece The Nineteenth Century should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.