Mixed capitalism in Greece
and transition in Poland

by Andrew Dubrowski,
April 2002



PART 1(an introduction to Greece and Poland):

 Greece and Poland are two countries in Europe, with Greece being situated in the southern part of Europe and Poland in central Europe. Greece, a peninsular country, is also comprised of many small islands as it borders three seas, the Aegean, Ionian, and Mediterranean Sea. Greece shares its land borders with Albania, F.Y.R.O.M. (The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), Bulgaria, and Turkey. It is a small country that actually would fit inside Alabama with an area of 131,940 sq. km. It experiences severe earthquakes. The climate is temperate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Greece consists mostly of mountains that extend into the water forming the islands. Historically Greece spent around 400 years occupied by the Ottoman Empire but finally gained its independence in 1829. With its newly found independence, Greece expanded its borders into the 20th century with new Greek speaking islands and territories. In 1949 Greece combated communism and defeated communist rebels to join NATO by 1952. A military dictatorship took control in 1967 and lasted in Greece for a few years but by 1974 democratic elections put an end to any monarchy in Greece building a parliamentary republic. Greece later joined the European Union in 1981. Poland, as opposed to Greece, is mainly landlocked with the exception of its Baltic Sea border. The countries surrounding Poland are Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia, and the Ukraine. Poland is over twice the size of Greece with an area of 312,685 sq. km. The weather is considered temperate however Poland experiences cold, cloudy, and moderately severe winters with much precipitation. Summers are mild with frequent precipitation as well. Poland is a country with mostly flat plains, and mountains along the southern border. Poland spent years under the occupation of the Habsburg, Hohenzollern, and Romanov empires until 1918 when it gained independence. This was a short-lived independence as World War II took a toll on Poland. The Germans and Soviets had their way in Poland and finally the country turned into a Soviet satellite after the war. Although it spent some time under the influence of the Soviet Union, Poland remained more tolerant and progressive. This may have paved the way for the formation of an independent trade union called “Solidarity” to become a political force in parliamentary elections. The country adopted radical new ways to boost its economy into the elite of Central Europe in the 1990s. Poland and Greece are both a part of NATO.


PART 2 (the Greek and Polish culture):

Greece is a country that has a rich history that goes back into ancient times. The whole country can be considered an archaeological site because an entirely different world lies beneath the soil of modern day Greece. Greeks are very proud of their history and take pride in the ancient sites that remind them of the stories and legends that filled their past. Mythology may seem nothing more than just stories made up of dragons and gods for entertainment to outsiders, but to the Greeks mythology is a link to their fruitful past. In Athens, the capital of Greece, is the symbol of the great architecture of the ancient Greeks and the heart of the mystical history – the Parthenon. Atop the Acropolis in the middle of busy, bustling Athens is a temple built from marble. This temple has become one of the most famous landmarks in Europe. Whenever Greece is mentioned, the Parthenon comes to mind.  The great architecture of this incredible temple gives the Parthenon the reputation of being the greatest Doric temple ever built. It was made as a ceremonial temple built to honor the gods especially the mother god of the city Athens, represented inside with a gold and ivory statue of Athena. The temple was one of the holiest and most sacred places in Greece and that is why the temple was built with such beauty. Today the Acropolis in Athens is the most visited area of Greece, because people want to see the marvel that is the Parthenon. It is a constant reminder of Greece’s glorious ancient civilization. As Greece takes pride in its ancient traditions through its architecture, Poland takes pride in a classical tradition of music. The name Frederic Chopin should not be unfamiliar to anyone especially to those of Polish descent. Chopin was born in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw of Polish and French descent. He moved away from Poland to Paris where he gained his fame for his exquisite musical ability. But in Paris he did not forget his Polish origins. Chopin composed 55 mazurkas, which are noted for the rhythm and melodic traits of Polish folk music. He also composed 13 polonaises, which reflect “an heroic spirit” for the Polish. He was an ex-patriot but never forgot the loyalty he felt to his mother country. Chopin died in 1849 and was buried in Paris, but the Polish took his heart and placed it in the Church of the Holy Cross in central Warsaw. Chopin is a source of pride in Poland. During the last World War, the Germans did not allow the Poles to listen to any of his music. A statue of Chopin was melted down by the Germans for ammunition. This was a great insult to the Poles, and now with their independence, they hold concerts in honor of Frederic Chopin.


PART 3 (the economies):

 The economy of Greece can be considered a mixed capitalist economy. It has dealt with the capitalist system for a number of years, never falling under the blanket of socialism or communism. The public sector in Greece is a key ingredient in the GDP as it accounts for roughly half of the domestic product. Poland has an open transition economy. It is actually considered one of the most successful economies of its type since it has adopted a policy of liberalizing the economy. As a satellite of the former Soviet Union, Poland has come a long way to build its economy to the state that it is at now, and it did so quickly and steadily. In contrast with Greece, Poland prides itself on its private sector. New laws make it easy to establish new firms as small and medium sized state companies have been put into private hands. A quick look at the economies of Poland and Greece reveal a striking advantage to the Poles. The GDP of Poland estimated in 2000 was $327.5 billion. Greece was estimated to have merely a GDP in 2000 of $181.9 billion. Greece’s GDP is only about 56% the size of Poland’s. Looks may be deceiving as the population sizes may account for this parity in GDPs. There are approximately 10,623,835 people living in Greece whereas Poland has a population of approximately 38,633,912. Greece’s population is only 27% the size of Poland’s population. When population sizes are accounted for in the GDP of each country, Greece actually has a GDP per capita of about $17,200 while Poland only has a GDP per capita of $8,500. The people in Greece account for over twice the GDP of their country than that of Poland. The GDP of each of the countries’ economies has been divided into three sectors: agriculture, industry, and services. In Greece, agriculture and services are comparatively more important to the economy than in Poland. Agriculture comprises 8.3% of Greece’s GDP while in Poland agriculture is only 3.8% of GDP. Similarly, services in Greece make up for 64.4% of the country’s GDP, while services in Poland comprise 59.6%. Poland makes up for its comparative shortcomings with an industry sector accounting for 36.6% of its country’s GDP. Greece is well below Poland’s level of industry with 27.3% of the GDP found in the industry sector. Industry in Greece is comprised of mainly tourism, providing a large portion of the GDP and foreign exchange earnings. Secondary yet vital industries in Greece include food and tobacco processing, in the areas that are agriculturally sound. Chemicals and metal products, and mining and petroleum, round out the other main industries in Greece. What Poland lacks in tourism, it makes up for in machine building, iron and steel, and coal mining. Similar to Greece, Polish industries also include chemicals and textiles. Industry in Poland is more “technical” and somewhat stronger than in Greece. The transition of Poland’s economy that has been so successful because of a tactful liberalizing economic policy has produced an economic growth rate of about 4.8%. This growth rate shows a much improved economy over the years. The change from the old Soviet ways has rejuvenated the Polish economy and may display a fruitful future. The Greek economy is not growing as well as the Polish economy, with a steady rate of about 3.8%. This growth rate is actually predicted to fall as Greece is doing some restructuring of its economy. Not as tactful a policy as Poland has, privatization in Greece of some of the leading state industries may slow down growth. Although Poland’s policy seems to be working well (well enough to have the best growth performance in the area since 1992), the policy of the Greek’s economy has proven itself in the past. The budget deficit has successfully fallen to below 1% of the GDP and a tightened monetary policy has succeeded in causing a massive reduction in inflation – 20% in 1990 to 3.1% in 2000. The lower inflation rate strengthens the trust of the people in the market, which may lead to further economic success. Poland would be wise to tighten up its monetary policy as it dealt with a 10.2% inflation rate in 2000. A clear difference between Greece and Poland may be found in the aid received by the Greeks from the EU (European Union). As a member of the EU, Greece receives economic aid that accounts for 4% of its GDP. Poland does not receive this aid but is looking to join the EU. The sizes of Greece and Poland’s labor forces are quite different due to the respective sizes of the populations; however unemployment rates remain relatively static among the two countries. Greece’s labor force is comprised of about 4.32 million people while Poland has a labor force of 17.2 million. Unemployment is at 11.3% in Greece and at 12% in Poland. Although the countries have different economies, a similar trend seems to appear in the jobs that are available for people.


PART 4 (imports and exports):

Poland and Greece both import more than they export. In 2000 Greece’s imports were valued at $33.9 billion while it exported only $15.8 billion. Exports in Greece are only 47% the size of imports. The Polish export-import deficit is not as high as Greece’s. In 2000 Poland imported $42.7 billion and exported $28.4 billion, with exports at 67% the size of imports. Out of the $33.9 billion of imports in Greece, the main commodities of the country are manufactured food, foodstuffs, fuels, and chemicals. Similar to Greece, Poland also values chemical imports; however, more important to Poland are the import commodities of machinery and transport equipment and intermediate manufactured goods. Greece’s leading exports are manufactured goods, along with food and beverages and petroleum products. Among Poland’s exports are machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, and food and live animals. The agricultural products produced in Greece and Poland also make up a good part of the countries’ exports. As both countries are from different climates, agriculture is not very similar between the two. Greece produces wheat, corn and barley in certain areas. The olives grown in Kalamata are famous around the world. Wine, tobacco, and potatoes come from regions in Greece. Greece produces some dairy and beef as well. Poland’s agricultural sector is not as large as Greece’s. Potatoes are grown in Poland along with some fruits and vegetables. There is also a market for poultry, eggs, and pork coming out of Poland. Although Greece exports one of Poland’s highest imports (manufactured products), the two countries do not seem to have many trade ties. Poland’s main export partner is Germany, making up 36.1% of exports. Poland exports a good amount close to Greece, in Italy, but Greece is not much of a factor in Polish exports. Other countries that Poland exports to are the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, and Czech Republic. Very similar to Poland is the trend of Greek exports. Much of Greece’s exporting takes place within the European Union including the main countries that Poland deals with, Germany, Italy, and the UK. Greece also exports a little to the United States. Imports in Poland follow the same trend as exports. Most imports come from Germany at 25.2%. Secondly Poland imports from Italy. Greece’s two largest import partners are Italy and Germany as well. Since Germany and Italy are part of the European Union, it is not surprise that Greece has many dealings with them as 66% of imports come from the EU for Greece. Poland is close to the EU as well and thus maintains close ties to the countries involved in hopes to join the union also.


PART 5 (a final glance at Greece and Poland)

Greece and Poland are two European countries separated by many others, with different historical backgrounds, unlike cultures, and two different economies. The size of the two countries provides some contrasts in economies. Greece, being smaller, does not seem to have as large an economy as the transition economy in Poland. Poland’s economy has been growing at a highly successful rate but Greece has kept a steady rate as well through the years. Liberal policy in Poland provides a good step for the Polish economy while with some economic aid from the EU, Greece has been able to form some policies that have Greece pointed in the right direction as well. It is unfair to say which economy is better since in Greece and in Poland the respective economies both seem to work for their respective countries.



Part 1: info from 1."Civilization in the West", Mark Kishlansky 2."Encyclopedia Americana 2002"

Part 2: info from

Part 3: statistical info from 1.2001 CIA World Factbook (numbers are official from 2000 since no official numbers have been shown for 2002) other info from 1."The Shape of the New Europe", Gregory F. Treverton 2."The Greek Economy in the Twentieth Century", A.F. Freris

Part 4: info from (official site of trade and commerce in Greece) (official site of trade and commerce in Poland)




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