chapter  1
Greece after the First World War
Pages 31

Dependency stemmed from economic backwardness; and by conven­ tional criteria — low income per capita, low rate of literacy, high rural unemployment, malnutrition among the majority of the rural population, and a low average life expectancy - Greece rated as backward by northern European standards. However it shared at least the first three of these char­ acteristics with the other four Balkan countries, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia. By another criterion, however - the relatively high proportion of the population engaged in non-agricultural occupations and living in large towns — Greece obviously diverged from the rest of the Balkans. By 1940 48 per cent of the population of 7,330,000 lived by nonagricultural occupations, and 23 per cent lived in the four connurbations with over 50,000 people: the metropolis (i.e. Athens and its port Piraeus), Salonika, Patras, and Volos. The metropolis alone contained 15 per cent and was far larger than any other Balkan city. The urban population was relatively receptive to Western technology, clothes, and culture: Athens

and Salonika, for example, were on the electricity grid after 1930. Here, the wealthy and educated lived in a way far removed from that of the vil­ lages. These, if defined as having under 1,000 people, still included 48 per cent of the population, and many were remote and primitive, like one in the Pindus mountains, described by an American officer attached in 1944 to the base of the main resistance movement against the Germans: here all the inhabitants slept on the floors of their single-roomed huts; the nearest shop was fifteen hours’ walk away; and an old woman, seeing an illuminat­ ed light bulb for the first time, tried to blow it out.2