The full report on Greece is available for download here.

Geography and population statistics

  • Location: Southern Europe, pills bordering the Aegean Sea, web Ionian Sea, cardiologist and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey
  • Borders: land borders 1,228 km (Albania 282 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Turkey 206 km, Macedonia 246 km), coastline 13,676 km
  • Population: 10,772,967 (July 2013 est.)
  • Urban population: 61% of total population (2010), rate of urbanization: 0.6% annually (2010-15 est.)
  • Major cities: ATHENS (capital) 3.252 million; Thessaloniki 834,000 (2009
  • Net migration rate: 2.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
    (Source: CIA The World Factbook)


Political situation

  • Government type: parliamentary republic
  • Independence: 1830 (from the Ottoman Empire)
  • Constitution: 11 June 1975; amended March 1986, April 2001, and May 2008
  • Legal system: civil legal system based on Roman law
  • Chief of state: President Karolos PAPOULIAS (since 12 March 2005)
  • Head of government: Prime Minister Antonis SAMARAS (since 20 June 2012)
    (Source: CIA The World Factbook)


Migration patterns and trends

Greece, like all other Southern European countries, concentrates large numbers of irregular immigrants. Geography has been a decisive factor, by Greece’s very location naturally at the Southeast external border of the EU, neighbouring non-EU countries (Turkey, Albania, Macedonia). The role of the labour market and of a large shadow economy have been crucial, involving high demand for cheap and flexible work mostly in sectors characterised by high seasonality, such as tourism, construction and agriculture, or in domestic-sphere activities, such as caretaking, cleaning and housework.

Greece’s transition to mass immigration in the early 1990s, involved predominantly clandestine movements, mostly originating from neighbouring Balkan countries, overwhelmingly from Albania. Back then, the state machinery proved rather unprepared and insufficient to respond to developments following the collapse of regimes in Bulgaria, Romania and especially Albania, but governments also showed unwillingness to acknowledge Greece’’s de facto transformation into a destination country. The first immigration Bill passed in 1991 was exceptionally restrictive, though for most of the 1990s there has been silent toleration of hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants available to work informally and for low wages in agriculture, construction, tourism, small manufactures, cleaning and domestic care.

A first two-stage regularisation scheme enacted by presidential decrees in 1997 received about 371,640 applications, though strict requirements deterred many migrants from moving on to the second stage, while provisions where only for short periods of one year. Law 2910/2001 provided for a second regularisation programme, granting nearly 230,000 permits over a total of about 270,000 applications. Law 3386/2005 provided the framework for both status renewals and regularisations of undocumented immigrants, which resulted in about 96,000 new permits. Apart from a follow-up regularisation of limited scale for special categories of migrants in 2007, no further extensive programme has been applied. This has resulted in a significant reduction of the estimated numbers of undocumented migrants, from about 400,000 in 2000 to a maximum of 300,000 in 2004 and even fewer (172,000-280,000) in 2007 (Maroukis 2012).

In the meantime, shifting channels and routes of migration, and adjustments of smuggling operations to policy developments, have resulted in increasing flows towards or though Greece over the second half of the 2000s, though Greece’s eastern maritime and land borders with Turkey. Estimates on the total stock of immigrants with irregular status residing in the country reached an alleged number of 350,000 in 2010 and approached 400,000 in 2011 (ibid.). Around 2009-2010 Greece had come to receive the majority of migratory flows into the EU (estimated at more than 80%), though lately (in 2012-2013) the flow appears substantially decreased. At the same time, however, the challenges facing the Greek economy and society amidst the deepening economic crisis affects migrants in a variety of ways, including some losing their legal status as a result of unemployment and their resulting inability to renew their permits for not achieving the required amount of social security contributions. Considering also trends of return migration due to the crisis in the last three years or so,  by December 2012 the total number of valid stay permits of Third Country nationals legally residing in the country was 440,118, about 27% lower than their number in December 2009.


Selected bibliography

Baldwin-Edwards, M. (2008) “Immigrants in Greece: characteristics and issues of regional distribution”, Mediterranean Migration Observatory Working Paper Series, W.P. n.10, Athens: Panteion University.

Cavounidis, J. (2006) “Labor market impact of migration: employment structures and the case of Greece”, International Migration Review, 40 (3): 635–60.

EMN (2012) Practical issues for reducing irregular migration. Greece report. European Migration Network.

Fakiolas, R. (2003) “Regularising undocumented immigrants in Greece: procedures and effects”, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 29 (3): 535-561.

Glytsos, Nicholas, P. (2005) “Stepping from Illegality to Legality and Advancing towards Integration: The Case of Immigrants in Greece”, International Migration Review, 39: 819-840.

Kasimis, Ch. and Papadopoulos, A.G. (2005) “The Multifunctional Role of Migrants in Greek Countryside: Implications for Rural Economy and Society”, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31 (1): 99-127.

Lambrianidis, L. and Lyberaki, A. (2001) Albanian immigrants in Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki: Paratiritis

Lianos, T, Kanellopoulos, K., Gregou, M., Gemi, E. and Papakonstantinou, P. (2008), An estimattion of the volume of aliens residing illegally in Greece, Athens: IMEPO.

Maroukis T, Iglicka K, Gmaj K. (2011) “Irregular migration and informal economy in Southern and Central-Eastern Europe: breaking the vicious cycle?”, International Migration, 49 (5):129-156.

Maroukis, Th. (2012) “Update report Greece: The number of irregular migrants in Greece at the end of 2010 and 2011”, Database on Irregular Migration, Update report.

Maroukis. Th. (2008) “Country report: Greece”. Report prepared for the project CLANDESTINO Undocumented Migration: counting the uncountable – data and trends across Europe, EU 6thh Framework Programme.

Marvakis, A., Parsanoglou, D. and Pavlou, M. eds (2001), Migrants in Greece. Athens: Ellinika Grammata

Psimmenos, I. (1995) Immigration from the Balkans: Social Exclusion in Athens. Athens: Glory Book – Papazisis.

Sarris, A. and Zografakis, S. (1999) “A computable general equilibrium assessment of the impact of illegal immigration on the Greek economy”, Journal of Population Economics, 12: 155-182.

Triandafyllidou, A. and Ambrosini, M. (2011) “Irregular migration control in Italy and Greece: strong fencing and weak gate-keeping strategies serving the labour market”, European Journal of Migration and Law, 13: 251-273.

Triandafyllidou, A. and Maroukis, Th, (2010) Migration in 21st century Greece. Athens: Kritiki.

Triandafyllidou, A. and Maroukis, Th. (2008) “The Case of the Greek Islands: The Challenge of Migration at the EU’s Southeastern Sea Borders”, Documentos CIDOB, Serie: Migraciones, n. 17. Immigration Flows and the Management of the EU’s Southern Maritime Borders. Barcelona: CIDOB, pp. 63-82.
georgia_sm_2012Geography and Population statistics
• Southwestern Asia, Mycoplasmosis
bordering the Black Sea, buy between Turkey and Russia, with a sliver of land north of the Caucasus extending into Europe; note – Georgia views itself as part of Europe
• Strategically located east of the Black Sea; Georgia controls much of the Caucasus Mountains and the routes through them
• Population: 4,555,911 (July 2013 est.)
• Urban population: 53% of total population (2010)
• TBILISI (capital) 1.115 million (2009)
• Ethnic groups: Georgian 83.8%, Azeri 6.5%, Armenian 5.7%, Russian 1.5%, other 2.5% (2002 census)
• Net migration rate: -3.96 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)

(Source: CIA The World Factbook)

Political situation
• Government type: republic
• Independence: 9 April 1991 (from the Soviet Union); notable earlier date: A.D. 1008 (Georgia unified under King BAGRAT III)
• Constitution: adopted 24 August 1995
• Chief of state: President Mikheil SAAKASHVILI (since 25 January 2004); the president is the chief of state and serves as head of government for the power ministries of internal affairs, justice, and defense
• Head of government: Prime Minister Bidzina IVANISHVILI (since 25 October 2012); the prime minister is head of government for all the ministries of government except the power ministries of internal affairs, justice, and defense

(Source: CIA The World Factbook)

Migration patterns and trends

According to Badurashvili, and Nadareishvili (2012) we can distinguish three periods of socio-economic and political development in Georgia. The first one, starting in 1991, is characterized by total political and economic stagnation. Georgia’s transition into the post-Soviet era was exceptionally complex due to territorial conflicts and civil unrests. Separatist movements that emerged in the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia -which used to enjoy an autonomous status during the Soviet era- compelled the majority of their Georgian population to flee those regions. In addition, the removal of the first democratically elected president in 1992 lead to a civil war between his supporters and his opponents. Those conflicts lead to an economic collapse. The period of political and economic stabilization begins in 1995, when Eduard Shevardnadze, the former Soviet foreign minister, was elected president and remained in that position until the ‘Rose Revolution’ in 2003. The third period, that of economic development is begins in 2004, when Mikheil Saakashvili was elected.
In general, most scholars separate the trends of Georgian migration into three periods that more or less coincide with the periods of Georgia’s socio-political and economic development described above. For instance the CRRC/ISET (2010) report distinguishes three waves of international migration: the Collapse and Conflict starting in 1990 and ending in 1995, the Economic Struggle between 1996 and 2004, and the Possible Revival from 2004 and on.
During the first period, up to 1994-5, migration outflows were mainly triggered by ethnic motivations and those migrating for financial reasons were significantly fewer in numbers. Thus this first wave of migrants was mainly comprised by war refugees and ethnic minorities, such as Greeks and Jewish, returning to their home-lands. The second wave, between 1996 and 2004, was smaller in size and driven mainly by economic motives. (CRRC/ISET, 2010: 8) As for the current phase, starting in 2004, the evidence is not yet concrete.

Migration to Greece

Migration from Georgia to Greece started in the early and mid – ‘90s, when a considerable number of ethnic Greeks repatriated from Georgia who were soon followed by economic migrants. According to a report by the People‘s Harmonious Development Society and the TASO Foundation (2010) Greece became an attractive destination for Georgian immigrants for a number of reasons, namely: its demand of workforce in labour markets, its economical attractiveness, the developed transportation infrastructure between the two countries, the cultural similarities / physical likeness their people and the presence of a developed social network.
Georgian migration to Greece is highly gendered. According to the Labour Force Survey conducted by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (El.Stat.), in the 4th trimester of 2012 73% the Georgian citizens residing in Greece were women. The gender gap appears to have deepened over the past few years, which can be most likely linked to Georgian’s labor market situation as the sectors where Georgian men where typically employed, such as manufacturing and construction work, suffered more by the economic crisis than the domestic sector which consists the main niche of Georgian women.
Nikolova and Maroufof (2010) separate migration from Georgia and Ukraine into two phases, based on Greece’s shifts in migration policy. The first phase begins with the start of migratory inflows from those countries in the early 90’s and it is characterized mainly by irregularity of residence status. This period ends with the implementation of the first regularization program in 1998. After that, Georgians, as any other nationality, are given the opportunity to regularize their status and their living and working conditions are significantly improved. However, given the decline in valid residence permits for the purpose of employment, which clearly will lead to a subsequent decrease in permits for the purpose of family reunification, the fact that the last regularization program took place in 2007 and concerned only those who had arrived up to 2005 the search and use of alternative strategies in order to regularize their status perhaps we can speak now of a new phase characterized by an increased ‘return to irregularity’ and a ‘false and/or temporary regularity’.

Selected bibliography:
• Alasania, G. (2006). Women in Georgia. IBSU International Refereed Multi-diciplinary Scientific Journal, No1 2006. Available from:
• Badurashvili, I. & Nadareishvili, M. (2012a). Social Impact of Emigration and Rural-Urban Migration in Central and Eastern Europe, Country Report, Georgia, April 2012
• CRRC/ISET, (2010). Development on the Move: Measuring and Optimising Migration’s Economic and Social Impacts in Georgia, Tbilisi. Available at:
• Nikolova, M. & Maroufof, M. (2010). “Georgian and Ukrainian immigrants in Greece”’ in: A. Triandafyllidou, Th. Maroukis (eds) ‘The immigration in Greece in the 21st century’, Kritiki, 2010 (in Greek)
• People‘s Harmonious Development Society & TASO Foundation, (2010). Peculiarities of Migration Processes from Georgia to Greece
• Badurashvili, I., (2004). Determinants and Consequences of Irregular Migration in a Society under Transition. The Case of Georgia. Available at:
• Human Rights Defense Center (2011). ‘Aspects of irregular migration and human trafficking in Greece. A legal and empirical survey’. Available at:
• Caucasus Research Resource Centres (CRRC), (2007). Migration and Return in Georgia: Trends, Assessments, and Potential. A report submitted to the Danish Refugee Council by Caucasus Research Resource Centres, Tbilisi (
• Hofmann, E., Buckley, C., (2008). Cultural responses to changing gender patterns of migration in Georgia. Available at:



The full report on Albania is available for download here.

Geography and Population statistics

• A Balkan country of Southeast Europe
• Sea borders: the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea. Albania’s western neighbour, patient Italy, lies some 50 miles (80 km) across the Adriatic Sea.
• Land borders: Greece in the south, F.Y.R.O.M. to the east, Montenegro to northwest and Kosovo to the north.
• Administrative divisions: Tirane (capital, 763,634), Fier (310,989), Elbasan (296,082), Durres (265,330), Korce (220,438), Shkoder (217,375), Vlore (184,279), Berat (140,964), Diber (136,630), Lezhe (135,609), Kukes (85,239), Gjirokaster (75,172).
• Territorial Area: 28,748 sq km from which land: 27,398 sq km and water: 1,350 sq km
• Land boundaries: 717 km
• Border countries: Greece 282 km, F.Y.R.O.M. 151 km, Montenegro 172 km and Kosovo 112 km
• Coastline: 362 km
• Albania has a strategic position along Strait of Otranto (links Adriatic Sea to Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea)
• Population: Based on Population and Housing Census 2011, the total population of Albania is 2,831,741. In 2001 the population of Albania was equal to 3,069,275. The comparison of the figures shows that the population of Albania has decreased by 7.7% in about ten years. Large scale emigration and fertility decline are supposed to be the main causes of the observed population decrease.
• Net migration rate: 3.33 migrants/1,000 population. The number of emigrants is estimated at 1.438,45.
• Urban population: 53.7% of the population lives in urban areas and 46.3% in rural areas.
• Ethnic groups: Albanian 95%, Greek 3%, other 2% (Vlach, Roma, Serb, F.Y.R.O.M, Bulgarian)

(Sources: Census 2011, CIA The World Factbook,

Political Situation
• Government type: Republic/Parliamentary democracy
• Constitution: adopted 22 November 1998
• Legal system: based on Civil Law
• Chief of state: President of the Republic Bujar Nishani (since 24 July 2012)
• Head of government: Prime Minister Sali BERISHA (since 10 September 2005)
• Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and is a potential candidate for EU accession.
(Source: CIA The World Factbook)
Migration patterns and trends
Since 1990, Albania has witnessed one of the greatest and most dramatic migration outflows of its modern history. The pictures of hopeless Albanians “broking the walls” of Western embassies or that of the desperate Albanian refugees piled into crowded rusty ships to escape a country collapsing into political and economic chaos, became part of the iconography of global migration in the 1990’s (King and Mai, 2008). Twenty years later over a million Albanians – about 27,5% of the total Albanian population and 35% of the active population (RoA, 2010) – have migrated abroad, which is by far the highest proportion amongst the Central and East European countries. It is estimated, that the destination country of 50% of Albanian emigrants is Greece, whilst 25% have been migrated to Italy and the rest 25 % in the countries of .E.U., U.S.A. and Canada.

Albanian migration is characterized by a high degree of irregularity with clandestine departures and a large proportion of migrants classified as “illegal” and “undocumented” in host countries (Dedja, 2012:116). The Albanian irregular migration has been mostly developed towards the neighboring countries including Greece (98%) and Italy and only to a slight proportion towards other EUMS (GoA, 2010). However, since 2010, a significant decrease of irregular migration is observed with the detections of illegal border-crossing dropped considerably over 85 per cent comparing to 2009 (FRONTEX, 2012).

In the meantime, it is becoming increasingly evident how the initial flood of migrants to neighbouring countries is slowly generating a stream of returnees who, often after multiple moves back and forth, have decided to settle back in Albania (Kilic et al., 2007). Nowadays, that the consequences of the economic crisis and high rates of unemployment caused by it have begun to manifest themselves fully in country where the Albanian migrants are mostly settled (Greece and Italy), new departures of them are taking place, either repatriating back to their home country or continuing the never ended migration “journey” to a third country (USA and Canada). Data provided by Directorate of Migration Policies, Return and Re-integration of Ministry of Labour of Albania indicate that Albanian returnees from Greece represent 86 per cent of the total numbers of returnees in Albania in 2012.

Migration to Greece
Albanians constitute by far the largest immigrant community in Greece. Estimates in literature suggest that more than half of the migrant population in Greece is Albanians. The Greek Labour Force Survey estimated their number to be at about 501,000, which amounts to around sixty per cent of the total immigrant population (out of 839,000) living in Greece, as well as five per cent of the total native Greek population (Triandafyllidou and Maroufof, 2011). Comparing to previous years, the figures for the 2012 show a gradually decrease by 128.191 in the stock of Albanian regular immigrants. Evidence refer to the regular migrants losing the legal status and lapsing back into irregularity due to the high unemployment rates which has been estimated to reach 36 per cent for the third quarter of 2012 (Labour Force Survey, 2012c).
The migratory movements of Albanians to Greece throughout the 1990s were temporary, predominantly irregular and involved semi-skilled, low-skilled, or unskilled migrants. They were generally employed on a seasonal or temporary basis in labour sectors noted for informal activity: agriculture, construction, tourism, small scale family factories and housekeeping. It is estimated that over 550,000 unauthorised migrants were working in Greece by the late 1990s, and most of them were employed in seasonal work and returned home in the off-season (Reyneri, 2001). However, in the early 2000s, most of these irregular movements and employment evolved into permanent settlement. This was mainly due to the legalization procedures which were first introduced in 1998 and set the Greek state’s requirements for social insurance contribution in order to prove legal work and obtain/renew one’s residence permit (Maroukis and Gemi, 2011).
In the meantime, little is known of the segment of irregular Albanian migrants living in Greece today. Despite the evidence by Greek Policy and FRONTEX which show a significant decrease of irregular migration (85 per cent) reports suggest that Albanians are still irregular circular migrants to Greece, but the irregularity this time is mostly relating to their employment in the shadow labour market.

Selected bibliography:
• Barjaba, K. and King, R. (2005). ‘Introducing and Theorising Albanian Migration’, in R. King, N. Mai and S. Schwandner-Sievers (eds), The New Albanian Migration. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 1-28.

• Carletto, G. et al. (2006). ‘A country on the move: International migration in post-communist Albania’, International Migration Review, 40(4): 767-85.

• Cavounidis, J. (2004). ‘Migration to Greece from the Balkans’, South Eastern Europe Journal of Economics 2 (2004) 35-59.

• Germenji, E. and Milo, L. (2009). ‘Return and labour status at home: Evidence from returnees in Albania’, Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 9(4): 497-517.
• IOM International Organization for Migration (2008), Migration in Albania: A Country Profile. Available at:

• Frontex. (2012). Annual Risk Analysis.

• Government of Albania. (2010). Albania: Annual Migration Profile.

• King, R. (2005). ‘Albania as a laboratory for the study of migration and development’. Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, 7(2): 133-56.

• Labrianidis, L. and Kazazi B. (2006). ‘Albanian Return-migrants from Greece and Italy. Their impact upon spatial disparities within Albania’, European Urban and Regional Studies, 13(1): 59-74.

• Maroukis T. and Gemi E. (2011). ‘Circular Migration between Albanian and Greece: A case study’, Metoikos Project, European University Institute. Available at:

• Maroukis, T. (2008). ‘Undocumented Migration: Greece’. Report for the CLANDESTINO EC funded project (available at

• Population and Housing Census in Albania, Preliminary Results, December 2011, Preliminary Results,

• Triandafyllidou, A. and Maroufof, M. (2011). GREECE – Report prepared for the SOPEMI Meeting Paris, 1-3 December 2010. Available at:

• Vullnetari, J. (2007). ‘Albanian Migration and Development. State-of-The-Art Review’. Amsterdam: IMISCOE Working Papers Series. No.18.