Railways. – Two important railway lines depart from Thessaloniki towards the hinterland: one towards Adrianople and Constantinople, the other towards Belgrade and central Europe. But it is not to believe that these lines can absorb much of the commercial movement of Greece: the Vardar railway is, yes, truly a great international communication line, whose head of Thessaloniki unites almost Europe and Asia; and it serves as a transit line especially for export and import products from Yugoslavia, but it cannot be a route of numerous Greek trade: exchanges with Yugoslavia are unimportant and those with all other states, also due to the eccentric position of Thessaloniki, will always prefer the cheapest sea route. And if the difficulties of terrestrial communications have pushed the Greeks themselves towards the sea, the ease of sea routes has meant that the Greeks neglected land communications: today Greece has about 10,600 km. of roads and about 2580 km. of railways.
But the roads, excellent and numerous only in the Ionian islands, as a result of a non-Greek domination, are otherwise still rare and not well maintained; not one passes from eastern to western Greece. The Greeks are well aware of the inadequacy of their land communications, in particular of their railway network, and they are planning new lines, and some already have them under construction, but not even these, once implemented, will be able to alter the essentially maritime character of Greece. and its commercial exchanges.
At the end of 1929, 25,143 cars and 600 motorcycles were on the roads of Greece.
Maritime communications. – The sea is for Greece the great route by which most of its exchanges take place and that is why the Greeks have always been excellent navigators. Even before independence it can be said that most of the navigation done under the Turkish flag was essentially Greek. The Greek sailors have always had a sure command of the sea, especially the not easy Aegean, so much so that the Greek trading ships, during the long wars of independence, armed in race, often won over the squads of the Turkish rulers. And the tradition was then maintained. Steam brought, yes, a crisis, winning the sailing ships that Greece could not immediately replace with steamers, but little by little a national steam merchant fleet was formed,
Developed in the second half of the century. XVIII, the Greek merchant navy counted, in 1813, 615 ships per ton. 153.580. After the crisis of 1848-1852, it began to progress again (tonnes 347,847 in 1876). The Angloboer War, the naval mortgage law of 1910, were the main elements of the new development, assisted by the amateur initiative and the great performance of the crews. The most important pre-war shipping companies were the Empeir ī kos and the National Navigation Company (for transatlantic services). Made up of 1359 ships per ton. 1,000,116 in March 1915, the Greek merchant navy was reduced by 64% by the war; but once again the spirit of initiative of the shipowners prevailed, and the current consistency of the fleet shows a new notable recovery: 539 ships per ton. 1,397,782, of which 526 steamers and 13 motor ships (Lloyd’s Reghter, 1931-32): no sailing vessel over 100 t .; most of the fleet is made up of cargo steamers. Since many ships have aged, and this leads to greater burdens in insurance premiums for companies, various measures have been planned (among other things, the creation of a national company which should insure 30% of the shipping, passing the coverage of the rest to the British Lloyd, and that of a maritime credit institution).
The navy has a very important function for Greece and is estimated to contribute to the trade balance with about 5 million pounds per year. The state grants grants of around 8 million dramas annually. In addition to the National Navigation and Empeir ī kos already mentioned, the most important Greek companies are the Coast Steamship Lines Co. of Greece, in charge of coastal services, Konst. Tólias, Pandelí Bros., Pétros M. Nomikós, Sámos. The largest ship in the Hellenic navy is the Edison (11.103 tons).
Most of the commercial exchanges in Greece take place with Greek steamships: out of 7,500 steamships that entered the port of Piraeus in 1929, 5,600 were national flags. The intense movement of Greek vapors, especially in the eastern Mediterranean, is largely due to the hoarding that the Greek flag has been able to acquire of much of the trade between foreign countries.
The configuration of the Greek coasts favors small and large navigation due to the multiplicity of inland seas, gulfs and therefore natural ports. However, until the whole of the Turkish period, each of these safe but generally small ports served as a base for exchanges in its hinterland; later, and especially after the discovery of steam, the maritime movement gradually became more intense and almost concentrated in a few ports only. And since Athens, the new capital, naturally became the political and financial center, and therefore also the industrial center of the new state, and also the center of land communications, so its port, Piraeus, being on the way between the eastern and the central basin of the Mediterranean, it soon became the main port of Greece. The Peloponnese peninsula, however, pushed itself as an obstacle to direct navigation between the Aegean on one side and the Ionian and the Adriatic on the other and it was difficult for sailing ships to round the southern peninsulas, so that to shorten (by 325 km.) the journey and to avoid the transshipment of goods that in other times was made from the Saronic Gulf to that of Corinth, modern Greece took up the idea, which apparently already belonged to the ancients, of cutting the isthmus. And so, between 1881 and 1893, a canal was dug, 6 km long, 23 m wide. and 8 deep, which, however, due to its size is not crossed by large steamers. In the Ionian and Aegean, two more ports have arisen with the new Greece, which rapidly assumed considerable importance: Patras on the coasts of Achaia, Ermupoli on the island of Sira, which almost seem to be two commercial hubs for western Greece and for the Aegean island Greece. Subsequently Greece acquired important new airports: Flight for Thessaly, Thessaloniki and Cavala for Macedonia.
Civil aviation. – As regards civil aviation, Greece has not yet reached a development equal to that of neighboring nations.
The airlines to Greece are operated by the following companies: Íkaros, for the Athens-Thessaloniki and Athens- Ioannina lines; Aeroespresso Italiana, for the Brindisi-Athens-Patras, Athens-Mytilene-Istanbul and Athens-Sira-Rodi lines; Lot (Polish) for the Thessaloniki-Sofia-Bucharest-Warsaw line, Air – Orient (French) for the Marseille-Athens-Beirut-Baghdād-Far East line; Imperial Airway’s (English) for the India line, which involves Greece for the Naples-Corfu-Athens-Alexandria section of Egypt; Aero – Pont (Yugoslav) for the Thessaloniki-Belgrade-Vienna line; Koninglijke Neerlandsche Luchtvaart Maatschapp (Dutch) for the Amsterdam-Rome-Athens-Cairo-Baghdād-Iraq-Jodhpur-Calcutta-Rangoon-Medan-Batavia line. The Greek government purchased the land, buildings and equipment of the Falero airport from the Italian Aero-express company in 1931, with the aim of making it an airport, managed by the state with its own staff, for all the lines that touch Athens.