Tuesday, 01 May 2012 12:05 | By Maureen O'Hare

Ten things you never knew about Greece



Greek fan (© Reuters)

1) Greece has the highest smoking rates in the world, with 3017 cigarettes smoked per adult per year.

2) Cleopatra, the famous Egyptian queen, was Greek. She was a member of the Ptolemy family.

3) An offensive hand gesture you must avoid using in Greece is the 'moutza'. This involves extending all the fingers of one or both hands and presenting the palm or palms towards the person you're insulting.

4) Many Greek structures, such as doors, windowsills and church domes, are painted a shade of turquoise blue called 'kyanos'. There is an ancient belief that this shade of blue keeps evil away.

5) In preparation for marriage, a Spartan bride would have her head shaved, and then be dressed in a man's cloak and sandals. She would then like alone on a mattress in the dark, awaiting her groom.

6) The Greek national anthem is the longest in the world, with an astounding 158 verses.

7) The yo-yo is one of the world's oldest toys and originated in ancient Greece. The earliest example dates back to 500 BC.

8) In the Greek and Spanish-speaking world, Tuesday is considered an unlucky day - particularly if it falls on the 13th of the month.

9) Greece is the world's leading producer of sea sponges.

10) British poet Lord Byron travelled to Greece to fight in the Greek War of Independence. He died there of a fever at the age of 36.

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