We have often written in the TransferGo blog about the influence migrants from various countries have had on British society. Arguably the country whose citizens have had the biggest impact on British society, and therefore the world’s, are the Greeks.
The first historic account of a Greek visiting Britain dates back to 325 BC when Pytheas made landfall at several spots around the British coastline. His exploration started a very long and very rewarding relationship between the Greeks and the British. Many of the aspects of modern life we view as distinctively British such as trial by jury, and the theatre are of Greek origin. Other Greek contributions such as democracy, geometry, medicine, the concept of citizenship, and even showers are a part of our everyday life.
The Greeks continued to visit the British Isles throughout the centuries. A large number of Greeks accompanied the Roman legions as both soldiers and traders. In the 1800s, the defeat of Napoleon and the Diaspora brought a large number of emigres to the UK who were primarily interested in the commercial potential and who founded shipping companies and traded commodities. Most of the early Greeks settled near Finsbury Circus, and in the commercial and trading centres such a Glasgow, Cardiff, Manchester and Liverpool.
How Many Greeks Live in UK?
While census figures cite a figure that is substantially smaller, it is estimated that approximately 400,000 Greeks live in the UK. The largest concentrations are found in the Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, and Kensington areas of London. There are also large Greek communities in Birmingham, Colchester, Sunderland, and Manchester. A large percentage of foreign students studying in the UK are Greek as well, making them the one of the top four countries in terms of students studying here.
The Greek influence is seen on a daily basis in the UK and celebrated frequently by Greek wine and food festivals regularly held throughout the country.
The ties between the two countries are not only cultural. Greece and the UK also have very strong economic ties. About 70 UK companies are owned by Greeks, with Hellenic Petroleum Cyprus, Guava International and OTE being the three largest. Exports to Greece from the UK total more than £2 billion. Imports from Greece to the UK are just under £1 billon with pharmaceuticals, electronic equipment, oil, and food products topping the list.
The list of famous Greeks in the UK highlights their diverse contributions to the country, with Prince Phillip being possibly the most famous of those of Greek descent. Other notables include the Duchess of Kent, Star Trek’s Marina Sirtis, Libra Group CEO George Logothetis, painter John Christoforou, and rugby player Henry Pyrgos. A number of chefs, writers, soldiers, journalists, and politicians are also on the list of notable Greeks in the UK.