Australia Markets close in 2 hrs 41 mins

Background on the Greek debt crisis

Despite having received 240 billion euros ($A352.66 billion) in aid since 2010, Greece remains stuck in a debt crisis while other eurozone members once snared in the same trap have returned to growth.

Here are some facts on the economic and financial challenges currently facing Greece:

After joining the eurozone on January 1, 2001, Greece became the first public victim of the global financial crisis that erupted in 2007-2008.

The problems posed by Greece's debt-laden economy, and the risk of it having to leave the 19-member eurozone via a so-called a "Grexit," have weighed on many European Union (EU) summit meetings.

That risk has grown substantially since January, when Greek voters handed power to the radical left party Syriza which fiercely opposes the terms of previous international bailouts.

Greece's financial crisis has grown steadily, with public debt climbing from 107 per cent of national output in 2007 to 177 per cent in 2014, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat. That is far above the theoretical EU limit of 60 per cent.

According to the Greek debt management agency, in March national debt stood at 312.7 billion euros, or 174.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

In monetary terms, Greece's 2014 debt of 317 billion euros was also deemed unsustainable by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), one of the country's main creditors.

Greece has benefited from two major aid packages, the first of which was worth 110 billion euros from the EU, IMF and European Central Bank (ECB) and required a Greek pledge to enact drastic economic reforms.

As the economic situation deteriorated, a second bail-out was approved in 2012. It included additional loans worth 130 billion euros and the write-off of 107 billion in debt held by private creditors.

The last disbursement of this loan, worth 7.2 billion euros, has been delayed as Greece has negotiated with its creditors over fresh reforms.

Austerity measures have already had a devastating effect on the economy. From 2010 to 2013, average earnings in Greece fell by more than 3,000 euros, and unemployment more than tripled between 2008 and 2013 to 27.5 per cent.

Among Greeks under the age of 25, the jobless rate leapt from 21.9 per cent to almost 60 per cent over the same period, Eurostat data showed.

In 2014, the country made some progress, returning to growth after five years of painful recession, while the public deficit contracted from 13.5 per cent of GDP to just 1.6 per cent.

Greece's public coffers remain empty, however, as authorities have struggled to collect taxes, notably from the church and shipping sector, while much of the country's capital is stashed abroad.

On the political stage, the avenues of power in Athens have been dominated for five decades by three families.

The head of the centre-left Papandreou clan, George, held power before a junta of army colonels ruled from 1967-1974. His son Andreas then took the flame, creating the political party Pasok and becoming the first Socialist head of government in 1981. Grandson George served as prime minister from October 2009 until November 2011.

On the right, the Karamanlis and Mitsotakis families stand out. Constantine Karamanlis led the first government after the colonels were ousted and served as Greek president from 1980-1985 and 1990-1995.

His nephew Costas Karamanlis led the government from 2004-2009.

Constantine Mitsotakis was prime minister from 1990-1993, and is the nephew of Eleftherios Venizelos, the Greek premier during and after World War I and a leading figure in the country's modern history.

Two of Constantine's children, Dora Bakoyannis and Kyriakos Mitsotakis, have held ministerial posts.

On January 25, 2015, general elections were won by Syriza, which now holds 149 of the parliament's 300 seats. Its leader, Alexis Tsipras, has formed a coalition government with a populist right-wing group the Independent Greeks party, which has 13 deputies.

The third force in Greek politics is the neo-nazi party Golden Dawn, which occupies 17 seats in parliament.