One of the earliest known civilizations in Greece was the Minoan civilization in Crete, said to exist in the region from 2700 to 1450 BC. This was followed by the Mycenaean civilization, which adopted many of the Minoan's culture and way of life. The civilization collapsed in 1100 BC, said to be due to the invasion of another group of Greeks - the Dorians.
The Dorian invasion of the region is known in history as the the Greek Dark Ages, which lasted from 1100BC to 776 BC. During these years, many of the old settlements were abandoned and population in the region dropped dramatically.
Once the Dark Ages ended, the famous Greek Classical Period began, lasting from the 6th to the 4th century BC. Kingdoms and city states began to rise, leading to prosperity and cultural boom. It was from 334 to 323 BC, when Alexander the Great made the Greek empire one of the largest in the world. During his reign, the Hellenistic civilization flourished and the culture spread to the East. His untimely death in 323 BC at the age of 33 put a halt to the region's growing expansions.
The Roman period began in 168 BC and ended in the 3rd century AD. Greece then became part of the Byzantine Empire, and remained so for the next 1000 years.
In 1453, Ottoman Turks invaded and Greece came under their rule for the next 400 years. Rebellions against the Ottoman rule began in the 1800s, with the Greek War of Independence beginning in 1821. Independence was finally achieved from the Ottomans in 1829.
Greece is located in Southern Europe, on the southernmost tip of the Balkan peninsula. The landscape is predominantly mountainous, with 80% of the country's land area comprising of mountains. The country is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Its borders are Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia to the north, Turkey to the northeast, Albania to the northwest, the Ionian Sea to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the east of the mainland.
Greece is comprised of thousands of islands - about 1200 to 6000 in number, but only 227 are inhabited. They have one of the longest coastlines in the world, and the longest in the Mediterranean Basin.
The highest peak is Mount Olympus, which stands at 9,570 feet above sea level.
Greece is a parliamentary republic with the President as Head of State and the Prime Minister as Head of Government. The President is elected by the Parliament for a 5-year term and mainly serves largely ceremonial duties. The Prime Minister belongs to the leader of the political party that gets the vote of confidence from the 300-member legislative Parliament.
Greece is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. About 20 million tourists travel to Greece each year, making tourism a large contributor to the country's economy. The country is renowned for its famous sandy beaches, ancient ruins, and for having a total of 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
One of the most iconic places to visit in Greece is the island of Santorini. It is mostly known for its cliff-hanging villages of whitewashed houses with blue-domed roofs and cobblestone lanes overlooking a turquoise sea. In 2010, it was voted as The World's Best Island in Travel and Leisure.
Another famous Greek island is Mykonos - a popular holiday destination for its modern and cosmopolitan vibe. It is best known for its lively shopping, stylish bars, art galleries, cafes, restaurants, as well as historic sites and the romantic seaside area of Little Venice.
Thessaloniki is Greece's 2nd largest city and famous for being one of the world's best party towns. Exciting festivals and social events occur frequently in the city, as well as a nightlife that's bustling and vibrant. But aside from its reputation as a party town, Thessaloniki is also known for its historic city center.
Athens is the country's capital and home to many ancient Greek ruins. Among the most famous are the Parthenon, the Acropolis, and the Ancient Agora.
Greece has a long tradition in valuing education. Europe's first secular institution was built in Greece, which is the University of Constantinople - built during the 5th century.
All state-run schools and universities in the country do not have tuition fees, and books are also provided for free. Adult literacy rate is 98%, with 99% for males and 97% for females.
Greece is officially known as the Hellenic Republic, and is one of the founding members of the United Nations.
Voting is required by law for adults ages 18 and above.
The Olympic Games originated in ancient Greece, which occurred for the first time in 776 BC. The games included were wrestling, boxing, long jump, javelin, discus, and chariot racing.
Last Update On : November 22, 2014
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