Greece is an independent nation in Southern Europe. With the capital city of Athens, Greece 2020 population is estimated at 10,423,065 according to countryaah. Archaeological finds indicate that at least 400,000 years ago there were people in the area that today constitutes Greece. Agricultural societies probably originated around 7000 BC. Indo-European peoples settled in the area around 3000 BC and brought with them the technology of casting bronze. They gave rise to the first European high cultures.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Greece, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
The Minoan culture in Crete (2600-1400 BC) had close contacts with Egypt and Mesopotamia and developed its own writing language. After 1400 BC, Crete was hit by a recession, probably due to natural disasters, misgrowth and rebellion. At about the same time, the Mycenaean culture grew on the mainland. Independent city states with fortified palaces emerged. The written language that developed during this time (around 1400–1100 BC) is the earliest form of Greek. For Greece political system, please check computerminus.
After 1100 BC, large parts of the mainland were taken by the Dorians, who probably came from the northwest of today’s Greece. During the following centuries, the former peoples of the area mingled with the dors and new city states were built. Despite constant wars between the states, their citizens perceived themselves as a people with a common language and a common religion, with the oracle of Delphi as a unifying symbol. Homer’s poetry gave them a sense of a common past. From 776 BC came the sports competitions in Olympia where all Greeks could participate. In time, the Greeks founded colonies around the Mediterranean.
Macedonia becomes a great power
The two main city states were the rivals Athens and Sparta. In Athens, history’s first popular government for free men was developed, democracy. Sparta was located in southern Peloponnese, and was a community of clean living (hence the word Spartan) characterized by warrior spirits.
At the beginning of the 4th century BC, Sparta and Athens united under the pressure of an invading Persian army. The victory of the Persian War 490–479 BC strengthened Athens, which created the Deli covenant with most coastal states – but not Sparta. The alliance developed into an Athenian empire, and under the leader Pericles flourished Athens. However, wealth was based on the fact that a small group of free men used a large number of slaves.
Discontent began to spread among the subordinate states of Athens, which was exploited by Sparta. The Peloponnesian War went on, with short breaks, 431-404 BC. The war ended with defeat for Athens, but Sparta’s attempt to become a new superpower failed. Constant war between Athens, Sparta and Thebe caused havoc in Greece, until Macedonia in the northern part of today’s Greece emerged as a new great power in the 300s BC. Macedonia’s King Philip II defeated in the Battle of Chaironeia 338 BC Athens and Thebe, and the small states were made the kingdom of sound. At its peak, Macedonia encompassed almost all of present-day Greece as well as parts of today’s Northern Macedonia, Albania and Bulgaria.
Östrom falls, Turkish empire
King Philip II was murdered 336 BC and succeeded by his son Alexander, called the Great. Alexander turned his army against the Persian Empire in Asia Minor. He conquered Syria, Palestine and Egypt and penetrated east through Asia. Greek, Hellenistic influence spread all the way to India.
However, Greece collapsed during Alexander’s long campaign, and the new great power Rome gradually subdued the Greek small states. All of Greece had been incorporated with the Roman Empire 146 BC. The Roman Empire was formally divided into 395 AD, and then Greece became part of Östrom, the Byzantine Empire, where Christianity became official religion.
The Byzantine Empire began to fall apart during the crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries, when Normans and Franks broke the empire and shattered the Greek cities. After the Crusades, the Italian city-state of Venice subjugated most of the Greek port cities and Crete, and from the east, Turkish clans thronged. The Turks entered Thrace in 1354 and conquered ever greater parts of Greece. In 1453, the capital of Östrom, Constantinople, fell, which became the end of the kingdom. The whole of Greece was now under Turkish rule.
The dream of a restored Greek kingdom was kept alive during four centuries of Turkish occupation. When the Ottoman (Turkish) empire began to fail in the 18th century, the seed was sown to a Greek resistance movement, and a liberation war began in 1821. Eight years later, the Turks were defeated and Greece became independent. However, most of today’s Greece remained within the Turkish Empire, and throughout the 19th century the idea of a Greater Greece lived on.
Contradictions between different political lines characterized the first years of independence. In an attempt to create stability, in 1832 a king, the 17-year-old Bavarian prince Otto, was elected. It was deposed in 1862, and the Danish prince William was appointed British king by the name of Georg I.
After the Berlin Congress in 1878, Greece was allocated to Thessaly, and after the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, Crete, most of Macedonia, southern Epirus and the islands of the northeastern Aegean Sea. During the First World War, Greece joined the side of the entente (Britain, France and Russia) and was rewarded for this at the peace in Sèvres in 1920, when the Ottoman Empire was disbanded. Greece was allocated to Thrace and the area around Smyrna (Izmir) in Asia Minor.
However, Turkey refused to recognize the terms of peace, and Greece tried to conquer the promised territories through an attack of war. Greek troops penetrated deep into Turkey but were stopped outside Ankara and driven out of the country, while the Greeks massacred in Smyrna. In a new peace agreement in Lausanne in 1923, Turkey regained the Smyrna area and eastern Thrace. One and a half million Greeks had to leave Turkey and up to half a million Turks were forced out of Greece.
After World War I, Greece was ruled by a number of weak governments and several coups were implemented. King Georg II appointed General Ioannis Metaxas as head of government in 1936 and allowed him to impose dictatorial powers on the pretext that he would ward off a communist coup attempt. Metaxas introduced an almost fascist regime but tried to keep Greece neutral when World War II broke out. An Italian invasion attempt was fought back, but after Metaxa’s death in 1941, Greece was occupied by German, Italian and Bulgarian troops. King Georg and the government fled to Egypt.
The resistance movement against the occupiers was divided between Western-oriented Edes and communist-dominated EAMs. By the time the Germans evacuated Greece in the fall of 1944, EAM had already proclaimed a provisional government and controlled much of the country. At the same time, the civil war government returned to Athens.