Greece in a Nutshell

Author: Sue Rogers
Date: 14th June 2020

Greece - Snippets of Information

  • The official name of Greece is the Hellenic Republic. Its people are the Hellenes. Our word Greece derive from the Roman word for that area - Graecia.
  • The total population of Greece is around 11 million
  • All Greek citizens over the age of 18 are required to vote in every election
  • Greece has no navigable rivers - because of all the mountains
  • The word tragedy is actually Greek for “goat-song.” It doesn’t mean that tragedies were about goats in Ancient Greece, but were simply named as such to honour the Greek god Dionysus. Goatskins were worn by the participants.
  • Greece is the leading producer of sponges (from the sea)
  • Only the wealthy could afford to use live animals for sacrifices during ancient times, The poor left pastry versions — much kinder too.
  • Greece is one of the sunniest places in the world. …

What is the History of Greece?

Greece is often described as the cradle of western civilisation and considered to be the world's first democracy.

By the fifth century BC Classical Greeks had organised themselves into independent citizen states (known as polis, from which comes our word "political") such as Athens, Sparta, and Ephesus,

In the fourth century BC, Macedon in the north, under its king Philip II and his son Alexander the Great, took control and alexander built a great empire, Alexander the introduced Greek polis style culture, administration and urban living, as far as Afghanistan. But his rule was only brief and on his death in 323 BC, the mainland split into a series of leagues under Macedonian governors.

The land-mass of Hellas and subsequently areas of the Macedonian conquests became part of the Roman Empire in the second century BC. The Greek language, however, spread throughout the Mediterranean and the Romans adopted and perpetuated Greek culture – literature, history, philosophy and architecture.

The Roman empire became too large to be centrally controlled and in 324 the Roman emperor Constantine in effect split the empire into two, the eastern half centred on Greek Byzantium, renamed Constantinople (now Istanbul). When the Western Roman empire collapsed in the fifth century, Constantinople became the new centre of the Roman empire, known as the Byzantine empire. Greece was absorbed into the Byzantine Empire until the Franks he Franks split up Greece in the thirteenth century.

In 1453 Constantinople fell to the Ottomans, and for nearly 400 years Greece was under Ottoman control.

By the 19th century, the empire was economically on its last legs, and on 25 March 1821, Greece declared its independence with the support of France, Britain and Russia. It reached its present land configuration in 1947, but tensions with Turkey remain.

German occupation of Greece in the Second World War ended in 1944, but a violent and complicated civil war at once broke out between (broadly) communists and western-backed government forces (1944-49), resulting in a Greek government inclined to the west, but with significant anti-western sentiment still in force.

In 1967 a military junta overthrew the government and ended the monarchy. In 1974, the regime imploded, and since 1975 Greece has been a democratic republic.

Is Greece in the EU?

Greece joined the EU in 1981 and adopted the Euro in 2001.

What is There to See and Do in Greece?

Greece is renowned for its history and beauty. It also a surprisingly diverse country - with varying scenery and sites to visit - ancient ruins - 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites -(Ancient Athens - Greece in the Time of Covid Part 7), Orthodox monasteries (Meteora - Greece in the Time of Covid - Part 3 and Mysterious Mount Athos - Greece in the Time of Covid - Part 2), beautiful beaches (about 16,000 kilometres of coastline), stunning landscapes (80% of Greece is mountains) and four volcanic islands.

The Greek Islands comprise more than 6,000 islands and islets covering much of the eastern Mediterranean. Only about 230 of the islands are inhabited and, of these, just 80 or so have more than 100 permanent inhabitants. They are traditionally grouped into six major clusters:

Ionian: Off the north-west coast of mainland Greece in the Ionian Sea Crete and the Ionian Islands
Saronic: In the Saronic Gulf near Athens
Cyclades: A large, dense group of islands in the central Aegean Sea Cyclades - Marvellous Milos - Greece in the Time of Covid Part 5, Cyclades - The Mills of Mykonos
North Aegean: A loose island group to the north-east Northern Aegean - Super Samos - Greece in the Time of Covid Part 6
Sporades: A small, tightly-knit island group just off the east coast
Dodecanese: A long and loose string of islands that roughly follow the Turkish coast Dodacanese - Kos, Rhodes, Symi and Nisyros

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