Greece General Information

mapThe Greek History in Brief:
Name of the country: ELLINIKI DIMOKRATIA (ELLAS)-Greece
Size: 131.940 sq. km
Coastline: 13,676 km
Population: just under 11000000 (46% men, 54% women)
Language: Greek
Borders to: Albania, FYROM, Bulgaria, Turkey
Highest mountain: Mt Olympus, 2917 m
Capital: Athens

The Greek civilization born, grew and flourished at the end of the Neolithic period (7,000 - 3,000 B.C.). Many archaeological findings are discovered during the excavations, all around continental Greece as at the Aegean Islands as well. And at that moment, during the Bronze Age, is when the first villages and organized societies appeared at some North Eastern Aegean islands, the Cycladic group of islands and of course Crete. Knossos was the cultural, political and economic capital of the Island and the capital city of the Minoan Period, around 2.000 B.C. In this city we can look for the first scripts and an organized society. The progress in communication led to interchange of ideas and inquietudes. Then since that period we can observe the development and the exportation of the jewelry, oil and wine.

After the volcano of Santorin eruption, around the 18th century B.C. came the tragic destruction of the Minoan civilization, and the Mycenaeans, on the mainland, took advantage of the historical disaster and the disappearance of the Cycladic civilization and established their presence as the leading power on all over the Aegean Sea. Cities like Mycenae, Thebes and Athens are converted to the domain and bureaucratic centers of the first vast Hellenic empire.

This period still full of mythology, gave the miracle of the Mycenaean civilization and the first War and religious Kings made their appearance in the history. Their citizens, under the orders of powerful Kings   saw the great prosperity of the arts and the agriculture. This was in the mainland, while in the Minoan civilization the richness and prosperity was shared between the members of the monarch family.

Around the 12th century the Doric tribes descended from the north of Greece and the Mycenaean civilization declined and collapsed. The arrival of Doric tribes is identified with the cultural and economic decadence and after this period, called the Dark Age, begins the Greek renaissance, marked as the Geometric Period (9th-8th century BC). The characteristic of this period is the development-renaissance of the Greek arts and the literature. As historical result, we can see the Homeric Epics and the creation of the Greek alphabet, while the Archaic Period during the 7th-6th centuries BC, saw basic political and social organization. Greeks start colonizing and establishing Greek cities out of the mainland at the four points of the compass, from North Africa to Spain. These facts mark the Classical Period.

During this period, Athens became the cultural capital of the known world, while during the Golden Age of Pericles on the 5th-4th centuries BC, Athens dominated politically as well the Greek territory. The glory declined and finished during the Peloponnesian Wars and the arrival of Philip II, king of Macedonians change the political scenery and the times saw Alexander the Great unifying Greeks under the same name and the same culture. During his military and cultural expedition, Alexander, frees the Greek cities of Asia Minor and established the Hellenistic Empire. Alexander conquered Persia, Egypt and other regions arriving so far as the Indus River, introducing and imposing radical political and cultural changes to the known world.

After the early death of Alexander the Great the vast Empire, from the straits of Gibraltar to Indus River was divided and shared between his successors. Alexander’s dream was simply to unify the world under the same language, the Greek, same culture and political system.

Then, Romans appear (1st century BC) and Greece was conquered (146 B.C.) by them. The new mixture, negative for the Greeks in some points, but positive to some others and the big changes to the Hellenistic Empire, happened until the appearance of Christians.

Since the campaign of Apostle Paul (on the 1st century A.C.) to spread Christianity throughout Greece, up to the 4th century, Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire. Then, the Emperor Constantine the Great decided to move the empire's capital away from Rome to Constantinople. This is the historical point of the commencement of the Byzantine period in Greece and thinks remained under the Byzantine domination up to the middle of the 14th century, with the capture and the destruction of Constantinople from the Ottoman Empire. Greece, as part of the Byzantine Empire fall also under the Ottoman rule, until the beginning of the 19th century, when Greece took back its independence with the Revolution of March 25th of 1821. Even if Greece took its independency the war and the recuperation was completed later on and after the Balkan Wars (1913). Finally and after the end of the Second World War, Greece appears as complete as in the very beginning, with national capital Athens.

Due to its privilege geographic position, Greece is a member of NATO (since 1952) and of the European Union (since 1981). After having past from a turbulent modern history, currently Greece counts with a Presidential Parliamentary Democracy.

In Athens you can find enclosed in elegant museums the evidences of the different periods of the country. Here you can see the artifacts from the Paleolithic period to the Roman era, and the Byzantine-Christian period in churches, monasteries, castles and other monuments in every region of the country.