It can be argued that Greece has one of the richest histories in the world. Historians believe the Minoan culture, which inhabited the Greek island of Crete as far back as 2700 BC, is one of the oldest known civilizations to exist. The Minoans were known for being far ahead of their time. Excavations in Crete show that that many of their dwellings contained indoor plumbing which is an amazing feat for a civilization that existed 4,700 years ago. Historians believe that what is referred to as Ancient Greece began around 1000 BC and ended around 323 BC with the death of Alexander the Great. The period following Ancient Greece is referred to as the Hellenistic Period . Ancient Greece can be credited with many achievements which are still very important today. Greece is credited with developing philosophy (Socrates), medicine (Hippocrates), drama and theater, the concept of states within a country, math and science, the Olympic games, and democracy. Democracy is one of the most important contributions to the modern world and many of the principles and concepts are still used today by many countries including Greece. In fact, some of the core democratic principles and ideas developed in Ancient Greece are still used today. For example there are two main principles that are still followed today in modern Greece. The first principle is that all members of the society have equal access to power and the second that all members enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties . Starting in the sixteenth century, Greece was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, formerly Turkey, however Greece gained its independence in 1830. During World War I and World War II, Greece fought on the side of the Allies. Greece is credited with a key event during World War II. Greece repelled an attack by Italy in 1941 and so Germany countered with a full-fledged attack against the Greek island of Crete on May 21st, 1941. Everyone thought Crete would be overtaken in a day or two, however Crete fought back and battled the Germans for 40 days. Many German paratroopers were killed and historians believe that this battle weakened Germany to the point where their next battle with the Soviet Union allowed the Soviets to defeat them. Greece today is officially called The Hellenic Republic and is located on the Balkan Peninsula of southeast Greece. Mainland Greece includes the regions of Thrace and Macedonia in the north; Epirus, Thessaly (Thessalia), and Central Greece in the central section; and Pelopónnisos, a peninsula connected to the rest of the mainland by the Isthmus of Corinth, in the south. After Athens, the principal city in Greece is Thessaloníki, a major port city and a center of international shipping for the southern Balkans. Other major cities include Piraeus, a major port and industrial center, located near Athens, Pátrai, the most significant port on the Pelopónnisos Penninsula, and Iráklion, the capital of Crete. Of Greece’s more than 2,000 islands, only about 170 are inhabited. Greece’s topography is about 80% mountainous and has one of the largest coastlines of any country at 8,500 miles. In fact, no part of Greece is more than 50 miles from the ocean . The Port of Piraeus, located near Athens, is Europe’s busiest port and the third busiest port in the world . Greece’s biggest exports are wine, olives, sea salt and sea sponges. Grapes and olives are grown throughout Greece, however the Peleponnisos Penninsula is sometimes referred to as “olive country.” The city of Kalamata is located here and is known around the world for producing some of the best olives in the world. Greece’s population in 2007 was 10,706,290 and is made up 98% ethnic Greeks. As far as religion, 97% of the population is Greek Orthodox. Religion is an important part of the Greek culture and is evident by the white cross on the Greek flag.
As far as the social structure in Greece, Greece has no titles of nobility and no hereditary aristocracy....
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