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Hellenic Republic
Ελληνική Δημοκρατία (Greek)
Ellinikí Dimokratía
Motto: Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος
Elefthería í Thánatos
(English: "
EU-Greece (orthographic projection).svg
Location of Greece (dark green)

– in Europe (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union (light green)

and largest city
37°58′N 23°43′E / 37.967°N 23.717°E / 37.967; 23.717
Official language
and national language
GovernmentUnitary parliamentary republic
• President
Katerina Sakellaropoulou
Kyriakos Mitsotakis
Konstantinos Tasoulas
LegislatureHellenic Parliament
Establishment history
25 March 1821 (traditional starting date of the Greek War of Independence), 15 January 1822 (official declaration)
3 February 1830
24 July 1974
11 June 1975
• Total
131,957 km2 (50,949 sq mi)[2] (95th)
• Water (%)
1.51 (2015)[3]
• 2021 census
Neutral decrease 10,432,481[4] (88th)
• Density
79.1[5]/km2 (204.9/sq mi) (133th)
GDP (PPP)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase $387.801 billion[6] (55th)
• Per capita
Increase $36,466[6] (52nd)
GDP (nominal)2022 estimate
• Total
Increase $222.008 billion[6] (54th)
• Per capita
Increase $20,876[6] (47th)
Gini (2021)Negative increase 32.4[7]
HDI (2021)Increase 0.887[8]
very high · 33rd
CurrencyEuro () (EUR)
Time zoneUTC+02:00 (EET)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+03:00 (EEST)
Date (AD)b
Driving sideright
Calling code+30
ISO 3166 codeGR
Internet TLD
  1. The Church of Greece is recognized by the Greek Constitution as the prevailing religion in Greece,[9] and is the only country in the world where Eastern Orthodoxy is clearly recognized as a state religion.[10]
  2. Other short formats: dd-mm-yyyy, dd/mm/yyyy
  3. The .eu domain is also used, as in other European Union member states.


Balkan Peninsula, and is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, North Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the northeast. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Sea of Crete and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin, featuring thousands of islands. The country consists of nine traditional geographic regions, and has a population of approximately 10.4 million. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki and Patras

Greece is considered the cradle of

civil war and military dictatorship. Greece achieved record economic growth from 1950 through the 1970s, allowing it to join the ranks of developed nations. Democracy was restored in 1974–75, and Greece has been a parliamentary republic ever since. The country's rich historical legacy is reflected in part by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Greece is a unitary parliamentary republic, and a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy, and a high quality of life, ranking 32nd in the Human Development Index. Its economy is among the largest in the Balkans, where it is an important regional investor. A founding member of the United Nations, Greece was the tenth member to join the European Communities (precursor to the European Union) and has been part of the Eurozone since 2001. It is also a member of numerous other international institutions, including the Council of Europe, NATO, the OECD, the WTO, and the OSCE. Greece has a unique cultural heritage, large tourism industry, and prominent shipping sector.


The native name of the country in Modern Greek is Ελλάδα (Elláda, pronounced [eˈlaða]). The corresponding form in Ancient Greek and conservative formal Modern Greek (Katharevousa) is Ἑλλάς (Hellas, classical: [hel.lás], modern: [eˈlas]). This is the source of the English alternative name Hellas, which is mostly found in archaic or poetic contexts today. The Greek adjectival form ελληνικός (ellinikos, [eliniˈkos]) is sometimes also translated as Hellenic and is often rendered in this way in the formal names of Greek institutions, as in the official name of the Greek state, the Hellenic Republic (Ελληνική Δημοκρατία, [eliniˈci ðimokraˈti.a]).[11]

The English names Greece and Greek are derived, via the Latin Graecia and Graecus, from the name of the Graeci (Γραικοί, Graikoí; singular Γραικός, Graikós), who were among the first ancient Greek tribes to settle Magna Graecia in southern Italy. The term is possibly derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *ǵerh₂-, "to grow old",[12][13] more specifically from Graea (ancient city), said by Aristotle to be the oldest in Greece, and the source of colonists for the Naples area.


Prehistory and early history

The entrance of the Treasury of Atreus (13th century BC) in Mycenae


anatomically modern humans outside of Africa, dated to 210,000 years ago.[14] All three stages of the Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic) are represented in Greece, for example in the Franchthi Cave.[15] Neolithic settlements in Greece, dating from the 7th millennium BC,[16] are the oldest in Europe by several centuries, as Greece lies on the route via which farming spread from the Near East to Europe.[17]

Greece is home to the first advanced civilizations in Europe and is considered the birthplace of Western civilisation,

Cycladic civilization on the islands of the Aegean Sea at around 3200 BC,[20] the Minoan civilization in Crete (2700–1500 BC),[21][22] and then the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland (1600–1100 BC).[22] These civilizations possessed writing, the Minoans using an undeciphered script known as Linear A, and the Mycenaeans writing the earliest attested form of Greek in Linear B. The Mycenaeans gradually absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC, along with other civilizations, during the regional event known as the Late Bronze Age collapse.[23] This ushered in a period known as the Greek Dark Ages, from which written records are absent. Though the unearthed Linear B texts are too fragmentary for the reconstruction of the political landscape and can't support the existence of a larger state, contemporary Hittite and Egyptian records suggest the presence of a single state under a "Great King" based in mainland Greece.[24][25]

Archaic and Classical period

colonies during the Archaic
period (750–550 BC)

The end of the Dark Ages is traditionally dated to 776 BC, the year of the first

science, mathematics and philosophy. In 508 BC, Cleisthenes instituted the world's first democratic system of government in Athens.[29][30]

By 500 BC, the Persian Empire controlled the Greek city states in Asia Minor and Macedonia.[31] Attempts by some of the Greek city-states of Asia Minor to overthrow Persian rule failed, and Persia invaded the states of mainland Greece in 492 BC, but was forced to withdraw after a defeat at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. In response, the Greek city-states formed the Hellenic League in 481 BC, led by Sparta, which was the first historically recorded union of Greek states since the mythical union of the Trojan War.[32][33] A second invasion by the Persians followed in 480 BC. Following decisive Greek victories in 480 and 479 BC at Salamis, Plataea, and Mycale, the Persians were forced to withdraw for a second time, marking their eventual withdrawal from all of their European territories. Led by Athens and Sparta, the Greek victories in the Greco-Persian Wars are considered a pivotal moment in world history,[34] as the 50 years of peace that followed are known as the Golden Age of Athens, the seminal period of ancient Greek development that laid many of the foundations of Western civilization.

Hellenistic Age

Lack of political unity within Greece resulted in frequent conflict between Greek states. The most devastating intra-Greek war was the

Thebes and eventually Macedon, with the latter uniting most of the city-states of the Greek hinterland in the League of Corinth (also known as the Hellenic League or Greek League) under the control of Philip II.[35] Despite this development, the Greek world remained largely fragmented and would not be united under a single power until the Roman years.[36]

Map of Alexander's short-lived empire (334–323 BC). After his death the lands were divided between the Diadochi

Following the assassination of Phillip II, his son

Hellenistic civilization and spread the Greek language and Greek culture in the territories conquered by Alexander.[38] Greek science, technology, and mathematics are generally considered to have reached their peak during the Hellenistic period.[39]

Hellenistic and Roman periods (323 BC – 4th century AD)

The Antikythera mechanism (c. 100 BC) is considered to be the first known mechanical analog computer (National Archaeological Museum, Athens

After a period of confusion following Alexander's death, the Antigonid dynasty, descended from one of Alexander's generals, established its control over Macedon and most of the Greek city-states by 276 BC.[40] From about 200 BC the Roman Republic became increasingly involved in Greek affairs and engaged in a series of wars with Macedon.[41] Macedon's defeat at the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC signalled the end of Antigonid power in Greece.[42] In 146 BC, Macedonia was annexed as a province by Rome, and the rest of Greece became a Roman protectorate.[41][43]

The process was completed in 27 BC when the

Seneca the younger wrote using Greek styles. Roman heroes such as Scipio Africanus, tended to study philosophy and regarded Greek culture and science as an example to be followed. Similarly, most Roman emperors maintained an admiration for things Greek in nature. The Roman emperor Nero visited Greece in AD 66, and performed at the Ancient Olympic Games, despite the rules against non-Greek participation. Hadrian was also particularly fond of the Greeks.[45] Before becoming emperor, he served as an eponymous archon of Athens.[46]

Greek-speaking communities of the Hellenised East were instrumental in the spread of early Christianity in the 2nd and 3rd centuries,

early Christianity. Nevertheless, much of Greece clung tenaciously to paganism, and ancient Greek religious practices were still in vogue in the late 4th century AD,[49] when they were outlawed by the Roman emperor Theodosius I in 391–392.[50] The last recorded Olympic games were held in 393,[51] and many temples were destroyed or damaged in the century that followed.[52] In Athens and rural areas, paganism is attested well into the sixth century AD[52] and even later.[53] The closure of the Neoplatonic Academy of Athens by the Emperor Justinian in 529 is considered by many to mark the end of antiquity, although there is evidence that the Academy continued its activities for some time after that.[52] Some remote areas such as the southeastern Peloponnese remained pagan until well into the 10th century AD.[54]

Medieval period (4th–15th century)

The Roman Empire in the east, following the

fall of the Empire in the west in the 5th century, is conventionally known as the Byzantine Empire (but was simply called "Kingdom of the Romans" in its own time) and lasted until 1453. With its capital in Constantinople, its language and culture were Greek and its religion was predominantly Eastern Orthodox Christian.[55]

From the 4th century the Empire's Balkan territories, including Greece, suffered from the dislocation of barbarian invasions.[56] The raids and devastation of the Goths and Huns in the 4th and 5th centuries and the Slavic invasion of Greece in the 7th century resulted in a dramatic collapse in imperial authority in the Greek peninsula.[57] Following the Slavic invasion, the imperial government retained formal control of only the islands and coastal areas, particularly the densely populated walled cities such as Athens, Corinth and Thessalonica, while some mountainous areas in the interior held out on their own and continued to recognise imperial authority.[57] Outside of these areas, a limited amount of Slavic settlement is generally thought to have occurred, although on a much smaller scale than previously thought.[58][59] However, the view that Greece in late antiquity underwent a crisis of decline, fragmentation and depopulation is now considered outdated, as Greek cities show a high degree of institutional continuity and prosperity between the 4th and 6th centuries AD (and possibly later as well). In the early 6th century, Greece had approximately 80 cities according to the Synecdemus chronicle, and the period from the 4th to the 7th century AD is considered one of high prosperity not just in Greece but in the entire Eastern Mediterranean.[60]

The Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire after the death of Basil II
in 1025

Until the 8th century almost all of modern Greece was under the jurisdiction of the

Patriarchate of Constantinople westward and northward in the 8th century.[61]

The Byzantine recovery of lost provinces began toward the end of the 8th century and most of the Greek peninsula came under imperial control again, in stages, during the 9th century.[62][63] This process was facilitated by a large influx of Greeks from Sicily and Asia Minor to the Greek peninsula, while at the same time many Slavs were captured and re-settled in Asia Minor and the few that remained were assimilated.[58] During the 11th and 12th centuries the return of stability resulted in the Greek peninsula benefiting from strong economic growth – much stronger than that of the Anatolian territories of the Empire.[62] During that time, the Greek Orthodox Church was also instrumental in the spread of Greek ideas to the wider Orthodox world.[64][full citation needed]

The Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, originally built in the late 7th century as a Byzantine citadel and beginning from 1309 used by the Knights Hospitaller
as an administrative centre

Following the Fourth Crusade and the fall of Constantinople to the "Latins" in 1204, mainland Greece was split between the Greek Despotate of Epirus (a Byzantine successor state) and French rule[65] (known as the Frankokratia), while some islands came under Venetian rule.[66] The re-establishment of the Byzantine imperial capital in Constantinople in 1261 was accompanied by the empire's recovery of much of the Greek peninsula, although the Frankish Principality of Achaea in the Peloponnese and the rival Greek Despotate of Epirus in the north both remained important regional powers into the 14th century, while the islands remained largely under Genoese and Venetian control.[65] During the Paleologi dynasty (1261–1453) a new era of Greek patriotism emerged accompanied by a turning back to ancient Greece.[67][68][69]

As such prominent personalities at the time also proposed changing the imperial title to "Emperor of the Hellenes",[67][69] and, in late fourteenth century, the emperor was frequently referred to as the "Emperor of the Hellenes".[70] Similarly, in several international treaties of that time the Byzantine emperor is styled as "Imperator Graecorum".[71]

In the 14th century much of the Greek peninsula was lost by the Byzantine Empire at first to the

Ottomans.[72] By the beginning of the 15th century, the Ottoman advance meant that Byzantine territory in Greece was limited mainly to its then-largest city, Thessaloniki, and the Peloponnese (Despotate of the Morea).[72] After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453, the Morea was one of the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire to hold out against the Ottomans. However, this, too, fell to the Ottomans in 1460, completing the Ottoman conquest of mainland Greece.[73] With the Turkish conquest, many Byzantine Greek scholars, who up until then were largely responsible for preserving Classical Greek knowledge, fled to the West, taking with them a large body of literature and thereby significantly contributing to the Renaissance.[74]

Venetian possessions and Ottoman rule (15th century – 1821)

The Byzantine castle of Angelokastro successfully repulsed the Ottomans during the first great siege of Corfu in 1537, the siege of 1571, and the second great siege of Corfu in 1716, causing them to abandon their plans to conquer Corfu.[75]

While most of mainland Greece and the Aegean islands was under Ottoman control by the end of the 15th century,

First French Republic in 1797, then passed to the United Kingdom in 1809 until their unification with Greece in 1864.[76]

While some Greeks in the Ionian Islands and

Phanariotes) achieved positions of power within the Ottoman administration,[77] much of the population of mainland Greece suffered the economic consequences of the Ottoman conquest. Heavy taxes were enforced, and in later years the Ottoman Empire enacted a policy of creation of hereditary estates, effectively turning the rural Greek populations into serfs.[78]

The Greek Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople were considered by the Ottoman governments as the ruling authorities of the entire Orthodox Christian population of the Ottoman Empire, whether ethnically Greek or not. Although the Ottoman state did not force non-Muslims to convert to Islam, Christians faced several types of discrimination intended to highlight their inferior status in the Ottoman Empire. Discrimination against Christians, particularly when combined with harsh treatment by local Ottoman authorities, led to conversions to Islam, if only superficially. In the 19th century, many "crypto-Christians" returned to their old religious allegiance.[79]

The nature of Ottoman administration of Greece varied, though it was invariably arbitrary and often harsh.

Sultan, while others (like Athens) were self-governed municipalities. Mountainous regions in the interior and many islands remained effectively autonomous from the central Ottoman state for many centuries.[80][page needed

Prior to the Greek Revolution of 1821, there had been a number of wars which saw Greeks fight against the Ottomans, such as the Greek participation in the

Orlov Revolt in 1770, which aimed at breaking up the Ottoman Empire in favour of Russian interests.[80][page needed] These uprisings were put down by the Ottomans with great bloodshed.[81][82] On the other side, many Greeks were conscripted as Ottoman citizens to serve in the Ottoman army (and especially the Ottoman navy), while also the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
, responsible for the Orthodox, remained in general loyal to the empire.

The 16th and 17th centuries are regarded as something of a "dark age" in Greek history, with the prospect of overthrowing Ottoman rule appearing remote with only the Ionian islands remaining free of Turkish domination. Corfu withstood three major sieges in 1537, 1571 and 1716 all of which resulted in the repulsion of the Ottomans. However, in the 18th century, due to their mastery of shipping and commerce, a wealthy and dispersed Greek merchant class arose. These merchants came to dominate trade within the Ottoman Empire, establishing communities throughout the Mediterranean, the Balkans, and Western Europe. Though the Ottoman conquest had cut Greece off from significant European intellectual movements such as the Reformation and the Enlightenment, these ideas together with the ideals of the French Revolution and romantic nationalism began to penetrate the Greek world via the mercantile diaspora.[83] In the late 18th century, Rigas Feraios, the first revolutionary to envision an independent Greek state, published a series of documents relating to Greek independence, including but not limited to a national anthem and the first detailed map of Greece, in Vienna. Feraios was murdered by Ottoman agents in 1798.[84][85]

Modern period

Greek War of Independence (1821–1832)

Messolonghi, depicting the third siege of Missolonghi, painted by Theodoros Vryzakis

In the late eighteenth century, an increase in secular learning during the

Alexandros Ypsilantis, but it was soon put down by the Ottomans. The events in the north spurred the Greeks of the Peloponnese into action and on 17 March 1821 the Maniots declared war on the Ottomans.[88]

By the end of the month, the Peloponnese was in open revolt against the Ottomans and by October 1821 the Greeks under

massacres of the population.[88] Approximately three-quarters of the Chios' Greek population of 120,000 were killed, enslaved or died of disease.[89][90] This had the effect of galvanizing public opinion in western Europe in favour of the Greek rebels.[91]

Tensions soon developed among different Greek factions, leading to two consecutive civil wars. Meanwhile the

Mehmet Ali of Egypt, who agreed to send his son Ibrahim Pasha to Greece with an army to suppress the revolt in return for territorial gain.[92] Ibrahim landed in the Peloponnese in February 1825 and had immediate success: by the end of 1825, most of the Peloponnese was under Egyptian control, and the city of Missolonghi—put under siege by the Turks since April 1825—fell in April 1826. Although Ibrahim was defeated in Mani, he had succeeded in suppressing most of the revolt in the Peloponnese, and Athens had been retaken.[93]

After years of negotiation, three

Hydra, the allied fleet intercepted the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet at Navarino. A week-long standoff ended with the Battle of Navarino (20 October 1827) which resulted in the destruction of the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet. A French expeditionary force was dispatched to supervise the evacuation of the Egyptian army from the Peloponnese, while the Greeks proceeded to the captured part of Central Greece by 1828. As a result of years of negotiation, the nascent Greek state was finally recognised under the London Protocol in 1830.[95]

Kingdom of Greece

The Entry of King Otto in Athens, painted by Peter von Hess
in 1839

In 1827,

Joseph Ludwig von Armansperg as Prime Minister and, later, by Otto himself, who held the title of both King and Premier.[96] Throughout this period Greece remained under the influence of its three protecting great powers, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom, as well as Bavaria.[97]
In 1843 an uprising forced Otto to grant a constitution and a representative assembly.

Despite the

Catholic. 25 March, the day of Annunciation, was chosen as the anniversary of the Greek War of Independence to reinforce the link between Greek identity and Orthodoxy.[100] Pavlos Karolidis called the Bavarian efforts to create a modern state in Greece as "not only appropriate for the peoples' needs, but also based on excellent administrative principles of the era".[99]

Otto was deposed in the

parliamentary majority as a requirement for the formation of a government was introduced by Charilaos Trikoupis,[105] curbing the power of the monarchy to appoint minority governments
of its preference.

The territorial evolution of the Kingdom of Greece
from 1832 to 1947

Corruption, coupled with Trikoupis' increased spending to fund infrastructure projects like the Corinth Canal,[106] overtaxed the weak Greek economy and forced the declaration of public insolvency in 1893. Greece also accepted the imposition of an International Financial Control authority to pay off the country's debtors.

All Greeks were united, however, in their determination to liberate the

Treaty of Berlin, while frustrating Greek hopes of receiving Crete.[107]

Greeks in Crete continued to stage regular revolts, and in 1897, the Greek government under Theodoros Deligiannis, bowing to popular pressure, declared war on the Ottomans. In the ensuing

Bulgarian influence, sponsored a guerrilla campaign in Ottoman-ruled Macedonia, led by Greek officers and known as the Macedonian Struggle, which ended with the Young Turk Revolution in 1908.[109]

Expansion, disaster, and reconstruction

Hellenic Army formation in the World War I Victory Parade in Arc de Triomphe
, Paris, July 1919

Amidst general dissatisfaction with the seeming inertia and unattainability of

First World War dominated the country's political scene and divided the country into two opposing groups. During parts of WW1, Greece had two governments: A royalist pro-German one in Athens and a Venizelist pro-Entente one in Thessaloniki
. The two governments were united in 1917, when Greece officially entered the war on the side of the Entente.

Map of Greater Greece after the Treaty of Sèvres, when the Megali Idea seemed close to fulfillment, featuring Eleftherios Venizelos
as its supervising genius

In the aftermath of World War I, Greece attempted further expansion into

Assyrians and a rather larger number of Armenians. The resultant Greek exodus from Asia Minor was made permanent, and expanded, in an official Population exchange between Greece and Turkey. The exchange was part of the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne which ended the war.[118]

The following era was marked by instability, as over 1.5 million propertyless Greek refugees from Turkey had to be integrated into Greek society.

non-Greek followers of Greek Orthodoxy were all subject to the exchange as well. Some of the refugees could not speak the language and were from what had been unfamiliar environments to mainland Greeks, such as in the case of the Cappadocians and non-Greeks. The refugees also made a dramatic post-war population boost, as the number of refugees was more than a quarter of Greece's prior population.[119]

Following the catastrophic events in Asia Minor, the monarchy was abolished

returned to Greece and was restored to the throne.

Dictatorship, World War II, and reconstruction

An agreement between Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas and the head of state George II followed in 1936, which installed Metaxas as the head of a dictatorial regime known as the 4th of August Regime, inaugurating a period of authoritarian rule that would last, with short breaks, until 1974.[121] Although a dictatorship, Greece remained on good terms with Britain and was not allied with the Axis.

  Dodecanese, Italian possession
since 1912