Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilisation of ancient Greece, generally considered the cradle of Western civilization. As such, it is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientificand mathematical principles, university education, the first coin, and Western drama, including both tragedy andcomedy. This legacy is partly reflected in the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Greece. The modern Greek state was established in 1830, following a successful uprising against Ottoman rule.
A developed country with an advanced, high-income economy and very highstandards of living (22nd highest in the world as of 2010), Greece has been a member of what is now the European Union since 1981 and the eurozone since 2001, NATO since 1952, and the European Space Agency since 2005. It is also a founding member of the United Nations, the OECD, and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. Athens is the capital and the largest cityin the country (its metropolitan area includes alsoPiraeus).
Main article: History of Greece
The Parthenon on theAcropolis of Athens.
Detail of the Alexander Mosaic, depicting Alexander the Great on his horse Bucephalus.
The sortie of Messolonghi, during the Greek Revolution (1821–1830), by Theodoros Vryzakis.
Greece was the firstarea in Europe where advanced early civilizations emerged, beginning with theCycladic civilization of the Aegean Sea, the Minoan civilization in Crete and then the Mycenaeancivilization on the mainland. Later, city-states emerged across the Greek peninsula and spread to the shores of the Black Sea, South Italy and Asia Minor, reaching great levels of prosperity that resulted in an unprecedentedcultural boom, that of classical Greece, expressed in architecture, drama, scienceand philosophy, and nurtured in Athens under a democratic environment.
Athens and Sparta led the way in repelling the Persian Empire in a series of battles. Both were later overshadowed by Thebes and eventually Macedonia, with the latter under the guidance of Alexander the Great uniting and leading the Greek worldto victory over the Persians.
The Hellenistic period was brought only partially to a close two centuries later with the establishment ofRoman rule over Greek lands in 146 BC. Many Greeks migrated to Alexandria, Antioch, Seleucia and the many other new Hellenistic cities in Asia and Africa founded in Alexander's wake.
The subsequent mixture of Roman and Hellenic cultures took formin the establishment of the Byzantine Empire in 330 AD around Constantinople. Byzantium remained a major cultural and military power for the next 1,123 years, until the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. On the eve of the Ottoman conquest, much of the Greek intelligentsia migrated to Italy and other parts of Europe not under Ottoman rule, playing a significant role in...