The Hellenic Republic of Greece, also known as Ellas or Elliniki Dhimokratia, is a land of mountains and islands, covering 131,957 sq km. To the west of Greece lies the Ionian Sea, to the south the Mediterranean, and to the east the Aegean Sea. Its northern land borders include Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. There are more than 2,000 Greek islands, 170 of them inhabited. The country's capital is Athens.

Greek history

The long history of Greece began in the so-called classical era, and continued with a period of Macedonian supremacy, before entering the Roman and Byzantine eras. The Ottoman empire dominated Greece for many years before a movement for independence began in the 1820s. Modern Greece has included a period of military dictatorship 1967-1973, and democracy returned in 1974. In 1981, Greece became a member of the European Community (now the European Union).

Greek language

The Greek language has evolved considerably since the days of ancient Greek, passing through periods characterised as archaic, classical, Hellenistic, and Byzantine Greek, before arriving at the modern variety of the language.

Greek society and culture

Byzantine rule led to Greek adoption of Orthodox Christianity, and the period of Ottoman rule also had a strong influence on the country's culture. Greek literature has included ancient writers like Homer, Sophocles, Plato, and Aristotle, and more modern writers like Nikos Kazantzakis, author of Zorba the Greek. Greece has also given the world the Olympic Games, which first began in ancient Greece.

Greek art and architecture

Ancient Greece left a legacy of sculpture, mosaic, and crafts. The Archaic period (800-480 BC) showed Egyptian influence; the Classical period (480-323 BC) was characterised by dignified realism; and the Hellenistic period (323-27 BC) was more exuberant and dramatic.

Greek architecture perfected three orders of columns: the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. These led to fine buildings like the Parthenon, the temple of Diana in Ephesus, and the Mausoleum in Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc, 1994-2000
The Hutchinson Encyclopedia, Helicon Publishing Ltd, 1996
Chronicle of the World, Chronicle Communications Ltd, London, 1989

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Religion and Mythology