Literally meaning "Greater Greece", Magna Grecia included all of colonized areas to the west of Greece centering around Italy.

Around 800 BCE, the people of Greece and its surrounding islands began to colonize areas of Sicily and the lower Italian peninsula. It was there that the major centers of Hellenistic culture arose. Thinkers such as Pythagoras and Archimedes originated from Magna Grecia.

In 750 BCE the first colony was founded at Pithecusae on the island of Ischia. Following was Parthenope (later rebuilt as New City : Neapolis : Naples) and several other settlements. Magna Grecia remained very divided during its history, never uniting as a single entity. The cities expended most of their resources fighting each other. Their main enemies were Rome and Carthage, and as Rome grew in strength, Magna Grecia was eventually conquered in 272 BCE.