Sunday, August 7, 2022

History Of Greece

EuropeGreeceHistory Of Greece

Read next

Ancient and Classical periods

The first evidence of the presence of human ancestors in the southern Balkans, dating back to 270,000 BC, was found in the Petralona Cave in the Greek province of Macedonia. The three stages of the Stone Age (Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic) are represented in Greece, for example in Franchthi Cave. The Neolithic settlements in Greece from the 7th millennium BC are the oldest in Europe, as Greece lies on the route by which agriculture spread from the Middle East to Europe.

Greece is home to the first advanced civilisations in Europe and is considered the cradle of Western civilisation, beginning with the Cycladic civilisation on the Aegean islands around 3200 BC, the Minoan civilisation on Crete (2700-1500 BC) and then the Mycenaean civilisation on the mainland (1900-1100 BC). These civilisations had writing, with the Minoans writing in an undeciphered script known as Linear A, and the Mycenaeans writing in Linear B, an early form of Greek. The Mycenaeans gradually absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC, during a period of regional upheaval known as the collapse of the Bronze Age. The Minoans lived in the region for a long time, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC during a period of regional upheaval known as the Bronze Age Collapse.

The end of the Dark Ages is traditionally dated to 776 BC, the year of the first Olympic Games. The Iliad and the Odyssey, the founding texts of Western literature, were probably written by Homer in the 7th or 8th century BC. With the end of the Middle Ages, various kingdoms and city-states arose on the Greek peninsula, extending to the coasts of the Black Sea, southern Italy (“Magna Graecia”) and Asia Minor. These states and their colonies achieved a high level of prosperity, which led to an unprecedented cultural boom, that of classical Greece, expressed in architecture, theatre, science, mathematics and philosophy. In 508 BC, Kleisthenes established the world’s first democratic system of government in Athens.

In 500 BC, the Persian Empire controlled the Greek cities in Asia Minor and Macedonia. Attempts by some Greek city-states in 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. A second Persian invasion followed in 480 B.C. After the decisive Greek victories of Salamis, Plataea and Mycale in 480 and 479 B.C., the Persians were forced to retreat a second time, which meant their final withdrawal from all their European territories. The Greek victories in the Greco-Persian wars, led by Athens and Sparta, are considered a defining moment in world history. The 50 years of peace that followed are known as the Golden Age of Athens, the seminal period in the development of ancient Greece that laid many of the foundations of Western civilisation.

The lack of political unity in Greece led to frequent conflicts between the Greek states. The most devastating intra-Greek war was the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), which was won by Sparta and marked the decline of the Athenian Empire as the dominant power in ancient Greece. Athens and Sparta were then eclipsed by Thebes and finally by Macedonia. The latter united the Greek world in the League of Corinth (also known as the Hellenic League or Greek Confederation) under the leadership of Philip II, who was elected head of the first united Greek state in history.

After the assassination of Philip II, his son Alexander III. (“the Great”) took over the leadership of the League of Corinth and launched an invasion of the Persian Empire in 334 BC with the combined forces of all the Greek states. Undefeated in battle, Alexander had conquered the entire Persian Empire in 330 BC. By this time he had created one of the greatest empires in history, stretching from Greece to India. After his death, his empire was divided into several kingdoms, the best known of which were the Seleucid Empire, Ptolemaic Egypt, the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and the Indo-Greek Kingdom. Many Greeks migrated to Alexandria, Antioch, Seleucia and the many other new Hellenistic cities in Asia and Africa. Although the political unity of Alexander’s empire could not be maintained, it was the birth of Hellenistic civilisation and enabled the spread of Greek language and culture in the territories conquered by Alexander. It is generally considered that Greek science, technology and mathematics reached their peak during the Hellenistic period.

Hellenistic and Roman period (323 B.C. – 4th century A.D.)

After a period of confusion following the death of Alexander, the Antigonid dynasty, descendant of one of Alexander’s generals, established its control over Macedonia and most of the Greek city-states in 276 BC. The Roman Republic increasingly interfered in Greek affairs and fought a series of wars with Macedonia. Macedonia’s defeat at the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC marked the end of Antigonid rule in Greece. In 146 BC, Macedonia was annexed as a province by Rome and the rest of Greece became a Roman protectorate.

The process was completed in 27 BC when the Roman Emperor Augustus annexed the rest of Greece and constituted it as the senatorial province of Achaia. Despite their military superiority, the Romans admired the achievements of Greek culture and were strongly influenced by them, hence Horace’s famous saying: Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit (“Greece, though captive, took her fierce conqueror captive”). Homer’s epics inspired Virgil’s Aeneid, and authors like Seneca the Younger wrote in the Greek style. Roman heroes, such as Scipio of Africa, tended to study philosophy and regarded Greek culture and science as a model to follow. Similarly, most Roman emperors had an admiration for things Greek in nature. The Roman Emperor Nero visited Greece in 66 AD and appeared at the ancient Olympic Games, although the rules forbade the participation of non-Greeks. Hadrian was also particularly fond of the Greeks; before he became emperor, he was the eponymous archon of Athens.

The Greek communities of the Hellenised East contributed to the spread of early Christianity in the second and third centuries, and the early leaders and writers of Christianity (especially St Paul) were mostly Greek speakers, although they were generally not from Greece. The New Testament was written in Greek, and some of its sections (Corinthians, Thessalonians, Philippians, Revelation of John of Patmos) testify to the importance of the churches in Greece in early Christianity. Nevertheless, large parts of Greece stubbornly clung to paganism, and the religious practices of ancient Greece were still in vogue at the end of the 4th century AD, when they were banned by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I in 391-392. The last recorded Olympic Games took place in 393, and many temples were destroyed or damaged in the following century. In Athens and rural areas, paganism is documented until the 6th century AD and even later. The closure of the Neoplatonic Academy of Athens by Emperor Justinian in 529 is regarded by many as the end of antiquity, although there is evidence that the Academy continued its activities for some time afterwards. Some remote areas such as the south-eastern Peloponnese remained pagan until the 10th century AD.

Medieval period (4th century – 1453)

The Roman Empire in the East, which followed the fall of the Empire in the West in the 5th century, is conventionally known as the Byzantine Empire (but was simply called the Roman Empire in its time) and lasted until 1453. With its capital in Constantinople, its language and literary culture were Greek and its religion was mainly Eastern Orthodox Christian.

From the 4th century onwards, the Balkan areas of the Empire, including Greece, suffered the ravages of barbarian invasions. The raids and depredations of the Goths and Huns in the 4th and 5th centuries and the Slavic invasion of Greece in the 7th century led to a spectacular collapse of imperial authority on the Greek peninsula. After the Slavic invasion, the imperial government retained official control only over islands and coastal areas, especially densely populated, fortified cities such as Athens, Corinth and Thessalonica, while some mountainous inland areas remained steadfast and continued to recognise imperial authority. Outside these areas, it is generally assumed, the Slavs settled only a little, albeit on a much smaller scale than previously thought.

The Byzantine recovery of the lost provinces began towards the end of the 8th century and most of the Greek peninsula came under Byzantine control in the 9th century. This process was favoured by a large influx of Greeks from Sicily and Asia Minor into the Greek peninsula, while at the same time many Slavs were captured and resettled in Asia Minor and those who remained were assimilated. During the 11th and 12th centuries, the return of stability to the Greek peninsula allowed for strong economic growth – much stronger than that of the Anatolian territories of the Empire.

After the Fourth Crusade and the fall of Constantinople to the “Latins” in 1204, the Greek mainland was divided between the Greek despot of Epirus (a Byzantine successor state) and the Frankish dominion (known as Frankokratia), while some islands came under Venetian rule. The re-establishment of the Byzantine imperial capital of Constantinople in 1261 was accompanied by the reclamation of much of the Greek peninsula by the Empire, although the Frankish principality of Achaia in the Peloponnese and the Greek rival despotate of Epirus in the north remained under Venetian rule until the 14th century.

In the 14th century, the Byzantine Empire lost a large part of the Greek peninsula, first to the Serbs and then to the Ottomans. At the beginning of the 15th century, the Byzantine territory in Greece was mainly limited to the then largest city of Thessaloniki and the Peloponnese (Despot of Morea) due to the Ottoman advance. After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453, Morea was the last remnant of the Byzantine Empire to oppose the Ottomans. But it too fell to the Ottomans in 1460, completing the Ottoman conquest of mainland Greece. With the Turkish conquest, many scholars of Byzantine Greece, who until then had been largely responsible for the preservation of classical Greek knowledge, fled to the West, taking much of the literature with them and thus contributing significantly to the Renaissance.

Beginning of the Modern Era: Venetian Possessions and Ottoman Rule (15th Century – 1821)

While most of mainland Greece and the Aegean islands were under Ottoman control by the end of the 15th century, Cyprus and Crete remained Venetian territories and only came under Ottoman control in 1571 and 1670 respectively. The only part of the Greek-speaking world to escape long Ottoman rule was the Ionian Islands, which remained Venetian until their conquest by the First French Republic in 1797 and then passed to the United Kingdom in 1809 until they were united with Greece in 1864.

While some Greeks from the Ionian Islands and Constantinople lived in prosperity and the Greeks of Constantinople (Phanariots) rose to positions of power within the Ottoman administration, a large part of the population of mainland Greece suffered the economic consequences of the Ottoman conquest. High taxes were levied and in the following years the Ottoman Empire implemented a policy of creating hereditary farms, turning the Greek rural population into serfs.

The Greek Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople were seen by the Ottoman governments as the ruling authorities for the entire Orthodox Christian population of the Ottoman Empire, whether they were ethnically Greek or not. Although the Ottoman state did not force non-Muslims to convert to Islam, Christians faced various types of discrimination aimed at highlighting their inferior status in the Ottoman Empire. Discrimination against Christians, especially when combined with harsh treatment by local Ottoman authorities, led to conversions to Islam, even if only superficially. In the 19th century, many “crypto-Christians” returned to their former religious affiliation.

The nature of Ottoman administration in Greece varied, although it was always arbitrary and often harsh. Some cities had governors appointed by the Sultan, while others (like Athens) were autonomous municipalities. The inland mountainous regions and many islands remained effectively autonomous from the central Ottoman state for many centuries.

When military conflicts broke out between the Ottoman Empire and its enemies, the Greeks usually took up arms against the Empire, with few exceptions. Prior to the Greek Revolution of 1821, there were a number of wars in which the Greeks fought against the Ottomans, such as the Greek participation in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the Epirus peasant revolts of 1600-1601, the Morean War of 1684-1699 and the Orlov Revolt of 1770 at the instigation of the Russians, which aimed to crush the Ottoman Empire in favour of Russian interests. These revolts were put down by the Ottomans with great bloodshed. On the other hand, many Greeks were conscripted as Ottoman citizens to serve in the Ottoman army (and especially in the Ottoman navy), while the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which was responsible for the Orthodox, generally remained loyal to the Empire.

The 16th and 17th centuries are considered a kind of “dark age” in Greek history. The prospect of overthrowing Ottoman rule seemed remote, and only the Ionian Islands remained free from Turkish rule. Corfu withstood three major sieges in 1537, 1571 and 1716, all of which led to the repulsion of the Ottomans. In the 18th century, however, a rich and scattered Greek merchant class emerged through shipping. These merchants dominated trade within the Ottoman Empire and established communities throughout the Mediterranean, the Balkans and Western Europe. Although the Ottoman conquest cut Greece off from important European intellectual movements such as the Reformation and the Enlightenment, these ideas, along with the ideals of the French Revolution and Romantic nationalism, began to penetrate the Greek world through the merchant diaspora. In the late 18th century, Rigas Feraios, the first revolutionary to envision an independent Greek state, published a series of documents on Greek independence, including a national anthem and the first detailed map of Greece, in Vienna and was assassinated by Ottoman agents in 1798.

Modern period

The Greek War of Independence (1821-1832)

At the end of the 18th century, the rise of secular scholarship during the Enlightenment in modern Greece revived among Greeks in the diaspora the notion of a Greek nation that traces its origins to ancient Greece, is distinct from other orthodox peoples and is entitled to political autonomy. One of the organisations that formed in this intellectual milieu was the Filiki Eteria, a secret organisation founded by merchants in Odessa in 1814. By appropriating a long tradition of Orthodox messianic prophecies seeking the resurrection of the Eastern Roman Empire and giving the impression of having the support of Tsarist Russia, they succeeded in winning over the traditional strata of the Greek Orthodox world to their liberal nationalist cause in the midst of a crisis in Ottoman trade from 1815 onwards. The Filiki Eteria planned to launch a revolution in the Peloponnese, the Danubian principalities and Constantinople. The first of these revolts began on 6 March 1821 in the Danubian principalities under the leadership of Alexandros Ypsilantis, but was quickly crushed by the Ottomans. Events in the north pushed the Peloponnesian Greeks into action and on 17 March 1821 the Maniotes declared war on the Ottomans.

By the end of the month, the Peloponnese was in open revolt against the Ottomans and by October 1821 Theodoros Kolokotronis’ Greeks had taken Tripolitsa. The Peloponnesian uprising was soon followed by revolts in Crete, Macedonia and central Greece, but these were soon put down. Meanwhile, the makeshift Greek navy was successful against the Ottoman navy in the Aegean and prevented Ottoman reinforcements from arriving by sea. In 1822 and 1824, Turks and Egyptians ravaged the islands, including Chios and Psara, committing mass massacres of the population. This had the effect of stirring up public opinion in Western Europe in favour of the Greek rebels.

Tensions quickly developed between the different Greek factions, leading to two successive civil wars. In the meantime, the Ottoman sultan negotiated with Mehmet Ali of Egypt, who agreed to send his son Ibrahim Pasha with an army to Greece to put down the revolt in exchange for territorial gains. Ibrahim landed in the Peloponnese in February 1825 and was immediately successful: by the end of 1825, most of the Peloponnese was under Egyptian control, and the city of Missolonghi – besieged by the Turks since April 1825 – fell in April 1826. Although Ibrahim was defeated in the Mani, he had succeeded in suppressing most of the rebellion in the Peloponnese and Athens was retaken.

After years of negotiations, the three great powers, Russia, Britain and France, decided to intervene in the conflict and each nation sent a fleet to Greece. After learning that the mixed Ottoman and Egyptian fleet was about to attack the Greek island of Hydra, the Allied fleet intercepted the Ottoman-Egyptian fleet at Navarino. After a week of confrontation, a battle began that led to the destruction of the Ottoman-Egyptian fleet. A French expeditionary force was sent to oversee the evacuation of the Egyptian army from the Peloponnese, while the Greeks went to the conquered part of central Greece in 1828. After years of negotiations, the young Greek state was finally recognised by the London Protocol in 1830.

Greek Kingdom

In 1827, Ioannis Kapodistrias, a native of Corfu, was elected the first governor of the First Greek Republic by the Third National Assembly in Troezen. Kapodistrias founded a number of state, economic and military institutions. Soon tensions arose between him and local interests. After his assassination in 1831 and the subsequent conference a year later, the great powers of Britain, France and Russia installed the Bavarian Prince Otto von Wittelsbach as monarch. In 1843, an uprising forced the king to grant a constitution and a representative assembly.

Because of his authoritarian regime, he was eventually dethroned in 1862 and replaced a year later by Prince William of Denmark, who took the name George I and brought the Ionian Islands as a coronation gift from Britain. In 1877, Charilaos Trikoupis, who is credited with significantly improving the country’s infrastructure, curtailed the monarchy’s power to interfere in the assembly by establishing the vote of confidence rule for any potential prime minister.

Corruption and increased spending by Trikoupis to create necessary infrastructure such as the Corinth Canal overwhelmed the weak Greek economy, forcing the declaration of state bankruptcy in 1893 and the acceptance of the establishment of an international financial regulator to compensate the country’s debtors. Another political issue in 19th century Greece was uniquely Greek: the question of language. The Greek people spoke a form of Greek called Demotic. A large part of the educated elite considered this a peasant dialect and were determined to restore the glory of ancient Greek.

Government documents and newspapers were therefore published in katharevousa (purified) Greek, a form that only a few ordinary Greeks could read. The liberals were in favour of recognising Demotic as the national language, but the conservatives and the Orthodox Church opposed all these efforts, to the extent that when the New Testament was translated into Demotic in 1901, riots broke out in Athens and the government fell (the Evangeliaka). This issue plagued Greek politics until the 1970s.

All Greeks, however, were united in their determination to liberate the Greek-speaking provinces of the Ottoman Empire, regardless of which dialect they spoke. In Crete in particular, a long-running revolt in 1866-1869 had aroused nationalist fervour. When war broke out between Russia and the Ottomans in 1877, the Greek people sided with Russia, but Greece was too poor and too preoccupied with British intervention to officially enter the war. Nevertheless, in 1881 Thessaly and small parts of Epirus were ceded to Greece under the Treaty of Berlin, disappointing Greek hopes of obtaining Crete.

The Greeks in Crete continued to organise regular uprisings and in 1897 the Greek government of Theodoros Deligiannis, yielding to popular pressure, declared war on the Ottomans. In the ensuing Greek-Turkish war of 1897, the poorly trained and ill-equipped Greek army was defeated by the Ottomans. Thanks to the intervention of the great powers, however, Greece lost only a small area along the border with Turkey, while Crete was established as an autonomous state under Prince George of Greece. With the state’s coffers empty, financial policy was placed under international financial control. For the next decade, Greek efforts focused on the Macedonian struggle, a state-sponsored guerrilla campaign against pro-Bulgarian rebel bands in Ottoman-dominated Macedonia that ended inconclusively with the Young Turk revolution in 1908

Expansion, disaster and reconstruction

Amid general discontent over the state of the nation, a group of military officers staged a coup in August 1909 and shortly thereafter summoned the Cretan politician Eleftherios Venizelos to power. After winning two elections and becoming prime minister, Venizelos introduced far-reaching fiscal, social and constitutional reforms, reorganised the army, made Greece a member of the Balkan League and led the country through the Balkan wars. By 1913, Greece’s territory and population had almost doubled with the annexation of Crete, Epirus and Macedonia. In the following years, the struggle between King Constantine I and the charismatic Venizelos over the country’s foreign policy on the eve of World War I dominated the political scene and divided the country into two opposing groups. During parts of the First World War, Greece had two governments: a pro-German royalist government in Athens and a pro-tenet Venetian government in Thessaloniki. The two governments were united in 1917, when Greece officially entered the war on the side of the Entente.

After World War I, Greece attempted to expand further into Asia Minor, a region with a large ethnic Greek population at the time, but was defeated in the Greek-Turkish War of 1919-1922, which contributed to a mass exodus of Greeks from Asia Minor. These events overlapped as both took place during the Greek Genocide (1914-1922), a period in which, according to various sources, Ottoman and Turkish officials contributed to the deaths of several hundred thousand Greeks from Asia Minor. The resulting exodus of Greeks from Asia Minor was made permanent and disseminated as part of an official population exchange between Greece and Turkey. This exchange was part of the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne, which ended the war.

The following period was marked by instability, as more than 1.5 million Greek refugees without property from Turkey had to be integrated into Greek society, as well as Cappadocian Greeks, Pontiac Greeks and non-Greek followers of Greek Orthodoxy. Some of the refugees do not speak the language and come from an environment that was unfamiliar to mainland Greeks, as in the case of the Cappadocians and non-Greeks. The number of refugees also made a dramatic jump in the post-war population, accounting for more than a quarter of the former Greek population.

After the catastrophic events in Asia Minor, the monarchy was abolished by referendum in 1924 and the Second Hellenic Republic was proclaimed. In 1935, a royalist general turned politician, Georgios Kondylis, took power after a coup d’état and abolished the republic by holding a rigged referendum, after which King George II returned to Greece and was restored to the throne.

Dictatorship, Second World War and Reconstruction

In 1936, an agreement between Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas and Head of State George II followed, placing Metaxas at the head of a dictatorial regime that became known as the 4th of August regime and ushered in a period of authoritarian rule that lasted, with brief interruptions, until 1974. Although it was a dictatorship, Greece remained on good terms with Britain and was not allied with the Axis powers.

On 28 October 1940, Fascist Italy demanded Greece’s surrender, but the Greek government refused. In the ensuing Greek-Italian War, Greece pushed the Italian troops back into Albania and gave the Allies their first victory over the Axis powers on land. The Greek fight and victory over the Italians was effusively praised at the time. The most important quote is the one attributed to Winston Churchill: “Therefore we shall not say that the Greeks are fighting as heroes, but we shall say that the heroes are fighting as Greeks.” French General Charles de Gaulle was among those who praised the ferocity of the Greek resistance. In an official communiqué published on the occasion of Greek Independence Day, De Gaulle expressed his admiration for the Greek resistance:

On behalf of the French people, captured but still alive, France wishes to salute the Greek people who are fighting for their freedom. On 25 March 1941, Greece was at the height of its heroic struggle and at the height of its glory. Since the battle of Salamis, Greece had not achieved the greatness and glory it deserves today.

The country would eventually fall to German forces during the Battle of Greece, despite fierce resistance from the Greeks, especially during the Battle of the Metaxas Line. Adolf Hitler himself acknowledged the bravery and courage of the Greek army, saying in his speech to the Reichstag on 11 December 1941: “Historical justice compels me to state that among the enemies who took up positions against us, the Greek soldier fought particularly bravely. He surrendered only when resistance became impossible and futile”.

The Nazis administered Athens and Thessaloniki, while other parts of the country were given to partners Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and Bulgaria. The occupation brought terrible hardships for the Greek civilian population. More than 100,000 civilians starved to death during the winter of 1941-1942, tens of thousands more died as a result of reprisals by the Nazis and their collaborators, the country’s economy was ruined and the vast majority of Greek Jews were deported and murdered in Nazi concentration camps. The Greek resistance, one of the most effective resistance movements in Europe, fought vehemently against the Nazis and their collaborators. In retaliation, the German occupiers committed numerous atrocities, mass executions, massacres of civilians and the destruction of towns and villages. During the concerted action against the guerrillas, hundreds of villages were systematically burnt down and almost one million Greeks were left homeless. In total, the Germans executed about 21,000 Greeks, the Bulgarians 40,000 and the Italians 9,000.

After the liberation and victory of the Allies over the Axis powers, Greece annexed the islands of the Dodecanese. Soon the country experienced a polarising civil war between communist and anti-communist forces until 1949, which led to economic devastation and severe social tensions between predominantly communist right and left for the next 30 years. The next twenty years were marked by the marginalisation of the left in politics and society and by rapid economic growth, driven in part by the Marshall Plan.

The greater visibility of Greece’s development in the 20th century is also reflected in the HDI component, which rose rapidly during this period, or because the low level of human capital continued for some time after the end of Ottoman rule.

The dismissal of the centrist government of Georges Papandreou by King Constantine II in July 1965 led to a long period of political turmoil, culminating in the coup d’état of 21 April 1967 by the regime of the colonels. The brutal suppression of the uprising at the Athens Polytechnic School on 17 November 1973 would send a shockwave to the regime, and a counter-coup overthrew Georgios Papadopoulos to establish Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannidis as leader. On 20 July 1974, when Turkey invaded the island of Cyprus, the regime collapsed.

Third Hellenic Republic

Former Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis was invited to return from Paris, where he had been living in exile since 1963, marking the beginning of the Metapolitefsi era. The first multi-party elections since 1964 were held at the École Polytechnique on the first anniversary of the uprising. A democratic and republican constitution was promulgated on 11 June 1975 after a referendum rejected the restoration of the monarchy.

Meanwhile, George Papandreou’s son, Andreas Papandreou, founded the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in response to Karamanlis’ conservative New Democracy party, the two political formations that dominated the government for the next four decades. Greece joined NATO in 1980. On 1 January 1981, Greece became the tenth member of the European Communities (which later became part of the European Union), ushering in a period of sustained growth. Massive investment in industries and heavy infrastructure, along with European Union funds and growing revenues from tourism, shipping and a booming service sector, raised the country’s standard of living to unprecedented levels. Traditionally strained relations with neighbouring Turkey improved when both nations were hit by successive earthquakes in 1999, leading to the lifting of the Greek veto on Turkey’s application for EU membership.

The country introduced the euro in 2001 and successfully hosted the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. More recently, Greece suffered greatly from the recession of the late 2000s and played a central role in the related European sovereign debt crisis. Thanks to the introduction of the euro, Greece was no longer able to devalue its currency to regain competitiveness during the financial crisis. Youth unemployment was particularly high in the 2000s. The Greek sovereign debt crisis, the subsequent austerity policies and the resulting protests have shaken domestic politics and have regularly threatened European and global financial markets since the crisis began in 2010.

How To Travel To Greece

By plane Eleftherios of Venizélos International AirportAthens, near Spáta, on the outskirts of Athens, is the country's largest airport and main hub, handling more than 15 million passengers per year since 2006. Other major international airports in terms of passenger traffic are, in order of passengers handled per year, Heraklion...

How To Travel Around Greece

General considerations A common question asked by travellers in Greece is whether they should rent a car. The main advantage of a car is that you can cover much more distance per day if you are travelling to rural areas or the larger islands: You can travel almost anywhere in...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Greece

Greece is a member of the Schengen Agreement. There are normally no border controls between the countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most countries of the European Union and a few other countries.Before boarding an international flight or ship, there is usually an identity check. Sometimes...

Tourism in Greece

Tourism in Greece is a key element of the country's economic activity and is one of the country's most important sectors. Greece has been a major tourist destination and attraction in Europe since ancient times because of its rich culture and history, much of which is reflected in its...

Destinations in Greece

Regions in Greece The Peloponnese (Achée, Arcadia, Argolida, Corinth, Elis, Laconia, Messinia)Central Greece (Evvia, Attica, Boeotia, Phthiotis, Phocis, Evrytania, Aetolia-Acarnania).Location of the national capital, AthensThessaly (Magnesia, Larissa, Trikala, Karditsa)Northern Greece (Kastoria, Florina, Kozani, Grevena, Pella, Imathia, Pieria, Kilkis, Thessaloniki, Chalkidiki, Serres, Mount Athos, Drama, Kavala, Xanthi, Rhodopes, Evros)Epirus (Arta, Ioannina,...

Weather & Climate in Greece

Greece, although small in size, has a very diverse climate. The majority of the country, which includes all coastal areas, has a so-called Mediterranean climate, which is nearly the same as most parts of California. Summers are hot and dry with a period of 7 months of almost constant sunshine,...

Accommodation & Hotels in Greece

If you like local traditions and charm, the quiet rhythm of life, small family guesthouses are the best way to enrich your experience. The owners and staff are friendly and approachable, compared to the impersonal service you usually find in big hotels. If you have a larger budget, renting a...

Things To See in Greece

Few countries can boast such an important heritage for Western civilisation as Greece. A number of first-class historical monuments recall the time when the great Greek emperors and writers shaped the development of science, literature and democracy. No fewer than 17 of these monuments are inscribed on the World...

Things To Do in Greece

There are a variety of activities to indulge in in Greece. One of the most unique, which is also becoming increasingly popular, is to stop for several days at Mount Olympus, the mythical palace of the 12 gods of Greek mythology, on the way from Athens to Thessaloniki.

Food & Drinks in Greece

Food in Greece Greek cuisine is a mixture of local traditions and foreign influences. The neighbouring countries of Italy and Turkey have a great influence on Greek cuisine, and there are dishes in common with both nations. The traditional Greek diet is very Mediterranean, with vegetables, herbs and grains from...

Money & Shopping in Greece

Products you can buy at home, but which are (usually) fresh in Greece, include olive oil, fruit (watermelon, melon, peaches, grapes, strawberries, etc.), feta cheese and some local breads and sweets. As for drinks, "retsina" and "tsipouro" are also local, but the former has a special taste and the...

Festivals & Holidays in Greece

The following days are national holidays: New Year's Day - 1 JanuaryEpiphany - 6 JanuaryClean Monday (first day of Lent) - mobileIndependence and Annunciation Day - 25 MarchGood Friday - mobileEaster Sunday - mobilePasha Monday - mobileMay Day / Labour Day - 1 MayWhitsunday - mobileWhit Monday - mobileDormition of...

Traditions & Customs in Greece

The Greeks judged politeness by a person's behaviour and not by their words. There is also an informal atmosphere; everyone is treated like a cousin. They use their hands a lot to make gestures. Have fun with it. Sometimes over-emphasising politeness in spoken language only leads your conversation partner...

Internet & Communications in Greece

News You can check with various news agencies that offer Greek news in English, such as the official news agency of Athens and Reuters or Kathimerini, English Edition (a daily newspaper published in Athens and distributed exclusively with the International New York Times in Greece and Cyprus), but it is...

Language & Phrasebook in Greece

Greek is the official language of the country and the mother tongue of the vast majority of the population, although the English-speaking visitor has no significant language problems. English is the most widely learned and understood foreign language in Greece, followed by French, Italian and German. A basic knowledge...

Culture Of Greece

The culture of Greece has developed over thousands of years, beginning with Mycenaean Greece and continuing in Classical Greece, under the influence of the Roman Empire and its Eastern Greek extension, the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium. Other cultures and nations, such as the Latin and Frankish states, the...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Greece

Stay safe in Greece Greece is generally a safe destination: the vast majority of people you deal with are honest and helpful. The above information is intended to warn travellers of the risks that can affect them with little but not zero probability. There is also a serious social problem...



South America


North America

Most Popular