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Greece (Greek Hellas), officially known as the Hellenic Republic (Elliniki Dimokratia), country in southeastern Europe, occupying the southernmost part of the Balkan Peninsula. Famed for the beauty of its landscape, Greece is dominated by mountains and sea. The Aegean, Mediterranean, and Ionian seas constitute the country’s eastern, southern, and western borders, and no part of mainland Greece is more than 100 km (60 mi) from the water. Islands constitute about one-fifth of the country’s land area.

Greece has historically been poor with inadequate communications, but it has experienced rapid economic and social change from the mid-20th century on. Tourism and shipping make major contributions to the Greek economy, which has also benefited from payments arising from Greece’s membership in the European Union (EU). The country’s merchant ship fleet is one of the largest in the world. Greece’s capital and largest city is Athens.

Although Greece did not come into being as a modern state until the 19th century, its people have a proud history that stretches back thousands of years. In the 1st millennium bc, ancient Greek city-states led by Athens made tremendous advances in government, philosophy, and the arts. The ancient Greek civilization was concentrated on the coastlines of present-day Greece and its islands, as well as the Aegean coast of what is today Turkey. The archaeological remains of many of the cities and sacred sites of ancient Greece are located in modern Greece.

The Ottoman Empire gained control of Greece in stages, beginning in the 15th century. After an eight-year war, Greece formally gained its independence from the Ottomans in 1830; it was the first nation in the empire to do so. Initially including just the Peloponnisos (Peloponnesus) and the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula, Greece more than tripled its area between 1880 and 1920, gaining mainland territory and islands from the Ottomans, Britain, and Bulgaria. German forces occupied Greece during World War II (1939-1945). Greek Communist rebels then waged war against the country’s right-wing government from 1946 to 1949. In 1967 a group of middle-ranking military officers took control of Greece. The military regime was overthrown in 1974, and the people of Greece voted in favor of a republic. In so doing, they brought an end to the Greek monarchy, which had been a controversial feature of the country’s government throughout most of its modern history.

Greece’s heritage and geographical position make it part of the European, Balkan, and Mediterranean worlds. The country is bordered to the north by (from east to west) Turkey, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and Albania.


For younger readers

DuBois, Jill, and others. Greece. 2nd ed. Benchmark, 2003. For readers in grades 5 to 8.

Greece … in Pictures. Lerner, 1992. For readers in grades 5 to 8.

Heinrichs, Ann. Greece. Children's Press, 2002. For readers in grades 4 to 8.

Ryan, Patrick. Greece. Child's World, 2003. For readers in grades 2 to 4.

Greek art and architecture

Boardman, John. Greek Art. Rev. ed. Thames & Hudson, 1985. Good overview of all aspects.

Boardman, John. Greek Sculpture: The Archaic Period. Oxford University Press, 1978. Thames & Hudson, 1985. Examination by style, region, artist. Also: Greek Sculpture: The Late Classical Period and Sculpture in Colonies and Overseas (1995).

Boardman, John, ed. The Oxford History of Classical Art. Oxford University Press, 1993. Monumental survey of Greco-Roman traditions.

Brommer, Frank. The Sculptures of the Parthenon: Metopes Frieze, Pediments, Cult-Statue. Thames & Hudson, 1979. Brief, detailed discussion.

Buitron-Oliver, Diana, ed. New Perspectives in Early Greek Art. National Gallery of Art, 1991. Well-illustrated collection of recent scholarly essays.

Carpenter, Thomas H. Art and Myth in Ancient Greece: A Handbook. Thames & Hudson, 1991. Useful overview.

Havelock, Christine Mitchell. The Aphrodite of Knidos and Her Successors: A Historical Review of the Female Nude in Greek Art. University of Michigan Press, 1995. Thorough study of Praxiteles's influential statue.

Higgins, Reynold. Minoan and Mycenaean Art. 2nd rev. ed. Thames & Hudson, 1997. Popular survey of the Bronze Age civilizations of the Aegean.

Immerwahr, Sara Anderson. Aegean Painting in the Bronze Age. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990. Scholarly study of ancient frescoes.

Onians, John. Art and Thought in the Hellenistic Age: The Greek World View, 350-50 bc. Thames & Hudson, 1979. Greek art and architecture related to the literature of the age.

Richter, Gisela M. A. Handbook of Greek Art. Dutton, 1974. Reprint, Phaidon, 1994. Concise survey includes sculpture, pottery, textiles, coins, and more.

Richter, Gisela M. A. The Sculpture and Sculptors of the Greeks. Yale University Press, 1950, 1970. Scholarly history.

Ridgway, Brunilde Sismondo. The Archaic Style in Greek Sculpture. 2nd ed. Ares, 1993. Scholarly investigation of monumental stone sculptures.

Robertson, Martin. The Art of Vase-Painting in Classical Athens. Cambridge University Press, 1992. Thorough examination.

Scully, Vincent. The Earth, the Temple, and the Gods: Greek Sacred Architecture. Rev. ed. Yale University Press, 1979. Temples as manifestations of gods in the landscape.

Stewart, Andrew F. Greek Sculpture: An Exploration. 2 vols. Yale University Press, 1990. Extensive, well-illustrated survey.

Vickers, Michael J., and David Gill. Artful Crafts: Ancient Greek Silverware and Pottery. Oxford University Press, 1994. Social history of ancient decorative arts.

Williams, Dyfri, and Jack Ogden. Greek Gold. Abrams, 1994. Beautifully illustrated catalog of a major international exhibition.

Woodford, Susan. The Art of Greece and Rome. Cambridge University Press, 1982, 1992. Clear discussion arranged by medium and period.

Greek literature

Dover, K. J. and others, eds. Ancient Greek Literature. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, 1997. An introduction by genre, covering 200 BC to AD 200.

Easterling, P. E., and B. M. W. Knox. Greek Literature. Cambridge University Press, 1989. The standard work; from Homer through the 3rd century AD, with extensive documentation and bibliography.

Hamilton, Edith. The Greek Way. Norton, 1930, 1993. A scholarly introduction to Greek life, thought, and literature.

Higham, T. F., and C. M. Bowra, eds. The Oxford Book of Greek Verse in Translation. Clarendon Press, 1938. A classic edition.

Kitto, H. D. F. Greek Tragedy: A Literary Study. 3rd. ed. Routledge, 1990. In-depth analysis of the development of Greek tragedy.


Adkins, Lesley. Handbook to Life in Ancient Greece. Oxford University Press, 1998.

Cartledge, Paul, ed. The Cambridge Illustrated History of Ancient Greece. Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Clogg, Richard. A Concise History of Greece. Cambridge University Press, 1992. An illustrated survey of modern Greek history.

Curtis, Glenn E., ed. Greece: A Country Study. 4th ed. Library of Congress, 1995. Concise survey of history, economy, politics, and society of contemporary Greece.

Gage, Nicholas. Greece: Land of Light. Bulfinch, 1998. Essay with photographs.


Clogg, Richard, M.A. Fellow, St. Antony's College, Oxford University. Author of A Concise History of Greece, winner of the Runciman Prize for best book on a Hellenic topic published in the United Kingdom in 1992, A Short History of Greece, and Parties and Elections in Greece.

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