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Europe, Greece

Elliniki Dimokratia, Greek monarchy, Peloponnisos, Peloponnesus, Hellenic Republic

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 in the period after World War II ended in 1945 it has experienced rapid economic and social change. 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. For a discussion of ancient Greek civilization and history.

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.

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Article key phrases:

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