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Greece Culture, Geography and History
Culture and Customs of Greece
The origins of Greece’s current culture lie in its ancient heart. Greece is the celebrated birthplace of some of the world’s most famous art, architecture, language, dance, literature and culinary traditions. The hallmarks of Western medicine, philosophy, drama and government can all be attributed to the mighty ancient Greek civilisation.
With more than 90% of the population being Greek Orthodox, religion plays an important part in everyday life. Religious festivals and ceremonies are commonplace, both in the mainland cities and small rural villages. Christmas and Easter are particularly important dates on the calendar, although religious celebrations are not limited to these times as there are daily, weekly and annual rites and rituals performed all throughout Greece’s mainland and islands.
Family plays a strong part in Greek life, with extended families tending to remain close and gathering together for meals and celebrations. Special foods are created at different times of the year, some of which date back to centuries ago. Weddings are typically large affairs and usually celebrated with much merriment and fanfare. To be Greek is to be proud of your country, your heritage and your traditions.
Geography and Environment of Greece
Sharing land borders with Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Macedonia, Greece is located in Southern Europe and is surrounded by the Ionian, Mediterranean and Aegean Sea. Consisting of the mainland peninsula and an archipelago of more than 3,000 islands, Greece is typically mountainous, containing peaks, karsts and canyons all over. Despite the mountainous topography, there is much arable land on Greece with small-scale farms successfully producing olives, peaches, melons, grapes, tomatoes and grain for export and local use.
History and Government of Greece
This timeline identifies the major events that helped to shape Ancient Greece:
- 2900 BC - Early Aegean culture emerges
- 2500 BC - The Minoan civilisation flourishes
- 1200 BC - Troy is destroyed during the Trojan War
- 850 BC - The Greek Alphabet is developed
- 776 BC - The first Olympic Games are held
- 750 to 700 BC - The Illiad and the Odyssey are written by Homer
- 600 BC - Coin currency is introduced to Greece
- 569 BC - Pythagoras, mathematician and scientist, is born in Samos
- 497 to 479 BC - The Greek/Persian Wars are led by Xerxes
- 469 BC - Socrates, one of the founders of Western Philosophy, is born
- 460 BC - Hippocrates, the ‘Father of Western Medicine’, is born on the island of Kos
- 447 BC - Building of the Parthenon begins
- 430 BC - Plague epidemic hits Athens
- 430 to 404 BC - Peloponnesian War rages between Athens and Sparta
- 428 BC - Plato, philosopher and writer, is born
- 336 BC - Alexander the Great comes to power
- 332 BC - Alexander the Great conquers Egypt
The early history of Greece is among the world’s most fascinating, and like the other ancient civilisations of Egypt and Rome, Greece has many monuments still standing after centuries. The Greeks have been both the conquerors and the conquered, withstood the Plague and other natural disasters, and birthed some of the greatest literature, scientific developments, mathematical formulas and thought movements.
In 1821, the Greeks fought against Ottoman rule during the Greek War of Independence, which resulted in Greece being recognised as an autonomous region in 1828. This was a time of great upheaval for the Greek people, with political assassinations, battles and plundering. After autonomy was granted, many years of change followed, with continued war and confrontation alongside intermittent periods of relative peace. The two World Wars had a profound effect on Greece, with many battles fought in Greece during the early 1940s (during the Axis occupation). Athens was liberated from this occupation in 1944 and the Greek government was restored. Greece joined the United Nations (as a founding member) in 1945 and NATO in 1952. During this time, many Greeks started moving to other parts of the world in a mass wave of widespread migration. The USA, Australia and Europe were popular destinations in this move, which saw hundreds of thousands of Greeks immigrate to other lands. In 2004, Athens successfully hosted the Summer Olympics once again. Yet more recently, Greece has come under the shadow of the European debt crisis which has crippled the economy. Despite this, the spirit of the Greek people endures as it has for eons.
Greece at a glance
- Athens (population 750,000)
- 10.7 million
- (GMT+02:00) Athens, Bucharest, Istanbul
- Type C (European 2-pin), Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)
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