GREECE is a country in Europe, situated on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. The country has land borders with Albania, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the east. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of mainland Greece, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the tenth longest coastline in the world at 14,880 km (9,246 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands (approximately 1400, of which 227 are inhabited), including Crete, the Dodecanese, the Cyclades, and the Ionian Islands among others. Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest at 2,917 m (9,570 ft).
Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of ancient Greece, generally considered the cradle of Western civilization. As such, it is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy. This legacy is partly reflected in the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Greece. The modern Greek state was established in 1830, following a victorious uprising against Ottoman rule.
A developed country with a very high Human Development Index and standard of living, Greece has been a member of what is now the European Union since 1981 and its Economic and Monetary Union since 2001, NATO since 1952, and the European Space Agency since 2005. It is also a founding member of the United Nations, the OECD, and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. Athens is the capital and the largest city in the country; other major cities include Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Larissa and Volos.
Greece was the first area in Europe where advanced early civilizations emerged, beginning with the Cycladic civilization of the Aegean Sea, the Minoan civilization in Crete and then...