About Greece

by Svetlin


My report is about Greece. Through my research, I learned that Greece was founded in 3000 B.C. Greece is located in Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Turkey and Albania. Greece’s area can be compared to the size of the state of Alabama. Between 3500 and 3000 B.C., society was becoming more complex. Villages built during this time were becoming larger. However, the population increased at a slow rate. During the second millennium B.C. two Greek civilizations evolved - the Minoan in Crete and the Mycenaean on the mainland. Sometime around 1349 B.C., the Mycenaean peoples conquered the island of Crete, and the Minoan civilization basically stopped evolving. Archeologists and historians discovered that Minoans first wrote in the Greek language and the Mycenaean’s first spoke it. There was a time called the “Dark Age”. It was from approximately 1099 B.C. to 800 B.C. This is the time when things seemed to fall apart. An example is when a revolution occurs. In this case, peasants rebelled against the military rulers. It is believed that the Mycenaean’s were very strong in their armed forces, and that probably caused their own destruction. Things became unruly. People were just trying to survive. They lived in smaller communities and farmed for themselves. The population growth slowed down to probably its lowest levels. Sometime around 800’s B.C., things began to change again. Things were starting to get better. Renaissance is another word for re-birth. That is what was happening to this country. Between 750 and 500 B.C., the Greeks had founded colonies in many parts of the Mediterranean Basin and the Black Sea. The ports of Argos and Corinth, on the eastern side of the country, grew very fast and trade with the Near East began to grow. Metals were traded with the Near East and Italy. Because things were going good and the population rose, we all know, having more people means needing more food to eat and more land to expand on. This meant more explorers were needed to settle more areas and the expansion of Greece was underway. In the eighth century B.C., (799 to 700 B.C.), the concept of “polis” began to develop with the rich people to replace the poor people. The tyrants were often related to the rich people. The success of the tyrants created a new rule. That rule was that you don’t have to be born a prince or princess to rule a territory. After about 1 to 3 generations that rule was overthrown. Between the eighth and the seventh century B.C., Athens became the biggest polis and Sparta started to form a government that represented all citizens. The islands between Crete and Greece are called the Cyclades (pronounced Kiklades) Islands. As these islands were discovered and settled, people did really well when they were able to start trading with the Asia to the east and Europe to the west. In the sixth century B.C. (599 B.C. to 500 B.C.), Cyrus the Great posed a major threat to Greece. The result of a disagreement between the east and the west was to shape the entire future of this area that we now know to be Greece. It was a question of survival for the Greeks. The first Persian war in 490 B.C. was a short war. Persia sent a small force by its standards of about 20,000 infantry and 800 cavalry to punish Athens for its participation in a raid in Asia Minor. Greeks met this force with 10,000 troops at the plain of Marathon on the west coast of Attica. During the War, Greeks left the Persians routed. The second Persian war lasted three years. Persia’s king planned to lead a huge expedition to conquer all the Greek states. The Greeks formed Hellenic League, which included Sparta and its allied states. Other Greek states went over and joined the Persian side. The most important result of the Persian Wars was a barrier between Near East and Greece. Then right after the Persian Wars, the Peloponnesian War started, because of the hostility toward Athens. This war was between Athens and the Spartans. Greece collapsed and the Spartans won. A peace treaty was signed in 421 B.C. Following the collapse of Athens, Sparta ruled Greece for only a short time because of poor leadership and social weakness. Around 359 B.C. Phillip II and his son, Alexander, came to power. As Phillip was planning to invade Asia, he was assassinated in 336 B.C. The task of invading Asia was left to his son. After the death of Phillip, Alexander also became king and had simply invaded Asia. Then he captured Egypt and Mesopotamia in 331 B.C. Before dying of a malarial fever at age 33, he conquered parts of India and all of Afghanistan. He had become a pharaoh and a great king in parts of his empire. Though being king for only 13 years, he changed the face of the world. In 280 B.C. the king of Epirus, Pyrrhus, started a series of battles, and soon Greek forces also became a part of the campaigns of the Punic wars which were setting the stage for future conflicts of Rome. The first Macedonian War between 215 and 213 B.C. involved Phillip V, the Carthaginian leader, and the ruler of the Balkans. In the second Macedonian War, from 200 to 197 B.C., Rome’s first major military expedition into the Greek world met amazing success. Phillip lost all of his territory outside of Macedonia and the commander, Flamininus, established a Roman protectorate over the Greek city-states. The futures of Greece and Rome were therefore intertwined for about the next 500 years. In 31 B.C., the final incorporation of Greece and the Greek East in the Roman Empire came on the western shore of Greece. In the first two centuries A.D. were filled with economic growth, peace, and most importantly, security. Peninsular Greece was divided into two provinces, Macedonia, (which included Thessaly, Epirus, and Macedonia) and Achaia (incorporating central and southern Greece.) The provinces’ fiscal burdens were relatively modest because they weren’t required to support Roman occupation forces. Greece’s cities began to grow financially, economically, and became a kind of administrative core of the empire. At the same time, life in Greek cities started using some Roman things in their day to day living. Christianity was being taught and learned. The third century A.D. was chaotic. The western territory of the empire fell into the dark ages while the eastern territories remained as the Roman Empire or "Romania" for over a millennium. During the 7th to the 8th centuries, threats from both East and West caused the empire to “go down the drain”. Even though Muslims invaded from the east and Slavs from the west, the main language spoken was still Greek and Christianity was dominant. During the time of the Macedonian Dynasty, there was a period of economic growth and prosperity and a cultural renaissance. Woven silk and other craft items became major exports. Farming was a big part of this growing time period. Toward the end of this dynasty’s rule, the end of the 11th century, Greece experienced civil wars. In the next century, Greece became more like Europe. It was split up into several kingdoms and ruled by western princes. In the 13th century A.D., the Mongols invaded. They were led by Genghis Khan. During the Ottoman Empire’s rule, Greeks settled in and around Greece and became merchants and artisans. Many Greeks became wealthy and then helped to support communities in Greece by founding schools and other public institutions. The Ottoman Empire lasted until early in the nineteenth century. The Greeks were becoming resentful of the ruling government. That led to the first major revolution after the American Revolution. With the help of other European countries, who were protecting their own interests, Greece was going to win. After eleven years of war, the economy was beginning to rebound. Olive trees, vineyards, flour mills, goats, and sheep were the main part of their agriculture. Currants were the chief agricultural export. In 1844 a new constitution was drafted, and Greece became the most “democratic” – in theory. Otto, son of the king of Bavaria, remained the ruler. A military revolt in 1862 caused Otto to give up his rule. In spite of this new constitution, government was still flawed. In the 1880’s, major reforms helped Greece develop economically, socially, and militarily. To be able to do the reforms they had borrowed money. Because of all the loans and the price of currants dropping too low, by 1897, Greece was bankrupt. What followed were the Balkan War and World War 1. Greece emerged victorious from World War 1. The decade of the 1940s was the most devastating and deadly in Greek history. Germans invaded Greece in 1941. They stole Greece’s bounty for themselves. Because Brittan blocked Germany’s access to Greece’s ports hundreds of thousands died because of no food. In all more than 500,000 people lost their lives. During the Civil War that followed, 80,000 more died. The national economy went down the drain. With a lot of help from the United States, things started to turn around for the better. During the 1960s the military took control of the government. The people began feeling like they were losing their freedom. Military leaders and politicians decided to “clean house”. They agreed that the way to do that was with a new constitution and a vote of the people to get rid of the monarchy. Instead a president was given considerable powers and they were not abused. In the 1970s through the 1980s democracy was finally in place. The European Union began its presence in the 1990s. Many of the European Union’s richer countries worried about Greece’s poorer status. But all of the many countries, including the United States, are richer because of their contact with Greece and its rich history. One of the most recent events was the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Over 11,000 athletes, from around the world, came together to compete in many different sporting events. It was a huge success and fun to watch on TV.

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