History of Greece

The history of Greece is one of the longest in the entire world. Greek history encompasses vast empires, differing peoples and various civilisations. Greece is the home of many of the laws and culture that lay the foundations for the modern Western world.

The first humans settled in what is now modern Greece in the beginning of the 7th millennium BC. Neolithic tribes dominated the region until the advent of the Bronze Age. The Minoan and Cycladic civilisations became the dominant peoples of the time until the proto-Greeks Mycenaean’s invaded the land in the 3rd millennium BC. It was in this period that the legendary war of Troy is believed to have been fought and the cities of Athens and Thebes were founded. Around 1100 BC the Mycenaean civilization mysteriously collapsed sending the world into a Dark Age. It is believed that a fierce race of warriors called the Dorian’s were the cause of the downfall. The Greek Dark age lasted until 800BC when the first Greek city states emerged.

This period is famous for the great thinkers of Homer and the earliest writings of the Greek alphabet. Kings ruled throughout this period until eventually they were replaced with an aristocracy, then still later, in some areas, an aristocracy within an aristocracy—an elite of the elite. Warfare shifted from a focus on cavalry to a great emphasis on infantry. Due to its cheapness of production and local availability, iron replaced bronze as the metal of choice in the manufacturing of tools and weapons. Slowly equality grew among the different sects of people, leading to the dethronement of the various Kings and the rise of the family.

The period of classical Greece saw the rise of Athens and Sparta and the wars against the Persian Empire. The Persian Wars saw several famous battles including the 300’s stand at Thermopylae, the battles of Marathon and Plataea. Greece emerged victorious. After the War Athens became the dominant city state and saw it enter conflict with Sparta several times. Constant fighting between the different city states and a resurgent Persia caused the Greeks to beg for help from Philip of Macedon. He quickly forced the states to stop fighting and united Greece. Upon Philips assassination his son Alexander inherited the throne. In 334 BC he led his army east invading the Persian Empire and conquering a vast territory including Egypt, Babylon and got as far as India.  With Alexander the Greats death his empire fell apart prompting the beginning of the Hellenistic age.

In 146BC Greece was annexed by the Romans where many of its laws, customs and language were absorbed by the occupiers. With the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 4th century Greece remained under the rule of the Eastern Roman Empire otherwise known as the Byzantines. The Greek language was adopted as the official language of the empire by the emperor Heraclius and remained the dominant language until the empires fall in 1453 to the Ottomans. The Byzantines ruled Greece for centuries until they were conquered by the Muslim Turks.

The Ottoman Empire ruled Greece until 1821 when with the assistance of the British, French and Russian Empires the Greek people won their independence. In World War One Greece fought on the side of the Allies fighting the failing Ottoman Empire and winning back lost territory. In World War Two the Greeks again fought for the Allies repulsing an Italian invasion, the first allied victory in the conflict. Eventually however the Nazis and Italians overwhelmed the country and occupied it. The occupation ended in 1944. After the war Greece was devastated, its economy a wreck and a civil war broke out between the communist Greeks and the Democratic ones. After the civil war ended Greece developed rapidly in the 50’s and 60’s, the country once more became a democracy in 1975 after the people voted for the country to become a republic. Since the restoration of democracy, the stability and economic prosperity of Greece grew remarkably.

Greece rejoined NATO in 1980. Greece joined the European Union in 1981 and adopted the Euro as its currency in 2001. New infrastructure, funds from the EU and growing revenues from tourism, shipping, services, light industry and the telecommunications industry brought Greeks an unprecedented standard of living. Tensions continue to exist between Greece and Turkey.

Greece has suffered a lot in recent years thanks to the Global and European economic crisis. Unemployment is rife and austerity measures have impacted Greek society to the point where the nation may be forced to leave the Eurozone in order to survive.