Greece is the southernmost country in Europe, sharing borders with Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Turkey. The mainland has rugged mountains, dense forests and beautiful lakes – but the country is best known for the thousands of islands dotting the blue Aegean Sea to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Ionian Sea to the west. The islands are grouped into “families” that share similar looks, culture, history and climate. There are more than 2,000 islands, of which about 170 are inhabited. The country’s capital is Athens, the largest city, with over 3.7 million people in the metropolis.
The first great civilization in Greece was the Minoan culture on the island of Crete, around 2000 B.C. In 1450 B.C., the Minoans were conquered by the Myceneans from the mainland. The Greeks made important contributions to philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. They were also known for their sophisticated sculpture and architecture. Greek culture influenced the Roman Empire and many other civilizations, and it continues to influence modern cultures today.
Olive trees have been cultivated in Greece for over 6,000 years, and every village has its own olive groves. Today the country is one of the world’s biggest producers of olives and olive oil. Tourism is another industry which continues to thrive as travelers venture to explore some of the lesser known islands.
Of Note: The first Olympic Games were held in the southern city of Olympia in 700 B.C. to honour Zeus, the king of the gods. Only men could compete in the events such as sprinting, long jump, discus, javelin, wrestling and chariot racing.
Culture Name: Greek
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