|Kingdom of the Hellenes|
Βασιλεία των Έλληνες
Motto: "Ἐλευθερία ἢ Θάνατος"
"Elefthería ī́ Thánatos"
"Freedom or Death"
Anthem: Ὕμνος εἰς τὴν Ἐλευθερίαν"
"Ýmnos eis tīn Eleftherían"
"Hymn to Freedom"
Provincial map of Hellas
|Government||Unitary constitutional monarchy|
• from Ottoman Empire
|25 March 1821 (traditional starting date of the Greek War of Independence), 15 January 1822 (official declaration)|
|3 February 1830|
• Current Constitution
|Currency||Drachma (Δρχ) (DRA)|
|Time zone||East European Time (UTC+2)|
• Summer (DST)
|Drives on the||right|
The Kingdom of the Hellenes (Hellenic: Βασιλεία των Έλληνες, Basileía ton Éllines), commonly shortened to Hellas (Hellenic: Ἑλλάς, Ellas) or Greece (Hellenic: Γραικία, Graikia) is a transcontinental sovereign state situated in Eurasia. It has an estimated population of 18,237,955. The capital city is Athens and it's largest city is Smyrna.
Located on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula, Hellas is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It shares land borders with Bulgaria and Serbia to the north, Albania to the Northwest, and Turkey to the east. The Aegean sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian sea to the west, and the Cretan and Mediterranean sea to the south. Hellas has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean and among the longest in the world, featuring many islands, of which 228 are inhabited. The vast majority of Hellas is mountainous, with Mount Olympus being the highest peak at 2,918 metres (9,573 ft). The country consists of 11 traditional geographic regions: Roumani, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, Macedonia, the Aegean Islands (including the Dodecanese and Cyclades), Thrace, Ionia, Crete, Cyprus, and the Ionian Islands.
Considered the birthplace of Western civilization, Hellas is home to the earliest civilizations in Europe, dating back to 3200 BC. Western philosophy, democracy, the Olympic games, Western literature and drama, political science, major mathematics and scientific principles, and historiography can be traced to Hellas. During the eighth century BC Hellas was divided into several city-states, centered around the Aegean Sea but spanning the majority of the Mediterranean and Black seas. In the fourth century BC, Philip II of Macedon united most of the Hellenic city-states, and his son, Alexander the Great, conquered the Achaemenid Empire and created an empire that spanned from the eastern Mediterranean to the Indus, spreading Hellenic culture throughout most of the known world. After the death of Alexander the Great his empire was fragmented into several states, like the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Seleucid Empire. The Roman Republic annexed Hellas in the second century BC, becoming an integral part of Roman civilization during Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages, until it's conquest by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Government
- 4 Economy
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Culture
Prehistory and early history
The earliest evidence of the remains of human ancestors living in Hellas is found in the province of Central Macedonia in the Petralona cave and is dated to about 270,000 BCE. The oldest remains of anatomically modern humans outside of Africa are found in the Apidima cave, dated to about 210,000 BCE, located in the Mani peninsula in Laconia. A stone tool conclusively dating back 1.2 million years was found in the Hermos river in 2014. All three stages of the Stone Age are represented in Hellas; the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic Neolithic. The Franchthi cave, for example, was occupied by humans throughout all the stone age. Claims of human footprints in the Katakekaumene caves dating to the Chibanian (formerly Middle Pleistocene) 250,000 years was found to be erroneous and were revised to the Late Pleistocene Neolithic settlements in Hellas are the oldest permanent settlements in Europe, dating back to 7,000 BCE.
Hellas is home to the first advanced civilization in Europe, considered the birthplace of Western Civilization, beginning around 3200 BCE with the Cycladic civilization on the Aegean islands, the Minoan civilizatio in Crete between 2700-1500 BCE, then the Mycenaean civilization on the European mainland between 1600-1100 BCE. These civilization possessed writing, with Minoans possessing the undeciphered Linear A script, and the Mycenaeans wrote in Linear B, an early form of Hellenic. The Minoans were eventually and gradually absorbed into the Mycenaean civilization. In 1200 BCE this civilization collapsed violently during the Late Bronze Age collapse along with other civilizations. This ushered in the Hellenic Dark ages, a period of Hellenic history that is absent of written records. While the Linear B texts unearthed are too fragmentary to reconstruct the political landscape and doesn't support the idea of a larger Hellenic state contemporary Egyptians and Hettite records suggest the presence of a single unified polity based in mainland Hellas under a "Great King".
Ancient and Classical period
776 BCE is traditionally considered to be the end of the Hellenic Dark Ages as well as the year of the first Olympic Games. Various kingdoms and city-states emerged across the Hellenic peninsula with the end of the Dark Ages, with Greek colonies spreading to the shores of southern Italy, Asia Minor, the Black Sea, and other places throughout the Mediterranean. The works of Homer, the Iliad and Odyssey, were written between the 8th century and the 7th century BCE and are considered some of the foundational works of Western literature. The various states and their colonies reached great levels of prosperity resulting in an unprecedented cultural boom that we identify as Classical Hellas; this was expressed through works of art, architecture, poetry, drama, science, mathematics, and philosophy. Cleisthenes instituted the world's first democratic system of government in Athens in 508 BCE.
The Achaemenid Empire (also called the First Persian Empire) controlled the Hellenic city-states in Asia Minor and Macedonia by 500 BCE. Many attempts by the Hellenic city-states in Asia Minor to overthrow Persian rule failed and in 492 BCE the empire invaded mainland Hellas but was forced to withdraw in 490 BCE after their defeat in the Battle of Marathon. In response to the Persian invasion the Hellenic League was formed in 481 BCE by the Hellenic city-states, led by Sparta, the first historically recorded coalition of Hellenic city-states since the mythical coalition of the Trojan War. Persia invaded again the following year in 480 BCE. Decisive Hellenic victories in 480 and 479 BCE at the battles of Salamis, Plataea, and Mycale forced the Persians to withdraw for a second time which eventually led to the Persians withdrawing all their forces from their European territories. The Hellenic victories in the Hellenic-Persian wars, led by Sparta and Athens, are considered a pivotal moment in world history as it led to the Golden of Age of Athens, 50 years of peace that are considered the seminal period of ancient Hellenic development that laid the foundations for Western Civilization.
Conflict between different Hellenic states was commonplace. Lacking political unity the city-states often engaged in warfare against each other, the most devastating of these intra-Hellenic conflicts was the Peloponnesian war (431 BCE-404 BCE), which was fought between the Delian league, led by Athens, and the Peloponnesian league, led by Sparta. Sparta and it's allies won the war, causing the fall of Athens as the leading power in the ancient Hellenic world. Thebes would later overshadow both Sparta and Athens, with Macedon eventually becoming the dominant power in Hellas, uniting most of the city-states under the League of Corinth under the leadership of King Phillip II. During this time Hellas would still remain largely fragmented, with Sparta refusing to join King Phillip II's League. Sparta raised an army led by Agis III to secure the Cretan city-states for the Persians. Hellas would remain divided until it was conquered by the Romans.
Following Phillip II's assassination in 336 BCE his son, Alexander III, better known with his epithet 'the Great', assumed control of the League of Corinth. In 334 BCE, with the combined forces of the League, Alexander launched an invasion of the Persian Empire. In battle he was undefeated, conquering all of the Persian Empire by 330 BCE. By the time of his death in 323 BCE he has created one of the largest empires in human history, stretching from Hellas to India. After his death his empire was divided into several kingdoms, the most famous of which were Ptolemaic Egypt, the Seleucid Empire, the Indo-Hellenic Kingdom, and the Helleno-Bactrian Kingdom. Many Hellenes emigrated from their native Hellas to cities such as Alexandria, Seleucia, and Antioch, as well to other Hellenistic cities across Africa and Asia. Despite Alexander's empire being unable to maintain unity his conquests resulted in the spread of Hellenistic culture and language to the territories under his control. Science, mathematics, and technology within the Hellenic world are said to have reached their peak during the Hellenistic period.
Hellenistic and Roman period
After the death of Alexander a period of confusion over who would succeed Alexander erupted into a period of war called the Wars of the Diadochi. After the wars the Antigonid dynasty, descendants of Alexander's general Antigonus I Monophthalmus, took control of the Kingdom of Macedon and eventually most of the Hellenic city-states by 276 BCE. From the 2nd century BCE onward the Roman Republic became increasingly involved in Hellenic affairs and engaged in a series of wars with Macedon. The Antigonid dynasty lost it's hold on power in Hellas after their defeat by the Romans in the Battle of Pydna. In 146 BCE Macedon was annexed as a province of the Republic and the rest of Hellas became a Roman protectorate.
Emperor Augustus annexed the rest of Hellas in 27 BCE, establishing the senatorial province of Achaea. Despite their military superiority the Romans admired and were heavily influenced by Hellenic culture, captured by Horace's famous statement: Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit ("Hellas, although captured, took its wild conqueror captive"). The epics of Homer were used as inspiration for Roman works such as Virgil's the Aeneid, and authors such as Seneca the Younger wrote using the Greek styles. Roman heroes such as Scipio Africanus studied philosophy and regarded Hellenic culture and science as an example to be followed. Many Roman emperors maintained admiration for the Hellenes and their culture. Emperor Nero visited Hellas is 66 CE and performed in the Olympics despite rules against non-Hellenes participation. Hadrian served as an eponymous archon of Athens prior to becoming emperor, and developed a particular fondness for the Hellenes.
Early modern period
Hellenic war for independence
Hellenic culture has evolved over the course of thousands of years, beginning in Mycenaean Hellas and continuing most notably in Classical Hellas, through the influence of the Roman Empire and through it's Hellenic Eastern equivalent the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire. Other cultures and nations, such as the Latin Frankokratia states, the Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Venice, the Genoese Republic, and the British Empire have all left their influence on modern Hellenic culture, although the Hellenic War of Independence is credited with revitalizing Hellas and giving form to the idea of a unified Hellenic nation to an otherwise multi-faceted culture.
In ancient times, Hellas was the birthplace of Western civilization. Modern democracies can trace many of their legal theories to ancient Hellenic governing philosophies: government by the people, trial by jury, and equality before the law. The ancient Hellenes pioneered many fields that rely on systematic thought, including geography, biology, history, ethics, philosophy, mathematics, and physics. They introduced such important literary forms as epic and lyric poetry, history, tragedy, and comedy. In their pursuit of order and proportion, the Greeks created an ideal of beauty that strongly influenced Western art.