Greece, independent country in southeast Europe, occupying the southern part of the Balkan peninsula and many surrounding islands in the Ionian, Mediterranean, and Aegean seas. Greece is bordered by Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria on the north, by Turkey and the Aegean Sea on the east, by the Ionian Sea on the west, and by the Mediterranean Sea on the south. The capital and largest city is Athens.
Land and climate
Almost 20% of its land area is accounted for by its islands, of which the largest is Crete. More than 160 other islands are inhabited, including Corfu, Lesbos, Milos, Rhodes, and Samos. The mainland is mountainous. The climate of Greece is typically Mediterranean along the coasts, which have hot, dry summers and mild winters. Most rain falls in the winter months and is concentrated along the western shores.
The leading farm products are fruits and vegetables, wheat, cotton, tobacco, wine, and olive oil. Both sheep and goats are raised in large numbers. Recently, industry has outdistanced agriculture as the major source of income. Products include textiles, chemicals, and ships, with most manufacturing in or near Athens. Greece has traditionally had a prosperous shipping industry; in 1983 its merchant fleet ranked third in the world. In the past several decades tourism has become increasingly important to Greece's economy. In 1981 the country joined the European Economic Community.
In the 15th century, with the fall of the Byzantine Empire, Greece was conquered by Turkey and was part of the Ottoman Empire until the successful War of Independence (1821–29). A constitutional monarchy was then established, but the country was marked by continual political instability and conflict between monarchists and republicans. During World War II Greece was occupied by German forces (1941–44). A major civil war between 1944 and 1949 between monarchists and a left-wing coalition led by communists left nearly a million dead. U.S. intervention was a major factor in ensuring the victory of the monarchists. Continuing political instability during the 1950s and 1960s led to a military coup and the establishment of a dictatorship in Apr. 1967. The monarchy was abolished in July 1973, and a revolt Nov. of that year overthrew the dictatorship. In 1974 the Greek people voted for a constitutional republic rather than a restoration of the monarchy, and a new constitution was adopted in June 1975. Since then Greece has lived under democratic rule.
At the end of the 1990s, relations with Turkey were tensed.