Belgium the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, the North Sea to the northwest, it has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; the sovereign state is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organisation is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds, it is divided into three autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita. Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or Communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 59 percent of the population, the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons.
The Brussels-Capital Region is bilingual, although French is the dominant language. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments. Belgium was part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that included parts of northern France and western Germany, its name is derived after the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan centre of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe", a reputation strengthened by both world wars; the country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution. Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa.
The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased. Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders. Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country's capital, Brussels. Belgium is a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels hosts several of the EU's official seats as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.
Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has high standards of living, quality of life, education, is categorized as "very high" in the Human Development Index, it ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world. The name "Belgium" is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire; the Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and West Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 15th centuries.
Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The Eighty Years' War divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces and the Southern Netherlands; the latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region; the reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815, after the defeat of Napo
North Macedonia the Republic of North Macedonia, is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in September 1991 under the name Republic of Macedonia; the country became a member of the United Nations in April 1993, but as a result of a dispute with Greece over the name, it was admitted under the provisional description the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a term, used by some other international organisations. In June 2018, Macedonia and Greece resolved the conflict with an agreement that the country should rename itself Republic of North Macedonia; this renaming came into effect in February 2019, with a several-months-long transition for passports, licence plates, customs, border signs, government websites, among other things. A landlocked country, North Macedonia has borders with Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, Albania to the west.
It constitutes the northern third of the larger geographical region of Macedonia, which comprises the neighbouring parts of northern Greece and southwestern Bulgaria. The country's geography is defined by mountains and rivers; the capital and largest city, Skopje, is home to a quarter of the nation's 2.06 million inhabitants. The majority of the residents are a South Slavic people. Albanians form a significant minority at around 25%, followed by Turks, Serbs, Bosniaks and Bulgarians; the history of the region dates back to antiquity, beginning with the kingdom of Paeonia a mixed Thraco-Illyrian polity. In the late sixth century BC, the area was incorporated into the Persian Achaemenid Empire annexed by the kingdom of Macedonia in the fourth century BC; the Romans conquered the region in the second century BC and made it part of the much larger province of Macedonia. Τhe area remained part of the Byzantine Empire, but was raided and settled by Slavic tribes beginning in the sixth century of the Christian era.
Following centuries of contention between the Bulgarian and Serbian Empire, it was part of the Ottoman dominion from the mid-14th until the early 20th century, when following the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, the modern territory of North Macedonia came under Serbian rule. During the First World War it was ruled by Bulgaria, but after the end of the war, it returned under Serbian rule as part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs and Slovenes. During the Second World War, it was ruled by Bulgaria again, in 1945 it was established as a constituent communist republic into the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, which it remained until its peaceful secession in 1991. North Macedonia is of the Council of Europe. Since 2005, it has been a candidate for joining the European Union and has applied for NATO membership. One of the poorest countries in Europe, North Macedonia has made significant progress in developing an open, market-based economy; the state's name derives from a kingdom named after the ancient Macedonians.
Their name, Μακεδόνες, derives from the ancient Greek adjective μακεδνός, meaning tall or taper, which shares the same root as the adjective μακρός, meaning long, tall, or high, in ancient Greek. The name is believed to have meant either highlanders or the tall ones descriptive of the people. According to linguist Robert S. P. Beekes, both terms are of Pre-Greek substrate origin and cannot be explained in terms of Indo-European morphology. Prior to June 2018, the use of the name Macedonia was disputed between Greece and the then-Republic of Macedonia; the Prespa agreement, signed by Macedonia and Greece on 17 June, saw the country change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia eight months later. A non-binding national referendum on the matter passed with 90% approval but did not reach the required 50% turnout due to a boycott, leaving the final decision with parliament to ratify the result. Parliament approved of the name change on 19 October, reaching the required two-thirds majority needed to enact constitutional changes.
The vote to amend the constitution and change the name of the country passed on 11 January 2019 in favour of the amendment. The amendment entered into force on 12 February, following the ratification of the Prespa agreement and the Protocol on the Accession of North Macedonia to NATO by the Greek Parliament. On 25 January, the Greek parliament had narrowly voted to back the agreement, with 153 approving and 146 against. Prior to February 2019, in Macedonian the country name was Македонија Република Македонија. North Macedonia geographically corresponds to the ancient kingdom of Paeonia, located north of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia. Paeonia was inhabited by the Paeonians, a Thracian people, whilst the northwest was inhabited by the Dardani and the southwest by tribes known as the Enchelae and Lyncestae. In the late 6th century BC, the Achaemenid Persians under Darius the Great conquered the Paeonians, incorporating w
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
Utrecht is the fourth-largest city and a municipality of the Netherlands and most populous city of the province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, in the centre of mainland Netherlands, had a population of 345,080 in 2017. Utrecht's ancient city centre features many buildings and structures several dating as far back as the High Middle Ages, it has been the religious centre of the Netherlands since the 8th century. It remains the main religious centre in the country. Utrecht was the most important city in the Netherlands until the Dutch Golden Age, when it was surpassed by Amsterdam as the country's cultural centre and most populous city. Utrecht is host to Utrecht University, the largest university in the Netherlands, as well as several other institutions of higher education. Due to its central position within the country, it is an important transport hub for both rail and road transport, it has the second highest number of cultural events after Amsterdam.
In 2012, Lonely Planet included Utrecht in the top 10 of the world's unsung places. Although there is some evidence of earlier inhabitation in the region of Utrecht, dating back to the Stone Age and settling in the Bronze Age, the founding date of the city is related to the construction of a Roman fortification built in around 50 CE. A series of such fortresses was built after the Roman emperor Claudius decided the empire should not expand north. To consolidate the border, the Limes Germanicus defense line was constructed along the main branch of the river Rhine, which at that time flowed through a more northern bed compared to today; these fortresses were designed to house a cohort of about 500 Roman soldiers. Near the fort, settlements would grow housing artisans and soldiers' wives and children. In Roman times, the name of the Utrecht fortress was Traiectum, denoting its location at a possible Rhine crossing. Traiectum became Dutch Trecht. In 11th-century official documents, it was Latinized as Ultra Traiectum.
Around the year 200, the wooden walls of the fortification were replaced by sturdier tuff stone walls, remnants of which are still to be found below the buildings around Dom Square. From the middle of the 3rd century, Germanic tribes invaded the Roman territories. Around 275 the Romans could no longer maintain the northern border and Utrecht was abandoned. Little is known about the next period 270–650. Utrecht is first spoken of again several centuries. Under the influence of the growing realms of the Franks, during Dagobert I's reign in the 7th century, a church was built within the walls of the Roman fortress. In ongoing border conflicts with the Frisians, this first church was destroyed. By the mid-7th century and Irish missionaries set out to convert the Frisians. Pope Sergius I appointed Saint Willibrordus, as bishop of the Frisians; the tenure of Willibrordus is considered to be the beginning of the Bishopric of Utrecht. In 723, the Frankish leader Charles Martel bestowed the fortress in Utrecht and the surrounding lands as the base of the bishops.
From on Utrecht became one of the most influential seats of power for the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands. The archbishops of Utrecht were based at the uneasy northern border of the Carolingian Empire. In addition, the city of Utrecht had competition from the nearby trading centre Dorestad. After the fall of Dorestad around 850, Utrecht became one of the most important cities in the Netherlands; the importance of Utrecht as a centre of Christianity is illustrated by the election of the Utrecht-born Adriaan Florenszoon Boeyens as pope in 1522. When the Frankish rulers established the system of feudalism, the Bishops of Utrecht came to exercise worldly power as prince-bishops; the territory of the bishopric not only included the modern province of Utrecht, but extended to the northeast. The feudal conflict of the Middle Ages affected Utrecht; the prince-bishopric was involved in continuous conflicts with the Counts of Holland and the Dukes of Guelders. The Veluwe region was seized by Guelders, but large areas in the modern province of Overijssel remained as the Oversticht.
Several churches and monasteries were built inside, or close to, the city of Utrecht. The most dominant of these was the Cathedral of Saint Martin, inside the old Roman fortress; the construction of the present Gothic building was begun in 1254 after an earlier romanesque construction had been badly damaged by fire. The choir and transept were finished from 1320 and were followed by the ambitious Dom tower; the last part to be constructed was the central nave, from 1420. By that time, the age of the great cathedrals had come to an end and declining finances prevented the ambitious project from being finished, the construction of the central nave being suspended before the planned flying buttresses could be finished. Besides the cathedral there were four collegiate churches in Utrecht: St. Salvator's Church, on the Dom square, dating back to the early 8th century. Saint John, originating in 1040. Besides these churches, the city housed St. Paul's Abbey, the 15th-century beguinage of St. Nicholas, a 14th-century chapter house of the Teutonic Knights.
Switzerland the Swiss Confederation, is a country situated in western and southern Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, the city of Bern is the seat of the federal authorities; the sovereign state is a federal republic bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2. While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of 8.5 million people is concentrated on the plateau, where the largest cities are to be found: among them are the two global cities and economic centres Zürich and Geneva. The establishment of the Old Swiss Confederacy dates to the late medieval period, resulting from a series of military successes against Austria and Burgundy. Swiss independence from the Holy Roman Empire was formally recognized in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648; the country has a history of armed neutrality going back to the Reformation.
It pursues an active foreign policy and is involved in peace-building processes around the world. In addition to being the birthplace of the Red Cross, Switzerland is home to numerous international organisations, including the second largest UN office. On the European level, it is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association, but notably not part of the European Union, the European Economic Area or the Eurozone. However, it participates in the Schengen Area and the European Single Market through bilateral treaties. Spanning the intersection of Germanic and Romance Europe, Switzerland comprises four main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French and Romansh. Although the majority of the population are German-speaking, Swiss national identity is rooted in a common historical background, shared values such as federalism and direct democracy, Alpine symbolism. Due to its linguistic diversity, Switzerland is known by a variety of native names: Schweiz. On coins and stamps, the Latin name – shortened to "Helvetia" – is used instead of the four national languages.
Switzerland is one of the most developed countries in the world, with the highest nominal wealth per adult and the eighth-highest per capita gross domestic product according to the IMF. Switzerland ranks at or near the top globally in several metrics of national performance, including government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic competitiveness and human development. Zürich and Basel have all three been ranked among the top ten cities in the world in terms of quality of life, with the first ranked second globally, according to Mercer in 2018; the English name Switzerland is a compound containing Switzer, an obsolete term for the Swiss, in use during the 16th to 19th centuries. The English adjective Swiss is a loan from French Suisse in use since the 16th century; the name Switzer is from the Alemannic Schwiizer, in origin an inhabitant of Schwyz and its associated territory, one of the Waldstätten cantons which formed the nucleus of the Old Swiss Confederacy. The Swiss began to adopt the name for themselves after the Swabian War of 1499, used alongside the term for "Confederates", used since the 14th century.
The data code for Switzerland, CH, is derived from Latin Confoederatio Helvetica. The toponym Schwyz itself was first attested in 972, as Old High German Suittes perhaps related to swedan ‘to burn’, referring to the area of forest, burned and cleared to build; the name was extended to the area dominated by the canton, after the Swabian War of 1499 came to be used for the entire Confederation. The Swiss German name of the country, Schwiiz, is homophonous to that of the canton and the settlement, but distinguished by the use of the definite article; the Latin name Confoederatio Helvetica was neologized and introduced after the formation of the federal state in 1848, harking back to the Napoleonic Helvetic Republic, appearing on coins from 1879, inscribed on the Federal Palace in 1902 and after 1948 used in the official seal.. Helvetica is derived from the Helvetii, a Gaulish tribe living on the Swiss plateau before the Roman era. Helvetia appears as a national personification of the Swiss confederacy in the 17th century with a 1672 play by Johann Caspar Weissenbach.
Switzerland has existed as a state in its present form since the adoption of the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1848. The precursors of Switzerland established a protective alliance at the end of the 13th century, forming a loose confederation of states which persisted for centuries; the oldest traces of hominid existence in Switzerland date back about 150,000 years. The oldest known farming settlements in Switzerland, which were found at Gächlingen, have been dated to around 5300 BC; the earliest known cultural tribes of the area were members of the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures, named after the archaeological site of La Tène on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel. La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age from around 450 BC under some influence from the Gree
Croatia the Republic of Croatia, is a country at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, on the Adriatic Sea. It borders Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east and Herzegovina, Montenegro to the southeast, sharing a maritime border with Italy, its capital, forms one of the country's primary subdivisions, along with twenty counties. Croatia has an area of 56,594 square kilometres and a population of 4.28 million, most of whom are Roman Catholics. Inhabited since the Paleolithic Age, the Croats arrived in the area in the 6th century and organised the territory into two duchies by the 9th century. Croatia was first internationally recognized as an independent state on 7 June 879 during the reign of duke Branimir. Tomislav became the first king by 925, elevating Croatia to the status of a kingdom, which retained its sovereignty for nearly two centuries. During the succession crisis after the Trpimirović dynasty ended, Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary in 1102.
In 1527, faced with Ottoman conquest, the Croatian Parliament elected Ferdinand I of Austria to the Croatian throne. In October 1918, in the final days of World War I, the State of Slovenes and Serbs, independent from Austria-Hungary, was proclaimed in Zagreb, in December 1918 it was merged into the Kingdom of Serbs and Slovenes. Following the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, most of the Croatian territory was incorporated into the Nazi-backed client-state which led to the development of a resistance movement and the creation of the Federal State of Croatia which after the war become a founding member and a federal constituent of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 25 June 1991, Croatia declared independence, which came wholly into effect on 8 October of the same year; the Croatian War of Independence was fought for four years following the declaration. The sovereign state of Croatia is a republic governed under a parliamentary system and a developed country with a high standard of living.
It is a member of the European Union, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, NATO, the World Trade Organization, a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean. As an active participant in the UN peacekeeping forces, Croatia has contributed troops to the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan and took a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2008–2009 term. Since 2000, the Croatian government has invested in infrastructure transport routes and facilities along the Pan-European corridors. Croatia's economy is dominated by service and industrial sectors and agriculture. Tourism is a significant source of revenue, with Croatia ranked among the top 20 most popular tourist destinations in the world; the state controls a part of the economy, with substantial government expenditure. The European Union is Croatia's most important trading partner. Croatia provides a social security, universal health care system, a tuition-free primary and secondary education, while supporting culture through numerous public institutions and corporate investments in media and publishing.
The name of Croatia derives from Medieval Latin Croātia. Itself a derivation of North-West Slavic *Xrovat-, by liquid metathesis from Common Slavic period *Xorvat, from proposed Proto-Slavic *Xъrvátъ which comes from Old Persian *xaraxwat-; the word is attested by the Old Iranian toponym Harahvait-, the native name of Arachosia. The origin of the name is uncertain, but is thought to be a Gothic or Indo-Aryan term assigned to a Slavic tribe; the oldest preserved record of the Croatian ethnonym *xъrvatъ is of variable stem, attested in the Baška tablet in style zvъnъmirъ kralъ xrъvatъskъ. The first attestation of the Latin term is attributed to a charter of Duke Trpimir from the year 852; the original is lost, just a 1568 copy is preserved, leading to doubts over the authenticity of the claim. The oldest preserved stone inscription is the 9th-century Branimir Inscription found near Benkovac, where Duke Branimir is styled Dux Cruatorvm; the inscription is not believed to be dated but is to be from during the period of 879–892, during Branimir's rule.
The area known as Croatia today was inhabited throughout the prehistoric period. Fossils of Neanderthals dating to the middle Palaeolithic period have been unearthed in northern Croatia, with the most famous and the best presented site in Krapina. Remnants of several Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures were found in all regions of the country; the largest proportion of the sites is in the river valleys of northern Croatia, the most significant cultures whose presence was discovered include Baden, Starčevo, Vučedol cultures. The Iron Age left traces of the Celtic La Tène culture. Much the region was settled by Illyrians and Liburnians, while the first Greek colonies were established on the islands of Hvar, Korčula, Vis. In 9 AD the territory of today's Croatia became part of the Roman Empire. Emperor Diocletian had a large palace built in Split to which he retired after his abdication in AD 305. During the 5th century, the last de jure Western emperor last Western Roman Emperor Julius Nepos ruled his small realm from the palace after fleeing Italy to go into exile in 475.
The period ends with Avar and Croat invasions in the first half of the 7th century and destruction of all Roman towns. Roman survivors retreated to more favourable sites on the coast and mountains; the city of Dubrovnik was founded by such survivors from Epidaurum. The ethnogenesis of Croats is uncertain an
Greece the Hellenic Republic, self-identified and known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of 11 million as of 2016. Athens is largest city, followed by Thessaloniki. Greece is located at the crossroads of Europe and Africa. Situated on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula, it shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, North Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, Turkey to the northeast; the Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, the Cretan Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km in length, featuring a large number of islands, of which 227 are inhabited. Eighty percent of Greece is mountainous, with Mount Olympus being the highest peak at 2,918 metres; the country consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Epirus, the Aegean Islands, Thrace and the Ionian Islands.
Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilisation, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, Western literature, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, Western drama and notably the Olympic Games. From the eighth century BC, the Greeks were organised into various independent city-states, known as poleis, which spanned the entire Mediterranean region and the Black Sea. Philip of Macedon united most of the Greek mainland in the fourth century BC, with his son Alexander the Great conquering much of the ancient world, from the eastern Mediterranean to India. Greece was annexed by Rome in the second century BC, becoming an integral part of the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire, in which Greek language and culture were dominant. Rooted in the first century A. D. the Greek Orthodox Church helped shape modern Greek identity and transmitted Greek traditions to the wider Orthodox World. Falling under Ottoman dominion in the mid-15th century, the modern nation state of Greece emerged in 1830 following a war of independence.
Greece's rich historical legacy is reflected by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The sovereign state of Greece is a unitary parliamentary republic and developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life, a high standard of living. A founding member of the United Nations, Greece was the tenth member to join the European Communities and has been part of the Eurozone since 2001, it is a member of numerous other international institutions, including the Council of Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Greece's unique cultural heritage, large tourism industry, prominent shipping sector and geostrategic importance classify it as a middle power, it is the largest economy in the Balkans. The names for the nation of Greece and the Greek people differ from the names used in other languages and cultures.
The Greek name of the country is Hellas or Ellada, its official name is the Hellenic Republic. In English, the country is called Greece, which comes from Latin Graecia and means'the land of the Greeks'; the earliest evidence of the presence of human ancestors in the southern Balkans, dated to 270,000 BC, is to be found in the Petralona cave, in the Greek province of Macedonia. All three stages of the stone age are represented for example in the Franchthi Cave. Neolithic settlements in Greece, dating from the 7th millennium BC, are the oldest in Europe by several centuries, as Greece lies on the route via which farming spread from the Near East to Europe. Greece is home to the first advanced civilizations in Europe and is considered the birthplace of Western civilisation, beginning with the Cycladic civilization on the islands of the Aegean Sea at around 3200 BC, the Minoan civilization in Crete, the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland; these civilizations possessed writing, the Minoans writing in an undeciphered script known as Linear A, the Mycenaeans in Linear B, an early form of Greek.
The Mycenaeans absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC, during a time of regional upheaval known as the Bronze Age collapse. This ushered from which written records are absent. Though the unearthed Linear B texts are too fragmentary for the reconstruction of the political landscape and can't support the existence of a larger state contemporary Hittite and Egyptian records suggest the presence of a single state under a "Great King" based in mainland Greece; the end of the Dark Ages is traditionally dated to the year of the first Olympic Games. The Iliad and the Odyssey, the foundational texts of Western literature, are believed to have been composed by Homer in the 7th or 8th centuries BC. With the end of the Dark Ages, there emerged various kingdoms and city-states across the Greek peninsula, which spread to the shores of the Black Sea, So