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
Central Greece (region)
Central Greece is one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. The region occupies the eastern half of the traditional region of Central Greece, including the island of Euboea. To the south it borders the regions of Attica and the Peloponnese, to the west the region of West Greece and to the north the regions of Thessaly and Epirus, its capital city is Lamia. The region was established in the 1987 administrative reform. With the 2010 Kallikratis plan, its powers and authority were extended. Along with Thessaly, it is supervised by the Decentralized Administration of Thessaly and Central Greece based at Larissa; the region is based at Lamia and is divided into five regional units, Euboea, Evrytania and Phthiotis, which are further subdivided into 25 municipalities. The region's current governor is Kostas Bakoyannis of the New Democracy party, assuming office from Klearchos Pergantas, elected in the November 2010 local administration elections for the PASOK party. Biggest towns in each regional unit, according to the census of 2001: Official website
Thebes is a city in Boeotia, central Greece. It played an important role in Greek myths, as the site of the stories of Cadmus, Oedipus and others. Archaeological excavations in and around Thebes have revealed a Mycenaean settlement and clay tablets written in the Linear B script, indicating the importance of the site in the Bronze Age. Thebes was the largest city of the ancient region of Boeotia and was the leader of the Boeotian confederacy, it was a major rival of ancient Athens, sided with the Persians during the 480 BC invasion under Xerxes. Theban forces under the command of Epaminondas ended the power of Sparta at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC; the Sacred Band of Thebes famously fell at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC against Philip II and Alexander the Great. Prior to its destruction by Alexander in 335 BC, Thebes was a major force in Greek history, was the most dominant city-state at the time of the Macedonian conquest of Greece. During the Byzantine period, the city was famous for its silks.
The modern city contains an Archaeological Museum, the remains of the Cadmea, scattered ancient remains. Modern Thebes is the largest town of the regional unit of Boeotia. Thebes is situated in a plain, between Lake Yliki to the north, the Cithaeron mountains, which divide Boeotia from Attica, to the south, its elevation is 215 metres above mean sea level. It is about 50 kilometres northwest of Athens, 100 kilometres southeast of Lamia. Motorway 1 and the Athens–Thessaloniki railway connect Thebes with Athens and northern Greece; the municipality of Thebes covers an area of 830.112 square kilometres, the municipal unit of Thebes 321.015 square kilometres and the community 143.889 square kilometres. In 2011, as a consequence of the Kallikratis reform, Thebes was merged with Plataies and Vagia to form a larger municipality, which retained the name Thebes; the other three become units of the larger municipality. The record of the earliest days of Thebes was preserved among the Greeks in an abundant mass of legends that rival the myths of Troy in their wide ramification and the influence that they exerted on the literature of the classical age.
Five main cycles of story may be distinguished: The foundation of the citadel Cadmea by Cadmus, the growth of the Spartoi or "Sown Men". The immolation of Semele and the advent of Dionysus; the building of a "seven-gated" wall by Amphion, the cognate stories of Zethus and Dirce. The tale of Laius, whose misdeeds culminated in the tragedy of Oedipus and the wars of the "Seven Against Thebes", the Epigoni, the downfall of his house. See Theban pederasty and Pederasty in ancient Greece for detailed discussion and background; the exploits of Heracles. The Greeks attributed the foundation of Thebes to Cadmus, a Phoenician king from Tyre and the brother of Queen Europa. Cadmus was famous for teaching the Phoenician alphabet and building the Acropolis, named the Cadmeia in his honor and was an intellectual and cultural center. Archaeological excavations in and around Thebes have revealed cist graves dated to Mycenaean times containing weapons and tablets written in Linear B, its attested name forms and relevant terms on tablets found locally or elsewhere include, te-qa-i, understood to be read as *Tʰēgʷai̮s, te-qa-de, for *Tʰēgʷasde, and, te-qa-ja, for *Tʰēgʷaja.
It seems safe to infer that *Tʰēgʷai was one of the first Greek communities to be drawn together within a fortified city, that it owed its importance in prehistoric days — as — to its military strength. Deger-Jalkotzy claimed that the statue base from Kom el-Hetan in Amenhotep III's kingdom mentions a name similar to Thebes, spelled out quasi-syllabically in hieroglyphs as d-q-e-i-s, considered to be one of four tj-n3-jj kingdoms worthy of note. *Tʰēgʷai in LHIIIB lost contact with Egypt but gained it with "Miletus" and "Cyprus". In the late LHIIIB, according to Palaima, *Tʰēgʷai was able to pull resources from Lamos near Mount Helicon, from Karystos and Amarynthos on the Greek side of the isle of Euboia; as a fortified community, it attracted attention from the invading Dorians, the fact of their eventual conquest of Thebes lies behind the stories of the successive legendary attacks on that city. The central position and military security of the city tended to raise it to a commanding position among the Boeotians, from early days its inhabitants endeavoured to establish a complete supremacy over their kinsmen in the outlying towns.
This centralizing policy is as much the cardinal fact of Theban history as the counteracting effort of the smaller towns to resist absorption forms the main chapter of the story of Boeotia. No details of the earlier history of Thebes have been preserved, except that it was governed by a land-holding aristocracy who safeguarded their integrity by rigid statutes about the ownership of property and its transmission over time; as attested in Homer's Iliad, Thebes was o
Boeotia, sometimes alternatively Latinised as Boiotia, or Beotia, is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece, its capital is Livadeia, its largest city is Thebes. Boeotia was a region of ancient Greece, since before the 6th century BC. Boeotia lies to the north of the eastern part of the Gulf of Corinth, it has a short coastline on the Gulf of Euboea. It bordered on Megaris in the south, Attica in the southeast, Euboea in the northeast, Opuntian Locris in the north and Phocis in the west; the main mountain ranges of Boeotia are Mount Parnassus in the west, Mount Helicon in the southwest, Cithaeron in the south and Parnitha in the east. Its longest river, the Cephissus, flows in the central part, where most of the low-lying areas of Boeotia are found. Lake Copais was a large lake in the center of Boeotia, it was drained in the 19th century. Lake Yliki is a large lake near Thebes; the earliest inhabitants of Boeotia, associated with the city of Orchomenus, were called Minyans.
Pausanias mentions that Minyans established the maritime Ionian city of Teos, occupied the islands of Lemnos and Thera. The Argonauts were sometimes referred to as Minyans. According to legend the citizens of Thebes paid an annual tribute to their king Erginus; the Minyans may have been proto-Greek speakers, but although most scholars today agree that the Mycenean Greeks descended from the Minyans of the Middle Helladic period, they believe that the progenitors and founders of Minyan culture were an autochthonous group. The early wealth and power of Boeotia is shown by the reputation and visible Mycenean remains of several of its cities Orchomenus and Thebes; the origin of the name "Boeotians" may lie in the mountain Boeon in Epirus. Some toponyms and the common Aeolic dialect indicate that the Boeotians were related to the Thessalians. Traditionally, the Boeotians are said to have occupied Thessaly, the largest fertile plain in Greece, to have been dispossessed by the north-western Thessalians two generations after the Fall of Troy.
They moved south and settled in another rich plain, while others filtered across the Aegean and settled on Lesbos and in Aeolis in Asia Minor. Others are said to have stayed in Thessaly, withdrawing into the hill country and becoming the perioikoi. Though far from Anthela, which lay on the coast of Malis south of Thessaly in the locality of Thermopylae, Boeotia was an early member of the oldest religious Amphictyonic League because her people had lived in Thessaly. Many ancient Greek legends are set in this region; the older myths took their final form during the Mycenean age when the Mycenean Greeks established themselves in Boeotia and the city of Thebes became an important centre. Many of them are related to the myths of Argos, others indicate connections with Phoenicia, where the Mycenean Greeks and the Euboean Greeks established trading posts. Important legends related to Boeotia include: Eros, worshiped by a fertility cult in Thespiae The Muses of Mount Helicon Ogyges and the Ogygian deluge Cadmus, said to have founded Thebes and brought the alphabet to Greece Dionysus and Semele Narcissus Heracles, born in Thebes The Theban Cycle, including the myths of Oedipus and the Sphinx, the Seven against Thebes Antiope and her sons Amphion and Zethus Niobe Orion, born in Boeotia and said to have fathered 50 sons with a local river god's daughters.
Many of these legends were used in plays by the tragic Greek poets, Aeschylus and Euripides: Aeschylus's Seven Against Thebes Sophocles's Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, known as the Theban plays Euripides's Bacchae, Phoenician Women and HeraclesThey were used in lost plays such as Aeschylus's Niobe and Euripides's Antiope. Boeotia was notable for the ancient oracular shrine of Trophonius at Lebadea. Graea, an ancient city in Boeotia, is sometimes thought to be the origin of the Latin word Graecus, from which English derives the words Greece and Greeks; the major poets Hesiod and Pindar were Boeotians. Boeotia had significant political importance, owing to its position on the north shore of the Gulf of Corinth, the strategic strength of its frontiers, the ease of communication within its extensive area. On the other hand, the lack of good harbours hindered its maritime development; the importance of the legendary Minyae has been confirmed by archaeological remains. The Boeotian population entered the land from the north before the Dorian invasion.
With the exception of the Minyae, the original peoples were soon absorbed by these immigrants, the Boeotians henceforth appear as a homogeneous nation. Aeolic Greek was spoken in Boeotia. In historical times, the leading city of Boeotia was Thebes, whose central position and military strength made it a suitable capital, it was the constant ambition of the Thebans to absorb the other townships into a single state, just as Athens had annexed the Attic communities. But the outlying cities resisted this policy, only allowed the formation of a loose federation, religious. While the Boeotians, unlike the Arcadians acted as a united whole against foreign enemies, the constant struggle between the cities was a serious check on the nation's development. Boeotia hardly figures in history before the late 6th century BC. Previous to this, its people are chiefly known as the makers of a type of geometric pottery, similar to
Vehicle registration plates of Greece
Greek vehicle registration plates are composed of three letters and four digits per plate printed in black on a white background. The letters represent the district that issues the plates while the numbers begin from 1000 to 9999; as from 2004, a blue strip was added on the left showing the country code of Greece in white text and the Flag of Europe. Similar plates with digits beginning from 1 to 999 are issued for motorcycles. With the exception of Athens and Thessaloniki, all districts are represented by the first 2 letters; the final letter in the sequence changes in Greek alphabetical order after 9,000 issued plates. For example, Patras plates are ΑΧΑ-1000, where ΑΧ represents the Achaia prefecture of which Patras is the capital; when ΑΧΑ-9999 is reached the plates turn to ΑΧΒ-1000 and this continues until ΑΧΧ is finished. Only the letters from the intersection between the Latin and Greek alphabets by glyph appearance are used, namely Α, Β, Ε, Ζ, Η, Ι, Κ, Μ, Ν, Ο, Ρ, Τ, Υ, Χ; this is because Greece is a contracting party to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, which in Annex 2 requires registration numbers to be displayed in capital Latin characters and Arabic numerals.
The rule applies in a similar way in Russia, Belarus and Herzegovina and Bulgaria. Combinations used for overseas residents are limited; until 2003, taxis used L-NNNN. Up until 1954 Greek number plates were quite simple: black numbers on a white background, indicating the serial number shown on the car's license; these started at 1 and advanced to 75-000 when the system was changed. The owner had to provide the plates and specifications were minimal: the size of the plates and numbers, as well as their respective colours; this meant that plates were not uniform. Taxis had to indicate the initial of the city. In 1954 it was compulsory for all vehicles to change to a new system. For just 2 years the system was L-NNNN or L-NNNNN with black characters on yellow background where L was the initial of the city they were licensed in. All these plates display "1953-54" in black characters on a white background using a smaller typeface in the top left corner; these plates were compulsorily withdrawn in 1956.
In 1956 the system was again changed to just numbers NNNNNN. NNNNNN could be any number from one to six digits starting once again with "1" and ending this time at about "451000", though not all numbers were allocated. Characters were black on white background with a blue band at the top of both front and back plates indicating city/district of registration and type of usage. After 1960 the blue band on the front plate was abandoned and hence that plate became shorter in height; this time it was not compulsory to change plates after 1972. Hence these so-called "six-figure plates" can still be spotted on a few old vehicles. In 1972, they became lettered and the system was LL-NNNN while trucks used L-NNNN. Again, they were black characters on white background but with a different typeface, it was not compulsory to change these plates. In 1982, the system changed to LLL-NNNN and the first two letters are prefecture letters. Again, it was not compulsory to change to the newer system plates in 2004. In 2004 the euroband was added to the left and the typeface changed, in all other respects the previous system continued.
The first 2 of 3 letters of a licence plate represent the prefecture where the car was registered. The full list of plates in Greece is below: ΑΑ Achaia prefecture - Patras ΑΒ Kavala prefecture - Kavala ΑΕ Lasithi prefecture - Agios Nikolaos ΑΖ Achaia prefecture - Patras ΑΗ Xanthi prefecture - Xanthi ΑΙ Aitoloakarnania prefecture - Agrinio area ΑΚ Laconia prefecture - Sparti ΑΜ Phokida prefecture - Amfissa ΑΜ tax free cars ΑΝ Lasithi prefecture - Agios Nikolaos ΑΟ Achaia prefecture - Patras AO used in Mount Athos in style of AO-NNN-NN. ΑΡ Argolis prefecture - Nafplio ΑΤ Arta prefecture - Arta AY Achaia prefecture - Patras ΑΧ Achaia prefecture - Patras ΒΑ Magnesia prefecture - Volos ΒΒ Magnesia prefecture - Volos ΒΕ Piraeus prefecture BZ Piraeus prefecture ΒΗ Piraeus prefecture ΒΙ Boeotia prefecture - Livadeia ΒΚ East Attica prefecture - Pallini ΒΜ East Attica prefecture - Pallini ΒΝ West Attica prefecture - Elefsina ΒΟ Magnesia prefecture - Volos ΒΡ West Attica prefecture - Elefsina ΒΤ Magnesia prefecture - Volos ΒΥ Boeotia prefecture - Livadeia ΒΧ Piraeus prefecture ΕΑ Dodecanese prefecture - Kos island ΕΒ Evros prefecture - Alexandroupoli ΕΕ Pella Prefecture - Edessa ΕΖ Cyclades prefecture - Ermoupoli ΕΗ Euboea prefecture - Chalkida EI Euboea prefecture - Chalki
Regional units of Greece
The 74 regional units are administrative units of Greece. They are subdivisions of the country's 13 regions, further subdivided into municipalities, they were introduced as part of the "Kallikratis" administrative reform on 1 January 2011 and are comparable in area and, in the mainland, coterminous with the pre-"Kallikratis" prefectures of Greece
Battle of Plataea
The Battle of Plataea was the final land battle during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It took place in 479 BC near the city of Plataea in Boeotia, was fought between an alliance of the Greek city-states, the Persian Empire of Xerxes I; the previous year the Persian invasion force, led by the Persian king in person, had scored victories at the battles of Thermopylae and Artemisium and conquered Thessaly, Boeotia and Attica. However, at the ensuing Battle of Salamis, the Allied Greek navy had won an unlikely but decisive victory, preventing the conquest of the Peloponnesus. Xerxes retreated with much of his army, leaving his general Mardonius to finish off the Greeks the following year. In the summer of 479 BC the Greeks marched out of the Peloponnesus; the Persians built a fortified camp near Plataea. The Greeks, refused to be drawn into the prime cavalry terrain around the Persian camp, resulting in a stalemate that lasted 11 days. While attempting a retreat after their supply lines were disrupted, the Greek battle line fragmented.
Thinking the Greeks in full retreat, Mardonius ordered his forces to pursue them, but the Greeks halted and gave battle, routing the armed Persian infantry and killing Mardonius. A large portion of the Persian army was slaughtered; the destruction of this army, the remnants of the Persian navy on the same day at the Battle of Mycale, decisively ended the invasion. After Plataea and Mycale the Greek allies would take the offensive against the Persians, marking a new phase of the Greco-Persian Wars. Although Plataea was in every sense a resounding victory, it does not seem to have been attributed the same significance as, for example, the Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon or the Spartan defeat at Thermopylae; the Greek city-states of Athens and Eretria had supported the unsuccessful Ionian Revolt against the Persian Empire of Darius I in 499–494 BC. The Persian Empire was still young and prone to revolts by its subject peoples. Moreover, Darius was an usurper and had to spend considerable time putting down revolts against his rule.
The Ionian Revolt threatened the integrity of his empire, he thus vowed to punish those involved. Darius saw the opportunity to expand his empire into the fractious world of Ancient Greece. A preliminary expedition under Mardonius, in 492 BC, to secure the land approaches to Greece ended with the re-conquest of Thrace and forced Macedon to become a subordinate client kingdom of Persia, the latter, a Persian vassal as early as the late 6th century BC. An amphibious task force was sent out under Datis and Artaphernes in 490 BC, using Delos as an intermediate base at sacking Karystos and Eretria, before moving to attack Athens. However, at the ensuing Battle of Marathon, the Athenians won a remarkable victory, resulting in the withdrawal of the Persian army to Asia. Darius therefore began raising a huge new army with which he meant to subjugate Greece. However, he died; the throne of Persia passed to his son Xerxes I, who restarted the preparations for the invasion of Greece, including building two pontoon bridges across the Hellespont.
In 481 BC, Xerxes sent ambassadors around Greece asking for earth and water as a gesture of their submission, but making the deliberate omission of Athens and Sparta. Support thus began to coalesce around these two leading states. A congress of city states met at Corinth in the late autumn of 481 BC, a confederate alliance of Greek city-states was formed; this was remarkable for the disjointed Greek world since many of the city-states in attendance were still technically at war with each other. The Allies adopted a strategy of blocking land and sea approaches to southern Greece. Thus, in August 480 BC, after hearing of Xerxes' approach, a small Allied army led by Spartan King Leonidas I blocked the Pass of Thermopylae, while an Athenian-dominated navy sailed to the Straits of Artemisium. Famously, the massively outnumbered Greek army held Thermopylae for three days before being outflanked by the Persians, who used a little-known mountain path. Although much of the Greek army retreated, the rearguard, formed of the Spartan and Thespian contingents, was surrounded and annihilated.
The simultaneous Battle of Artemisium, consisting of a series of naval encounters, was up to that point a stalemate. Following Thermopylae, the Persian army proceeded to burn and sack the Boeotian cities that had not surrendered and Thespiae, before taking possession of the now-evacuated city of Athens; the Allied army, prepared to defend the Isthmus of Corinth. Xerxes wished for a final crushing defeat of the Allies to finish the conquest of Greece in that campaigning season; the ensuing naval Battle of Salamis ended in a decisive victory for the Allies, marking a turning point in the conflict. Following the defeat of his navy at Salamis, Xerxes retreated to Asia with the bulk of his army. According to Herodotus, this was because he feared the Greeks would sail to the Hellespont and destroy the pontoon bridges, thereby trapping his army in Europe, he left Mard