The Role of Geography in the History of Greece

Greece is located at the crossroads between Africa, Asia, and Europe, and its position has played a major role in its diverse and often turbulent history, making it both the beneficiary of commercial traffic, and the target of external forces.

Greece occupies the southern-most end of the Balkan Peninsula and protrudes towards the eastern Mediterranean. The land of Greece consists mostly of rugged mountains and possesses very few fertile valleys. The Mediterranean climate with the long, dry summers makes fresh water a commodity in short supply. Consequently, Greece has few rivers and lakes of note. The southern part of the country near the coast is dry with low vegetation, but the mountainous interior and the northern provinces are covered with lush vegetation.see it on the map

Greece satellite photoGreece is touched by water on all sides but the north, and it possesses thousands of islands of various sizes. Greece is smaller than the state of Alabama, but its coastline is longer than the coastline of the continental United States (excluding Alaska). As such, Greece has remained a significant naval power throughout history, all the way up to our day.

The borders of Greece have changed dramatically throughout history.

In ancient times the borders of Greece were expanded to include land beyond today’s modern country. Until the late Classical era, Greek colonies existed on al the shores of the Mediterranean from Spain to the Middle East, and all around the shores of the Black Sea. With the conquests of Alexander the Great, and until 30 BCE the Hellenic world reached as far as Egypt, India, and Bactria.

After 30 BCE and the death of Cleopatra, Greece became a province of the Roman Empire. In 330 CE, the foundation of Constantinople made Greece part of the Byzantine Empire. With the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453 it became part of the Ottoman Empire. Throughout these centuries, Greeks continued to live and thrive in Greece proper and the coast of Egypt, the Middle East, Asia Minor, and the Black Sea.

The modern borders of Greece were created through conflict and successive wars that occured after the 1821 revolution of the Greeks against Ottoman rule and up until the 1950s.

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