Captive Greece took captive her fierce conqueror and instilled her arts in rustic Latium.
Greece's population is around 11 million. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, with its greater metropolitan area being home to nearly a third of the population. Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of Ancient Greece, generally considered the cradle of Western civilization.
The territory of Greece is mountainous, and as a result, ancient Greece consisted of many smaller regions each with its own dialect, cultural peculiarities, and identity. Regionalism and regional conflicts were a prominent feature of ancient Greece. Cities tended to be located in valleys between mountains, or on coastal plains, and dominated a certain area around them.
At its economic height, in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, ancient Greece was the most advanced economy in the world. According to some economic historians, it was one of the most advanced preindustrial economies.
Ancient Greek philosophy focused on the role of reason and inquiry. In many ways, it had an important influence on modern philosophy, as well as modern science. Clear unbroken lines of influence lead from ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophers, to medieval Muslim philosophers and Islamic scientists, to the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, to the secular sciences of the modern day. Some well known philosophers of Ancient Greece were Plato and Socrates.
The art of ancient Greece has exercised an enormous influence on the culture of many countries from ancient times until the present, particularly in the areas of sculpture and architecture.
To the East, lay the Cyclades, with their white cuboid choras and villages. To the West, the mountainous Peloponnese rears up from the sea: this is the home of the great Greek civilisations; Mycenaean, Spartan, Hellenic, Byzantine and Venetian. And in between these two areas lie the Argo-Saronic Islands, with the pistachio orchards of Aegina, the old pirate port of Hydra and the traditional caique boatyards of Spetses. It is a vast and interesting cruising area which could take many years to explore completely.
We knew thee of old,
O, divinely restored,
By the lights of thine eyes,
And the light of thy Sword.
From the graves of our slain,
Shall thy valour prevail,
As we greet thee again,
Hail, Liberty! Hail!
Rudyard Kipling (1918)
The Greek islands are traditionally grouped into the following clusters: The Argo-Saronic Islands in the Saronic gulf near Athens, the Cyclades, a large but dense collection occupying the central part of the Aegean Sea, the North Aegean islands, a loose grouping off the west coast of Turkey, the Dodecanese, another loose collection in the southeast between Crete and Turkey, the Sporades, a small tight group off the coast of Euboea, and the Ionian Islands, located to the west of the mainland in the Ionian Sea.