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Greece - Cradle of Democracy

World  (tags: Greece, people, places, travel )

- 1544 days ago -
Greece is a fascinating country with more history than just about any other and breathtaking natural landscape.

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Cher C (1429)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 7:51 am

Thnx sweetie!!!

Good to see you back and posting again too!!!



Veronique L (209)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 7:52 am
Noted Kit, thank you!

Nicole W (646)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 8:00 am
beautiful way to start the weekend, ty dear Kit

Kit B (276)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 8:03 am
Map Credit: Enchanted

Greece is a fascinating country with more history than just about any other and breathtaking natural landscape. The Greek culture is rich with mythology, delicious cuisine, and stunning architecture, among many other things. Take a step into ancient history and discover the unknown treasures of Greece and surprising facts about this remarkable country.

--5 Facts You Might Not Know

1) One of Greece's largest and most delicious exports are olives. Some of the olive trees that are still harvested today were planted as long ago as the thirteenth century. The olive tree shows up often in Greek literature and historical artifacts.

2) The country includes over 200 islands scattered throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Greece's largest island is Crete, whose area is 3,189 square miles. Crete is also the fifth largest island in the entire Mediterranean Sea.

3) Many Greek buildings are painted at least partially a special shade of blue. You can find it painted on window sills, door ways, roofs, and the domes of church buildings. This color of blue, called kyanos, was believed by ancient inhabitants to ward off evil. The Greek word kyanos is the origin of the English word cyan.

4) The Greek flag is made up of 9 stripes of blue and white. The blue is meant to represent the beautiful, bright waters that surround the country. The white stripes represent the purity of freedom for which the Greek people had to struggle to obtain for themselves. The cross in the upper left corner represents the Eastern Orthodox Christianity that is the established religion of Greece.

5) The capital, Athens, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The city has existed for over 7,00 years. Many things were born in Athens, including democracy, the Olympic games, and much of modern math and philosophy. More than thirty percent of Greece's population live there today.

Alternative Names: Hellenic, Romeic

Greece, the English name for the Hellenic Republic, derives from an ancient Latin word for that area. "Hellenic" derives from the word ancient Greeks used to refer themselves, while "Romeic" comes from the medieval or Byzantine Greek term. Although Romeic was the most common self-designation early in the nineteenth century, it has declined in favor of Hellenic since that time.

The words "Greek," "Hellenic," and "Romeic" refer not only to the country but also to the majority ethnic group. Greek culture and identity reflect the shared history and common expectations of all members of the nation-state, but they also reflect an ethnic history and culture that predate the nation-state and extend to Greek people outside the country's borders. Since 98 percent of the country's citizens are ethnically Greek, ethnic Greek culture has become almost synonymous with that of the nation-state. However, recent migration patterns may lead to a resurgence of other ethnic groups in the population.

Location and Geography.

The Hellenic Republic is in southeastern Europe at the point where the Balkan peninsula juts into the Mediterranean Sea and forms a land-based connection to Anatolia and the Middle East. Initially restricted to the southern mainland and a few islands, Greece grew with the addition of the Dodecanese Islands in 1948. The country is bordered by Albania, the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and the Aegean, Ionian, and Cretan seas.

Emergence of the Nation.
A strong sense of a common ethnic identity emerged among Greek speakers of the independent city-states of the Aegean area in the Bronze Age and characterized the city-states of the classical period and their colonies in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. It endured over two millennia as these lands were ruled by the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian, and Ottoman empires, and as the area became ethnically heterogeneous.

The last of these empires was run by the Ottoman Turks, who established control over much of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean after conquering Constantinople in 1453. By the late eighteenth century, the Ottoman Empire was losing ground. A military defeat at Vienna and the growing commercial power of Western Europe led Turkish overlords to institute harsher tactics toward the peasants on their agricultural estates. Increasing discontent in the countryside was matched by difficulty in keeping administrative structures functional. Several regions in which Greeks were numerically dominant developed strong local leadership, while entrepreneurial Greek merchants, sailors, and craftspeople acted as intermediaries between the expanding economies of Western Europe and the declining ones of the empire. Enlightenment ideals of ethnic self-determination were embraced by the merchant diaspora and resonated with the desire of all Greeks to end Ottoman control.

A series of rebellions against the empire led to a full-scale revolution in 1821. The War of Independence aimed at an independent, ethnically based state modeled after the nationalist political philosophies of western Europe. With the aid of armed contingents from Europe and the United States, fighting ended in 1828, when the Turks agreed to cede some lands in which Greeks formed the majority.

The shape and structure of the new country were uncertain and contentious. The desire for a parliamentary form of government was thwarted when the first president was assassinated in 1831. The foreign nations that negotiated the final treaty with the Ottomans then established an absolute monarchy monitored by England, France, and Russia. Otto, the son of Ludwig I of Bavaria, was named the first king. The boundaries of the new state were much smaller than had been hoped. Only the Peloponnesos, central Greece, and some of the Aegean Islands were included.

An 1843 coup resulted in a constitutional monarchy, and another coup in 1862 led to expanded

Food in Daily Life.
Grain, grapes, and olives are central to the diet, supplemented with eggs, cheese, yogurt, fish, lamb, goat, chicken, rice, and fruits and vegetables. Certain foods are emblematic of the national identity, including moussaka, baklava, thick coffee, and resinated wine ( retsina ). Coffee-houses have long functioned as daily gathering places for men. Dining out has gained in popularity, with a corresponding increase in the number and variety of restaurants.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions.
Guests must always be offered refreshment, and all major ceremonies involve food. At funerals, mourners are given koliva (boiled wheat, sugar, and cinnamon), a special cake is baked on New Year's Day, and the midnight Easter service is followed by a feast, generally of lamb.

Classes and Castes.
Despite income differences in the population and a small upper stratum of established families in the larger cities, the class system has been marked by mobility since the establishment of the modern state. Former bases of wealth and power disappeared with the departure of the Ottomans and the dismantling of agricultural estates. A fluid class system fits the strongly egalitarian emphasis of the culture. The degree to which minority groups receive the rights and opportunities of Greeks is a topic of public discussion.

Social status is not coterminous with economic class but results from a combination of wealth, education, occupation, and what is referred to as honor or love of honor ( philotimo ). While sometimes understood only as a source of posturing and argumentation, this concept refers to one's sense of social responsibility, esteem within the community, and attention to proper behavior and public decorum.

Government. Greece is a parliamentary republic modeled after the French system. The redrawn constitution of 1975 established a single legislative body with three hundred seats. The president serves as the ceremonial head of state, while the prime minister is the head of government. Suffrage is universal for those over eighteen years of age. A large civil service bureaucracy administers a host of national, provincial, and local agencies. Governmental functioning often is described as hierarchical and centralized. A municipal reorganization in 1998 combined smaller communities into larger ones in an effort to strengthen the power of local government.

Leadership and Political Officials.
Greek political history has been marked by frequent moments of uncertainty, and there have been several military coups and dictatorships, the last being the junta that reigned from 1967 to 1974. Since the end of the junta, two major parties have alternated in power: New Democracy, which controlled parliament from 1974 to 1981 and from 1989 to 1993 and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), which controlled it from 1981 to 1989 and from 1993 to the present.

Citizens maintain a wary skepticism toward politicians and authority figures. Support in national elections often was garnered through patronage, extensive networks of ritual kin, and personal ties in the nineteenth century. The rise of the early twentieth-century politician Eleftherios Venizelos initiated a gradual shift toward ideology and policy as the basis of support.

Read more:


Kit B (276)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 8:06 am

Obviously I could write a very long thesis or dissertation on Greece and there are many history books available by very good historians. I have intentionally not focused on the current politics in Greece, but did place an article with video from VICE magazine about the current political and social situation in Greece and the rising influence of Golden Dawn.

Ben O (171)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 9:11 am
My one and only visit to Greece (so far) is a weeks vacation in Pythagorion, Samos...

Robert O (12)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 12:40 pm
Thanks Kit. Such a fascinating place. My cousin visited Greece when he was 18 but sadly I don't think he was really mature enough to appreciate its cultural heritage and significance and saw it more as foreign country to party in. He was fortunate enough to visit due to his parents being wealthy and visits to foreign locales at age 18 being more of a family tradition rather than an opportunity to learn and relish. Sigh. Anyway, I digress. Thanks again Kit.

pam w (139)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 12:41 pm
Samos IS fun/beautiful/charming....and I'll bet you had time to sit quietly with a glass of (something) while watching the sun set into that ''wine-dark sea!" (I certainly HOPE you did, Ben!)

The history is incredible and the food is wonderful (although there's a bit more LAMB than I could manage.)

When you go to Greece, be sure to take the ferry which goes from island to island! It's fun to watch all the people who sail from here to there.

Marie Helene Z (31)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 12:46 pm
Thank YOU:O))))

Birgit W (160)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 1:36 pm
I am going to watch the video later on. Thanks for sharing.

Pat B (356)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 1:47 pm
Thank you,Kit for this great visual treat to Greece.!! Enjoyed it tremendously.
Do hope that you are on the mend, don't overdo anything, just relax, and drink some green tea with local honey.

JL A (281)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 2:08 pm
A definite bucket list candidate

Nelson Baker (0)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 2:26 pm
Thank you for the article.

Sheila D (194)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 2:42 pm
Have always wanted to visit Greece, and that part of the world. It looks beautiful, and peaceful if one can avoid the touristy places. Thank you...hope you're better soon.

Barbara K (60)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 3:04 pm
Thanks, my friend, so glad you are back, and yes, I really did miss you; but thanks for this vacation via computer to Greece, what a beautiful place it is. So many places I want to visit that I'd need at least 3 more lifetimes. lol.

Jonathan Harper (0)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 3:27 pm

marie C (163)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 4:20 pm
Thanks for another wonderful holiday Kit
Really missed you

Hilary S (65)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 4:31 pm
armchair traveller that i am, the net offers us sustainable visits to the world's riches.

Colleen L (3)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 6:21 pm
So fascinating. Greece is full of such beauty. Thanks Kit for the fantastic tour and information.

Vallee R (280)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 7:47 pm
Wonderful - thanks!

MmAway M (505)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 9:52 pm
OK Miss Kit Kat! I so needed a trip. Will take this tomorrow while I try to RELAX! Thus, I am telling you I did NOT get to the site, but know your MAGIC!!! Take me AWAY!!! xxx

Katie & Bill D (107)
Saturday March 1, 2014, 11:10 pm
Just Lovely!! Thank You KIt

. (5)
Sunday March 2, 2014, 1:26 am

Inge B (202)
Sunday March 2, 2014, 2:31 am
Very beautiful country, especially Crete


Past Member (0)
Sunday March 2, 2014, 5:10 am
Thanks Kit.

Arlene C (42)
Sunday March 2, 2014, 5:16 am
Just Lovely!! Thank You KIt

Arielle S (313)
Sunday March 2, 2014, 6:16 am
yum, love Greek coffee and some of the Greek foods... and the people who are so warm and friendly. They are having a really rough time right now but I think we're all pulling for them.

Angelika R (143)
Sunday March 2, 2014, 9:45 am
i, too will withhold myself here from adding as much as i could after well over a dozen visits to most parts of Greece and having a fairly good knowledge of people and culture, also from many Greek friends here in Berlin.
So, just a thank you Kit, and welcom back.

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Sunday March 2, 2014, 9:01 pm
Thank you for the lovely virtual visit to Greece. I've missed you, and I'm glad your back.

Danuta W (1249)
Sunday March 30, 2014, 1:51 am
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