GreeceAncient Greece is considered the birthplace of Western civilization. From about 2700 to 1450 BC the Minoans flourished on the island of Crete, the first advanced culture of Europe. It was succeeded by the Mycenaean culture on the Greek mainland which collapsed around 1200 BC. Some 500 years later, various city states such as Sparta, Thebes, and first and foremost Athens were becoming more and more powerful.
They founded colonies along the shores of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and achieved hitherto unknown prosperity. The Classical Greek period of the 5th and 4th century BC was a period of unprecedented cultural flourishing. In Athens, the world's first democracy was installed; throughout the Greek world, the arts and sciences flourished, in philosophy, mathematics, literature, or architecture, the foundations of the European culture were laid.
Internal conflicts between the city states lead to the rise of kings who, starting from Macedonia, eventually unified all of Greece. In 334 BC, King Alexander the Great set out on his great conquering expedition, spreading Greek culture to Egypt and far into Asia. Yet after his death his realm fell apart. Soon after, the Romans began to exert pressure on the Greeks while adopting large parts of their culture. Eventually, Greece was absorbed into the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire eventually split in two parts, with the eastern half to be Byzantine. It existed for about 1000 years until it became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1453. The core of modern Greece gained independence in 1830 and in the following decades was joined by most of the historically Greek areas. They were ruled as a monarchy until it was overthrown by a military coup in 1967. After years of dictatorship, Greece finally became a democracy in 1974.