Greece History  

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GREECE

Greece produced the most brilliant of the ancient civilizations. At its apex, between the fifth and third centuries B.C., the Greeks were the indisputable leaders of the world in philosophy, art, politics, and science. The civilization of Greece was spread by commerce and by war, as much of the known world fell to Alexander the Great. Upon his death, however, the empire began to disintegrate. It was absorbed into the Roman Empire, and later into the Byzantine. When the Ottomans swept to power, they also took over Greece (1460) which they controlled for the next 350 years. Under the Ottomans, the Greeks preserved their national heritage and in 1821, Greece rebelled against the Ottomans. Supported by a powerful trio of friends (Russia, Britain, and France), Greece declared its independence in 1827. Ruled by a German prince selected by the Western powers, Greece deposed him, In 1863, King George I, a Danish prince, came to the throne, where he served until his assassination a half-century later. By 1914, the three Balkan Wars had enabled Greece to enlarge its boundaries. A republic was established in 1923, but 12 years later, George II came back to the throne. In 1940, Greece withstood an attempt by Italy to take the country but Hitler assuaged Italy's humiliation by sending in his troops. German occupation of greece was completed by June 1941. They wreaked havoc on the country, including murdering the country's Jews. Bulgaria, with an eye on territory, joined Germany and colonized Macedonia. Resistance to Germany was manifest among both communists and anticommunists, who began to battle each other after Germany withdrew in 1944. Civil war erupted in 1946 and the communists were defeated, though this did not bring on political stability. Greece endured an astonishing sixteen governments between 1946 and 1952 until a new constitution was drafted that would secure the stability of the government. Greece joined NATO in 1951. King Constantine was deposed in a military coup in 1967. Though he tried to mount a counter-coup, it failed and he went into exile. From 1967 to 1974, a military junta ruled the country. The regime's failure to successfully intervene in Cyprus, which sparked the Turkish invasion of the island, led to the junta's collapse. A republic was established and a new constitution adopted in 1975. Greece was restored to full military membership in NATO in 1980 but shortly thereafter, the stridently anti-American, anti-EU, and anti-NATO government of Papandreou came to power. Papandreou and Greece were shaken and embarrassed when Palestinian terrorists conducted several attacks in the country. Papandreou's control of the country continued through the 1980s and into the 1990s until he resigned because of ill health in 1996. Economically, Greece still has a distance to go -- it failed to meet the EU criteria for taking part in the European Monetary Union in 1998 but is expected to try again in 2002. And the Cyprus situation still simmers between Turkey and Greece.

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