Republic in southeastern Europe.
Greece was the center of the Minoan civilization of Crete during the 2nd
millennium B.C., and of the Hellenic civilization after c. 800 B.C.
After the 7th and 8th centuries B.C., Greek colonies were established
throughout the Mediterranean, producing a civilization that greatly
influenced subsequent European development. The conquests of Alexander
the Great spread Greek culture throughout western Asia, and Alexandrine
successor states maintained Greek cultural dominance in the Middle East
and northern India for two centuries. By 146 B.C., Greece was conquered
by Rome, although the Romans soon became thoroughly Hellenized and so
perpetuated Greece's cultural influence. Greece remained a part of the
Eastern Roman Empire until it was occupied by the French and Italian
crusaders. In 1456, the country was conquered by the Ottoman Turks.
Greek nationalism began to emerge in the late 18th century, culminating
in revolution in 1821. By 1832, Greece had become an independent kingdom.
Greece has since expanded to include Greek-speaking territories in the
southern Balkans, as well as Crete and the Aegean Islands. The period
1912-19 saw the rapid expansion of Greece's borders, producing many
occupation issues. Greece successfully resisted an Italian invasion in
1940, but German intervention in 1941 brought the country's rapid defeat
and occupation by Germany, Italy and Bulgaria. Communist elements,
defeated by the royalist government and Britain in 1944-45, waged a
guerrilla war against the regime during 1947-49. The communists were
suppressed, with U.S. assistance. In the postwar years, Greece
experienced rapid economic growth. Increasing tension between liberal
and conservative factions, however, brought a military coup in 1967.
After unsuccessfully attempting to moderate the harshness of the regime,
King Constantine and the royal family fled the country. In 1973, this
government was overthrown in a second military coup. The new government,
in turn, was overthrown in 1974, and democratic civilian government was