Three different seas lap gently onto the shores of Greece;
The Aegean Sea, The Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean. If you count the 227 Greek Islands, this country has the undisputed longest coastline in the World. Therefore, it is not surprising that Greece offers plenty of expertise in holiday sailing and yacht charter. European Yacht Charters can offer more availability in Greece than any other country in the world.
Greece sits on the southern end of the Mediterranean Balkan Peninsula, sharing land borders with several other countries. Hence, Albania is to the northwest and Bulgaria and Macedonia are to the far north. Additionally, the Turkish border is to the northeast. The country is made up of nine geographic regions: Central Greece, Macedonia, Thessaly, the Peloponnese, the Aegean Islands, Epirus, Thrace, Crete, and the Ionian Islands. Notably, Crete is the largest Mediterranean island and most famous for tourism. Rhodes and Lesbos are next in line for visitor popularity. The islands all have something special to offer, for every type of holidaymaker.
Eighty per cent of Greece is mountainous. The highest peak is Mount Olympus at 2,918 metres. Other mountains regions include the Pindus Range. The range is recognised by its steep-faced mountains dissected by canyons. The spectacular Vikos Gorge is part of the Vikos-Aoos National Park in the Pindus mountains. Notably, the Guinness Book of World Records lists Vikos as the deepest gorge in the world. Another magnificent elevation is the Meteora. These extraordinary rock pillars have a medieval Greek Orthodox monastery, right at the top.
The northeast of Greece features a further mountain chain; the Rhodope range. Vast ancient forests cover the Rhodope highlands. This dense woodland provides a home to the endangered brown bear. Additionally, this Mediterranean region is home to several rare and endangered marine species. For example, the pinniped (flipper-footed) seal and the loggerhead sea turtle only exist in Greek waters.
Athens was host city to the very first modern Olympic Games that took place in 1896. The government chose Athens because of its landscape. The city presents a view of the entire Attica Basin from the top of the highest hill.
From Athens, there are regular car ferries to Kefalonia, Ithaca and Meganissi. Therefore, it is easy to move between islands. Alternatively, you can charter a yacht from Athen’s to sail yourself.
The birthplace of Democracy
The birthplace of Western Mediterranean civilisation and Democracy is considered to be Greece. At the end of the Dark Ages, there were various kingdoms and city-states across the peninsula. Henceforth, the division of power spread across the seas to southern Italy and Asia Minor. Subsequently, the nations and their colonies became very prosperous leading to a cultural boom. Notably, the richness of classical Greece appears in philosophy, architecture, drama, science and mathematics. The Greek, Cleisthenes, created the world’s first democratic system of government in Athens in 508 BC.
The Roman Empire absorbed Greece in the second century BC. Fast forward to the 14th-century, when the fall of Constantinople led to the Ottoman conquest of mainland Greece. Greeks who lived in the Ionian Islands and Constantinople became prosperous. However, much of the population of the rest of Greece suffered the consequences. Heavy taxes, plus a policy of creating hereditary estates, turned Greek farmers effectively into serfs.
Turkish domination continued despite efforts by the Greeks. However, during the 18th century, a wealthy Greek merchant class arose. By establishing trade throughout the Mediterranean, the Balkans, and Western Europe. Rigas Feraios was the first revolutionary to envision an independent Greek state. He wrote a national anthem and the first detailed map of Greece. He was murdered by Ottoman agents in 1798, in Vienna.
The makeshift Greek navy finally began to achieve success against the Ottomans. Turks and Egyptians ravaged the Greek islands committing massacres in 1822 and 1824. This galvanised public opinion in western Europe in favour of the Greek rebels.
Different Greek factions developed tensions leading to two civil wars. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Sultan negotiated with Egypt. The Egyptian, Ibrahim Pasha, arrived in Greece with his army to suppress the revolution.
After years of negotiation, three Great Powers; Russia, the United Kingdom, and France intervened. The allied fleet intercepted and destroyed the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet at Navarino. The London Protocol Agreement showed recognition of The Greek State in 1830.
The Greco-Italian War 1941
Fascist Italy demanded the surrender of Greece in October 1940. The Greek administration refused. Greece managed to repel the Italian forces pushing them into Albania. This gave the Allies their first victory over Axis forces on land. The Allies praised the Greeks. Winston Churchill stated: “Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but we will say that heroes fight like Greeks.”
World War II
However, the country fell to German forces during the Battle of Greece, despite fierce Greek resistance. Adolf Hitler recognised the bravery and the courage of the Greek army. He addressed the Reichstag on 11 December 1941 saying: “Historical justice obliges me to state that of enemies who took up positions against us, the Greek soldier especially fought with the highest courage.”
Nazi occupation brought terrible hardship to the Greek civilian population. More than 100,000 civilians died of starvation during the winter of 1941. Tens of thousands more suffered or died in Nazi reprisals. Nazi soldiers in concentration camps murdered thousands of Greek Jews. Consequently, the Greek Resistance fought vehemently against the Nazis. They were one of the most effective resistance movements of the war.
Eventually, Athens celebrated liberation from the Axis powers in 1944. Continuing issues led the country into a bloody civil war between communist forces and the anti-communist Greek government. The conflict resulted in further economic devastation for Greece.
King Constantine II ruled until a coup d’état in 1967 by the Regime of the Colonels. A counter-coup established Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannidis as the country’s leader. In July 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus in response to a Greek-backed Cypriot coup. The political crisis caused by this later led to the regime’s collapse. Traditionally strained relations with neighbouring Turkey only improved when successive earthquakes hit both nations in 1999. Greece hosted the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens.
The country adopted the euro in 2001. However, Greece suffered dramatically from the late-2000s recession. Consequently, the Mediterranean economy is still unstable causing concern for the European Monetary Commission.