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A map of GreeceA map of Greece Greece is often regarded as the birthplace of Western civilization. Cities began to grow up here 5000 years ago. Greece is a mountainous country: the Pindos range stretches down the peninsula from north to south, while rising in the northeast of the country are the Rhodope Mountains. The land is covered in scrub, a mixture of herbs and tangled shrubs known as maquis. At the mainland’s southern tip is the Peloponnese peninsula. Offshore, hundreds of islands lie scattered in the Aegean, eastern Mediterranean and Ionian seas, the largest being Crete. Greece has a warm, sunny Mediterranean climate. Winters are mild to cold; in the highest mountains, it occasionally snows.

A map of GreeceA map of Greece
Cafés in the Plaka area of AthensCafés in the Plaka area of Athens


Modern Greeks are the descendants of an ancient people who farmed the southern Balkan peninsula around 9000 years ago. Today, about one third of the population lives in and around the large, crowded city of Athens. Many of the rest also live in cities. Greece is a modern, developed country and most people have a high standard of living. Families are close; children traditionally live with their families until they marry.

On the Greek island of Hydra, no vehicles are allowed. The only way to get around is by bicycle, donkey or on foot.

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