Greece has a history stretching back more than 5,000 years. Its people, called Hellenes, having settled vast areas of the Black Sea (Efxinos Pontos) and the Mediterranean travelled all around their surroundings, organizing their states, creating commercial settlements, and exploring the further world, from the Caucasus to the Atlantic and from Scandinavia to Ethiopia. A famous expedition of a coalition of maritime states (the Danaë - people of the sea) sieged Troy as narrated in the first great European literary work ("Epos"), Homer's Iliad. Numerous Greek settlements were founded throughout the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, Asia Minor, Middle East, the Ionian Gulf (Adriatic Sea), the Italian Peninsula, South France, Southeast Spain and the coast of North Africa as a result of travels in search of new settlements and markets.
During the Classical period (5th century B.C.), Greece was composed of smaller or larger states in various international forms (simple, federated, federal, confederated) and internal ones (monarchies, tyrannies, oligarchies, constitutional democracies, etc) the most famous being Athens, followed by Sparta and Thebes. A fierce spirit of independence and love of freedom enabled the Greeks to defeat the Persians, the super power of the time, in battles which are famous in the history of civilization-Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis and Plataea.
In the second half of the 4th century B.C. many Greek states' forming an Alliance (Cnon of Corinth) led by Alexander the Great as President and Commander in Chief (Emperor) of the Alliance, King of the Macedonians ("Yunani takabara" in ancient persian) declared war to Persia, liberating mainly their occupied brethren, the Ionians, and conquering most of the then known world. The result was a hellenized society from Northern India to Western Mediteranean and from Southern Russia to Ethiopia (Nubia) and the Gulf.
In 146 before our Era, the Alliance mentioned above fell to the Romans. In 330 A.D. the capital of the state of the Romans was established at a new site, New Rome or Constantinople, a popular form, a name commemorating the Emperor of the Romans, at the time, Constantine Chloros (Constantine the Great). Historians since 19th century prefer, for reference reasons, to call the remaining period as Byzantine with the aim to distinguish the 2203 years of the state of the Romans into two periods. During this second period the Classical Hellenized world of Ancient Greece was transformed into the modern world of the western and christian civilization. The word Byzantium was taken from a previously existing state (Byzantium, Megara being the Metropolis) at the site of the new capital, Constantinople.
After the capital and the state fell to the Turks in 1453, the Greeks remained under the Ottoman yoke for nearly 400 years. During this time their language, their religion and their sense of identity remained strong, resulting in many unsuccesful revolutions of independence.
On March 25, 1821, the Greeks revolted again, this time succesfully, and by 1828 they had won their independence. As the new state comprised only a tiny fraction of their modern country, the struggle for liberation of all the lands inhabited by Greeks continued. In 1864, the Ionian islands were united with Greece; in 1881 parts of Epirus and Thessaly. Crete, the islands of the Eastern Aegean and Macedonia were added in 1913 and Western Thrace in 1919. After World War II the Dodecanese islands were also returned to Greece.
Today, Greece is a state Member of the E.U. (1981), and the Euro monetery-finacial-economic system.