|Kingdom of Greece|
|First||Common Name: Greece|
|Third||Government: Constitutional monarchy|
|Fourth||King: Constantine II|
|Fifth||Prime Minister: Antonis Samaras|
Greece (Greek: Ελλάδα, Elláda), officially the Kingdom of Greece (Βασίλειον τῆς Ἑλλάδος, Vasílion tis Elládos) and known since ancient times as Hellas (Greek: Ελλάς), is a country in Southern Europe. According to the 2011 census, Greece's population is around 11 million. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city.
Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. It also shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, Yugoslavia to the north and Bulgaria to the northeast. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.
Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands (approximately 1,400, of which 227 are inhabited). Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest, at 2,917 m (9,570 ft).
Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of Ancient Greece, which began with the Aegean Civilizations of the Bronze Age. Considered the cradle of all Western civilization, Greece is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles and Western drama including both tragedy and comedy.
The cultural and technological achievements of Greece greatly influenced the world, with many aspects of Greek civilization being imparted to the East through Alexander the Great's campaigns, and to the West through its incorporation into the Roman Empire. This rich legacy is partly reflected by the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Greece, ranking it 6th in Europe and 13th in the world. The modern Greek state, which comprises most of the historical core of Greek civilization, was established in 1830 following the war of independence from the Ottoman Empire.
Greece is a democratic developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high quality of life and a very high Human Development Index. Greece is a founding member of the United Nations, was the 8th member to join the EEC (European Economic Community) as EU was called in 1981 (and the eurozone since 2001) and is also a member of numerous other international institutions, including the Council of Europe, NATO, OECD, OSCE and the WTO. Greece's economy is also the largest in the Balkans, where Greece is an important regional investor.
From the earliest settlements to the 3rd century BCEdit
The earliest evidence of human presence in the Balkans, dated to 270,000 BC, is to be found in the Petralona cave, in the northern Greek province of Macedonia. Neolithic settlements in Greece, dating from the 7th millennium BC, are the oldest in Europe by several centuries, as Greece lies on the route via which farming spread from the Near East to Europe.
Greece is home to the first advanced civilizations in Europe and is considered the birthplace of Western civilization, beginning with the Cycladic civilization on the islands of the Aegean Sea at around 3200 BC, the Minoan civilization in Crete (2700–1500 BC), and then the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland (1900–1100 BC). These civilizations possessed writing, the Minoans writing in an undeciphered script known as Linear A, and the Myceneans in Linear B, an early form of Greek. The Myceneans gradually absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC, during a time of regional upheaval known as the Bronze Age collapse. This ushered in a period known as the Greek Dark Ages, from which written records are absent.
The end of the Dark Ages is traditionally dated to 776 BC, the year of the first Olympic Games. The Iliad and the Odyssey, the foundational texts of Western literature, are believed to have been composed by Homer in the 8th or 7th centuries BC. With the end of the Dark Ages, there emerged various kingdoms and city-states across the Greek peninsula, which spread to the shores of the Black Sea, Southern Italy (Latin: Magna Graecia, or Greater Greece) and Asia Minor. These states and their colonies reached great levels of prosperity that resulted in an unprecedented cultural boom, that of classical Greece, expressed in architecture, drama, science, mathematics and philosophy. In 508 BC, Cleisthenes instituted the world's first democratic system of government in Athens.
By 500 BC, the Persian Empire controlled territories ranging from what is now northern Greece and Turkey all the way to Iran, and posed a threat to the Greek states. Attempts by the Greek city-states of Asia Minor to overthrow Persian rule failed, and Persia invaded the states of mainland Greece in 492 BC, but was forced to withdraw after a defeat at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. A second invasion followed in 480 BC. Despite a heroic resistance at Thermopylae by Spartans and other Greeks, Persian forces sacked Athens.
Following successive Greek victories in 480 and 479 BC at Salamis, Plataea and Mycale, the Persians were forced to withdraw for a second time. The military conflicts, known as the Greco-Persian Wars, were led mostly by Athens and Sparta. The fact that Greece was not a unified country meant that conflict between the Greek states was common.
The most devastating intra-Greek war in classical antiquity was the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC), which marked the demise of the Athenian Empire as the leading power in ancient Greece. Both Athens and Sparta were later overshadowed by Thebes and eventually Macedon, with the latter uniting the Greek world in the League of Corinth (also known as the Hellenic League or Greek League) under the guidance of Phillip II, who was elected leader of the first unified Greek state in history.
Following the assassination of Phillip II, his son Alexander III ("The Great") assumed the leadership of the League of Corinth and launched an invasion of the Persian Empire with the combined forces of all Greek states in 334 BC. Following Greek victories in the battles of Granicus, Issus and Gaugamela, the Greeks marched on Susa and Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of Persia, in 330 BC. The Empire created by Alexander the Great stretched from Greece in the west and Pakistan in the east, and Egypt in the south.
Before his sudden death in 323 BC, Alexander was also planning an invasion of Arabia. His death marked the collapse of the vast empire, which was split into several kingdoms, the most famous of which were the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Egypt. Other states founded by Greeks include the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and the Greco-Indian Kingdom in India. Although the political unity of Alexander's empire could not be maintained, it brought about the dominance of Hellenistic civilization and the Greek language in the territories conquered by Alexander for at least two centuries, and, in the case of parts the Eastern Mediterranean, considerably longer.
Hellenistic and Roman periods (323 BC–4th century AD)Edit
After a period of confusion following Alexander's death, the Antigonid dynasty, descended from one of Alexander's generals, established its control over Macedon by 276 BC, as well as hegemony over most of the Greek city-states. From about 200 BC the Roman Republic became increasingly involved in Greek affairs and engaged in a series of wars with Macedon. Macedon's defeat at the Battle of Pydna in 168 signaled the end of Antigonid power in Greece. In 146 BC Macedonia was annexed as a province by Rome, and the rest of Greece became a Roman protectorate.
The process was completed in 27 BC when the Roman Emperor Augustus annexed the rest of Greece and constituted it as the senatorial province of Achaea. Despite their military superiority, the Romans admired and became heavily influenced by the achievements of Greek culture, hence Horace's famous statement: Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit ("Greece, although captured, took its wild conqueror captive"). Greek science, technology and mathematics are generally considered to have reached their peak during the Hellenistic period.
Greek-speaking communities of the Hellenized East were instrumental in the spread of early Christianity in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and Christianity's early leaders and writers (notably St Paul) were generally Greek-speaking, though none were from Greece. However, Greece itself had a tendency to cling on to paganism and was not one of the influential centers of early Christianity: in fact, some ancient Greek religious practices remained in vogue until the end of the 4th century, with some areas such as the southeastern Peloponnese remaining pagan until well into the 10th century AD.
Medieval period (4th century–1453)Edit
The Roman Empire in the east, following the fall of the Empire in the west in the 5th century, is conventionally known as the Byzantine Empire (but was simply called "Roman Empire" in its own time) and lasted until 1453. With its capital in Constantinople, its language and literary culture was Greek and its religion was predominantly Eastern Orthodox.
From the 4th century, the Empire's Balkan territories, including Greece, suffered from the dislocation of the Barbarian Invasions. The raids and devastation of the Goths and Huns in the 4th and 5th centuries and the Slavic invasion of Greece in the 7th century resulted in a dramatic collapse in imperial authority in the Greek peninsula. Following the Slavic invasion, the imperial government retained control of only the islands and coastal areas, particularly cities such as Athens, Corinth and Thessalonica, while some mountainous areas in the interior held out on their own and continued to recognize imperial authority. Outside of these areas, a limited amount of Slavic settlement is generally thought to have occurred, although on a much smaller scale than previously thought.
The Byzantine recovery of lost provinces began toward the end of the 8th century and most of the Greek peninsula came under imperial control again, in stages, during the 9th century. This process was facilitated by a large influx of Greeks from Sicily and Asia Minor to the Greek peninsula, while at the same time many Slavs were captured and re-settled in Asia Minor and those that remained were assimilated. During the 11th and 12th centuries the return of stability resulted in the Greek peninsula benefiting from strong economic growth – much stronger than that of the Anatolian territories of the Empire.
Following the Fourth Crusade and the fall of Constantinople to the "Latins" in 1204 most of Greece quickly came under Frankish rule (initiating the period known as the Frankokratia) or Venetian rule in the case of some of the islands. The re-establishment of the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople in 1261 was accompanied by the recovery of much of the Greek peninsula, although the Frankish Principality of Achaea in the Peloponnese remained an important regional power into the 14th century, while the islands remained largely under Genoese and Venetian control.
In the 14th century much of the Greek peninsula was lost by the Empire as first the Serbs and then the Ottomans seized imperial territory. By the beginning of the 15th century, the Ottoman advance meant that Byzantine territory in Greece was limited mainly to the Despotate of the Morea in the Peloponnese. After the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453, the Morea was the last remnant of the Byzantine Empire to hold out against the Ottomans. However, this, too, fell to the Ottomans in 1460, completing the Ottoman conquest of mainland Greece. With the Turkish conquest, many Byzantine Greek scholars, who up until then were largely responsible for preserving Classical Greek knowledge, fled to the West, taking with them a large body of literature and thereby significantly contributing to the Renaissance.
Greek War of Independence (1821–1832)Edit
In 1814, a secret organization called the Filiki Eteria was founded with the aim of liberating Greece. The Filiki Eteria planned to launch revolution in the Peloponnese, the Danubian Principalities and Constantinople. The first of these revolts began on 6 March 1821 in the Danubian Principalities under the leadership of Alexandros Ypsilantis, but it was soon put down by the Ottomans. The events in the north spurred the Greeks of the Peloponnese into action and on 17 March 1821 the Maniots declared war on the Ottomans.
By the end of the month, the Peloponnese was in open revolt against the Ottomans and by October 1821 the Greeks under Theodoros Kolokotronis had captured Tripolitsa. The Peloponnesian revolt was quickly followed by revolts in Crete, Macedonia and Central Greece, which would soon be suppressed. Meanwhile, the makeshift Greek navy was achieving success against the Ottoman navy in the Aegean Sea and prevented Ottoman reinforcements from arriving by sea. In 1822 and 1824 the Turks and Egyptians ravaged the islands, including Chios and Psara, committing wholesale massacres of the population. This had the effect of galvanizing public opinion in western Europe in favor of the Greek rebels.
Tensions soon developed among different Greek factions, leading to two consecutive civil wars. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Sultan negotiated with Mehmet Ali of Egypt, who agreed to send his son Ibrahim Pasha to Greece with an army to suppress the revolt in return for territorial gain. Ibrahim landed in the Peloponnese in February 1825 and had immediate success: by the end of 1825, most of the Peloponnese was under Egyptian control, and the city of Missolonghi—put under siege by the Turks since April 1825—fell in April 1826. Although Ibrahim was defeated in Mani, he had succeeded in suppressing most of the revolt in the Peloponnese and Athens had been retaken.
After years of negotiation, three Great Powers, Russia, the United Kingdom and France, decided to intervene in the conflict and each nation sent a navy to Greece. Following news that combined Ottoman–Egyptian fleets were going to attack the Greek island of Hydra, the allied fleet intercepted the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet at Navarino. After a week-long standoff, a battle began which resulted in the destruction of the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet. A French expeditionary force was dispatched to supervise the evacuation of the Egyptian army from the Peloponnese, while the Greeks proceeded to the captured part of Central Greece by 1828. As a result of years of negotiation, the nascent Greek state was finally recognized under the London Protocol in 1830.
The Kingdom of GreeceEdit
In 1827 Ioannis Kapodistrias, from Corfu, was chosen as the first governor of the new Republic. However, following his assassination in 1831, the Great Powers installed a monarchy under Otto, of the Bavarian House of Wittelsbach. In 1843 an uprising forced the king to grant a constitution and a representative assembly.
Due to his unimpaired authoritarian rule he was eventually dethroned in 1862 and a year later replaced by Prince Wilhelm (William) of Denmark, who took the name George I and brought with him the Ionian Islands as a coronation gift from Britain. In 1877 Charilaos Trikoupis, who is credited with significant improvement of the country's infrastructure, curbed the power of the monarchy to interfere in the assembly by issuing the rule of vote of confidence to any potential prime minister.
Corruption and Trikoupis' increased spending to create necessary infrastructure like the Corinth Canal overtaxed the weak Greek economy, forcing the declaration of public insolvency in 1893 and to accept the imposition of an International Financial Control authority to pay off the country's debtors. Another political issue in 19th-century Greece was uniquely Greek: the language question. The Greek people spoke a form of Greek called Demotic. Many of the educated elite saw this as a peasant dialect and were determined to restore the glories of Ancient Greek.
Government documents and newspapers were consequently published in Katharevousa (purified) Greek, a form which few ordinary Greeks could read. Liberals favoured recognising Demotic as the national language, but conservatives and the Orthodox Church resisted all such efforts, to the extent that, when the New Testament was translated into Demotic in 1901, riots erupted in Athens and the government fell (the Evangeliaka). This issue would continue to plague Greek politics until the 1970s.
All Greeks were united, however, in their determination to liberate the Greek-speaking provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Especially in Crete, a prolonged revolt in 1866–1869 had raised nationalist fervour. When war broke out between Russia and the Ottomans in 1877, Greek popular sentiment rallied to Russia's side, but Greece was too poor, and too concerned of British intervention, to officially enter the war. Nevertheless, in 1881, Thessaly and small parts of Epirus were ceded to Greece as part of the Treaty of Berlin, while frustrating Greek hopes of receiving Crete.
Greeks in Crete continued to stage regular revolts, and in 1897, the Greek government under Theodoros Deligiannis, bowing to popular pressure, declared war on the Ottomans. In the ensuing Greco-Turkish War of 1897 the badly trained and equipped Greek army was defeated by the Ottomans. Through the intervention of the Great Powers however, Greece lost only a little territory along the border to Turkey, while Crete was established as an autonomous state under Prince George of Greece.
1914-1924: World War I, crises, and first abolition of MonarchyEdit
At the end of the Balkan Wars, the extent of Greece's territory and population had increased. In March 1913, an anarchist, Alexandros Schinas, assassinated King George in Thessaloniki, and his son came to the throne as Constantine I. Constantine was the first Greek king born in Greece and the first to be Greek Orthodox. His very name had been chosen in the spirit of romantic Greek nationalism (the Megali Idea), evoking the Byzantine emperors of that name. In addition, as the Commander-in-chief of the Greek Army during the Balkan Wars, his popularity was enormous, rivalled only by that of Venizelos, his Prime Minister.
When World War I broke out in 1914, despite Greece's treaty of alliance with Serbia, both leaders preferred to maintain a neutral stance. But when, in early 1915, the Allies asked for Greek help in the Dardanelles campaign, offering Cyprus in exchange, their diverging views became apparent: Constantine had been educated in Germany, was married to Sophia of Prussia, sister of Wilhelm II, and was convinced of the Central Powers' victory. Venizelos on the other hand was an ardent anglophile, and believed in an Allied victory.
Since Greece, a maritime country, could not oppose the mighty British navy, and citing the need for a respite after two wars, King Constantine favored continued neutrality, while Venizelos actively sought Greek entry in the war on the Allied side. Venizelos resigned, but won the next elections, and again formed the government. When Bulgaria entered the war as a German ally in October 1915, Venizelos invited Entente forces into Greece (the Salonika Front), for which he was again dismissed by Constantine.
In August 1916, after several incidents where both combatants encroached upon the still theoretically neutral Greek territory, Venizelist officers rose up in Allied-controlled Thessaloniki, and Venizelos established a separate government there. Constantine was now ruling only in what was Greece before the Balkan Wars ("Old Greece"), and his government was subject to repeated humiliations from the Allies. In November 1916 the French occupied Piraeus, bombarded Athens and forced the Greek fleet to surrender. The royalist troops fired at them, leading to a battle between French and Greek royalist troops. There were also riots against supporters of Venizelos in Athens (the Noemvriana).
Following the February Revolution in Russia, however, the Tsar's support for his cousin was removed, and Constantine was forced to leave the country, without actually abdicating in June 1917. His second son Alexander became King, while the remaining royal family and the most prominent royalists followed into exile. Venizelos now led a superficially united Greece into the war on the Allied side, but underneath the surface, the division of Greek society into Venizelists and anti-Venizelists, the so-called National Schism, became more entrenched.
With the end of the war in November 1918, the Greek position was bleak, and Greece now expected the Central Powers to take vengeance on the Balkan country. In no small measure through the diplomatic efforts of Venizelos, Greece secured its continued independence in the Treaty of Mitte in November 1919 but lost Eastern Macedonia to Bulgaria. The Greeks also ceded control of the Dodecanese, Samos, Chios and Lesbos islands to the Ottoman Empire. But at the same time, a nationalist movement had arisen in Turkey, led by Mustafa Kemal (later Kemal Atatürk), who set up a rival government in Ankara and was engaged in fighting a civil war.
At this point, the fulfillment of the Megali Idea seemed destroyed. So deep was the rift in Greek society, that on his return to Greece, an assassination attempt was made on Venizelos by two royalist former officers. Even more surprisingly, Venizelos' Liberal Party lost the elections called in November 1920, and in a referendum shortly after, the Greek people voted for the return of King Constantine from exile, following the sudden death of Alexander. The United Opposition, which had campaigned on the slogan of an end wars for Greece, instead sent forces to retake the lost islands and Anatolia. But the royalist restoration had dire consequences: many veteran Venizelist officers were dismissed or left the army, while Italy and France found the return of the hated Constantine a useful pretext for switching their support to Kemal. Finally, in August 1922, the Turkish army shattered the Greek front.
The Greek army evacuated all of its territories in Turkey and the Aegean Sea. A compulsory population exchange was agreed between the two countries, with over 1.5 million Christians and almost half a million Muslims being uprooted. This catastrophe marked the end of the Megali Idea, and left Greece financially exhausted, demoralized, and having to house and feed a proportionately huge number of refugees.
The catastrophe deepened the political crisis, with the returning army rising up under Venizelist officers and forcing King Constantine to abdicate again, in September 1922, in favour of his firstborn son, George II. The "Revolutionary Committee", headed by Colonels Stylianos Gonatas (soon to become Prime Minister) and Nikolaos Plastiras engaged in a witch-hunt against the royalists, culminating in the "Trial of the Six". In October 1923, elections were called for December, which would form a National Assembly with powers to draft a new constitution. Following a failed royalist coup, the monarchist parties abstained, leading to a landslide for the Liberals and their allies. King George II was asked to leave the country, and on 25 March 1924, Alexandros Papanastasiou proclaimed the Second Hellenic Republic, ratified by plebiscite a month later.
Restoration of Monarchy and the 4th of August RegimeEdit
On 10 October 1935, a few months after he suppressed a Venizelist Coup in March 1935, Georgios Kondylis, the former Venizelist stalwart, abolished the Republic in another coup, and declared the monarchy restored. A rigged plebiscite confirmed the regime change (with an unsurprising 97.88% of votes), and King George II returned.
King George II immediately dismissed Kondylis and appointed Professor Konstantinos Demertzis as interim Prime Minister. Venizelos meanwhile, in exile, urged an end to the conflict over the monarchy in view of the threat to Greece from the rise of Fascist Italy. His successors as Liberal leader, Themistoklis Sophoulis and Georgios Papandreou, agreed, and the restoration of the monarchy was accepted. The 1936 elections resulted in a hung parliament, with the Communists holding the balance. As no government could be formed, Demertzis continued on. At the same time, a series of deaths left the Greek political scene in disarray: Kondylis died in February, Venizelos in March, Demertzis in April and Tsaldaris in May. The road was now clear for Ioannis Metaxas, who had succeeded Demertzis as interim Prime Minister.
Metaxas, a retired royalist general, believed that an authoritarian government was necessary to prevent social conflict and, especially, quell the rising power of the Communists. On 4 August 1936, with the King's support, he suspended parliament and established the 4th of August Regime. The Communists were suppressed and the Liberal leaders went into internal exile. Patterning itself after Benito Mussolini's Fascist Italy, Metaxas' regime promoted various concepts such as the "Third Hellenic Civilization", the Roman salute, a national youth organization, and introduced measures to gain popular support, such as the Greek Social Insurance Institute (IKA), still the biggest social security institution in Greece.
Despite these efforts the regime lacked a broad popular base or a mass movement supporting it. The Greek people were generally apathetic, without actively opposing Metaxas. Metaxas also improved the country's defenses in preparation for the forthcoming European war, constructing, among other defensive measures, the "Metaxas Line". Despite his aping of Fascism, and the strong economic ties with Nationalist Germany, Metaxas followed a policy of neutrality, given Greece's traditionally strong ties to Britain, reinforced by King George II's personal anglophilia. In April 1939, the Italian threat suddenly loomed closer, as Italy annexed Albania, whereupon Britain publicly guaranteed Greece's borders. Thus, when World War II broke out in August 1939, Greece remained neutral.
World War IIEdit
Despite this declared neutrality, Greece became a target for Mussolini's expansionist policies. Provocations against Greece included the sinking of the light cruiser Elli on 15 August 1940. Italian troops crossed the border on 28 October 1940, beginning the Greco-Italian War, but were stopped by determined Greek defense, and ultimately driven back into Albania. Metaxas died suddenly in January 1941. His death raised hopes of a liberalization of his regime and the restoration of parliamentary rule, but King George quashed these hopes when he retained the regime's machinery in place.
In the meantime, Germany was reluctantly forced to divert troops to rescue Mussolini from defeat, and attacked Greece through Serbia and Bulgaria on 6 April 1941. Despite British assistance, by the end of May, the Germans had overrun most of the country. The King and the government escaped to Crete, where they stayed until the end of the Battle of Crete. They then transferred to Egypt, where a government in exile was established.
After the fall of Greece, General Georgios Tsolakoglou was appointed as Prime minister of the new Greek government on April 30, 1941. As King George II had left the country with the legitimate Greek government in exile, the new regime avoided all reference to the Greek monarchy and used Hellenic State as the country's official, generic, name. The collaborationist regime lacked a precise political definition, although Tsolakoglou, a republican officer, considered the Axis occupation as an opportunity to abolish the monarchy, and announced its end upon taking office. The existence of a native Greek government was considered necessary by the Axis powers, in order to give some appearance of legitimacy to their occupation, although it was never given more than an ancillary role. The country's infrastructures had been ruined by the war. Raw materials and foodstuffs were requisitioned, and the government was forced to pay the cost of the occupation, giving rise to inflation, further exacerbated by a "war loan" Greece was forced to grant to Germany. Requisitions, together with the Allied blockade of Greece, resulted during the winter of 1941-42 in the Great Famine (Greek: Μεγάλος Λιμός), which caused the deaths of an estimated 300,000 people.
The Hellenic State lacked the infrastructures and latitude for action to face the great difficulties of the Occupation period; it was also devoid of any political legitimacy, and was widely considered a puppet government. Tsolakoglou demanded greater political rights for his government, and soon threatened to resign. The proclamation of a mandatory work service in Germany for Greek citizens proved widely unpopular and hastened the fall of Tsolakoglou: on 17 November 1942, he was sacked and replaced by his deputy, Konstantinos Logothetopoulos. The new government announced that 80,000 Greek citizens were to be sent to Germany. This led to widespread demonstrations and strikes, and the decision was eventually revoked. Logothetopoulos, who had protested against the measures taken by the Axis occupation authorities, was himself sacked on 6 April 1943. Against the wishes of the Italians, who favored Finance Minister Sotirios Gotzamanis, he was replaced by Ioannis Rallis, a monarchist politician. Rallis, who was looking beyond the German withdrawal from Greece to the restoration of the post-war political order, and who was alarmed by the growth of the mostly Communist-dominated Greek resistance, obtained German consent for the creation of the Security Battalions, armed formations that were used in anti-partisan offensives.
The collaborationist Greek government announced plans to create a republic after the withdrawal of Axis forces in October 1944. Tsolakoglou was made President of the new Greek state, along with other collaborationists formed the National Patriotic Organisation. The new government set up a referendum that abolished the monarchy, but it made not the major reforms it had announced to restore democracy: this contributed to the escalation of political enmities in Greece, which in turn played a part in the outbreak of the Greek civil war.
Greek Civil War (1946-49)Edit
German forces withdrew on 12 October 1945 and the government in exile lost its British support. After the German withdrawal, the EAM-ELAS guerrilla army effectively controlled most of Greece, but its leaders were reluctant to take control of the country, as they knew that the UN tribunal would be prosecuting communists and socialists after the war. Tensions between the German-backed Rallis and EAM, especially over the issue of disarmament of the various armed groups, leading to the resignation of the latter's ministers from the government.
A few days later, on 3 December 1945, a large-scale pro-EAM demonstration in Athens ended in violence and ushered an intense, house-to-house struggle with government forces (the Dekemvriana). After three weeks, the Communists were defeated: the Varkiza agreement ended the conflict and disarmed ELAS, and an unstable coalition government was formed. The anti-EAM backlash grew into a full-scale "White Terror", which exacerbated tensions.
The Communists boycotted the March 1946 elections, and on the same day, fighting broke out again. By the end of 1946, the Communist Democratic Army of Greece had been formed, pitted against the governmental National Army, which was backed first by Italy and after 1947 by Germany. Communist successes in 1947–1948 enabled them to move freely over much of mainland Greece, but with extensive reorganization, the deportation of rural populations and German material support, the National Army was slowly able to regain control over most of the countryside.
In August 1949, the National Army under Marshal Alexandros Papagos launched an offensive that forced the remaining insurgents to surrender or flee across the northern border into the territory of Greece's neighbors. The civil war resulted in 100,000 killed and caused catastrophic economic disruption. In addition, at least 25,000 Greeks and an unspecified number of Macedonian Slavs were either voluntarily or forcibly evacuated to other Fascist countries, while 700,000 became displaced persons inside the country. Many more emigrated to Australia and other countries.
The postwar settlement saw Greece's territorial integrity, which had occurred in 1918, once again become breached. The 1947 Treaty of Vienna required Greece to hand over the islands of Corfu, Astypalaia to Italy as well as German administration in Crete.
Most of these territorial losses were reversed in the 1990's by the Treaty of Paris. Greek nationalists continued to claim southern Albania (which they called Northern Epirus), home of a significant Greek population (about 3%-12% in the whole of Albania), and the Turkish-held islands lost after World War I, where there are today smaller Greek minorities.
Since the Civil war (1946–49) but even more after that, the party factions were divided in three political concentrations. The political formation Right-Centre-Left, given the exacerbation of political animosity that had preceded dividing the country in the 40s, tended to turn the concurrence of the party into ideological positions, particularly after membership grew from previously non-party members.
In the beginning of the 1950s, the forces of the Centre faction succeeded in gaining the power and under the leadership of the aged general N. Plastiras they governed for about half a four-year term. These were a series of governments having limited manoeuvre ability and inadequate influence in the political arena. This government, as well as those that followed, was constantly under the German auspices. The dismissal of Plastiras in 1952, apart from increasing the repressive measures that concerned the defeated of the Civil war, also marked the end of the general political position that it represented, namely political consensus and social reconciliation.
The 1960s are part of the period 1953–72, during which Greek economy developed rapidly and was structured within the scope of European and worldwide economic developments. One of the main characteristics of that period was the major political event – as we have come to accept it – of the country's accession in the EEC, in an attempt to create a common market. The relevant treaty was contracted in 1962.
The developmental strategy adopted by the country was embodied in centrally organized five-year plans; yet their orientation was indistinct. The average annual emigration, which absorbed the excess workforce and contributed to extremely high growth rates, exceeded the annual natural increase in population. The influx of large amounts of foreign private capital was being facilitated and consumption was expanded. These, associated with the rise of tourism, the expansion of shipping activity and with the migrant remittances, had a positive effect on the balance of payments.
The peak of development was registered principally in manufacture, mainly in the textile and chemical industry and in the sector of metallurgy, the growth rate of which tended to reach 11% during 1965-70. The other large branch where obvious economic and social consequences were brought about, was that of construction. Consideration, a Greek invention, favoured the creation of a class of small-medium contractors on one hand and settled the housing system and property status on the other.
During that decade, youth came forth in society as a distinct social power with autonomous presence (creation of a new culture in music, fashion etc.) and displaying dynamism in the assertion of their social rights. The independence granted to Cyprus, which was mined from the very beginning, constituted the main focus of young activist mobilizations, along with struggles aiming at reforms in education, which were provisionally realized to a certain extent through the educational reform of 1964. The country reckoned on and was influenced by Europe – usually behind time – and by the current trends like never before. Thus, in a sense, the imposition of the military junta conflicted with the social and cultural occurrences.
The country descended into a prolonged political crisis, and elections were scheduled for late April 1967. On 21 April 1967 however, a group of right-wing colonels led by Colonel George Papadopoulos seized power in a coup d'état establishing the Regime of the Colonels. Civil liberties were suppressed, special military courts were established, and political parties were dissolved. Several thousand suspected communists and political opponents were imprisoned or exiled to remote Greek islands. Alleged German support for the junta is claimed to be the cause of rising anti-Germanism in Greece during and following the junta's harsh rule.
However, the junta's early years also saw a marked upturn in the economy, with increased foreign investment and large-scale infrastructure works. The junta was widely condemned abroad, but inside the country, discontent began to increase only after 1970, when the economy slowed down. Even the armed forces, the regime's foundation, were not immune: In May 1973, a planned coup by the Hellenic Navy was narrowly suppressed, but led to the mutiny of the HNS Velos, whose officers sought political asylum in Italy. In response, junta leader Papadopoulos attempted to steer the regime towards a controlled democratization, abolishing the republic and declaring himself Regent of a restored monarchy.
The brutal suppression of the Athens Polytechnic uprising on 17 November 1973 sent shockwaves through the regime, and a counter-coup established Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannidis as dictator. On 20 July 1974, as Turkey invaded the island of Cyprus, the regime collapsed.
The former prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis was invited back from Paris where he had lived in self-exile since 1963, marking the beginning of the Metapolitefsi era. The first multiparty elections since 1964 were held on the first anniversary of the Polytechnic uprising. A democratic constitution was promulgated on 11 June 1975 following a referendum which chose to restore the monarchy.
Meanwhile, Andreas Papandreou founded the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in response to Karamanlis's conservative New Democracy party, with the two political formations alternating in government ever since. Greece joined NATO in 1980.
Greece became the eighth member of the European Communities (subsequently subsumed by the European Union) on 1 January 1981, ushering in a period of sustained growth. Widespread investments in industrial enterprises and heavy infrastructure, as well as funds from the European Union and growing revenues from tourism, shipping and a fast-growing service sector raised the country's standard of living to unprecedented levels. Traditionally strained relations with neighbouring Turkey improved when successive earthquakes hit both nations in 1999, leading to the lifting of the Greek veto against Turkey's bid for EU membership. The country adopted the euro in 2001 and successfully hosted the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens.
More recently, Greece has suffered greatly from the late-2000s recession and has been central to the related European sovereign debt crisis. The Greek government debt crisis, subsequent economic crisis and resultant protests have roiled domestic politics and have regularly threatened European and global financial markets since the crisis began in 2010.