The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, the Cretan Sea and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.

with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2016.

Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.

Following decisive Greek victories in 480 and 479 BC at Salamis, Plataea, and Mycale, the Persians were forced to withdraw for a second time, marking their eventual withdrawal from all of their European territories.

Led by Athens and Sparta, the Greek victories in the Greco-Persian Wars are considered a pivotal moment in world history, Lack of political unity within Greece resulted in frequent conflict between Greek states.

The Mycenaeans gradually absorbed the Minoans, but collapsed violently around 1200 BC, during a time of regional upheaval known as the Bronze Age collapse.

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 ("Magna Graecia") and Asia Minor.Similarly, most Roman emperors maintained an admiration for things Greek in nature.The Roman Emperor Nero visited Greece in AD 66, and performed at the Ancient Olympic Games, despite the rules against non-Greek participation. Before becoming emperor, he served as an eponymous archon of Athens.After a period of confusion following Alexander's death, the Antigonid dynasty, descended from one of Alexander's generals, established its control over Macedon and most of the Greek city-states by 276 BC.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").By the time of his death in 323 BC, he had created one of the largest empires in history, stretching from Greece to India.