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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 large number of islands, of which 227 are inhabited.
Eighty percent of Greece is mountainous, with Mount Olympus being the highest peak at 2,918 metres (9,573 ft).
The country consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, the Aegean Islands (including the Dodecanese and Cyclades), Thrace, Crete, and the Ionian Islands.
Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilization, From the eighth century BC, the Greeks were organised into various independent city-states, known as poleis (singular polis), which spanned the entire Mediterranean region and the Black Sea.
A second invasion by the Persians followed in 480 BC.
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.
Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.
Similarly, most Roman emperors maintained an admiration for things Greek in nature.
The Greek Orthodox Church also shaped modern Greek identity and transmitted Greek traditions to the wider Orthodox World.
Falling under Ottoman dominion in the mid-15th century, the modern nation state of Greece emerged in 1830 following a war of independence.
Situated on the southern tip of the Balkan peninsula, it shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the northeast.
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.
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").