Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa. Situated on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula 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. The country consists of nine geographic regions: Central Greece, Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace, Thessaly, Peloponnese, the Aegean islands (including Dodecanese and Cyclades), the Ionian Islands and Crete. Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilization, being the birthplace of democracy, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, western philosophy and literature and even of the Olympic Games. By the 5th century BC Classical Greeks had organized themselves into independent citizen states (known as polis, from which comes our word ""political"") such as Athens, Sparta, Ephesus, and Marseilles. In the 2nd century BC the land-mass of Greece became part of the Roman Empire. The Greek language however spread throughout the Mediterranean. In the 4th century AC the Roman Empire was split in two halves by the roman emperor Constantine. The eastern half centered on Greek Byzantium renamed Constantinople (now Istanbul) and after the 5th century was better known as the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire lasted for ten centuries until the 15th century when it fell under Ottoman control who lasted for almost 400 years. In the 19th century Greece declared its independence and today is a unitary parliamentary republic and member of the European Community and numerous others international institutions such as the NATO, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In Greece customs and traditions are still alive. During the festivals the locals are dressed in traditional costumes, dansent traditional dances and eat traditional meals, celebrating their heritage and their roots.
Each part of Greece has its own characteristic customs, traditions, manners, holidays, cuisine and local products, art, costumes, architecture, dances, songs, idioms and dialects. The roots of modern Greece run deep, can be traced back centuries and reach many corners of the earth. They all make a fascinating mosaic of tribes, some nomadic, some indigenous, some from former ancient colonies, who eventually settled in Greece. The result? A uniquely diverse population for such a small country; a gathering of seafarers, with limitless horizons, small circles of subculture, overlaping and inetrsecting to form one great nation.