Greece is strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Situated on the southern tip of the Balkan peninsula, Greece shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, the Republic of Macedonia andBulgaria to the north and Turkey to the northeast. 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. 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 theMediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands, of which 227 are inhabited. Eighty percent of Greece is mountainous, of which Mount Olympus is the highest peak at 2,917 m (9,570 ft).

The nation state of Greece was established in 1830 following the war of independence from the Ottoman Empire, although its roots go back to the civilization of Ancient Greece, which is considered the cradle of all Western civilization. As such, Greece is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature, historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy. The cultural and technological achievements of Greece have greatly influenced the world, having been imparted to the East through Alexander the Great’s conquests, and to the West via incorporation into the Roman Empire and subsequent Byzantine Empire. The modern Greek identity was shaped by the Greek Orthodox Church, which further transmitted Greek traditions to the widerOrthodox World. Greece’s rich legacy is also reflected by its 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among the most in Europe and the world.

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