Greece has 10.6 million people. Greece is a country in Southeast Europe, which shares land borders with Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria and North Macedonia. Greece has more than 2,000 islands, of which about 170 are inhabited. Athens is the nation’s capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki. Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilization, being the birthplace of democracy, political science, theatre, the Olympic Games and major scientific and mathematical principles. Modern democracies owe a debt to Greek beliefs in government by the people, trial by jury, and equality under the law. Throughout the 20th century, millions of Greeks migrated to USA, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Germany, creating a large Greek diaspora. Greece is a unitary parliamentary republic and a developed country. The country adopted the Euro currency in 2001 and successfully hosted the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. More recently, Greece has suffered greatly from the late 2000s recession and has been central to the related European sovereign debt crisis. In 2018, Greek’s economy appears to have stabilised.

  1. In about 2,000 words, I will describe major events that affected Greece from 1900 to the present.
  2. 1904 – Beginning of the Greek struggle for Macedonia to incorporate parts of Macedonia into the Greek state.
  3. 1905 – Prime Minister Theodoros Deligiannis is assassinated.
  4. 1908 – Cretan deputies declare unilateral union with Greece.
  5. 1910 – The Military League forces Parliament and King George I to summon a National Assembly to revise the Constitution of Greece.
  6. 1910 – Eleftherios Venizelos becomes Prime Minster of Greece.
  7. 1912 – The member states of the Balkan League, after issuing an ultimatum, declare war on the Ottoman Empire.
  8. 1913 – King George I is assassinated in Thessaloniki.
  9. 1913 – First Balkan War. Signing of the Treaty of London. Greece gains Epirus, Macedonia, Crete and the North Aegean Islands from the Ottomans.
  10. 1913 – Second Balkan War. Signing of the Treaty of Bucharest. Greece gains West Thrace from Bulgaria.
  11. 1915 – King Constantine forces Eleftherios Venizelos to resign as Prime Minster of Greece (on two occasions in the same year).
  12. 1916 – Coup by anti-royalist ‘Movement of National Defence’ occurred. Eleftherios Venizelos returns to the Greek mainland. Henceforth, Greece has two governments: the royalist government in Athens commanded by King Constantine and the “Temporary Government of National Defence” commanded by Eleftherios Venizelos in Thessaloniki.
  13. 1916 – Royalist paramilitary units, named the “League of Reservists”, target the Venizelists (supporters of Eleftherios Venizelos). Armed clashes between Reservists and French marines in Athens. The Allies institute a naval blockade of Greece. French and British forces land in Thessaly and enter the regional capital of Larissa.
  14. 1916 – HMHS Britannic, British merchant ship, sunk by a mine near the island of Kea. 30 people die.
  15. 1917 – French and British forces occupy Piraeus, bombard Athens and force the Greek fleet to surrender. King Constantine I resigns and leaves the country. His second son Alexander becomes King Alexander I and Eleftherios Venizelos is restored as Prime Minister in Athens.
  16. 1917 – World War One. Greece joins the Allies and declares war on the Central Powers.
  17. 1918 – Signing of the Armistice of Mudros, which ended World War One in the Near East.
  18. 1918 (to 1923) – Allied Occupation of Constantinople (in Turkey).
  19. 1919 – Signing of the Treaty of Neuilly. Greece acquires Western Thrace.
  20. 1920 – Signing of the Treaty of Sevres. Greece acquires Eastern Thrace and is assigned administration of the area of Izmir (Smyrna) for 5 years.
  21. 1920 – Despite his achievements, Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos is defeated in the 1920 General Elections.
  22. 1920 – King Alexander I dies suddenly of infection caused by the bite of a monkey of the Royal Gardens.
  23. 1920 – King Constantine I returns as King, following a plebiscite.
  24. 1922 – The Turkish army enters Izmir; and Izmir is set on fire. Approximately 100,000 Greeks perish.
  25. 1922 – The Greek Army, Navy and people revolt. The government is deposed, and the King forced to resign. Eleftherios Venizelos returns to Greece. George II becomes King of Greece.
  26. 1919 (to 1922) – Greco-Turkish War. Greece invades Asia Minor, prompted by the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War One. Greece is defeated by Turkish forces led by Mustafa Kemal.
  27. 1922 – According to the verdict of the Trial of the Six, the former Prime Minister Dimitrios Gounaris, the Commander in Chief of the Greek Armies George Hatzianestis and four other politicians are executed as responsible for the Asia Minor Catastrophe.
  28. 1923 – The borders of Greece and Turkey are settled. Greece has an enormous refugee problem with the arrival of approximately 1.5 million Orthodox Christian Greeks from Asia Minor (population exchange agreement of the Treaty of Lausanne). The population of the bankrupt Greece increased by 1/3 in a period of a few months. Muslims of Turk origin in Greece numbering 380,000 leave Greece for Turkey.
  29. 1923 – The Greeks of Istanbul, and the islands of Imbros and Tenedos (about 279,788 in Istanbul alone) are excluded from the population exchange.
  30. 1924 – Greeks vote for the abolition of the monarchy, and the country becomes a republic.
  31. 1924 (to 1935) – Coups occurred in Greece with power changing hands several times.
  32. 1935 – Monarchy is restored.
  33. 1936 – General Ioannis Metaxas is appointed prime minister and establishes a right-wing dictatorship (similar to Adolf Hitler in Germany).
  34. 1939 – World War Two. Greece remains neutral at the start.
  35. 1940 – World War Two. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s forces attack Greece from Italian-held Albania, but are repelled.
  36. 1941 – Coup leader General Ioannis Metaxas dies in Athens.
  37. 1941 – The German Army invades Greece, and advances towards Athens. Prime Minister Alexandros Koryzis commits suicide.
  38. 1941 – Greece falls to Germany.
  39. 1941 – The Allied forces impose a naval blockade of Greece, ending off all imports, including food. More than 100,000 die in famine.
  40. 1942 – The great suffering and the pressure of the exiled Greek government eventually forces the British partially to lift the blockade. The International Red Cross is able to distribute food supplies in sufficient quantities,
  41. 1942 – The Gorgopotamos bridge is blown up in a common operation between the Greek resistance fighters and British saboteurs. This successful operation disrupted the German transportation of ammunition via Greece to the Nazi Africa Corps commanded by Erwin Rommel.
  42. 1943 – The Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jews of Athens fails, thanks to the combined efforts of Archbishop Damaskinos, Greek resistance groups and some of the Greek people. However, about 70,000 Greek Jews (mainly from Thessaloniki), being 80% of all Greek Jews, later perished when they were sent to death camps by the Nazis.
  43. 1942 (to 1944) – Fierce resistance to the German occupation by communist and royalist factions alike.
  44. 1944 – British and Greek forces combine to force German withdrawal. With backing from Britain, Georgios Papandreou becomes prime minister. The Communists in Greece protest. Tensions rise and there is sporadic violence.
  45. 1945 – World War Two ends. Greece is one of the founding members of the United Nations.
  46. 1946 (to 1949) – Royalist parties win elections. Ensuing Greek civil war ends with the defeat of the communist forces. (The Communists reach the maximum of their power in 1948.)
  47. 1949 – Nikolaos Zachariadis, commander of the Communist guerrillas, announces a ceasefire that ends the Greek Civil War.
  48. 1950 – Greece participates in the Korean War in favour of South Korea. By the end of the war in 1953, 194 Greek soldiers are killed.
  49. 1952 – New constitution declares Greece a kingdom ruled by parliamentary democracy.
  50. 1952 – Greece and Turkey become members of NATO.
  51. 1952 (to 1975) – The Greek government was affected by attempted coups and changes of power from a parliament to a monarchy.
  52. 1952 (to 1980) – About 160,000 Greeks emigrated to the USA. About 250,000 went to Australia. Others went to Canada and Germany.
  53. 1967 – Group of army officers (colonels) seize power in military coup. Elections are postponed indefinitely, and Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos takes office as prime minister. Hundreds of political activists are arrested under a regime characterised by brutality and repression.
  54. 1973 – Greece is declared a republic, the monarchy is abolished, and Georgios Papadopoulos assumes the presidency. Opposition to military rule leads to increasing unrest. President Georgios Papadopoulos is overthrown in a bloodless coup by Brigadier-General Demetrios Ioannidis, commander of the military police. He partially restores civilian rule but retains large measure of power.
  55. 1974 – Demetrios Ioannidis’ government collapses. Junta-appointed President Phaedon Gizikis calls a meeting of old guard politicians with the participation of the commanders of the armed forces. Konstantinos Karamanlis is chosen to assume the premiership
  56. 1974 – Turkey invades Cyprus.
  57. 1975 – New constitution declares Greece a parliamentary republic with some executive powers vested in a president.
  58. 1981 – Greece joins the European Union.
  59. 1981 (to 1989) – The Greek Socialist Party, Pasok, gains power with Andreas Papandreou as prime minister.
  60. 1986 – Constitutional amendment transfers some of president’s powers to the legislature.
  61. 1996 – Tension flares between Greece and Turkey over disputed Aegean islet.
  62. 1999 – Earthquake hits Athens. Dozens killed, and thousands left homeless.
  63. 2000 – Senior British diplomat Brigadier Stephen Saunders is shot dead in Athens by left-wing guerrilla group ‘November 17’.
  64. 2002 – Euro becomes the official currency replacing the drachma.
  65. 2002 – Greek and Turkish governments agree to build a gas pipeline through which Turkey will supply Greece with gas.
  66. 2002 – Suspected leader and members of ‘November 17’ terror group are arrested, after one of them is injured, allegedly by his own bomb, and provides information to the police.
  67. 2003 – Trial of ‘November 17’ suspects ends with their conviction. Head of the group and its main hitman are jailed for life.
  68. 2004 – Athens hosts the Summer Olympic Games.
  69. 2004 – European Commission issues formal warning after Greece is found to have falsified its budget deficit data in run-up to joining the European Union.
  70. 2005 – Greek Parliament ratifies the European Union Constitution.
  71. 2005 – Amid protest strikes by transport workers, Parliament approves changes to labour laws, including an end to jobs for life in the public sector. The plans sparked an industrial action.
  72. 2006 – Public sector workers strike over pay and protest at government plans to scrap job security laws and intensify privatisation.
  73. 2007 – Wildfires sweep through tinder-dry forests across the mainland and islands, killing dozens of people.
  74. 2008 – Major public-sector strikes to increase pressure on the government over its economic policies.
  75. 2009 – Opposition Pasok socialist party wins snap election.
  76. 2009 – Greece enters an economic crisis. Greece’s credit rating is downgraded by one of the world’s three leading rating agencies amid fears the government could default on its ballooning debt. The government announces a programme of tough public spending cuts.
  77. 2010 – Government announces two more rounds of tough austerity measures and faces mass protests and strikes.
  78. 2010 – Fears of a possible default on Greece’s debts prompt Eurozone countries to approve a $145bn (110bn euros; £91bn) rescue package for the country, in return for a round of even more stringent austerity measures. Trade unions call a general strike.
  79. 2011 – 24-hour general strike. Tens of thousands of protesters march on the Parliament to oppose government efforts to pass new austerity laws.
  80. 2011 – European Union leaders agree to a major bailout for Greece over its debt crisis by channelling 109bn euros through the European Financial Stability Facility.
  81. 2011 – All three main credit ratings agencies cut Greece’s rating to a level associated with a substantial risk of default.
  82. 2011 – Eurozone leaders agree a 50% debt write-off for Greece in return for further austerity measures.
  83. 2012 – Against a background of violent protests on the streets of Athens, the Greek Parliament approves a new package of tough austerity measures agreed with the European Union as the price of a 130bn euro bailout.
  84. 2012 – Greece reaches a “debt swap” deal with its private-sector lenders, enabling it to halve its massive debt load.
  85. 2012 – Trade unions stage 24-hour general strike against government austerity measures. Police fires tear gas to disperse anarchist rally outside the Parliament.
  86. 2012 – Parliament passes a 13.5bn-euro austerity plan aimed at securing the next round of EU and IMF bailout loans; the package – the fourth in three years – includes tax rises and pension cuts.
  87. 2013 – Unemployment rises to 26.8% – the highest rate in the EU. Youth unemployment climbs to almost 60%.
  88. 2013 – Government suspends state broadcaster ERT in effort to save money.
  89. 2013 – Parliament passes 2014 budget, which is predicated on a return to growth after six years of recession.
  90. 2014 – Greek unemployment reaches a record high of 28%.
  91. 2014 – Parliament narrowly approves a big reform package that will open more retail sectors to competition, part of a deal between Greece and its international lenders.
  92. 2015 – European Central Bank ends emergency funding. Greece closes banks and imposes capital controls. Voters overwhelmingly reject EU bailout terms.
  93. 2015 – Greece and its creditors agree to another bailout worth 86bn euros, imposing further spending cuts on the country to avoid bankruptcy and exit from the Eurozone.
  94. 2018 – The credit ratings agency, Fitch, raises its assessment of Greece because of the growing economy and increased political stability.
  95. 2020 (to 2022) – COVID-19 pandemic caused more than 27,000 deaths in Greece.
  96. 2022 – Greece has 10.6 million people.

© Comasters April 2022.

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