Greece (Greek: Ελλάδα), officially the Hellenic Republic (Ελληνική Δημοκρατία), historically also known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern Europe , with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2016 . Athens is the nation's capital and largest city , followed by Thessaloniki.
Greece is located at the crossroads of Europe , Asia , and Africa . 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. 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 , being the birthplace of democracy , Western philosophy , the Olympic Games , Western literature , historiography, political science , major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama . 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 .