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Ancient Greece: The Influence of Its Geography on Greek Society

The ancient Greeks were a civilization that went beyond other societies of their time. How did geography affect this?

The ancient Greeks were a highly culturally advanced civilization for their time. They reached further into technology and the arts than any other society. Most historians believe that this was because of some of Greece’s geographical features:

Confluence

The Greeks live at the confluence of 3 continents: Asia, Europe and Africa. The cultural ideas from each continent are all passed to the Greeks. The location of Greece allowed the Greeks to learn from the different traditions of all three continents. This was important in the cultural development in Greece because it allowed a larger variety of ideas and beliefs.

Peninsula

Greece is considered as a peninsula, which is a piece of land sticking out into the ocean. This allowed the Greeks to travel by boats in the Mediterranean Sea. In the ancient times, water was the best way to travel because it is the most efficient. The water was not only used for transportation, but for protection as well. (water navies) The Minoans, who are an early Greek civilization, depended on their sea navy for protect. Their city was not protected by walls so their security was fully depended on their navy. The country of Greece benefited greatly from being a peninsula.

Climate

The climate of Greece was the Mediterranean Climate, which was a mild climate with adequate rain. This climate was ideal for olive trees and grape vines. To make money, the Greeks traded the olives and grapes for other necessary resources. Because of such mild climate, the Greeks did not have to worry too much about their basic needs, which are food, clothing and shelter. This allowed them to make advancement in the intellectual side, such as math, philosophy, astronomy, etc. Some of the most famous philosophers were Greek. (Plato, Aristotle)

Mountain Valleys

Greece is a very mountainous country. It had high elevation with valleys. The Greeks were separated by its geography into city states. A city state is a city located in a valley with fertile soil. These cities were independent because the mountains made it difficult to move from one city to another. Most Greeks during the ancient times considered themselves as part of Athens or Sparta instead of the whole of Greece. The Greeks discovered a new type of government through the city states. This new form of politics was called democracy and meant that the civilians themselves are the governments. The new way of government that the Greeks had discovered was very different from other cultures.

Limited Fertile Land

The land is rocky in Greece, suitable for grapes and olives, but not fertile. Without fertile land, the grain that a typical family eats will be limited to a small amount. The Greeks liked to have lots of children and this caused the problem of starvation. Limited fertile land causes starvation because without enough land to grow food on, there will be no food. If the amount of grain a family usually gets in Greece is not enough, then the family will eventually starve to death unless a solution for their problem is found. One common solution that the Greeks did was to spread out all over the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. By doing this, the family could find new places better for farming and raise a healthier family.

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