The creation of modern Greek state
Greece was under ottomans control until the 19th century. In 1821, the Greeks rebelled in order to become independent, but did not succeed until 1829. Most of the European nations was positive to Greek’s independence. The Russian minister for foreign affairs, Ioannis Kapodistrias, himself a Greek, returned home as President of the new Republic following Greek independence. That republic disappeared when a few years later Western powers helped turn Greece into a monarchy, the first king coming from Bavaria and the second from Denmark.
In World War I, Greece sided with the entente powers against Turkey and the other Central Powers. In the war's aftermath, the Great Powers awarded parts of Asia Minor to Greece, including the city of Smyrna (known as Izmir today) which had a large Greek population. At that time, however, the Turkish nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, overthrew the Ottoman government, organized a military assault on the Greek troops, and defeated them. Immediately afterwards, hundreds of thousands of Turks then living in mainland Greek territory left for Turkey with hundreds of thousands of Greeks living in Turkey.
In Second World War , Greece sided with the Allies and refused to give in to Italian demands. Italy invaded Greece on 28 October 1940, but Greek troops repelled the invaders after a bitter struggle). This marked the first Allied victory in the war. Hitler then reluctantly stepped in, primarily to secure his strategic southern flank: troops from Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria and Italy successfully invaded Greece, overcoming Greek, British, Australia and New Zealand units.
However, when the Germans attempted to seize Crete in a massive attack by paratroops—with the aim of reducing the threat of a counter-offensive by Allied forces in Egypt—Allied forces, along with Cretan civilians, offered fierce resistance. Although Crete eventually fell, this delayed German plans significantly, with the result that the German invasion of the Soviet Union started fatally close to winter. A recent alternative view of this event is that the German troops involved in the battle of Crete were not numerous enough to have any impact on the much larger assault against the Soviet Union.
During years of Nazi occupation, thousands of Greeks died in direct combat, in concentration camps or of starvation. The occupiers murdered the greater part of the Jewish community despite efforts by the Greek Orthodox Church and many Christian Greeks to shelter Jews. The economy languished. After liberation, Greece experienced an equally bitter civil war—between communists and royalists—that lasted until 1949.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Greece continued to develop slowly, initially with the help of the U.S. Marshall Plans' grants and loans, and later through growth in the tourism sector. In 1967, the Greek military seized power in a coup d'état, overthrew the right-wing government of Panayiotis Kanellopoulos and established what became known as the Régime of the Colonels. The Central Intelligence Agency was suspected in involvement in the coup. The new regime in Athens was supported by the U.S. In 1973, the régime abolished the Greek monarchy. In 1974, dictator Papadopoulos denied help to the U.S. and rumor has it that as a result the U.S., through Kissinger's efforts, initiated a second coup. Colonel Ioannides was appointed as the new head-of-state.
Many hold Ioannides responsible for the coup against President Makarios of Cyprus—the coup seen as the pretext for the first wave of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974; see: the 1974 crisis between Greece and Turkey. The Cyprus events and the outcry following a bloody suppression of Athens Polytechnic uprising in Athens led to the implosion of the military régime. A charismatic exiled politician, Konstantinos Karamanlis, returned from Paris as interim prime minister and later gained re-election for two further terms at the head of the conservative Nea Dimokratia party. In 1975, following a referendum to confirm the deposition of King Constantine II, a democratic republican constitution came into force. Another previously exiled politician, Andreas Papandreou also returned and founded the socialist PASOK party, which won the elections in 1981 and dominated the country's political course for almost two decades.
Since the restoration of democracy, the stability and economic prosperity of Greece have grown. Greece joined the European Union in 1981 and adopted the Euro as its currency in 2001. New infrastructure, funds from the EU and growing revenues from tourism, shipping, services, light industry and the telecommunications industry have brought Greeks an unprecedented standard of living. Tensions continue to exist between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus and the delimitation of borders in the Aegean Sea but relations have considerably thawed following successive earthquakes, first in Turkey and then in Greece and an outpouring of sympathy and generous assistance by ordinary Greeks and Turks.