The heritage of ancient Greece: The history of Greece spans over 5,000 years. Ancient Greek culture and civilization, which flourished around the shores of the Mediterranean, reached its peak around 500 BC, producing some of the world's greatest artists, dramatists, politicians, philosophers, mathematicians, doctors and scientists. In the second century BC, Greece fell to the Romans. When, in AD 330, the Roman Empire was split in two, the eastern Greek-speaking part formed the Byzantine Empire. From the eleventh century, a succession of foreign peoples invaded Greece, and by the late 1500s it had been absorbed into the Ottoman Empire.
The beginnings of Modem Greece: Greece was dominated by Ottoman Turkish rule for nearly 400 years. In 1821 the Greeks rose up against their Ttirkish rulers, winning their independence in 1830. However it was a much smaller country than it is today, for much of Greece did not gain independence until the late 1800s or during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13.
During World War 11 Greece was occupied by the Germans. Following its liberation in 1945, the country was plunged almost immediately into a civil war (1946-49) in which the government defeated the Communist Left, bringing Greece into line with the West. In 1952 Greece joined NATO.
France lies at the heart of Western Europe. It is the largest country in Europe, and one of the European Union's largest and most influential countries, playing an important part in world affairs. Its size and central position, bordered by eight different countries, makes it a country of many contrasts and surprises.
Thousands of tourists from all over the world visit France for its beautiful and varied countryside. It is divided into twenty-two regions, including the island of Corsica off the Italian coast. Each region has its own distinctive character and traditions and some even have their own special languages and dialects, such as Breton in Brittany, although French is the official language. France's full name is r La Republique Frangaise (The Republic of France), meaning that the entire country V is governed by a president, chosen by the French people every seven years. France first became a republic after a peasant uprising in 1789, which started with the capture of the Bastille prison in Paris on 14 July. Today Bastille Day, on 14 July, is a national holiday, with parties, processions and fireworks, and the streets are decorated with the national flag.
In the fifteenth-century tales of 1001 Arabian Nights, which included Aladdin and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Cairo was called 'the Mother of the World'. It was given this name because it was thought to be the oldest and largest city on earth. Even then, the city was already more than 4,500 years old, Today, Cairo is still the largest city in Africa and the Middle East.
Tourism in Brazil has quadrupled from 1.1 million visitors in 1990 to 4 million in 2000. More visitors are beginning to come from Europe, North America and Asia. Tourism is growing fast and this growth is expected to continue well into the twenty-first century. It is one of the country's major employers and provided work for 5.8 million people in 1998.
Italy contains a wonderful variety of architecture. In Roman times, town planning was very sophisticated. The Romans invented concrete and were the first to use the arched vault. They continued the Greek tradition of mosaics by pressing tiny bits of stone into wet plaster. The Romans used uniform shapes and matching numbers of arches and columns. They had a great influence on Italian artists of the Renaissance. Today lots of monuments are crumbling, but most of the old city centres are preserved as they were many years ago.
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