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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
I. THE LANDS OF THE WEST AND THE RISE OF GREECE TO ABOUT 500 B.C.
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GREECE AND THE AEGEAN
THE AEGEAN SEA
The Aegean is an almost landlocked body of water. The Balkan peninsula, narrowing toward the Mediterranean into the smaller peninsula of Greece, confines it on the west. On the east it meets a boundary in Asia Minor. The southern boundary is formed by a chain of islands, while the only opening northward is found in the narrow passage leading to the Black Sea. The coasts and islands of the Aegean thus make up a little world set off by itself.
Continental Greece is a tiny country. Its greatest length is scarcely more than two hundred and fifty miles; its greatest breadth is only one hundred and eighty miles. Mountain ridges, offshoots of the Balkans, compose the greater part of its area. Into the valleys and deep gorges of the interior the impetuous sea has everywhere forced a channel. The coast line, accordingly, is most irregular—a constant succession of sharp promontories and curving bays. The mountains, crossing the peninsula in confused masses, break it up into numberless valleys and glens which seldom widen into plains. The rivers are not navigable. The few lakes, hemmed in by the hills, have no outlets except in underground channels. In this land of the Greeks no place is more than fifty miles from a mountain range, or more than forty miles from some long arm of the Mediterranean.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy