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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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THE AEGEAN ISLANDS
From the Greek mainland to the coast of Asia Minor the traveler follows a route thickly studded with rocky islands. They are near enough together to permit the passage from one to another without losing sight of land. The Aegean islands thus served as "stepping-stones" between Greece and Asia Minor.
WESTERN ASIA MINOR
Western Asia Minor resembles Continental Greece in its deeply indented coast, variety of scenery, and mild climate. The fertile river valleys of this region early attracted Greek colonists. They built here many flourishing cities, especially along the central coast, which came to be known as Ionia.
INFLUENCE OF GEOGRAPHICAL CONDITIONS
Greek history well illustrates the influence of geographical conditions on the life of a people. In the first place, mountain ranges cut up Continental Greece into many small states, separated from one another by natural ramparts. Hence the Greeks loved most of all their own local independence and always refused to unite into one nation under a single government. In the second place, the near presence of the sea made sailors of the Greeks and led them to devote much energy to foreign commerce. They early felt, in consequence, the stimulating effects of intercourse with other peoples. Finally, the location of Greece at the threshold of Asia, with its best harbors and most numerous islands on the eastern coast, enabled the country to receive and profit by all the culture of the Orient. Greece faced the civilized East.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy