Greece has land borders with Albania, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north, and Turkey to the east. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of mainland Greece, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands (approximately 1,400, of which 227 are inhabited), including Crete, the Dodecanese, the Cyclades, and the Ionian Islands among others. Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest at 2,917 m (9,570 ft).
Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of ancient Greece, generally considered the cradle of Western civilization. As such it is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy. This legacy is partly reflected in the seventeen UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Greece, ranking Greece 7th in Europe and 13th in the world. The modern Greek state was established in 1830, following the Greek War of Independence.
Greece has been a member of what is now the European Union since 1981 and the eurozone since 2001, NATO since 1952, and is a founding member of the United Nations. Greece is a developed country with an advanced, high-income economy and very high standards of living (including the 21st highest quality of life as of 2010) Since late 2009, the Greek economy has been hit by a severe economic and financial crisis resulting in the Greek government requesting €240 billion in loans from EU institutions, a substantial debt write-off, and unpopular austerity measures.
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