Before we proceed to examine the evolution of Greek civilization it would be useful to outline the geographical features of Greece. It should be noted that when we speak of ancient Greece we are referring to an area that was much larger than the present-day state of Greece. The Greek world in antiquity encompassed western Anatolia, Thrace, the islands of the Aegean Sea, Crete, Cyprus, mainland Greece, southern Italy and Sicily.

Mainland Greece is an irregularly shaped peninsula in south-eastern Europe, enclosed by the Ionian Sea in the west, the Aegean Sea in the east and the Mediterranean Sea in the south. The southern part of the peninsula is in the shape of a palm which extends into the Mediterranean. This is known as the pelosponnese. The Peloponnese is almost an island, separated from the rest of the mainland by the Gulf of Corinth. A thin strip of land connects the northeastern corner of the Peloponnese with the mainland.

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