The civilization of ancient Greece flowered
more than 2500 years ago, but the ideas of the ancient Greeks continue to influence the
way we live today. Greece is made up of a peninsula and group of islands in southeastern
Europe. A peninsula is a piece of land that is almost surrounded by water.
The people of ancient Greece attempted to explain the world through the laws of nature.
The ancient Greeks made important discoveries in science. They developed democracy, where
people govern themselves rather than being ruled by a king. The Greeks also valued beauty
and imagination. They wrote many stories and plays that continue to be performed today.
The people of ancient Greece could not farm most of their mountainous, rocky land, so
they became excellent sailors who traveled to distant places. Greek sailors learned from
many different cultures and spread their ideas far from their home. Greeks sailors learned
the alphabet from the sea-faring Phoenicians of modern day Syria and Lebanon.
Ancient Greek geographers divided the world into regions we still use today. The lands
west of Greece are still known as the western world while the lands east of Greece are often
referred to as the eastern world. A cradle is a small bed for an infant. Many
of the ideas that flourished in the western world were “born” in ancient Greece; this
is why Greece is often known as the Cradle of Western Civilization.