What affect did geography have on Ancient Greek social, political, and economic development?

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The development of ancient Greece is heavily influenced by geography. The geographic features of Greece isolated the area, especially in ancient times. Due to geography, the ancient Greek civilizations developed unique cultures.

If we look at Greece today, a few features stand out. Greece is very mountainous, which played a key role in Greek development in a couple ways. The mountains provided protection for the ancient Greek city-states that developed. Mountains serve as a natural boundary that often prove to be difficult for attacking armies to cross. This also led to greater isolation of the Greek city-states, as the mountains provided a barrier to increased contact. As a result of isolation, city-states developed, each with its own government and culture. Some city-states, such as Athens, began to utilize an early democratic system, while other city-states had more authoritarian rule. The Greek city-states did have some interaction with each other through trade and war, but there was not as much cultural diffusion as occurs in places without such geographical barriers.

Due to the mountainous geography, Greece also lacks significant amounts of farmland. To find other sources of food, the Greeks turned to the seas surrounding them. Fishing became key to feeding the populations of the Greek city-states. The Greeks became excellent sailors and sea traders, utilizing their peninsula location to their advantage. Additionally, the Greek coastline provided many natural harbors to help with seafaring ventures.

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The geography of Greece had a very important effect on the history and culture of the Hellenic people in the ancient world. Most of Greece is filled with steep mountains that make travel from one area to another very difficult. As a result, the people of Greece developed culturally and politically independent of one another. The Greeks developed into dozens of city-states that were autonomous. This led to cooperation and trade between the various city-states, but also led to rivalry and warfare at times.

The mountains also produced another challenge: finding available land for farming and food production. To solve this problem, the Greeks used another key feature of its geographical situation, the seas. The Greeks developed colonies throughout the Mediterranean Sea and in Ionia to fulfill its agricultural and population pressure issues. In doing so, the Greeks spread their culture and influence throughout Asia Minor and Europe. The Greeks became excellent navigators of the seas and created trade opportunities in far away lands. They also utilized the strength of their naval powers to keep enemies at bay and create wealth, especially with regards to the Persians.

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How was geography important to the development of Greek society?

Greece's geography enabled Greece to achieve something that no other ancient group of people could have even imagined. 

First, Greece's mountainous territory (70%) prohibited Greece from forming into an empire. Instead, Greece formed city states that were separate. By the time of Aristotle, scholars estimate that there were over 1,100 cities. This said, we must not give the impression that the nothing held the Greeks together. Things like language, culture, religion, and the olympic games gave a sense of...

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"Greekness." This enabled the Greeks to compete and cooperate with each other in many areas. The outcome was a flourishing of society. Within in this matrix, the Greeks experimented and invented many things, such as democracy. 

Second, another geographic quality of the Greeks is that they took to the sea. In fact, almost every polis was 25 miles from the sea. Even the Spartans, who did not like the sea were less than 20 miles away. This fact enabled the Greeks to travel and explore. Through their oversea colonies, they began to spread hellenism, and they were incredibly successful. Had their land been far richer in resources, they would not have taken to the sea, and this would have altered history. 

In conclusion, geography shapes a people.

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