Greece (Greek: Ελλάδα, Elláda, or Ελλάς, Ellás), officially the Hellenic Republic [Ελληνική Δημοκρατία], is a country in southeastern Europe, situated on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. It has borders with Albania, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the north, and Turkey to the east. The Aegean Sea lies to the east and south of mainland Greece, while the Ionian Sea lies to the west. Both parts of the Eastern Mediterranean basin feature a vast number of islands.
Greece lies at the juncture of Europe, Asia and Africa. It is heir to the heritages of ancient Greece, the Roman and Byzantine Empires, and nearly four centuries of Ottoman rule. Greece 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.
Greece is a developed country, a member of the European Union since 1981, a member of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union since 2001, NATO since 1952, the OECD since 1961, the WEU since 1995 and ESA since 2005. Athens is the capital; Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Volos, Ioannina, Larissa and Kavala are some of the country's other major cities.