city-states were located in southern Europe, grouped together on a very
large peninsula that juts into the Mediterranean Sea. A peninsula is a
piece of land surrounded by water on three sides. Smaller peninsulas
stuck out from the main Greek peninsula, forming a great deal of
coastline and many natural harbors. The Greeks could always count on
seafood to eat.
But they needed a source
of fresh water to settle down in an area. Greece has lots of mountains.
They are not huge mountains like the Alps. But they are big enough to
provide two important things - a source of fresh water, running down the
mountains in creeks and streams, and a system of natural defense barriers.
The ancient Greeks found it very difficult to visit some of the other
city-states over land. The mountains were in the way. An easier route
was to travel by boat. The Greeks soon became great sailors.
The Greeks sailed up and
down the Mediterranean, looking for new places to establish towns.
People who were already living in these places were not always
welcoming. The Egyptians chased the Greeks out. The Greeks were able to
set up some Greek cities on the coasts of Italy, Africa, and
The ancient Greeks had no
central government. They were not building an empire. They were just
exploring and expanding and establishing "outposts" as their
population grew. Each of these outposts was an independent
Some of these city-states
thought of themselves as Greeks. But more likely, over time, they
thought of themselves more as friends (or enemies) of the Greeks. So you
might find an outpost whose people believed in the same gods and
goddesses as the ancient Greeks, but who did not speak Greek or who did
not have the same customs as the Greeks or who did not wear the same
style of clothes as the Greeks. A good example is the city-state of
Troy, located on the Turkish coast.
of Ancient Greece