the Greeks (v. lat. Graeci, name for the Greek of speaking peoples of the antique ones, etymologische origin not surely clarified; griech. Έλληνες Éllines, „Hellenen “) are a indoeuropäisches people, whose linguistic roots retrace themselves in the second pre-Christian milleniumleave. Today live approx. 11 million Greek in Greece and on Cyprus; up to 4 millions Humans outside of Greece and Cyprus call themselves likewise as Greeks.

Table of contents

names for the Greeks

see also major item names for the Greeks

Achaier, Danaer, Argiver

with Homer become after the Greek pulling against Troja on the Peloponnes settling race of the Achaier (Ἀχαιοί), after Danaos, the master father of Menelaos and Agamemnon as Danaer (Δαναοί) or as Argiver (Argeioi, Ἀργεῑ́ οι) designates. Since the Dori migration the antique Greece coining/shaping the race of the Dorer for the total designation of the Greeks never demonstrably one consulted.

Hellenen (Ἕλληνες)

The term Hellenen (Ἕλληνες) - originally the name of a thessalischen trunk after its mythischem master father brightens - for the Greeks the term for the whole of the Greek is occupied with Pausanias, Herodot and Thukydides and became in the classical Greecespeaking peoples (Gegenbegriff:Barbarian - βάρβαροι).

The term Hellenen was used in the lateantique eastRoman realm first only for the trailers of the old Greek cults, later for all Nichtchristen, found then toward end of the realm however also again for thoseGreek speaking use (Plethon 1418: We are… the descent after Hellenen. But both the language and the education ererbte by the fathers witness).

The Greeks of the modern times use in tying to its language and the historicalIt (antique Greece) again the term Έλληνες (Éllines, Hellenen) live designation of the country in that. In the German linguistic usage the term refers to the antique Greeks and in foreign words is usually used, sees also for this brightism, brightists, Philhellenen and Panhellenismus.

Greeks/Graeci (Γραικοί)

obvious those decreases/goes back latin designation Graecus on Greeks, in 8. Century in Italy, which later Magna Graecia settled, and itself than Graikoi or similarly designated. With Homer is thatName of a böotischen city named Graia (Γραῖα) occupied, Pausanias mentions Graia as old name of the böotischen city Tanagra.

With Aristoteles (Metaphysik, 1,352) is the oldest source for the Greek designation Graikoi (Γραικοί). He mentions the inhabitants of thecentral Epirus, which would have been called Greek (Γραικοί) original and only late Hellenen were called. Further sources confirm this opinion, in the Pari chronicle become the year 1521 v. Chr. for the time of renaming the Greeks inHellenen indicated.

Latin term Graeci became finally etymologisch the basis of the designation of the people in nearly all languages, even if translations of the term Hellenen likewise exist usually.

Byzantiner/Rhomäer/Römer (Ῥωμαiοι/Ῥωμιοί/Ρωμιοί)

in the Byzantine one and/or. The inhabitants called themselves eastRoman realm alsoafter the end of the antique ones further as “Romans” and/or Rhomäer, (later and again-Greek also Pωμιοί, romií) - after the Schisma 1054 in demarcation to the Roman church more frequently again than Greek (Γραικοί - Gräkoi). This very day becomes the term ofGreeks uses, if the orthodox, Byzantine tradition of the people is to be stressed. The Greeks of the Middle Ages are also generally called Byzantiner.

Also in the Turkish one and Arab one the term Rumi for the Greeks was used, for example in the Koran.

Ionier/Yunan (Ἴωνες)

east Greece became the people of the Ionier named-giving for the Greeks. The Perser called Greece Yauna, and the term penetrated into all languages of the Perserreichs. The Sanskrit is taken by the Persern - designation Yavana and that Pali - word Yona. Thus the designation spread in the long run in the whole Muslim and far in the Indian affected world, examples is Arab يوناني (Yunani), Turkishly Yunanlı and Bahasa Indonesia Yunani.

In the Hebrew one already is since Biblical timeJavan (יָוָן) the term for the Greeks, the country is called in the modern Hebrew יוון.

History of the Greeks

the antique Hellenen after own understanding

the different peoples of the Greeks defined the affiliation to the Hellenen over the different variants that Greek language and over the olympic cult in the religion. Religious celebrations like the Mysterien of Eleusis, to which inhabitants of all Greek peoples met, formed a unit pin end, quasi national Manifestation in the politically splintered and oftenby mutual competition or war coined/shaped Greek world. Also the relatively uniform temples - architecture in the entire Greek area is an example of the role of the religion of the totalGreek culture. The panhellenischen olympic plays, a ritual match on thatholy Hain at the Zeusheiligtum of Olympia, was only free citizens evenly this Greek world openly. To what extent the Makedonen spoke one with Greek used language or a dialect of the Greek one, also its affiliation is until today disputed, obviously becameto the Hellenen in the antique one - particularly of Athens - doubts. Starting from 408 v. Chr. if they were however as can be prove certified to the olympic plays, were thus recognized as Hellenen.

One called Nichtgriechen onomatopoetisch barbarian (βάρβαροι), a word, thatthe “Stammeln” - bar bar - of the incomprehensible foreign language shows. The word synonym for blunt, uncivilized and cultureless behavior became later absolutely, sees also Barbarei.

Propagation of the Greeks up to late ancient times

for instance starting from 800 v. Chr. numerous Greek based Pole ice colonies in the entire Mediterranean area, including the black sea. Usually these colonies of the nut/mother city (Metropolis) were in a friendly manner connected, but politically independent city states. Greek establishments are z. B. Massilia (Marseille), Nikaia (Nice), Neapolis (Neapel), Byzantion(off approx. 337 Konstantinopel/since 1930 Istanbul), Dioskurias (Sochumi), Odessos (Warna) and Trapezus (Trabzon). With the realm Alexanders of the large one became Greek state language of an enormous large realm. Became Greek lingua franca of theFront Orients and remained this also, when the eastern Mediterranean area turned out under Roman rule. It came again and again to liberty explanations for some or all Greek pole ice - approximately by emperors Nero -, but Greece was actual over centuriesPart the Imperium Romanum, whose elite usually spoke Greek apart from latin also.

Heavily the Greek mainland an idea of the Germanic Heruler met it into the 260er years, but recovered soon again. With the final division of theImperiums in the year 395 became Greek then the second office language of the eastRoman, later Byzantine realm - in 7. Century replaced it then completely latin in this regard. A little later, after the Islamic expansion (since 632), Greek in Egypt becameand Syria however of the Arab one displaces.

In the course of the lateantique people migration then first Goten ( 395/96) fell, in 5. and 6. Century once more Ostgoten and Hunnen into the area today's Greece. While these peoples still further-pulled, began inlate 6. Century a lasting colonization by Slawen and Albanians, which back-pushed the Roman-Greek population additionally dezimierte by earthquakes and plague epidemic diseases into to a large extent meager mountain regions.

Greece in the Middle Ages and in former times modern times

only in early 9. Century knows Byzanz itsAgain secure rule over Greece, begin one to resettle griechischsprachige inhabitants of the eastern realm purposefully to Europe and the slawischen immigrants gräzisieren. The Greek-orthodox culture arrives in Greece now again at a certain bloom (see also Mystra), thoseis architecture-historically to that extent interesting, when it integrates also antique construction units into the buildings of churches and repairs so for the first time a purchase to the antique Greek culture, at the same time in addition, its final overcoming carries out. With conquest Konstantinopels during the fourth crusade in the year 1204 new rulers come to Greece: Frankish knights and above all the sea power Venice secure themselves important commercial posts for the Orienthandel in Greece and threaten the Byzantine-eastchurch culture of the Greeks lastingly. With conquest Konstantinopels 1453 by those Osmanen begins the Turkish rule over Greece. The osmanische regime carries out its rule in a Tributsystem, however the church bears to a large extent and leaves the local administration and jurisdiction the native one. Of 16. to 18. Century forms so again onenative citizen layer out, which includes however not excluding Greek, but just as Albanian, sephardisch Jewish, slawische and Turkish population parts with. The term “Greek” was in the osmanischen realm a synonym for the members of the Greek-orthodox church, like that as “Turk” a synonym for thoseTrailer Islam was.

The reawaking of a Hellenic nation

some Greek historians (Paparrigopoulos, Vakalopoulos) see in the back meditation on the antique Hellenen by lateByzantine authors (Plethon, s.o.) after the fourth crusade 1204 the origin of modern Hellenic consciousness. This becomesrelated by Greek Marxist historians (Zevgos, Rousos) strongly, they stress the modern character of the organization of the Greek nation. Probably surely is that the members of the orthodox church, to whom also the Greeks belonged were in the Osmani realm in principle discriminated andthe rule of the Turks to a large extent as foreign rule felt.

The rebellion against the osmanische rule in 19. Century proceeded from Greek speaking Christians, who came from a relatively formed, civil layer, the one considerable part of the trade in the Osmani realmdetermined. Already in outgoing 18. Century they, also in demarcation to the orthodox church, had begun, institutionalized in the realm, the Greek antique one as model of a non-church, Greek nation feeling, to assume again. The support by west and Central European Philhellenen, indreamed, gave additional impulses for the back meditation saw descendants of the antique Greeks and of return of the old Hellas to the freedom fighters on the antique Greece.

Thus the 1822 created Greek State of, that referred by the Londoner minutes 1830 likewiselike the national Greek idea one sanctioned, on the antique Greece. Geographical designations for example were regräzisiert to a large extent. With the Katharevousa (“pure language”) a oldGreek intimate national language was artificially created, which remained to 1975 office language in Greece.

So is also toounderstand that the 1830 published thesis of of the German Orientalisten Fallmerayer that the antique Greeks in the Middle Ages had become extinct and by hellenisierte Slawen and Albanians would have been displaced, against which forming Greek elite on the most violent fought itself. ThatArgumentation Fallmereyers, which proceeds and states from an antique sex of the Hellenen, a drop of noble and unblended bright blood would not flow more in the veins of the modern Greeks, was also scientifically soon contradicted (today it applies in their Radikalität as disproved, duringthe strong slawische influence on the today's Greeks is denied at the same time hardly more); nevertheless Fallmerayer encouraged involuntarily the Greek nationalists in their stress of a cultural continuity. The classical author of the Greek historiography, Konstantinos Paparrigopoulos (history of the Hellenic nation of the earliestup to the more recent times), the self understanding of the Greeks than successors of the antique Hellenen coined/shaped fundamentally.

Immigration to Greece

in the again created state on the territory today's central and south Greece lived only about a third of the Greeksthe Osmani realm, the most important Greek commercial centres such as z. B.Smyrna or Konstantinopel continued to be in Turkish hand. At the same time were still member of slawischer peoples, Albanian and Turk in the Greek state.

Up to the end 19. Century had GreekHistorian the Wiederentdeckung and rehabilitation of the Byzantine past completes. The fame and gloss of the Byzantine realm let fade in its eyes occasionally the classical antique one and supplied with to them besides the theoretical basic structure for the Megali Idea (μεγάλη ιδέα - large idea), the large vision of the Greek people striving for liberty. This vision, which aimed at the combination of all areas of Greek settlement from the Balkans to small Asia within the borders of only one state with the capital Konstantinopel, controlled the independentState during the first century of its existence.

A territorial extension succeeded to the Greek state at (with exception of the Dodekanes) today's the national territory until 1920. Further attempts of the extension were stopped by the smallasiatic disaster in such a way specified: In the contract of Lausanne(this very day valid) the territorial borders were drawn and an extensive population exchange between the states was ordered. That is, in small Asia the residents Greek (about 1.5 millions) had to emigrate to Greece, the area resident Turk slammed shut in now the Greece (approx.0,5 millions) were proven into Turkey.

With the existence of a Greek state however a possibility was given to pull into the territory of a Greek state also for inhabitants of other eastern municipalities. Same applied to numerous Slawen and Albanian, thoseinto the developing national states of the Balkans pulled.

Historical events as cause for migration movements

The Greek emigrants

migration is an almost continuous component of the history of the Greeks: One can define four phases of Greek emigration from the master country:

  • The antique Kolonisation of the Mediterranean and black sea
  • the propagation of Greeks in the realm Alexanders of the large one during the brightism
  • the spreadingof Greeks in the territory of the Osmani realm after 1453
  • the modern emigration since that 19. Century to Western Europe and overseas

the modern emigration begins approximately around half 19. Century. According to data of the Greek national one of statistic service are between1850 and 1940 approximately 511,000 humans from Greece emigrated, however 463,000 of them into the USA. The highest emigrant numbers are here in the years 1906-1915. After the Second World War again a stronger sets around the center of the 50'sEmigration from Greece, with annual numbers until 1975 from 12.000 to 30,000, whereby the USA step in favor of Western Europe ever more strongly into the background. Also a back migration to Greece takes place, is however substantially smaller than the emigration.

From thatSettlement areas outside of the Greek national territory 20 emigrierten at the beginning. Century of more Greeks to overseas than the Greek state.

Similarly as the antique Kolonisten many of the modern foreign Greeks continued to maintain the contact to the motherland always and language,Religion and customs also in the new homeland receive. The self-confident its as Greeks and/or. Greek Diaspora has itself so up to the today's day under many up to 4 of the millions Foreign Greeks receive, often also after accepting the nationality of thenew homeland.

, After own understanding “is

indeed astonishing the today's Greeks, like many aspects of the today's political life of Greece - above all Athens - antique parallel have” writes Heinz. A. Judge in its work “Greece in 20.Century " and specifies thereby examples like “the passionate portion alive the Politeia, their events to be eagerly discussed” and is received up to charakterlichen thing in common between the today's and Greeks at that time.

The today's Greeks see themselves asdirect descendants of the antique Hellenen, as sons of Homer, Platon and Sokrates and regard themselves as only legitimate inheriting Alexanders of the large one.

But above all and feels the today's Greek as “Romios” (Romans sees, wg. Byzanz =EastRoman realm, see.Romiosini). The strong identification with Byzanz explains itself not least by the traditionally large, in the reason identity pin ends influence of the Greek-orthodox church on the today's Greeks. The Byzantine inheritance goes however beyond the religion, it reflectsitself also in the people faith, customs, customs, music etc. again. While for example the antique myths only of a small education elite admits are, the Byzantine legend e.g. lives. of “to marble emperors” (the last Byzantine emperor Konstantinos Palaiologos) petrified, some dailypurchased and the Romaii from the osmanischen yoke would continue to release, until today in the people.

Also this identification of the Greeks with Byzanz mints to today continuous distrust in relation to the west, that it in their eyes in the fight against OsmanenReasons of the religious struggles for power and influencing control (see.Schisma left) alone and betrayed.

Against this identification of the people with Byzanz, verwurzelte deeply, also Greek scholars of the modern times could such as Adamantios Korais, which despised Byzanz as priest-controlled generic term cure anti-mash deeplyand exclusively with the antique one, nothing identified itself to align.

The Greeks in Greece and Cyprus


the Greeks educate the state people in Greece, their number amount to approximately 10 million. There the Greek condition the orthodox church as national churchdefined, member other one applies, in the Greek linguistic usage “more strangely” for religions (ξένα δόγματα) often not than Greeks in the actual sense. A legal acknowledgment exists only for the Muslim minority (in an educated manner of Turks and Pomaken), other minority languages such as Albanian, Aromunisch and Ägäis Macedonian have no official status in Greece. Those about 50,000 members of the Greek catholic church like also recent Christian churches are led statistically as Greeks of strange religion.


about 721,000 Greeks (2004) approximately 78% form for the populationon Cyprus. They developed from a mixture of the antique Greek population of island also in the Middle Ages of the mainland tightened Greek. Religiously the Cyprus Greeks , in former times also in demarcation designated to the Cyprus Turks as Zyprioten , are since 431 autokephal (“Zyprisch orthodox church”). Neverthelessthe cultural connection to the Greek motherland was always very strong, so that the Greek Zyprer is still after own self understanding Greeks. Since 1974 nearly all Greek Zyprer lives (up to a small minority of approximately 500 persons)in the Greek controlled south part of the island.

Foreign Greek

Greek abroad, estimations of the Greek messages 2005

country the USA Canada Germany France New Zealand Australia
number of 2.000.000 350,000 354.600 30.000 5.000 700,000
country V. Kingdom of South America Italy Egypt South Africa Zambia
number of 190.000 50.000 40.000 5.000 80.000 4.000

traditional ones Greek settlement areas


in the south of Italy Grecia Salentina (Salento) and Bovasia (Kalabrien) becomes in two regions, which language Griko spoken, which has the status of a minority language in Italy. Different theoriesaccording to the Griko is speaking Italians either descendants of Greek Kolonisten in the large Greece (Magna Graecia) of the antique ones or descendants of Byzantinern, in 9. Century in South Italies became resident. The speaker number becomes estimated on 40.000.


to Albaniabelonging northern part of the region Epirus (Ήπειρος, Ípiros) is also today still Greek settled. The region around the city Argirókastro (Αργυρόκαστρο), on Albanian Gjirokaster, was inhabited of more than 100,000 Greeks. Over the today's number quite different data exist.Many might have immigrated after opening of the border due to the catastrophic economic situation of Albania to Greece. Besides the question of the minority rights is unsettled in Albania. According to Albanian data their number amounts to approximately 66,000 humans (Atlas of the Albanian population, Tirana2003). Also in the Albanian cities Vlora and the capital Tirana live some thousand Greeks, whose families however originally originate all together from the Nordepirus.

Black sea region

the Pontier (Πόντιοι, Póndii) the largest Greek group, those reside around the black seawas. Their settlement area was enough from the city Sinop (Σινώπη, Sinópi) in the west to short before Batumi in the east. Largest city of the region was Trabzon (Τραπεζούς). Many cities in the today Turkish region were almost 100%ig of Greeks populated until 1922,but after the smallasiatic disaster 1922 all Greeks had to leave the country, and it was settled by Turks. In this region today still some Greeks (7-8%) live, but only with Turkish passport.

At the Georgian black sea coast Greeks left themselvesfrom the Pontus (Πόντος, Póndos) in the Middle Ages just as down as the Urumer in Abchasien. Many of these families were assimilated however by the native ones, the others after the case of the iron curtain usually to Greece immigrated.

Besides settledGreek to in 20. Century at the Bulgarian black sea coast around the city Burgas as well as in east thrakien. In the cities Constanţa, Plovdiv (Φιλιππόπολη, Philippópoli) as well as Odessa formed it just as large municipalities, if also not the majority of the populationas in parts of the Krim.

The Rum are descendants of the Greek Byzantiner. After the case Konstantinopels 1453 converted most of the Greek Christians remained in the black sea area to the Islam. Their Muslim descendants speak Rumca, a Greek dialect, which does not know writing. Popular music instrument is kawal, a Hirtenflöte.


lived small Asia except the Pontiern already addressed until 1922 also in other regions of small Asia. Largest Greek city in this time was Smyrna (Σμύρνη), today İzmir.Nearly the entire, today Turkish Ägäisküste was settled of Greeks. In some regions they placed the predominant population majority altogether placed it to approximately 10% of the population also at the south coast, in the today's Turkish province Hatay, lived many Greeks. Allthese had to be resettled in the course of the population exchange after 1922 in the Greek national territory. Today live except on the Turkish Ägäisinseln Imbros (Ίμβρος) and Tenedos (Tένεδος) as well as in Istanbul (Κωνσταντινούπολη, Konstantinopel) no more Greeks in Turkey. The remaining inthe province obligatory Turkish had to learn Hatay and speak, so that they were fast assimilated.

The Near East

during still at the beginning 20. Century nearly 500,000 Greeks in Egypt into and around the city Alexandria lived, were it 1950 onlymore still scarcely 100,000 and in the year 2000 hardly more than 5.000. Besides and give there were also this very day some smaller Greek municipalities in the Iraq and in Lebanon. The Greeks in the united Arab emirates and in Bahrain as immigrant workers or businessmen in the last decades there moved away.

Well-known personalities

Greek emigrants of the modern times

united kingdom

live about 190,000 Greeks here. Straight ones in London live a great many Greek zypriotische immigrants.

Greek-British personalities


in France live about 30,000 Greeks. Many well-known Greek personalities were during the Greek military dictatorshipin the French exile.

Griechisch-Französische Persönlichkeiten

North America

as part of the European immigration waves in19. and at the beginning 20. Century emigrated also many Greeks into the USA and to Canada . Many of them retained their cultural identity. The Greek message in the USA estimates the there number of the Greeks on 2.000.000.Again about 350,000 lives in Canada. Into and around Chicago about 200,000 Greeks live, into and around New York further 200.000. In Montréal and Toronto in Canada one estimates the number of the Greek inhabitants on in each case 120.000. Roads are inthese populated areas in North America often also Greek beschildert.

Greek-American personalities

Greek-Canadian personalities

South America

during the emigration wave to North America struck it also about 50,000 Greeks to South America, particularly to Brazil, where alone in São Paulo live 20,000 Greeks.


alsothese Greeks are emigrants and their descendants. 75% that about 700,000 Greeks in Australia live in Sydney and Melbourne. Meanwhile Melbourne is the third biggest Greek city of the world and the largest outside of Greece.

Greek-Australian personalities


about 1.000.000 Greeks were in the course of the immigrant worker time in that Federal Republic of Germany. Since however a continuing fluctuation prevailed, the resident population reached its highest level also over 400.000 Greeks in the years 1973 and 1974. Today scarcely 340,000 in Germany lives, the distribution is however regionally very different. It existsstrong north south downward gradient. In addition live more Greek in urban areas than on the country.

The development of the Greek resident population in Germany. Source:Federal Statistical Office

Year 1967 1970 1973 1976 1979 1982 1985
number of 200961 342891 407614 353733 296803 300824280614
year 1988 1991 1994 1997 2000 2001 2003
number of 274973 336893 355583 363202 365438 362708 354600

Greek-German personalities

of peoples with connections to the Greeks


according to a hypothesis is (obviously indogermanische) the people of the Dayuan, around 130 the v. Chr. in Chinese sources described, from descendants of Greek settlers from the time Alexanders of the large one one comes out. Thus z becomes. B. speculated that thatA name component of Yuan a transliteration of the words Yona or Yavana is, which describe the word Ionier in Pali. Then Dayuan became (literal: Large Yuan) actually “large Ionier” means. The contact of the Dayuan with the Chinese is considered as historical key event, there itthe first contact between an established indogermanischen and the Chinese culture represented. This meeting put the foundation-stone for the emergence of the silk road, those the central connection between east and west, both for the change of goods and of more culturalIdentity formed, and from the 1. Century v. Chr. up to 15. Century existence had.


the people of the Kalash or black Kafir, that in the today's Afghanistan (Kafiristan) and in adjacent Pakistan (Chitral) in a separatedMountain region (the valleys Bumburiet, Birir and Rumbur) lives, sees themselves as direct descendants of the Makedonen from the time Alexanders of the large one. They speak Kalasha or Kalashamun, one of becoming extinct threatened indoiranische and/or. dardische language. About three thousands member of the peoplein Pakistan (when only people today) retained the polytheistische religion of the antique Greeks. The names of the main Gods (Zeus Zeo, Aphrodite Frodait, Dionysos) and some important words such as demos - city state come of obviously directly to the Greek language. Is particularly important (also viticulturedriving) people the Dionysos cult, which was far common also in the brightistic Greece. All this led to different hypotheses of a direct descent of the people of the antique Greeks.


the Urum (self-designation: Urum, Pl. Urumları) are a small turksprachige minority predominantly in the Caucasus, the Südwestukraine, the Krim and the Balkans. As alternative designation also the term Graeko Tataren is well-known from the German Turkologie. The members of this group of peoples are from ethnical view as Greeks (Turkish Rum =Greek) to regard, around the year 1780 the tatarische language accepted their ancestor ( approximately 9,600 humans ). The group of peoples of the Urum covers today approximately 13,000 humans. The Urum is Greek-orthodox Christians. With censuses the Urum in Georgien becomes due to its faithas „Greeks “and not as Turkvolk specified.


  • smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Clogg: History of Greece in 19. and 20. Century. An outline, Cologne (Romiosini) 1997, ISBN 3923889137
  • Edgar Hösch: History of the Balkans countries. From the early period to the present, Munich (Beck) 1999, ISBN 3406456316
  • Manfred emperor: Migration and Remigration - the example Greece, in: Reports from the job market and occupation research, Stuttgart (Kohl hammer) 1985, document as pdf on
  • Marks of Mazower: The Balkans, Berlin (BVT) 2002, ISBN 3442760402
  • Pavlos Tzermias: NewGreek history. An introduction, a Tübingen and a Basel (Francke) 1999, ISBN 3772017924

see also


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