Demographic history of Greece

Agriculture came to Europe from Asia via the Balkans, which was one of the first areas in Europe to experience the neolithic transformation. As early as 5000 BC the areas mesolithic population had been transformed to a peasant society of 250,000 people, which in turn grew to 2,000,000 people by the Bronze Age. By then the art of writing had been imported to the Greeks, Linear B was used to record accounts, and evident from this was the level of sophistication which most certainly reflected in the population distribution. If 2,000,000 people lived in the Balkans in 1250 BC, 1,000,000 people lived in Greece.

By the time the Dark Ages were underway in Greece in the 7th century BC, so was the population which exploded and carried more than half of its share of the Balkan total and over 2,000,000 people in absolute numbers. By the 5th century, the Greek archipelago contained 3,000,000 people out of 5,000,000 people in the Balkans. Classical Greece, an A-plus society of any ranking, fits snugly into the idea that overpopulation brings the best out of people. Alexander's campaigns opened the whole Orient to Greek settlements, an outlet for the overpopulation back home. As a result Asia Minor received the bulk of the Greek expansion. By 200 AD, and after the fruits of Roman peace had settled in, 6,000,000 people in Asia Minor viewed themselves as Greeks of the Roman world, and another 1,000,000 Armenians oscillated between Roman and Persian authority.

For the next 15 centuries Asia Minor would carry the bulk of the Greek population. Greece proper was a backwater population-wise, remaining below the 2,000,000 people limit until the 18th century.

After the reign of Emperor Heraclius and the loss of all of its overseas borders, Byzantine territories were pretty much limited to the Balkans and Anatolia, both Greek populated areas. When Byzantium began to recover after a series of conflicts in the 8th century and its territories stabilized, its population began to recover. By the end of the 8th century there were 7,000,000 Byzantines, a figure that climbed to 12,000,000 Byzatines by 1025. The numbers began falling steadily to 9,000,000 Byzantines at 1204 and even lower to 5,000,000 Byzantines at 1281 with the arrival of the Turk.

The loss of a considerable area in Asia Minor along with a series of conflicts henceforth with the Ottomans never allowed the Greek population to recover and over the next few centuries remained stable between the range of 4 - 5,000,000 people. Asia Minor would be completely lost to Greek habitancy in 1922 after defeat by Turkey and the population exchange which saw 2,000,000 Greeks move across the Aegean. sorru Henceforth, Greek population began to rise steadily in numbers to an all-time high for the peninsula and archipelago of 11,000,000 people by 2007.

Year Population Notes Area
400 BC 3,500,000 Greece proper + Asia Minor
1 BC 5,000,000 Greece proper + Asia Minor
200 AD 8,000,000 Greece proper + Asia Minor
400 AD 8,000,000 Greece proper + Asia Minor
600 AD 6,000,000 Greece proper + Asia Minor
780 AD 7,000,000 Byzantine Empire
1025 12,000,000 Byzantine Empire
1143 10,000,000 Byzantine Empire
1204 9,000,000 Byzantine Empire
1281 5,000,000 Byzantine Empire
1400 4,500,000 Greece proper + Asia Minor
1600 4,500,000 Greece proper + Asia Minor
1800 4,500,000 Greece proper + Asia Minor
1900 6,000,000 Greece proper + Asia Minor
1928 6,204,684 Greece proper
2001 10,964,020 Greece proper
2007 11,205,946 Greece proper[1]

Demographic history of Modern Greece



  • Warren Treadgold, "History of the Byzantine State and Society", 1999
  • Mcevedy and Jones, "Atlas of world population history", 1978

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