Demographic history of Greece

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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 Hellenes

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 Hellas[citation needed]

By the time the Dark Ages were underway in Hellas 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 Hellenic archipelago contained 3,000,000 people out of 5,000,000 people in the Balkans. Alexander's campaigns opened the whole Orient to Hellenic settlements, an outlet for the overpopulation back home. As a result, Asia Minor received the bulk of the Hellenic expansion. By 200 AD, and after the fruits of Roman peace had settled in, 6,000,000 people in Asia Minor viewed themselves as Hellenes 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 Hellenic population.

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 Hellenic 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 Byzantines 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 Turks.

The loss of a considerable area in Asia Minor along with a series of conflicts henceforth with the Ottomans never allowed the Hellenic 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 Hellenic habitancy in 1922 after defeat by Turkey and the population exchange which saw 2,000,000 hellenes move across the Aegean. 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
1500 BC 500,000 - 2,000,000 Hellas proper + Asia Minor
1000 BC 1,000,000 - 1,500,000 Hellas proper + Asia Minor
500 BC 2,500,000 - 12,500,000 Hellas proper + Asia Minor
400 BC 3,500,000 - 15,000,000 Hellas proper + Asia Minor
1 BC 5,000,000 - 7,000,000 Hellas proper + Asia Minor
200 AD 8,000,000 - 10,000,000 Hellas proper + Asia Minor
400 AD 8,000,000 - 12,000,000 Hellas proper + Asia Minor
600 AD 6,000,000 - 8,000,000 Hellas 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 Hellas proper + Asia Minor
1600 4,500,000 Hellas proper + Asia Minor
1800 4,500,000 Hellas proper + Asia Minor
1900 6,000,000 Hellas proper + Asia Minor
1928 6,204,684 Hellas proper
2001 10,964,020 Hellas proper
2007 11,205,946 Hellas proper[1]

See also[edit]

Demographic history of modern Greece


  1. ^ "World Gazetteer, Greece". Archived from the original on 2007-10-01. 


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