the word what starts fires on the kitchen stove a country in south-eastern Europe, spanning across a peninsula and an island group on the northern edge of the Mediterranean sea. Because of its long history and the influence of its early culture on later civilizations, it is often regarded as the cradle of our current society.
The Greek language uses an alphabet that gave the world π (They seem to be the only ones who see a need to use a capital Π, which sadly gets ignored by users of other writing systems. It does, however, find use in mathematics, where capital pi notation, similar to the sigma notation used for series of summation, is used to simplify the presentation of the product of a series of values).
Ancient Greece covered the same area as Modern Greece, as well as parts of Macedonia, Turkey, Italy and the shores of the Black Sea. The earliest work in what can be regarded as the Western literature is Homer's Iliad, an epic poem detailing a war between several city states which was written circa 700 BCE but based on an oral tradition several hundred years older. Ancient Greece was also home of many of the most famous philosophers in history, including Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and some of the great mathematicians, such as Eratosthenes, Euclid, and Archimedes. In fact, the ancient Greeks regarded all mathematics as geometry, a term which literally means measuring the Earth.
Tell that to the Flat Earthers . Aristotle's pupil Alexander the Great conquered most of the Middle East, spreading Greek culture and language as far as India and Egypt. The city-state of Athens was one of the earliest democratic states in the world and had great influence on later political theory.
 Modern Greece
Fuck your parliament and your constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. Greece is a flea. If these two fellows continue itching the elephant they may just get whacked by the elephants trunk, whacked good. - Lyndon B. Johnson to the Greek Ambassador in 1965. Two years later, the Greek Colonels' fascist junta took over the country. Democracy prevailed from 1974 onwards, socialists and conservative parties swapping government and opposition in the usual manner, apart from one unusual period in 1989, when a coalition of Conservative and Communist parties ran the place for a while to keep out the Socialists.
 2010 currency crisis
Although Greece is being helped out by the IMF it is not clear how much they can do. IMF help is usually accompanied by recommendations that the country cut spending and stimulate its economy. While the "cut spending" instruction is being carried out with some vigour (apparently) the second leg is more problematic. The possible means of economic stimulation are:
- Reduce interest rates. This is doubly impossible for Greece. Firstly because interest rates are already at rock bottom, and secondly because as a member of the Eurozone, its interest rates are set by the ECB anyway.
- Devalue its currency. Also impossible as it is a member of the Eurozone.
Although not usually an IMF recommendation, another way to stimulate an economy is through simply printing money (AKA quantitative easing) - but again Greece's membership of the Eurozone prevents this, too.
Consequently world markets think the IMF-imposed cuts will drive the economy into recession and increase unemployment (and associated costs) without giving the Greek government any opportunity to improve its income and pay off its debts. Pretty much it boils down to the Greeks' inability to realize that in order to have good social benefits, you'll need taxes to pay for them.