The Aegean Sea lies to the east of the mainland, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin and the 11th longest coastline in the world at 13,676 km (8,498 mi) in length, featuring a vast number of islands (approximately 1,400, of which 227 are inhabited). Eighty percent of Greece consists of mountains, of which Mount Olympus is the highest, at 2,917 m (9,570 ft).
Modern Greece traces its roots to the civilization of Mycenaean Greece and is considered the cradle of all Western civilization. As such, it is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, Western literature and historiography, political science, major scientific and mathematical principles, and Western drama, including both tragedy and comedy. The cultural and technological achievements of Greece greatly influenced the world, with many aspects of Greek civilization being imparted to the East through Alexander the Great's campaigns, and to the West through the Roman Empire. This rich legacy is partly reflected in the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Greece, ranking it 7th in Europe and 13th in the world. The modern Greek state, which comprises much of the historical core of Greek civilization, was established in 1830 following the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire. Greece is a democratic, developed country with an advanced high-income economy, a high standard of living and a very high Human Development Index. Greece is a founding member of the United Nations, a member of what is now the European Union since 1981 (and the eurozone since 2001), and is also a member of numerous other international institutions, including the Council of Europe, NATO[a], OECD, OSCE and the WTO. Greece's economy is also the largest in the Balkans, where Greece is an important regional investor.