Greece has one of the richest histories in the world. Archaeological excavations have showed that the first settlement of the country dates started from the Palaeolithic Age. During the following Neolithic Age, an abundance of settlements were found throughout the entire country while the first urban and cultural centres appeared in the region of the Aegean during the Bronze Age. Flourishing settlements were also found on Crete, the Cyclades, the Northeast Aegean and Mainland Greece. The organized palatial societies of Minoan Crete appeared at the beginning of the 2nd century BC, resulting into the first systematic scripts.  The epicentre of the Minoans was the Palace of Knossos, where they developed a communication network with races of the Eastern Mediterranean region, adopted certain elements and influenced cultures of the Aegean and Mainland of Greece. The Mycenaean Civilization of Greece became the dominant force of the Aegean Sea, as they took advantage of the destruction of Crete from the volcanic eruption of Santorini during 1.500 BC.  Their citadels in several areas of the country became the centres of their bureaucratic kingdoms. The extensive destruction of the Mycenaean centres led to the decline of the civilization and caused a migration to the coastal regions Asia and Cyprus around 1200 BC. After two millenniums of economic and cultural inactivity, known as the Dark Years (1.150 – 900 BC), the Geometric Period then followed (9th to 8th Century BC). These centuries were the beginning of the Renaissance Years of Greece marked from the formation of the city states of the country, the creation of the Greek alphabet and the composition of the Homeric epics. The following period of the Archaic Period (7th to 6th Century BC) were a period of major political and social changes. The city states of Greece established colonies as far as Spain to the west, the Black Sea and North Africa to the south leading to the foundations for the acme during the Classical Period. The Classical Years  (4th – 5th Century BC) are characterized from the political and cultural dominance of Athens that led to the Golden Age of Pericles. However, Athens lost its leading role after the Peloponnesian War (404 BC). During the 4th Century BC, the Macedonians with Philip II and Alexander the Great, his son, began to play the leading role of Greece, where Alexander conquered all the areas of the East until India. Nine years later, Alexander the Great died in Babylon and his empire was attacked and governed from his inheritors. In the Hellenistic Period (3rd to 1st Century BC), Greece was conquered from the Roman Empire, which was divided into the Western and the Eastern Empire, where Roman emperors acted as benefactors of the Greek cities owing to their admiration of the Greek culture. Christianity, the new religion that would depose the Dodekatheon worshipping, was established spreading all over the country through the travels of Apostle Paul during the 1st Century AD. Constantine the Great decided to move the capital from Rome to Constantinople (324 BC), shifting the focus of attention to the eastern part of the empire. This event marked the beginning of the Byzantine Years, where Greece became part of the Byzantine Empire. Although Constantinople was conquered from Western Crusaders (1204 AD), regions of Greece were apportioned out to western leaders while strategic positions of the Aegean were occupied from the Venetians in order to control trade routes. The reoccupation of Constantinople from the Byzantine (1262 AD) marked the last years of the empire, as it was conquered from the Ottoman Turks in 1453. After four centuries of Ottoman occupation and a series of efforts for rebellions, the Greek War of Independence started in March of 1821 and the country got its freedom back in 1830 with limited sovereign land, where the first independent state was formed from the governor named Ioannis Kapodistrias. In 1831, Ioannis Kapodistrias was assassinated and the Bavarian prince Otto became the first king of Greece. During that period, Britain gave the Ionian Islands back to Greece and Thessaly were attached back to the State of Greece from the Turks. Eastern Aegean Islands, Macedonia and Crete became a part of the State of Greece during the 20th century. At that time, Eleftherios Venizelos, one of the most important politicians of Greece, was elected as the Prime Minister of Greece. During the Second World War, Greece resisted from various Axis forces but eventually was conquered from the Germans and the Italians. After the war, the Dodecanese islands were attached back to the State of Greece. Three decades of political chaos followed, including a military junta, which ended in 1974. Since 1975, Parliamentary Republic is the official political regime of Greece. Greece became a member of the European Union in 1981.