How Did Ancient Greece Colonize?

Ancient Greece is known for its vast cultural and intellectual contributions to the world. However, they also left a significant impact on history through their colonization efforts.

Colonization was a common practice in ancient times, and Greece was no exception. In this article, we will explore how ancient Greece colonized and the reasons behind their expansion.

The Reasons Behind Ancient Greek Colonization

The ancient Greeks had several reasons for colonizing new territories. The primary reason was overpopulation in their homeland. Greece was a small country with limited resources, and as the population grew, it became increasingly challenging to support everyone.

Another reason for colonization was trade. The Greeks were great traders and merchants who needed access to new markets to sell their goods. Colonies provided them with an opportunity to establish new trade routes and expand their business.

Finally, some Greek colonies were established for military purposes. These colonies served as strategic outposts that could protect the motherland from potential invaders.

The Process of Colonization

The colonization process began with the founding of a colony or city-state (polis). The Greeks typically sent out an expedition led by a leader or a group of leaders called oikistes. Once they arrived at their destination, they would search for a suitable location to build their city-state.

The location had to meet several criteria such as being near water sources for drinking and irrigation, having fertile land for agriculture, and being easily defensible against potential attacks from neighboring tribes or civilizations.

Once they found a suitable location, they would establish a settlement by building houses, fortifications, temples, and other essential structures. They would also establish relationships with neighboring tribes or civilizations through diplomacy or force if necessary.

The Impact of Ancient Greek Colonization

Ancient Greek colonization had a significant impact on history. It helped spread Greek culture and influence across the Mediterranean region and beyond. The colonies became centers of trade, education, and art, and they played a crucial role in the development of Western civilization.

Greek colonization also helped spread the concept of democracy. The Greeks believed in the rule of law and individual freedoms, which they implemented in their colonies. This concept later influenced the development of democratic governments worldwide.


In conclusion, ancient Greek colonization was driven by several factors such as overpopulation, trade, and military strategy. The process involved sending out expeditions to find suitable locations for settlement and establishing relationships with neighboring tribes or civilizations. Greek colonization had a significant impact on history by spreading Greek culture and influence across the Mediterranean region, developing centers of trade, education, and art, and spreading the concept of democracy.