Athens (; , ''Athína'', ; , ''Athēnai'') is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning around 3,400 years, and the earliest human presence around the 11th–7th millennium BC. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state that emerged in conjunction with the seagoing development of the port of Piraeus. A centre for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy,〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Athens )〕〔(BBC History on Greek Democracy ) – Accessed on 26 January 2007〕 largely because of its cultural and political impact on the European continent and in particular the Romans.〔(Encarta Ancient Greece ) from the Internet Archive– Retrieved on 28 February 2012. (Archived ) 31 October 2009.〕 In modern times, Athens is a large cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece. In 2015, Athens was ranked the world's 29th richest city by purchasing power and the 67th most expensive in a UBS study.
Athens is recognised as a global city because of its geo-strategic location and its importance in shipping, finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, culture, education and tourism. It is one of the biggest economic centres in southeastern Europe, with a large financial sector, and its port Piraeus is the largest passenger port in Europe,〔cite web |url=http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/china-seeks-gateway-to-europe-with-greek-port-a-1027458.html〕〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Piraeus by Maritime Database )〕 and the second largest in the world. The municipality (City) of Athens had a population of 664,046 (in 2011,〔 796,442 in 2004) within its administrative limits, and a land area of . The urban area of Athens (Greater Athens and Greater Piraeus) extends beyond its administrative municipal city limits, with a population of 3,090,508 (in 2011)〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=ΕΛΣΤΑΤ Απογραφη 2011 )〕 over an area of .〔 According to Eurostat in 2004, the Athens Larger Urban Zone (LUZ) was the 7th most populous LUZ in the European Union (the 5th most populous capital city of the EU), with a population of 4,013,368. Athens is also the southernmost capital on the European mainland.
The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of Ottoman monuments.
Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1834, include the Hellenic Parliament (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy, consisting of the National Library of Greece, the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics. Athens is home to the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, as well as the new Acropolis Museum.
In Ancient Greek, Athens' name was (''Athēnai'', in Classical Attic) a plural. In earlier Greek, such as Homeric Greek, the name was in the singular form, as (''Athēnē'')〔As for example in (Od.7.80 )〕 and was then rendered in the plural, like those of (''Thēbai'') and (''Μukēnai''). The root of the word is probably not of Greek or Indo-European origin, and is a possible remnant of the Pre-Greek substrate of Attica,〔R. S. P. Beekes, ''Etymological Dictionary of Greek'', Brill, 2009, p. 29 (''s.v.'' "Ἀθήνη").〕 as with the name of the goddess Athena (Attic ''Athēnā'', Ionic ''Athēnē'' and Doric ''Athānā''), who was always related to the city of Athens. During the medieval period the name of the city was rendered once again in the singular as . However, because of the conservatism of the written language, (:aˈθine) remained the official name of the city until the abandonment of Katharevousa in the 1970s, when Ἀθήνα became the official name.
Previously, there had been other etymologies by scholars of the 19th century. Lobeck proposed as the root of the name the word (''athos'') or (''anthos'') meaning flower, to denote Athens as the ''flowering'' city. On the other hand, Döderlein proposed the stem of the verb , stem θη- (''thaō'', stem ''thē-'', "to suck") to denote Athens as having fertile soil.〔''Great Greek Encyclopedia'', vol. II, page 30, Athens, 1927〕
An etiological myth explaining how Athens has acquired this name was well known among ancient Athenians and even became the theme of the sculpture on the West pediment of the Parthenon. The goddess of wisdom, Athena and the god of the seas, Poseidon had many disagreements and battles between them, and one of these was a race to be the Patron God of the city. In an attempt to compel the people, Poseidon created a salt water spring by striking the ground with his trident, symbolizing naval power. However, when Athena created the olive tree, symbolizing peace and prosperity, the Athenians, under their ruler Cecrops, accepted the olive tree and named the city after Athena.
The city is sometimes referred in Greek as "", which means in English ''the glorious city'', or simply as "" (''protevousa''), 'the capital'.
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