Greece achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1829 and became a kingdom (1832-1924). During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, Greece gradually added neighboring islands and territories, most with Greek-speaking populations.The kingdom was restored in 1935 and lasted until 1974. In World War II, Greece was first invaded by Italy (1940) and subsequently occupied by Germany (1941-44); fighting endured in a protracted civil war between supporters of the king and Communist rebels. Following the latter's defeat in 1949, Greece joined NATO in 1952. In 1967, a group of military officers seized power, establishing a military dictatorship that suspended many political liberties and forced the king to flee the country. In 1974, democratic elections and a referendum created a parliamentary republic and abolished the monarchy. In 1981, Greece joined the EC (now the EU); it became the 12th member of the European Economic and Monetary Union in 2001.
Greece began printing their stamps in 1861. Printing of Mary stamps began in 1943.