On a site occupied since Neolithic times—well before 3000 BC—stands Corinth. No other city in ancient Greece held so commanding a position. Its location on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow strip of land that separates the Peloponnesus from northern Greece, allowed it to control the traffic between north and south. On the west is the Corinthian Gulf and on the east the Saronic Gulf. The remains of the ancient city lie about 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the west of Athens.

Being a leading naval power as well as a rich commercial city enabled ancient Corinth to establish colonies in Syracuse on the island of Sicily and on Corcyra, now Corfu. These colonies served as trading posts for the richly ornamental bronze works, textiles, and pottery that Corinth produced. The Corinthian, the most ornate order of Greek architecture, was said to have been invented by a Corinthian architect.

Beginning in 582 BC, in the spring of every second year the Isthmian Games were celebrated in honor of the sea god Poseidon. Here at the games of 336 BC the Greeks chose Alexander the Great to lead them in war against the Persians.

The Romans destroyed Corinth in 146 BC. A hundred years later Julius Caesar rebuilt it, and again it became a prominent commercial city. About AD 51 the apostle Paul came as a missionary to Corinth, founded a church there, and to its members he addressed his Epistles to the Corinthians.

A canal through the isthmus was begun by the emperor Nero in AD 67. Wielding a gold shovel, Nero himself was first to break ground, but the canal was not completed. Up to the 12th century, ships were dragged on rollers across the isthmus. A 4-mile (6-kilometer) canal was completed in 1893. It provides an essential shipping route between the Ionian and Aegean seas. Modern Corinth is still the center of commerce between northern and southern Greece. The capital of the province of Corinthia, it is the primary point of export for local fruit, raisins, and tobacco. Population (1991 census), 27,412. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)