Crete facts - Crete Geography
Basic Facts about Crete and the Geography of Crete
nisos Kriti = island of Crete. Crete is a region of Greece, it is
the biggest island and the most southern one, except for the little
island of Gavdos.
Description: Crete is 260 km (160 miles) long and
56 km (35 miles) at its widest point. The area is 8,260 sq km (3,190
Population: the population of Crete is close to 600,000. The population of
Greece is 10,665,989 (2003 estimate).
Religion: Greek Orthodox
Currency: Euro is the new currency of Greece since
Main Cities and Towns in Crete:
North coast: Heraklion (200,000), Chania (80,000), Rethymnon (35,000), Agios Nikolaos, Sitia.
South coast: Ierapetra, Mires, Timbaki, Paleochora.
Crete Airports: There are five airports in Crete but
only three of them are used for passenger flights: the Heraklion
airport, the Chania airport in Akrotiri and the Sitia airport.
The airports of Kastelli and Timbaki are military airports.
Crete Harbours: In Crete there are two main harbours:
the Heraklion harbour and the Souda Bay harbour. The harbours in
Rethymnon, Agios Nikolaos and Sitia are much smaller. Along the south
coast there are various fishing ports.
Crete Mountains: Crete is a mountainous island and the
island's history, as well as the personality of its inhabitants was
greatly affected by these mountains. In the west there are Lefka
Ori (White Mountains): 2453m, in the center there is Mt
Idi (Psiloritis): 2456m and in the east there is Mt Dikti:
2148m. Cretan mountains form a continuous chain from one end of the
island to the other and they make Crete look much larger than it
Crete Rivers: Rivers in Crete are short and they dry
up in the summer months. Rivers which flows year-round are the river
at Preveli in southern Rethymnon district and the river at Vrisses
in Chania district.
Crete Lakes: the lake of Kournas, a small but beautiful
lake with many taverns around it.
Crete Islands: There are several small islands very close
to Crete: Gavdos island is the southest border of Europe and it is
populated. The islands of Hrissi or Gaidouronissi, Koufonissi, Dia,
Paximadia, Gramvoussa are much smaller and not populated. Most of
them are popular destinations for one-day cruises from Crete.
The Cyclades island of Santorini or Thira is close
to Crete also and there are daily cruises to it too.
Administration. Crete is one of the 13
administrative divisions of Greece.
In Crete there are 4 Nomoi
or Prefectures and many Dimoi (Municipalities). Each Dimos is consisted
of various towns and villages.
- Nomoi or Prefectures in Crete
Economy: The main sources of wealth in Crete are
agriculture and tourism. The cultivation of the olive
tree is very important in Crete and excellent virgin olive oil
is produced here. Other important products include oranges, grapes
and vegetables from greenhouses. Honey, cheese and herbs are of excellent
quality also. Finally, big numbers of sheep and goats are raised
History. Cretan History starts at 6000 BC, when
the island was first inhabited. The best known period is the Bronze
Age (2600-1100 BC), the period of the Minoan Civilization.
During that period Cretans colonized Cyclades Islands and in Crete
the palaces of Knossos, Festos and Zakros were built.
While Egyptians were afraid of the "Big Blue", Minoan ships used
to travel and trade all around Mediterranean Sea. The cultural influence
of the various nations Cretans came in contact with, gave birth to
this civilization that we still admire and which is considered to
be the first high-level civilization in Europe.
The Land: The north coast is the main tourist area
of Crete and all cities are located there. The southern coast is
the ideal place for the tourist who is in search of an isolated beach.
Unfortunately as each year passes and their whereabouts become known,
such beaches become a little more difficult to find. Naturism is
a common practice on many isolated beaches. The south is also a good
place if you want to train yourself in driving in narrow and very
from the coastal regions, the interior is a far less well known part
of Crete. This is the mountainous area of Crete; the roads may be
really bad, the road signs are of little help and it's hard to find
an English speaking person. Here is the place to search for small
villages without the familiar "Rent a Room" or "Restaurant" signs.
It is the place to meet the real Cretans: proud and friendly people,
with a great sense of humor, ready to help you in any way they can
and offer you a glass of "raki" (the locally produced colorless drink).
When you meet them in the road just smile and say "kalimera=good
morning", "kalispera=good evening" or "yasas=hello".
If you ask for some information and want to thank them, then "efharisto=
thank you" is the right Greek word.
The people of Crete
There is a very good description of
the people of Crete by the Frankish Bishop of Athens, L.Petit:
" They are a truly admirable people who learnt to hold on stubbornly
throughout the tumultuous events of forty centuries to their native
character and local speech. Courage, mingled with an independent
spirit that is often close to downright disobedience, a lively
wit, vivid imagination, and a language full of images, spontaneous
and unaffected, love for every kind of adventure, an indefatigable
urge for freedom, that goes hand in hand with an insatiable desire
for bravado... A fertile land that has always given birth to the
worthiest of men both in Church and State, in science and letters,
in the economy and in war..."
(From : "History of Crete", Theoharis Detorakis ISBN 960-220-712-4)