Crete

Crete


 Is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the 13 administrative regions of Greece. The capital and the largest city of Crete is Heraklion. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits (such as its own poetry, and music). Crete was once the center of the Minoan civilization(c. 2700–1420 BC), which is currently regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe.



The island has an elongated shape: it spans 260 km (160 mi) from east to west, is 60 km (37 mi) at its widest point, and narrows to as little as 12 km(close to Ierapetra). Crete covers an area of 8,336 km2 (3,219 sq mi), with a coastline of 1,046 km (650 mi); to the north, it broaches the Sea of Crete (Greek: Κρητικό Πέλαγος); to the south, the Libyan Sea in the west, the Myrtoan Sea, and toward the east the Karpathian Sea. It lies approximately 160 km (99 mi) south of the Greek mainland. A large number of islands, islets, and rocks hug the coast of Crete. Many are visited by tourists, some are visited only by archaeologists and biologists. Some are environmentally protected.

A small sample of the islands include:

  • Gramvousa (Kissamos, Chania) the pirate island opposite the Balo lagoon
  • Elafonisi (Chania), which commemorates a shipwreck and an Ottoman massacre
  • Chrysi island (Ierapetra, Lasithi), which hosts the largest natural Lebanon cedar forest in Europe
  • Paximadia island (Agia Galini, Rethymno) where the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis were born

The Venetian fort and leper colony at Spinalonga opposite the beach and shallow waters of Elounda (Ag. Nikolaos, Lasithi) Dionysades islands which are in an environmentally protected region together the Palm Beach Forest of Vai in the municipality of Sitia, Lasithi


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