you have decided to tour our website regarding adventure travel
to Greece, we felt it was important for you to become aware of
some interesting facts about our inspiring country.
Let us start with the name Greece. In Greek it is
called Hellas, and is officially known as the Hellenic Republic
or (Elliniki Dimokratia). Its location is in southeastern Europe
occupying the southern most part of the Balkan Peninsula and it
is a member of the European Union (EU). The largest city and the
Greek capital is Athens.
Shipping and tourism are the dominant industries
of Greece. The country's merchant ship fleet is one of the largest
in the world.
The Greek people have a proud history that stretches
back thousands of years. In the first millennium BC, ancient Greek
city-states led by Athens made tremendous advances in government,
philosophy, and the arts.
The ancient Greek civilization was concentrated
on the coastlines of present-day Greece and its islands, as well
as the Aegean coast of what is today Turkey. The archaeological
remains of many of the cities and sacred sites of ancient Greece
are located in modern Greece.
THE MAINLAND AND ISLANDS
The landscape of Greece is covered by spectacular
mountain ranges that border the sea. The Aegean, Mediterranean,
and Ionian seas constitute the country's eastern, southern, and
western borders, and no part of mainland Greece is more than 100
km (60 miles) from the water. Islands constitute about one-fifth
of the country's land area.
Greece's total area is 131,957 sq km (50,949 sq
account for about 20 percent of that figure. From north to south,
the greatest distance between points on Greek territory is 793
km (493 mi.); from east to west it is 992 km (616 mi.).
Mainland Greece includes the regions of Thrace and
Macedonia in the north; Epirus, Thessaly (Thessalia), and Central
Greece in the central section; and the Peloponnisos, a peninsula
connected to the rest of the mainland by the Isthmus of Corinth,
in the south.
Of Greece's more than 2,000 islands, only about
160 are inhabited. Major islands include Crete (Kriti), Euboea
(Evvoia), Ikaria (Icaria), Khios (Chios), Limnos (Lemnos), Lesvos
(Lesbos), Samos, Samothraki (Samothrace), and Thasos. Greece also
has four island groups: the Northern Sporades, the Cyclades (Kikladhes),
the Dodecanese, and the Ionian Islands. Like much of the mainland,
of which they are geological extensions, the islands are generally
mountainous and dry. The islands of the Aegean Sea are hilly,
rugged, stony, and dry.
About 80 percent of Greece's land area are mountainous.
The Pindus Mountains, with an average elevation of about 2,650
m (about 8,700 ft), extend from north to south through the middle
of the mainland. A northeastern spur of the Pindus range includes
Greece's highest point, Mount Olympus (2,917 m/9,570 ft), considered
in ancient times to be the home of the gods. Lower mountain ranges,
including the Taiyetos Mountains on the Peloponnisos, generally
run from northeast to southwest through the country, including
on the islands. Much of Greece lies in an earthquake zone, and
earthquakes do occur frequently.
Although Greece is relatively small, its coastline
totals 13,700 km (8,500 mi.), making it one of the longest of
any country in the world. The coastal waters of Greece are very
shallow and penetrate far inland. The gulfs of Corinth and Saronikos,
separated by the Isthmus of Corinth, divide the Peloponnisos from
central and northern Greece. Despite its indented coasts, Greece
has few good harbors. The Gulf of Saronikos has the best anchorages,
notably in the natural harbor of Piraeus (Pireas), which is the
port of Athens. Corfu (Kerkira), one of the Ionian Islands, also
has a very good harbor.
PLANTS AND ANIMALS
flora of all the regions of our country is the richest in Europe,
following the Iberian peninsula's, with more than 6.000 species
and subspecies, of which 700-750 are indigenous, that is they
can be found only within the boundaries of the greek territory.
Greece is the richest country in Europe in indigenous vegetation.
Equally rich is the variety of fauna species living,
nesting, propagating or migrating in the greek regions, and particularly
116 mammal species, 422 fowling species and sizable fish fauna
(of the 579 fish species of the Mediterranean Sea, the 447 have
been registered in the greek seas).
Greece has a diverse amount of vegetation. From
sea level to an elevation of 460 m (1,500 ft), oranges, olives,
dates, pomegranates, figs, cotton, and tobacco are grown. From
120 to 460 m (400 to 1,500 ft) are deciduous and evergreen forests
containing oak, black pine, chestnut, beech, and sumac. Tulips,
hyacinths, and laurels are also characteristic of this elevation.
Firs and wild flowers such as anemone and cyclamen are found above
1,200 m (4,000 ft), and mosses and lichens predominate above 1,500
m (5,000 ft).
Wildlife in Greece includes boar, European black
bear, lynx, jackal, chamois, deer, fox, badger, and weasel. Among
the birds are the hawk, pelican, egret, pheasant, partridge, nightingale,
turtledove, and stork. Marine life includes squid, octopus, cod,
bass, whitebait, and red mullet.
Greece is relatively poor in natural resources.
Bauxite, from which aluminum is produced, is the most significant
mineral resource, and there are also deposits of asbestos, nickel,
magnesite, and marble. Greece's small petroleum deposits, located
under the Aegean Sea near the island of Thasos, are rapidly being
depleted. To further the matter, there are no significant reserves
of natural gas.
Greece's forests, most probably abundant in ancient
times, have been significantly depleted. Subsequent soil erosion
has made reforestation efforts difficult. Although much of Greece's
soil is rocky and dry, the country's mountains are interspersed
with small valleys where the soils are of the rich Mediterranean
terra rosa (red earth) variety. Cultivated fields and orchards
cover 30 percent of the country. The fertile plains of Thessaly,
Macedonia, and western Thrace are prime agricultural areas.
Greece's climate varies according to each region.
The southern and central portions of the country experience the
traditional Mediterranean climate of hot, dry summers and mild,
wet winters. The continental climate of northern Greece is marked
by colder winters.
There is also considerable regional variation in
the annual rainfall, with areas to the west of the Pindus Mountains
receiving far more rain than those to the east. The Ionian island
of Corfu (Kerkira), located off the mainland's northwestern coast,
receives an average of 1,000 mm (40 in) of rain per year, whereas
the average annual rainfall in Athens in central Greece is 400
mm (16 in). Snow is common in the mountains. The average January
temperature in Athens is 10°C (50°F); the July average
is 28°C (82°F).
Athens is the most highly industrialized and densely
populated city in Greece. Owing largely to the country's rapid
industrialization and its automobile emissions, air pollution
is a severe problem in the city. Air pollution has also degraded
many classical Greek antiquities, especially in Athens. In an
effort to combat air pollution, the government limits the number
of automobiles allowed to enter the city, especially on days with
high pollution levels. The government also encourages its citizens
to use vehicles that pollute less. An additional important step
in combating pollution has been the use of solar collectors to
Greece is party to treaties concerning air pollution,
biodiversity, climate change, endangered species, hazardous wastes,
marine dumping, ship pollution, tropical timber, and wetlands.