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Greece is justly famous for its glittering seas the endless blue skies and the glaring sunlight. From indented coastlines and rugged beauty of mountains to picturesque whitewashed villages and way of life, Greece proves to be a country with warm heart. No doubt it is one of the oldest worldwide travel destinations that continues to offer sheer enjoyment to the visitors. In Greece was developed the first humanistic civilization and the mental repository of its intellectuals have prominence in the world cultural heritage. Tangible elements of this heritage are the well-known historical sites and architectural treasures of ancient and medieval era. Literally there is no part of Greece that will leave visitors uninterested while often the world-old astonishing natural sights take their breath away.
Beyond the countless exquisite photos that fill tourist guides and websites, when you visit to, Greece fascinates you with its incredible natural beauty, yet mainly with the plethora of cultural elements developed over many centuries that provide to Greece even today, in the era of osmosis of cultures, a unique character world-wide. Despite the large tourist flow, many places, mainly island or very mountainous, stubbornly resist to the erosion of their character. A character that today, as a proposal for culture and as a proposal for lifestyle with strong qualities and universal acceptance, is called Greekness internationally.
General facts about Greece
Greece is a member of the European Union, with the Agion Oros (the Athos peninsula) being a self-governed part of the Greek State. The regime of Greece is a parliamentary democracy and the transaction currency is the Euro. The capital city of Greece is Athens which joined with Piraeus forms its greatest city, with second largest city being that of Thessaloniki.
According to the 2011 census Greece has 10.8 million inhabitants of whom about one million live in the islands. According to other sources the percentage distribution of officially declared religion among citizens approximately is 97% Orthodox Christians, 1% Christian Catholics and Protestants, 1% Sunni Muslims and 1% other religions. Regardless of the officially declared religion, according to the Eurobarometer of 2005, 81% of Greek citizens believe to the existence of God, 16% believe to the existence of a spiritual power of some kind while just 3% answer atheist which as a percentage is of the lowest in Europe.
The main sources of Gross National Product of Greece are tourism, shipping and agriculture. Tourism especially, accounts for 20% of GDP with foreign visitors to reach 10 million in the good years. This is no coincidence as the Greeks constitute an open and hospitable nation. Today, Greece is in the midst of a severe economic crisis and an unprecedented migratory flow. At the same time though the tourist flow in alluring Greece still rises due to the continuous improvement of country’s potential, due to the clearly improved image of Greece in the countries of origin of tourists, due to more attractive prices, and because of the prolonged instability in the countries of Eastern Mediterranean.
Greece, as a part of the European continent is situated in the southernmost tip of the Balkan Peninsula, namely at the most south-eastern point of Europe. As Greece is a peninsula, it is surrounded to the east, south and west by sea and so only from north it has land borders with other countries (Albania, FYROM, Bulgaria, and Turkey).
The country consists of mainland Greece and the islands and covers a total area of 131.944 square kilometers (50,944 mi²). From this overall area 106.777 square kilometers (41,227 mi²) is covered by the mainland of Greece and the rest of 25.167 square kilometers (9,717 mi²) of land is covered by the islands. The sea space where the Greek Islands are throughout dispersed occupies 65% of Greek territory, while its extensive coastline is longer than any other country in the Mediterranean and eleventh in size worldwide. The marine nature of Greece is so manifest that it is worth noting that just about no part of land is more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) distant from the sea.
The morphology of Greece
Mainland Greece consists of the departments of Attica, Peloponnese, Sterea, Thessaly, Epirus, Macedonia, and Thrace, while the islands are distributed eastwards to the Aegean Sea, westwards to the Ionian Sea, and southwards to the Cretan Sea.
The entire geographic area of Greece is characterized by an enormous diversity of form. Mainland Greece is generally mountainous with few plains having around ¾ of sovereign land occupied by the wild nature. There are many underground rivers that appear as springs which feed relatively small rivers that often become impetuous. The main massif is the mountain range of Pindos at the west that forms the backbone of Greece with high mountains and therein lies the Vikos Gorge which is the deepest gorge worldwide. The highest mountain in Greece, however, is the well-known Olympus which stands just about alone at the central east with the highest peak of the Pantheon reaching 2,917 metres (9,570 ft). Those pronounced folds of land have given Greece a rugged beauty and a lacelike contour which with its endless surprises contributes to this incomparable beauty of the Greek coastline, in mainland and island alike, which is not encountered anywhere else in the Mediterranean.
Variform relief appears also on the seabed of Greece which was part of the land millions of years ago. Especially the Aegean Sea where today’s islands were once mountain tops, was then the most flat part of the wider region having today relatively small depths with the exception of the North Aegean trench with maximum depth of 1600 meters and the Chios basin with a maximum depth of 1160 meters. South and west though are detected much greater sea depths and in particular the deepest point of Mediterranean with a maximum depth of 5.267 meters (17,280 ft) is the Oinousses Deep (Calypso Deep) at the sea area southwest of Pylos of Peloponnese. The amazing scenery of the Aegean and Ionian seas dotted with their numerous islands made Greece the most sought after destination in Europe and Mediterranean and one of the top destinations worldwide for sailing holidays.
The climate of Greece
The climate in Greece is generally Mediterranean yet it evinces its own particular characteristics. Due to its specific geographical position, Greece is endowed with a pleasant and very healthy climate where winters are mild while the hot days of the exotic summer are fanned by cool northerly winds, the meltemi, which remove atmospheric moisture and provide pleasant sailing to those who charter sailboats and to windsurfers.
The particular climatic subtype varies depending on the region of Greece mainly because of the large height differences and the alternations between land and sea. Something that occurs in very few countries in the world is to observe noticeable climatic differences even in areas with short distance between them. In general though, the northern and western Greece is characterized by humid climate while the east from dry climate. The high mountains of mainland Greece receive much snow in winter and several rains in spring and autumn. The west coast receives more rain while the east coast is cooled in summer by the winds of Aegean.
During most of the year the sky of Greece is characterized by extended periods of sunshine while the rain even in winter lasts for a few days. In January and in the first half of February the winter is interrupted by sunny spring-like days called ‘Halcyon days’ since the ancient times. From April to October the climate is warm and rainless apart of a few short exceptions. This way the climatic conditions favor Greece with an average 3.000 hours of sunshine and a glowing balmy sunlight that surrounds in a unique way whatever has not escaped the bosom of.
For a weather forecast follow the link Greece-weather.
Flora and fauna of Greece
Neither the vegetation of Greece strays from the norm of diversity. The indigenous plants that have been recorded so far are more than 6000 species. In the cultivated parts dominate olives, vines, and mulberries. Cypresses and palm trees are not missing in decorating the landscape. In the dense forests of Greece dominate pine trees, oaks and firs. In these forests or in the non-cultivated land around the forests live many species of wildlife such as wild boars, roe deer, the last brown bears, the very rare lynx, and the endangered Bonelli’s eagle. Bird watchers find much interest in the vast wetlands while generally in Greece are found around 300 endemic and migratory bird species. On some islands live wild goats while on some other find shelter some rare marine species such as the monk seal and the loggerhead sea turtle.