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About Crete - Geography

Crowning the southern-most part of the Aegean, Crete has been standing there for centuries, proud bearer of its past; a past that blends myth and historical fact, power and demise, leadership and defeat, but never subjugation, never weakness. Its terrain unpredictable... filled with mountain ranges, intense and defying, serene plateaus - blessed with the rich vegetation that only gods could bestow on this island - interspersed with wide expanses of serene valleys and gentle hills, that meet the waters of the sea, some times with fierce determination, others with quiet resolve.

Found in the crossroads of three continents, Crete is surrounded be the Lybian Sea, the Cretan Seam the Karpatian Sea and the Myrtoon Sea. Its geostrategic positions is of great importance, a fact explaining its adventurous history. The shape of the island is narrow but long, with a a length of 260 km. and width of 60 km. and just 12 km. in its most narrow part, which is located in the area of Ierapetra. Crete is the biggest among the Greek islands, with a total area of 8,303 square km., including the areas of the little islands of Dia and Gavdos. The latter represents the southernmost point of Greece. Its extensive beaches - of great variety of terrain - have a total length of 1,064.4 km. The population of the island amounts up to about 500.000 residents, who live mainly off agriculture, animal husbandry and as of lately off tourism. Administratively, the island is divided into four Counties. The County of Chania, with Chania as its capital City, the County of Rethymon with the homonymous capital city, the County of Lasithi, with Aghios Nikolaos as its capital, and the County of Heraklion, with its capital, the city of Heraklion being the largest city on the island with about 100.000 inhabitants.

Crete lies at the point where the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa meet. It is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean with an area of 8,335 square kilometres. It has an elongated shape with an east-west axis and a length of 257km and a maximum width of 60km. However, in the area of Ierapetra, Crete is only 12km wide.

Crete is divided into four prefectures (nomos). From west to east they are: Chania, Rethimnon, Iraklion and Lassithi. Each one of the prefectures is subdivided into provinces (eparchies). The Nomos Chanion is subdivided into Kydonia, Apokoronas, Sfakia, Kissamos and Selino. The Nomos Rethimnou is subdivided into Rethimnon, Milopotamos, Amari and Agios Vasilios. The Nomos Irakliou is subdivided into Malevizi, Temenos, Pediada, Pirgiotisa, Kainourio, Monofatsi and Vianos. The Nomos Lassithiou is subdivided into Mirabelo, Lassithi, Ierapetra and Sitia.

All the major cities of Crete are on the north side of the island beside the sea. From west to east they are: Chania with a population of around 50,000; Rethimnon with about 23,000 people, Iraklion with 115,000; Agios Nikolaos with 8,000 people and Sitia with 7,000 people. The total population of the island is more than 500,000.
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