Crete is among the most beloved and popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean. Beautiful beaches, the varied and picturesque scenery, mild Mediterranean climate, rich history and culture, delicious local cuisine, form together the perfect place to vacation in Europe. The majority of the foreigners visit the northern part of the island, because there are the main cities such as Heraklion, Rethymnon and Khania.
Geographic location. Crete is one of the most southern Greek islands. It is located in the southernmost parts of the Aegean Sea, about 285 kilometers from the northern coast of Africa.
It is situated on 34 – 35° northern geographic latitude in the eastern Mediterranean.
It falls right in the heart of the subtropical climate zone. From west to east, it extends about 250 kilometers.
Relief. Crete is mountainous island. The mountain ranges stretch in direction east – west and are divided into four major mountain ranges.
Approximately in the central part of the island is Mount Ida or Ida aka Psiloritis. It rises to a height of 2456 meters. During the winter months it is covered with thick snow.
Besides Ida, there is also few other peaks which rise over 2000 meters. With insignificant altitude are generally only the coastal areas.
Climate. Crete has a hot Mediterranean climate. The summer season is among the longest in Europe. The weather is suitable for beach from April to November.
The summers are not only long, but also quite dry and hot. It is almost unbelievable to fall rain in the midst of the summer.
This happens very rarely and usually the precipitations are intense and the rainfall is accompanied by thunders.
The mountain chain of the island plays a role of climate barrier, because stops the air masses.
As a result, the climate and the nature on the north and the south coast of Crete are quite different. Overall, the weather in Crete is warm throughout the year.
The winter lasts from December to March. The daytime temperatures are usually about 17°C. Usually in April the weather is change dramatically and in some days is even hot.
Overall, this month the average daily temperature is 20°C, but often becomes a lot higher. Since the mid-April to the late November the temperatures are high.
The maximum of the temperatures is usually in August, when the average daily temperatures are around 31 – 32°C at the shade.
In late November, began a significant cooling, which ends in December, with temperatures of around 17°C. In the next four months the temperatures are constant.
From October to March the weather is wet and fall around 40 – 60 millimeters rain per month.
From April to October the rainfall is very scarce. The weather is drier in July and August – then fall from 0 to 10 millimeters per month.
The weather in the mountains is quite different. The temperatures are much lower and in the winter there is a thick snow cover.
Nature. The Nature of Crete is very diverse and this is one of the biggest advantages of this beautiful island. The north and the south are very different.
In the north of the mountains have a much more greenness. Here grow a number of typical Mediterranean species such as olive, lemon, orange, tangerine, cypress, and a great variety of palms.
In the higher parts of the mountains there are different kinds of coniferous trees, especially cypress. In the south of the mountains the nature is quite different.
Among the semi desert landscapes can be seen some dry-loving and warm-loving plants, mainly shrubs.
For the lovers of the white sand and crystal clear sea waters are suitable the amazing beaches in the southwest part of Crete, where is located the world famous beach of Elafonisi.
Although not very large, it is among the best beaches on the planet and is one of the places in the world, who must visit if you’re a fan of the sea tourism.
In addition to the white sand and azure waters, the area also possess an unusual magnetism, which can be found in very few places in the world, including Southern California and northwestern parts of Mexico, mostly in California peninsula.
The mountains of Crete are wonderful. During the winter months there are heavy snowfall here.
Population and settlements. The population of Crete is about 650 000 people, making it the most populous Greek island.
The main part of its population lives along the northern coast, because it accounts for more rainfall, the climate is cooler, there is much more greenness and the conditions are more suitable for agriculture.
The largest city of Crete – Heraklion is the capital of the island. Its population is about 310 000 inhabitants – this is almost 1/2 of the entire population of the island of Crete.
The second largest city of Crete is Khania. It is believed that this is the most beautiful city on the island and one of the most beautiful cities in Greece and the Mediterranean. It has a population of about 70 000 people.
But beautiful is not only the city, but also its surrounding area. Picturesque terrain, beautiful scenery and incredible landscapes make Khania to became a haven for the tourists.
The third largest city of Crete is Rethymnon. It is located about 50 kilometers east of Heraklion. It has a population of about 60 000 people.
It is located in the same part of the island, where the highest peak of Ida. The population of Crete is very cosmopolitan.
Here you will find people from all over the world, who are attracted by the tranquillity, cleanness, warmth and exotic Greek island.
History. The history of Crete is very rich and saturated with events. Here, 3000 years BC has occurred and flourished the Minoan civilization.
Its sudden disappearance was explained by the catastrophic volcanic eruption that destroyed a large part of Santorini Island approximately 1500 years BC.
It is believed that the enormous eruption caused a huge tsunami tidal wave that swept everything in its way. It is believed that the wave has not only destroyed the Minoan civilization, but everything that has located near the coast in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The wave, of course, in itself is not erased immediately the Minoan civilization, but ultimately helped this happens.
Last drop that cup was overflowing was the ash, erupted from the volcano, which covered the farmlands.
This fact in combination with the covered by volcanic ash sun, was the end of that great civilization. Crete is associated with number of legend of those times.
Perhaps the best known is the story of the Minotaur, who had a bull’s head and body of man. The monster has eaten seven young men and women in every nine years.
These young men, were sent by Athens as a compensation for King Minos because of the murdering his son – Androgeus.
King’s son was killed by the Athenians, and this was their punishment for the offence.
Theseus was young and brave boy, who wished himself to fall into the ranks of these youngsters that have to be given to the fierce Minotaur.
Its idea was to enter the labyrinth of the Minotaur and to kill him because to end this heinous massacre of young people.
When he arrived on the island of Crete, Theseus immediately fell in love with the beautiful Ariadne, who was the daughter of King Minos.
To help him to go out of the terrifying labyrinth after killing the Minotaur, Ariadne gave to Theseus a ball of yarn.
He defeated the Minotaur and go out of the labyrinth thanks to the yarn, given to him by Ariadne. He brought with him also and these young people, who had sent with him as a victims of the Minotaur.
Economy. Crete is one of the most developed and richest places in Greece. Its developed economy, relies mainly to the services sector and in particular to the tourism.
Each year, millions of tourists from all over the world visit Crete and thus the most important export product is the island itself.
This affects all spheres of the public life – from the quality of the infrastructure and to the supply and demand of properties here. Besides tourism, the other very important sector is the agriculture.
The main products are citrus fruits and olives. Unlike tourism, which develops along the coast, however, the agriculture is well supported in the inner parts of Crete.