Crete (Greek: Κρήτη Kríti; [kriti]) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteenadministrative regions of Greece. 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.
Topography of Crete.
The island is first referred to as Kaptara in texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century BC, repeated later in Neo-Assyrian records and the Bible (Caphtor). It was also known in ancient Egyptian as Keftiu, strongly suggesting some form similar to both was the Minoan name for the island.
The current name of Crete first appears in Mycenaean Greek as ke-re-si-jo "Cretan" in Linear Btexts. In Ancient Greek, the name Crete (Κρήτη) first appears in Homer's Odyssey.
Crete is the largest island in Greece and the second largest in the eastern Mediterranean Sea (afterCyprus). It is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea separating the Aegean from theLibyan Sea.
Crete is mountainous, and its character is defined by a high mountain range crossing from west to east, formed by three different groups of mountains:
• The White Mountains or Lefka Ori 2,452 m (8,045 ft)
• The Idi Range (Psiloritis 35.18°N 24.82°E 2,456 m (8,058 ft)
• Kedros 1,777 m (5,830 ft)
• The Dikti Mountains 2,148 m (7,047 ft)
• Thripti 1,489 m (4,885 ft)
These mountains lavished Crete with valleys, such as Amari valley, fertile plateaus, such as Lasithi plateau, Omalos and Nidha; caves, such as Diktaion and Idaion (the birthplace of the ancient Greek god Zeus); and a number of gorges.
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
Climate of Greece
Crete straddles two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and the North African, mainly falling within the former. As such, the climate in Crete is primarily temperate. The atmosphere can be quite humid, depending on the proximity to the sea, while winter is fairly mild. Snowfall is common on the mountains between November and May, but rare in the low lying areas. While mountain tops remain snow-capped year long, near the coast snow only stays on the ground for a few minutes or hours. However, a truly exceptional cold snap swept the island in February 2004, during which period the whole island was blanketed with snow. During the Cretan summer, average temperatures reach the high 20s-low 30s Celsius (mid 80s to mid 90s Fahrenheit), with maxima touching the upper 30s-mid 40s.