Located in the south of Europe, the Greek Peninsula is bound by the Mediterranean Sea, the Ionian Sea, and the Aegean Sea. With a coastline of about 8500 miles, the country covers a land area of about 811080 square miles. The country ranges between latitudes 35°00’N and 42°00’N and between longitudes 19°00’E and 28°30’E.
There are three different landforms that make up the physical features of Greece. There are over 2000 Greek islands in the Mediterranean and Ionian Seas but only about 170 are inhabited. These islands are often grouped into – the Northern Sporades, the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, and the Ionian islands. These islands are dry and rugged with a mountainous terrain. Crete, Lesvos, Khios, Ikaria, Limnos, Samos, Euboea, and Thasos are among the best-known islands of Greece. Over eighty percent of the country is mountainous. The Pindus Mountains run north-south through the middle of the country forming the central terrain. The average elevation of the Pindus Mountains is about 8,700 feet. The highest peak, Mount Olympus (9,570 feet) is located to the north-east of the country. To the south of Greece, the Taiyetos Mountains extend into the islands accounting for the stony terrain in these parts.
Mainland Greece is again divided into the northern regions including Macedonia and Thrace, the central regions including Thessaly, Epirus, and Central Greece and the southern regions including the Peloponnesian peninsula.
Tourist season in Greece commences in about April and lasts through November. Most of Greece, including Athens and the islands such as Crete or the Cyclades, enjoys a balmy Mediterranean climate with long and sunny summers and cool, mild winters. Mainland Greece, the central and eastern Macedonian regions such as Thrace, Xanthi, and Evros, experiences a more temperate climate compared to the central mountains. The mountainous region of the central regions experiences an Alpine climate. The winters are cold in parts of western Macedonia, Epirus, Thessaly etc. and snowfall is frequent during the winter months. Greece experiences most of its rainfall in the winter months – between November and February. The Melterni winds blowing in from the northwest facilitate precipitation. July is the hottest month in the country when temperatures average about 85°F. Winters are beautiful but could get chilly and white Christmas celebrations are frequent in low-lying parts of Greece.
Over 20% of Greece is arable land and about 8.6 % grow permanent crops. Among the major agricultural products of the country, barley, corn, wheat, potatoes, sugar beets, and olives are exported in large quantities. Local vineyards supply grapes for the wines that are popular exports from Greece. About 31% of the plant area in the country is covered by horticultural crops including vineyards, olives, almonds, figs, peaches, oranges, apples, pears, and apricots. Agriculture in Greece employs about 528,000 people adding up to almost 12% of the workforce in the country. Agriculture is largely family-owned and administered business units and co-operatives are not popular yet. The agricultural sector employs a large number of the immigrant population and is also subsidized by the Common Agricultural Policy.
Most of the horticultural crops are grown in Argolis, the Peloponnesian region, Crete, Arta, Magnesia, and western Macedonia.
Greece is not naturally rich in natural resources. The most important natural resources of Greece are petroleum and marble. Petroleum reserves are found in the Aegean Sea near the island of Thasos. The depletion of these reserves is one of the major concerns of Greece. Among the mineral deposits of the country Bauxite, the source mineral of aluminum is an important resource. magnesite, nickel, and Asbestos are other deposits found in parts of Greece. Small deposits of lead, zinc, copper, and uranium are found across the country but the quantity is rather insignificant to sustain commercial processes. The quality of lignite available in Greece is poor and imports are necessary to substantiate the industries.
Greece is naturally exposed to severe earthquakes due to its location. The International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of Earth’s Interior has designated the beautiful tourist destination of Santorini a “Decade Volcano”. Santorini is known for its stunning natural beauty which has attracted human settlements through ages despite its historic involvement with volcanic activity. Methana and Nisyros in the Aegean Sea are active volcanoes. Air and water pollution are major environmental concerns of Greece. Despite the country’s proximity to the Mediterranean, Ionian, and Aegean Seas, drinking water obtained form the rivers and streams is a precious resource.
Greece is a beautiful country that attracts many tourists through the year. The islands are perfect getaways and the sunny, temperate climate makes them perfect destinations for vacationers. Greece as made a major effort to conserve its natural environment and is party to a number of international agreements including Air Pollution, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, and Tropical Timber 83 & 97.