Crete & Greece

some basic facts

Crete

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and one of the 13 administrative divisions of Greece. Crete itself is divided into 4 'Nomoi' or Prefectures and each of these again in several 'Dimoi' - Municipalities. Each 'Dimos' (singular of Dimoi) consists of a number of towns and villages. Villa Talea belongs to the Municipality of Geropótamos.

Except for the very small island of Gavdos, Crete is the southernmost part of Europe. It lies in the middle of the Mediterranean basin, at an equal distance from Europe, Asia and Africa. It's length, from the most eastern point of cape Sidero to the most western point of the Gramvousa cape, is 260 km (160 miles). It's maximum width is 56 km (35 miles) between the Stavros cape and the cape of Lithino, while the width at the isthmus of Ierapetra hardly exceeds 12 km (8 miles).

The population of Crete is close to 600.000 with approx. 200.000 living in the largest city Heraklion. Chania which is the second largest town on Crete, has approximately 80.000 inhabitants and Rethymnon about 35.000. The main sources of income in Crete are agriculture and tourism. Important agricultural products are olives and olive oil, oranges, grapes and various vegetables as well as the production of honey, cheese and herbs. Sheep and goat breeding is also widespread. Tourism is increasingly important and today Crete is one of the most frequented islands in Greece. Since 1970 the number of arrivals by charter flights has increased from approx. 150.000 to around 2.5 million visitors every year.

The flag of Greece was officially adopted in 1822 but with a cross instead of the one now used. The current flag was adopted in 1978. It features the white cross, and a combination of nine blue and white horizontal stripes. The cross symbolises the religious faith and the nine stripes represent the number of syllables in the Greek phrase "Elefthéria H Thánatos", translated as "Freedom or Death!", a battle cry during the Greek war of independence.

Greece

The Greek peninsula projects into the Mediterranean Sea from south of the Balkans. The land is deeply indented by long sea inlets and surrounded by over 2.000 islands, of which only 169 are inhabited. Greece borders on Albania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The area of Greece is 131.940 sq. km (51,146 square miles) - roughly a little more than half the size of the UK.

The total population of Greece is just under 11 million people with nearly two thirds living in urban areas. More than 4 million people live in the capital Athens and its sea port Piraeus. Greece has experienced about the same population growth as most advanced countries have, despite a mass immigration during two periods from 1900 to 1922 and from 1951 to 1973. Ever since, immigration has given way to repatriation and the entrance of refugees of Greek origins as well as of foreign refugees and immigrants who came mainly from Asia and Africa.

98% of the Greek are Greek Orthodox, 1,3% are Muslim and 0,7%, other religions, notably Roman Catholic. Greece is divided into 51 administrative divisions called prefectures and 1 autonomous region (the Ayion Oros - Mt. Athos). Greece has several kinds of natural resources such as: salt, petroleum, marble, hydropower, magnetite, lignite, bau-xite, iron ore, lead, zinc, nickel and gold. Major Greek industries are agriculture (food, wine and tobacco processing), textiles, chemicals, metal products, mining, petroleum, tourism and shipping. In 2002 the Euro replaced the Drachma as the Greek currency.