Greece Cities with Hotels
Greece (Greek Hellas), officially known as the Hellenic Republic (Greek EllinikĂ DimokratĂa), country in southeastern Europe, occupying the southernmost part of the Balkan Peninsula and numerous islands. It is bordered on the northwest by Albania, on the north by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and by Bulgaria, on the northeast by Turkey, on the east by the Aegean Sea, on the south by the Mediterranean Sea, and on the west by the Ionian Sea. The total area is 131,957 sq km (50,949 sq mi), of which about one-fifth is composed of islands in the Aegean and Ionian seas. Athens is the capital and largest city.
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The mainland portion of Greece comprises the regions of Thrace and Macedonia in the north; Epirus, Thessaly (ThessalĂa), and Central Greece in the central section; and, in the south, the PelopĂłnnisos (Peloponnesus), a peninsula, which is connected to the rest of the mainland by the Isthmus of Corinth. The Corinth Canal, completed in 1893, passes through the Isthmus of Corinth, making an artificial island of the PelopĂłnnisos. The remainder of Greece consists of islands, which include Euboea (Ă‰vvoia); Crete (KrĂti); the Northern Sporades; the Cyclades, Dodecanese, and Ionian Islands; and IkarĂa (Icaria), KhĂos (Chios), LĂmnos (Lemnos), LĂ©svos (Lesbos), SĂˇmos (Samos), SamothrĂˇki (Samothrace), and ThĂˇsos.
The coastal waters of Greece are shallow and penetrate far inland. The gulfs of Corinth and SaronikĂłs, separated by the Isthmus of Corinth, divide the PelopĂłnnisos from central and northern Greece. The country, despite its indented coasts, has few good harbors. The Gulf of SaronikĂłs has the best anchorages, notably in the fine natural harbor of Piraeus, which is the port of Athens. KĂ©rkira (Corfu), one of the Ionian Islands, also has an excellent harbor.
Land and Resources
Greece is famous for its natural beauty. The land is mountainous and rugged and, as the ancient Greek geographer Strabo wrote, "the sea presses in upon the country with a thousand arms." In natural resources, however, the country is relatively poor.
Although a small country, Greece has a very diverse topography. The most important physiographic divisions of the country are the central mountains; the damp, mountainous region in the west; the dry, sunny plains and lower mountain ranges in eastern Thessaly, Macedonia, and Thrace; Central Greece, the southeastern finger of the mainland that cradled the city-states of Greece; the mountainous region of the PelopĂłnnisos; and the islands, most of which are in the Aegean.
The central mountain area, the Pindus Mountains, which extends in a northern to southern direction, is one of the most rugged, isolated, and sparsely populated parts of the country. Mount Olympus (2917 m/9570 ft), the highest peak of Greece, was considered in ancient times to be the home of the gods. The western slopes, which extend through Epirus down to the Ionian Sea, are somewhat lower and more hospitable. The southeastern extremity of Central Greece, known as Attica, is broken into many isolated valleys and plains by mountain ridges. The most famous part of Greece, the Athenian plain, is in Attica. The largest plain of the eastern coastal area, however, is in Boeotia, to the north of Attica. Thessaly, a plain ringed by mountains, is one of the more fertile parts of the country. Macedonia has the largest plains in Greece. Thrace, to the east of Macedonia, has a varied topography consisting of mountains, valleys, and several coastal plains. The PelopĂłnnisos is mountainous, but to a lesser degree than Central Greece, and is shaped somewhat like a giant hand with impassable mountain ridges extending like fingers into the sea. Between the mountain ridges are narrow valleys, which are isolated from one another, but which open onto the sea. The western section of the PelopĂłnnisos is less mountainous than the eastern section. The islands of the Aegean Sea are generally high, rugged, stony, and dry, and consequently their contribution to the economic life of the country is limited. They are important, however, because of their great beauty, historical importance, potential for tourism, and strategic military value.
The climate of Greece is similar to that of other Mediterranean countries. In the lowlands the summers are hot and dry, with clear, cloudless skies, and the winters are rainy. The mountain areas are much cooler, with considerable rain in the summer months. Frost and snow are rare in the lowlands, but the mountains are covered with snow in the winter. The rainfall varies greatly from region to region. In Thessaly less than 38 mm (less than 1.5 in) of rain falls in some years, whereas parts of the western coast receive about 1270 mm (about 50 in). The mean annual temperature in Athens is about 17Â° C (about 63Â° F); the extremes range from a normal low of -0.6Â° C (31Â° F) in January to a normal high of 37.2Â° C (99Â° F) in July.
"Greece," MicrosoftÂ® EncartaÂ® 97 Encyclopedia.
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January 15, 2010 02:54 PM.