Greece – Land & Sea

The mainland of Greece is surrounded by sea on three sides – the Aegean the the east, the Ionian to the west, and the Mediterranean to the south. Greece has nine major provinces. Thrace and Macedonia are in the north. Epirus and Thessaly are in the west and centre of Greece. Sterea Hellas (central Greece) includes Athens. The Peloponnese is separated from Central Greece by the Corinth Canal. The other three regions are the Ionian Islands, the Aegean Islands, and Crete.

About 20 per cent of the area of Greece is made up of some 3000 islands. Some of the islands are very small and about 200 of them are inhabited. The islands have been very important in Greek history, providing trading links, and featuring in many Greek myths. They are divided into four groups. For example, the Cyclades from a rough circle (kyklos in Greek) in the centre of the Aegean Sea. Some Greek islands are isolated, and others, such as Corfu and Rhodes, have become popular tourist resorts.

Every year, around 10 million tourists visit Greece for its sunny climate, its beautiful beaches and its history. Tourism is one of Greece’s most important industries and many thousands of jobs depend on it. Seventy per cent of Greece is mountainous, with some of its mountains reaching over 2000 metres (6500 feet). The highest mountain is Mount Olympus (2917 metres), which the Ancient Greeks believed to be the home of the gods.

Most regions of Greece have a typically Mediterranean Climate, with very hot and dry summers, and mild and wet winters. However, the northern areas and the mountainous areas have a European climate, with much cooler summers, and cold, wet and snowy winters. The average temperature in Athens is 10C in the winter and 35C in summer.

Greece – Wildlife
Greece’s plant life varies with the climate and soil conditions. There are more varieties of wild flowers in Greece than in any other country in Europe.

It is easy to spot lizards, geckos, tortoises and many varieties of birds, butterflies and insects in Greece. Foxes, wild boars, deer and wolves can found in the forests of northern Greece. The seas around Greece are thought to contain 246 species of fish and dolphins are often seen.

Many conservation groups in Greece are trying to fight the damage that has been done to wildlife by pollution, hunting and even tourism. The national forest parks have preserved areas, where bird-watchers can observe birds, including falcons, eagles, hawks and vultures. There are also several programs to protect turtles and seals in sea parks.

Greece – Farming
About one fifth of the Greek population depends on farming. Most Greek farms are small (under 5 hectares) and are often family concerns. Much of the country’s land is rocky, iwht poor soil and lack of water in the summer. Many villagers keep sheep and goats for their milk, especially in the mountains, where iti is difficult to grow crops.

The main agricultural regions in Greece are the fertile plains of Thrace, Macedonia and Thessaly, which produce tobacco, cereals and cotton. Large crops of oranges and lemons and a variety of fruits (including peaches, apples, apricots, and pears) are grown in the Peloponnese .

Olive trees can be seen all over Greece . They are almost like a national symbol and are a very important crop. The trees can grow on rocky ground and can live for hundreds of years. Olives are used to make olive oil, which is basic cooking ingredient in many Greek dishes. The most famous olives come from Kalamata, which is in the Peloponnese .

Grapes are grown all over Greece . They are eaten as fresh fruit and they are also a major export when they are dried as currants, sultanas and raisins. Wine is another major product made from grapes. Ancient Greeks believed that they had been taught the art of wine-making by the god Dionysus.