Geographic map of Greece
Geographic map of Greece
Greece is a southern European state, located on the southern edge of the Balkan peninsula.
From a political point of view it is a unitary parliamentary republic while the official language is Greek.
Greece has an area of 131,940 km², with a population (as of 2021) of 10,432,481 inhabitants.
The capital is the city of Athens, with a population (as of 2021) of 637,798.
The official language is modern Greek.
The peninsular section of Greece borders to the north with Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey and is washed on the other sides by the Aegean Sea, the Ionian Sea and the Cretan Sea. It administers over 6,000 islands in total, 227 of which are inhabited.
Among the major cities, in addition to Athens, we mention: Thessaloniki, Patras, the main center of the Peloponnese, and Candia, the capital and largest inhabited center of the island of Crete.
Greece is a country formed by the southernmost continental part of the Balkan Peninsula, which expands southwards surrounded by the Aegean and Ionian Seas, by the Peloponnese peninsula, separated from the rest of the continent by the Isthmus of Corinth and the Corinth Canal, as well as more than 1,500 islands in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, the most important of which are Crete, Evia, Lesbos, Chios, and those forming part of the prefecture of the Dodecanese, the Cyclades and the Ionian Islands. Greece is the eleventh state in the world for coastal extension, with 13676 km of coastline, and has a border line 1160 km long.
From a morphological point of view, Greece is mostly made up of mountain and hill areas (equal to about 80%) and the highest peak of the country is Mount Olympus, an important place of Hellenic culture.
The western part has several lakes and is dominated by the Pindos mountain range, which reaches an altitude of 2637 m at Mount Smolikas. In these areas, the Vikos Gorge is another place much loved by those who practice alpine sports, with several trails also accessible to amateurs.
The mountain ranges then continue in the Peloponnese, on the islands of Kythera and Antikythera, up to the island of Crete.
It should be noted that the Aegean islands are, in fact, the peaks of underwater mountain ranges that once formed an extension of the main continent. Pindos is characterized by numerous gorges, canyons, and other remarkable formations such as the impressive Meteors, several hundred meters high rock formations that attract thousands of tourists every year.
Northeastern Greece is characterized by another important mountain range, that of the Rhodope Mountains, which spread along the administrative region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, a region covered by vast and ancient forests. The famous forest of Dadia is located in the prefecture of Evros, in the most northeastern part of Greece.
The most extensive lowlands are found in the regions of Thessaly and Central Macedonia, where most of the country’s cash crops take place.
From a hydrographic point of view, due to the morphology of the country, the rivers have short courses, poor basins and are hindered by numerous reliefs.
The important rivers are: the Aliakmone (297 km, the longest), the Achelóos, Peneo, the Evros, the Strymon, the Mesta, and the Axios, most of which are found in the north-central regions of Greece.
The main lakes are located in the northern area: Lake Trichonida in Aetolia, Lake Volvi, Lake Koroneia and Lake Vegoritida in Central Macedonia, and Lake Vistonida in East Macedonia. Also in the north, Lake Prespa is partially in Greek territory, shared with Albania and North Macedonia.
Finally, the coasts that extend for over 15,000 km in an irregular and jagged manner: low and marshy on the Ionian side; high and rocky those overlooking the Aegean and the Mediterranean.
The climate of Greece is typically Mediterranean on the islands and coasts, with mild, rainy winters and hot summers. Going instead towards the inland areas of Epirus, Macedonia and Thessaly, the climate gradually becomes continental, with cold winters with the possibility of snow and frost and hot summers.
We can divide the climate of Greece into three large different areas: North, Central South and South and Islands. Let’s find out what is the best time to visit each area:
– in the north (Thessaloniki): from May to October, with a mild climate perfect for visits and excursions, sunny days and the possibility of being on the beach. For those looking only for beach life, the summer is excellent. Winter, gray and rainy, is not recommended;
– in the centre-south (Attica, Athens): from April to October, mild climate that lends itself well to any type of excursion, both in nature and in big cities such as Athens. Great summer for beach life. Winter, gray and rainy, is not recommended;
– in the south and islands (Crete, Dodecanese, Ionian): from May to September, going until mid-October, to enjoy the sea and beaches. Winter is not recommended, for gray and often rainy days.
Keep in mind that Athens has a higher temperature than the surrounding cities, so much so that today it is considered the hottest capital in Europe.
Precipitation is not excessive, but remains almost constant during spring, autumn and winter, leaving almost full field of summer sunshine.
Precipitation remains around an average of 400 mm per year, reaching its maximum peaks from November to February. During the summer, thunderstorms are very rare indeed.
Furthermore, rainfall reaches its maximum peak during the winter months and is almost absent during the summer months. The seasonal temperature range is gradual and acceptable: the temperature remains almost mild throughout the year.
The vegetation of Greece ranges from coniferous forests, and in particular pines and firs (Kefalonian fir), to oak and plane tree forests, up to the Mediterranean scrub.
The territory is divided between two large eco-regions which are in turn divided into the Balkan mixed forest of the northern lowlands and the mixed forest of the Rhodope mountains. The climate in these places is temperate, which means that temperatures remain mild all year round, and there are some frosts in winter.
The Greek flora and fauna of these forests have adapted to living in very particular conditions, such that the growth rate is often slow, especially that of the plants.
Among the most characteristic flora of these Greek temperate forests we point out majestic trees such as:
– Silver fir (Abies alba): It is a slow-growing conifer with a pyramidal habit that reaches a height of about 60 m.
– Oriental carp (Carpinus orientalis): It is a deciduous tree that reaches a height of 10 meters. It can be found alongside beech, as both need slightly cool climates to grow.
– White carp (Carpinus betulus): It is a deciduous tree very common in degraded forests, which grows above 600 meters above sea level. It reaches a height of 25 meters, maximum 30 meters, and can sometimes be found growing next to beech trees.
– Beech (Fagus sylvatica): It is a slow-growing deciduous tree that reaches 40 meters in height. In Greece it is found forming forests in Pelion.
– Troy oak (Quercus trojana): It is a slow-growing deciduous tree that reaches a height of about 20 meters.
Among the vegetation formations we also mention the Mediterranean forest, which is divided into four types: Illyrian broadleaf forest, mixed forest of the Pindus Mountains, Mediterranean forest of Crete and sclerophyllous and mixed forest of the Aegean and western Turkey.
Among the most representative flora of the Mediterranean forest, we point out these plants useful to man:
– Almond tree (Prunus dulcis): this is a deciduous tree that grows up to 7 m in height and produces delicious nuts: almonds.
– Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera): it is a fast growing palm that can reach a height of 10 meters. It is grown throughout the Mediterranean region for its drought resistance and dates.
– Fig (Ficus carica): it is a deciduous tree that reaches 6 m in height and has a rapid growth rate and whose fruits, the figs, are also edible.
– Pomegranate (Punica granatum): it is a very ornamental deciduous tree which also produces some fruits, the pomegranates, which are edible for humans. It grows very quickly to a height of 5-6m.
– Olive tree (Olea europaea): it is an evergreen tree that reaches a height of 5-6 meters and produces a large quantity of olives.
Without forgetting the flowers that give color to the landscape, such as the anemones, the tulips, violets or daffodils.
However, we should remember that the vegetation cover of the country is very sparse, not only because of the climate, but also because of the destruction caused by man and by fires. In the lower altitude range, up to a height ranging between 800 and 1,000 m, xerophilous vegetation predominates and in stretches the well-preserved Mediterranean maquis thickens, consisting of a tangle of shrubs, in which the olive, the strawberry , laurel, myrtle, broom, cistus, juniper, rosemary, etc. But frequently the maquis degrades to garrigue.
Above 1,000 m, the maquis is followed by woods, in which evergreen species appear in association (among which holm oak is frequent) with broad-leaved trees, such as beeches, chestnuts, etc. This mixed forest, around 1,800 m, gives way to fir and larch woods, which form a forest in some high mountain ranges.
The fauna of Greece is also affected by the excessive and disordered hand of man but still represents a considerable wealth to be protected.
For example, in the forests live brown bears, many reptiles and lizards, some vipers and a very rare white mountain goat that is found only in Greece, precisely in the gorge of Samaria.
Without forgetting that in a not always very hospitable climate, especially in the wooded parts, a great variety of animals still live, such as the lynx, brown squirrels, foxes, jackals, deer, roe deer and wolves.
Some Balkan chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra balcanica) live on the high peaks of Mount Eta and Mount Pindus. Wild boar and roe deer are more frequent in the maquis. Numerous species of migratory birds (larks, woodcocks, lapwings, etc.) winter in Greece.
Speaking of birds, Greece can boast of being a meeting point or a crossing point for many of them, so you can observe some species of barn owl, nightingale, duck, wading bird, pheasant, pelican or falcon.
The maritime fauna includes some endangered species such as the monk seal and the caretta caretta turtles that live in the seas surrounding mainland Greece.