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Crete Geography

Crete Map
Crete, with a population of 650,000 in year 2005, is one of the 13 regions into which Greece is divided. It forms the largest island in Greece and the second largest (after Cyprus) in the Eastern Mediterranean. The island has an elongated shape : it spans 260 km from east to west and 60 km at its widest, although the island is narrower at certain points, such as in the region close to Ierapetra, where it reaches a width of only 12 km. Crete covers an area of 8,336 km², with a coastline of 1046 km ; to the north it broaches the Sea of Crete (Greek: Κρητικό Πέλαγος); to the south the Libyan Sea (Greek: Λιβυκό Πέλαγος); in the west the Myrtoan Sea, and toward the east the Karpathion Sea. It lies approximately 160 km south of the Greek mainland.

Crete is extremely mountainous, and its character is defined by a high mountain range crossing from west to east, formed by three different groups of mountains. These are:

   * the White Mountains or Lefka Ori (2,452 m);
   * the Idi Range (Psiloritis (35°11′N 24°49′E / 35.18°N 24.82°E / 35.18; 24.82) 2,456 m);
   * the Dikti Mountains (2,148 m);
   * Kedros (1,777 m);
   * Thripti (1,489 m)

These mountains gifted Crete with fertile plateaux, such as Lasithi, Omalos and Nidha; caves, such as Diktaion and Idaion; and gorges, such as the famous gorge of Samaria. The protected area of the Samaria Gorge is the home of kri-kri, while Cretan mountains and gorges are refuges for the endangered vulture Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus).

There are a number of rivers on Crete, including the Ieropotamos River on the southern part of the island.

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