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Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion, Greece Central, Greece. Author Belyshev. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike
Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion, Greece Central, Greece. Author Belyshev

Greece: ancient civilizations and hundreds of islands

Greece (Hellenike Demokratía) is a parliamentary democratic republic located in southern Europe, comprising the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula, the Ionian islands in the Ionian Sea, Euboea, the Cyclades, the Sporades in the Aegean Sea, Crete, the Dodecanese with Rhodes between the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, with a total of 1,500 islands, of which 169 are inhabited.

To the north Greece borders with Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria, while in the north-east it borders with Turkey on a short distance. On the border with Bulgaria the mountains of Rodopi and Orvilos are to be found, while the Voras mountains mark the border with Macedonia and the Gramos mountains mark the border with Albania. All these mountain ranges exceed an altitude of more than two thousand meters.

In the north of the country there is the Chalkidiki peninsula formed by three long finger-sized peninsulas, which stretch southwards. On the eastern peninsula is the famous Mount Athos, which more than two thousand meters high and forming an autonomous monastic community. To the west of the Chalkidiki peninsula lies Thessaloniki, the biggest city after Athens.

Greece map

Greece map

The interior of mainland Greece is very mountainous. There are the mountains of Pindos, exceeding two thousand meters above sea level like Mount Smolikas with 2,637 meters as their highest point. Near the east coast, overlooking the Aegean sea, the famous Mount Olympus with 2,917 meters), the mountain of the Gods is located. It is the highest mountain of Greece.

To the south lies the peninsula of Attica, with the capital Athens. Attica is flanked to the east by the large island of Euboea and to the south-west it is connected by a narrow isthmus with the Peloponnese peninsula. This peninsula is very mountainous, containing four peninsulas, which stretch to the south. The mountains of the Peloponnese rise up to 2,407 meters by Mount Profitis Ilias in the mountain chain of Taygetos in the south of the Peloponnese peninsula. The continental part of the country has a steep coastline with far-reaching bays, gulfs and peninsulas. The coast is usually high and rocky and the beaches are scattered with pebble stones and mostly narrow.

Meteora, Greece. Author Gabridelca. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike

Meteora, Greece. Author Gabridelca

Insular Greece lies in the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea including the southernmost big island of Crete. The Ionian Islands are located in the west, formed by five main islands and other minor islands, stretching from the Albanian sea frontier to the Peloponnese peninsula. The most important islands are Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Lefkada and Ithaca.

In the Aegean Sea there are hundreds of islands between the coast of Thrace and the Chalkidiki peninsula in the north, on the coast of Turkey to the east, the Hellenic peninsula to the west and the island of Crete to the south. The most important archipelagoes are those of the Cyclades islands, which include Mykonos and Santorini, the Dodecanese – whose largest island is Rhodes – , the Northern Aegean islands and the Sporades.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster. 

  • Area: 131,957 sq km
  • Population: 11,000,000
  • State Capital : Athens
  • Official Language: Greek.
  • Religion: Greek-Orthodox 97.6%, Muslims and Catholics.
  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Time Zone: Local time is UTC+2 hours. Summer Daylight Saving Time UTC+3.

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