Greece Geography

Geography in Greece

The travel destination Greece is located in south-east Europe and forms the south of the Balkan Peninsula. In the west, south and east, the country is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea with a coastline of around 4000 km. The mainland border in the north is around 1,170 km long, here Greece borders Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The national territory also includes numerous islands known as travel destinations: Crete is to the south, the Aegean islands to the east and the Ionian islands to the west. The total coastline of Greece is therefore over 15,000 km.

The national area amounts to a total of almost 132,000 km², about 80% of which is in the mainland area of Greece. This can be divided into a northern, a central and a southern part. The Dinaric-Hellenic fold mountain system runs through all three parts from north to south, running parallel to the west coast of the Ionian Sea and continuing over the islands of Crete and Rhodes in the direction of Asia Minor.

In the northern part of Greece, the heavily rugged Pindus Mountains with the summit of Smólikas rise to an altitude of 2,637 meters above sea level. In the west of the mountain range lies the hill country of Epirus, in the north-east the Macedonian mountain country. East of the Pindus is the highest point in Greece at 2,917 meters above sea level, the summit of Mytikas in the Olympus massif, to the south of which lies the basin landscape of Thessaly. With its three finger-like foothills, Kassandra, Sithonia and Magion Oros, the Chalkidiki peninsula extends far into the Aegean Sea. At its northern end lies the city of Saloniki in a lowland. Thrace is located in the far northeast, here the country has a share in the Rhodope mountain range, which is mainly located on Bulgarian territory.

The central part of Greece extends south to the Gulf of Patras and the Gulf of Corinth, the indentations of which separate the Peloponnese peninsula. In Central Greece, the Giona (up to 2 510 m) and Parnassus (up to 2 457 m) mountain ranges are the continuation of the Pindus Mountains. To the east, the mountains merge into the vast Boeotian plain. On the Attica peninsula and the Euboea island, the mountainous landscape is divided into many valleys.

The former Peloponnese peninsula (21 439 km²) forms the southern part of Greece. The Corinth Canal, which was opened in 1893, separated this part of Greece, which is particularly interesting for cultural travelers, from the mainland. In the center of the Peloponnese is the highlands of Arcadia, in the northwest a wide coastal plain and in the northeast there are several mountains. In the south, the Peloponnese is divided into four peninsulas by the Argolic, Laconian and Messenian Gulfs.

The Ionian Islands, which are often called by ships on cruise trips and located off the west coast of mainland Greece, include Corfu (Kerkyra), Lefkas (Leukas), Ithaca, Kefallinia and Zakynthos. In the Aegean to the east of the mainland are the very popular travel destinations of the northern and southern Sporades, the Dodecanese and the Cyclades. The islands of Samothraki, Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Kos are located off the Turkish coast. The largest Greek island is Crete, which is preferred by individual travelers and is located in the south of Greece and, together with a few small secondary islands, has an area of around 8,260 km².

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Flora and fauna in Greece

Due to the agricultural use that has taken place since ancient times and the associated clearing of the former forests of Greece, the current vegetation pattern, as in almost all Mediterranean countries, no longer corresponds to the original vegetation. Nevertheless, with almost 6000 plant species and subspecies, Greece is one of the richest in plant species in Europe, which is particularly favored by the isolated location of the many islands belonging to the national territory and inaccessible valleys and gorges in the interior. The majority of the vegetation in Greece today is made up of evergreen plants, whereby the hard-leaved plants such as erica, strawberry tree, real laurel and carob tree are increasingly reclaiming their habitat on fallow land.

The most important tree species are pines, Aleppo pines, cypresses and fruit trees, in the coastal areas also palms and olive trees. In addition, olive groves are cultivated and Central European tree species such as chestnuts, elms and oaks grow from a height of 1000 m. The Kelafonian fir is found exclusively in Greece.

In naturopathic circles, Greece is known for its variety of medicinal plants, which are closely linked to Greek mythology and which in earlier times provided for extensively practiced folk medicine. The most famous of these medicinal plants is aleo vera.

The biodiversity of Greece is remarkable not only among the plants but also among the animals. Due to the contrasts between the mountain and coastal climates as well as the overall mild temperatures of the travel destination, over 900 animal species live here, including geckos, lizards, the Greek tortoise, some wolves and bears as well as wild boars and foxes, which we encounter on our motorcycle trips through the land of the ancient gods can encounter. In addition, 32 of the 36 European bird species are native to the Greek lagoons and wetlands, 23 of which also brood here. The island and mainland fauna of Greece show some differences, e.g. due to the occurrence of the loggerhead turtle on Zakynthos or the rare butterfly species Russian bear in the butterfly valley on Rhodes. On our 4×4 off-road vehicle tour in Crete, with a bit of luck, we can observe the Cretan wild goat that is endemic here. So there is a lot of fauna and flora of Greece to see on our group and motorcycle tours.

Flora in Greece

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