HOME

TheInfoList




Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=,
Modern Modern may refer to: History *Modern history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recov ...
:
,
Ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0
"History"
from ...
:
'','' ) is the largest and most populous of the
Greek islands Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...
, the 88th largest island in the world and the
fifth Fifth is the Ordinal number (linguistics), ordinal form of the number 5, five. Fifth or The Fifth may refer to: * Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as in the expression "pleading the Fifth" * Fifth column, a political term * Fifth ...
largest island in the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
, after
Sicily (man) it, Siciliana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = Ethnicity , demographics1_footnotes = , demographi ...

Sicily
,
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the island in the , after , and one of the of Italy. It is located west of the , north of and immediately south of the French island of . It is one of the five Italian regions with some ...

Sardinia
,
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...

Cyprus
, and
Corsica Corsica (, Upper , Southern , ; french: link=no, Corse ; lij, link=no, Còrsega) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north ...

Corsica
. Crete rests approximately south of the Greek mainland. It has an area of and a coastline of 1,046 km (650 mi). It bounds the southern border of the
Aegean Sea The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated embayment A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that directly connects to a larger main body of water, such as an ocean, a lake, or another bay. A large bay is usually called a Gulf ...

Aegean Sea
, with the
Sea of Crete 300px, Map of the Sea of Crete The Sea of Crete (, ''Kritiko Pelagos''), or Cretan Sea, is a sea, part of the Aegean Sea The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated embayment A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that direc ...
(or North Cretan Sea) to the north and the
Libyan Sea The Libyan Sea (Ancient Greek, Greek , Latin ''Libycum Mare'', Arabic البحر الليبي) is the portion of the Mediterranean Sea north of the North Africa, African coast of Ancient Libya, ancient ''Libya'', i.e. Cyrenaica, and Marmarica ...
(or South Cretan Sea) to the south. Crete and a number of islands and islets that surround it constitute the Region of Crete ( el, Περιφέρεια Κρήτης, links=no), which is the southernmost of the 13 top-level administrative units of Greece, and the fifth most populous of Greece's regions. Its capital and largest city is
Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larg ...
, located on the north shore of the island. , the region had a population of 636,504. The
Dodecanese The Dodecanese (, ; el, Δωδεκάνησα, ''Dodekánisa'' , literally "twelve islands") are a group of 15 larger plus 150 smaller Greece, Greek list of islands of Greece, islands in the southeastern Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean, off ...

Dodecanese
are located to the northeast of Crete, while the
Cyclades The CYCLADES computer network A computer network is a group of computers that use a set of common communication protocols over digital signal, digital interconnections for the purpose of sharing resources located on or provided by the Node (ne ...

Cyclades
are situated to the north, separated by the
Sea of Crete 300px, Map of the Sea of Crete The Sea of Crete (, ''Kritiko Pelagos''), or Cretan Sea, is a sea, part of the Aegean Sea The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated embayment A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that direc ...
. The
Peloponnese The Peloponnese (), Peloponnesia, or Peloponnesus (; el, Πελοπόννησος, Pelopónnēsos, ) is a peninsula and geographic regions of Greece, geographic region in southern Greece. It is connected to the central part of the country by the ...
is to the region's northwest. Humans have inhabited the island since at least 130,000 years ago, during the
Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek palaios - old, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history ...
age. Crete was the centre of
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
's first advanced civilization, the Minoans, from 2700 to 1420 BC. The Minoan civilization was overrun by the
Mycenaean civilization Mycenaean Greece (or the Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC.. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland ...
from mainland Greece. Crete was later ruled by Rome, then successively by the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
,
Andalusian
Andalusian
Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technica ...

Arabs
, the
Venetian Republic The Republic of Venice ( it, Repubblica di Venezia; vec, Repùblega de Venèsia) or Venetian Republic ( it, Repubblica Veneta; vec, Repùblega Vèneta), traditionally known as La Serenissima ( en, Most Serene Republic of Venice, italics=yes; ...
, and the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
. In 1898 Crete, whose people had for some time wanted to join the Greek state, achieved independence from the Ottomans, formally becoming the
Cretan State The Cretan State ( el, Κρητική Πολιτεία, Kritiki Politeia; ota, كريد دولتى, Girid Devleti) was established in 1898, following the intervention by the Great Powers (United Kingdom, France, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Russ ...
. Crete became part of Greece in December 1913. The island is mostly mountainous, and its character is defined by a high mountain range crossing from west to east. It includes Crete's highest point,
Mount Ida In Greek mythology, two sacred mountains are called Mount Ida, the "Mountain of the Goddess": Mount Ida (Crete), Mount Ida in Crete, and Mount Ida (Turkey), Mount Ida in the ancient Troad region of western Anatolia (in modern-day Turkey), which wa ...
, and the range of the
White MountainsWhite Mountains may refer to: Mountain ranges ;Afghanistan and Pakistan *White Mountains (Safed Koh) ;Australia *White Mountains National Park, in Queensland ;Greece *White Mountains (Lefka Ori), on the island of Crete ;United States *White Mountai ...

White Mountains
(Lefka Ori) with 30 summits above 2000 metres in altitude and the
Samaria Gorge
Samaria Gorge
, a
World Biosphere Reserve The UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency of the United Nations The United Nation ...
. Crete forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece, while retaining its own local cultural traits (such as its own
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popula ...
and
music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concepts , , and ...
). The
Nikos Kazantzakis Nikos Kazantzakis ( el, Νίκος Καζαντζάκης ; 18 February 188326 October 1957) was a Greek writer. Widely considered a giant of modern Greek literature, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in nine different years. ...
airport at Heraklion and the Daskalogiannis airport at
Chania Chania ( el, Χανιά ; vec, La Canea) is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania (regional unit), Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about west of Rethymno and west of Heraklion. The mun ...

Chania
serve international travelers. The palace of
Knossos Knossos (also Cnossos, both pronounced ; grc, Κνωσός, Knōsós, ; Linear B: ''Ko-no-so'') is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and has been called Europe's oldest city. Settled as early as the Neolithic period, the na ...

Knossos
, a Bronze Age settlement and ancient Minoan city, is also located in Heraklion.Ancient Crete
Oxford Bibliographies Online: Classics


Name

The earliest references to the island of Crete come from texts from the
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
n city of
Mari Mari may refer to: Places *Mari, Paraíba, Brazil, a city *Mari, Cyprus, a village *Mari, Greece, a village, site of ancient town of Marius (Laconia), Marius *Mari, Iran (disambiguation), places in Iran *Mari, Punjab, a village and a union counci ...
dating from the 18th century BC, where the island is referred to as ''Kaptara''. This is repeated later in
Neo-Assyrian The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform: ''mat Aš-šur KI'', "Country of the Assur, city of Ashur (god), god Aššur"; also phonetically ''mat Aš-šur'') was an Iron Age Mesopotamian empire, in existence between 911 and 609 BC, and becam ...
records and the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
(''
Caphtor Caphtor ( he, כפתור) is a locality mentioned in the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari ...
''). It was known in ancient
Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with thousands of years of r ...
as or , strongly suggesting a similar
Minoan The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age Aegean civilization on the island of Crete and other Aegean Islands, flourishing from c. 3000 BC to c. 1450 BC and, after a late period of decline, finally ending around 1100 BC, during the early Greek Da ...
name for the island. The current name ''Crete'' is first attested in the 15th century BC in
Mycenaean Greek Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively ...
texts, written in
Linear B Linear B is a syllabic script In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The tradition ...
, through the words (, ; later Greek: , plural of ) and (, ; later Greek: , 'Cretan'). In
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
, the name Crete () first appears in
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally re ...

Homer
's ''
Odyssey The ''Odyssey'' (; grc, Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia, ) is one of two major ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí ...
''. Its etymology is unknown. One proposal derives it from a hypothetical
Luwian The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Anatolia, in present-day Turkey, in the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. They spoke the Luwian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian languages, ...
word (compare 'island', 'cutting, sliver'). Another proposal suggests that it derives from the
ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
word ''"κραταιή" (krataie̅)'', meaning strong or powerful, the reasoning being that Crete was the strongest
thalassocracy A thalassocracy or thalattocracy (from grc-x-classical, θάλασσα, translit=thalassa, , , and grc, κρατεῖν, translit=kratein, lit=power; giving grc-x-koine, θαλασσοκρατία, translit=thalassokratia, lit=sea power), somet ...
during ancient times. In
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
, the name of the island became . The original Arabic name of Crete was ( ar, اقريطش < , but after the
Emirate of Crete The Emirate of Crete ( ar, إقريطش, Iqrīṭish or , ''Iqrīṭiya''; gr, Κρήτη, Krētē) was a Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam, a Monotheism, monotheistic Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic religion. The de ...
's establishment of its new capital at (modern
Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larg ...
; el, Ηράκλειο, ), both the city and the island became known as () or (), which gave Latin, Italian, and Venetian , from which were derived French and English ''Candy'' or ''Candia''. Under
Ottoman rule Ottoman is the Turkish spelling of the Arabic masculine given name Uthman ( ar, عُثْمان, ‘uthmān). It may refer to: Governments and dynasties * Ottoman Caliphate, an Islamic caliphate from 1517 to 1924 * Ottoman Empire The Ott ...
, in
Ottoman Turkish Ottoman Turkish ( ota, لِسانِ عُثمانى, , ; tr, Osmanlı Türkçesi) was the standardized register A register is an authoritative list of one kind of information. Register or registration may refer to: Arts entertainment, and ...
, Crete was called (). In the Hebrew Bible, Crete is referred to as () "kretim".


Physical geography

Crete is the largest island in Greece and the fifth largest island in the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by and and , on the south by , and on the east by the . The Sea has played a central role in the . Although the Mediterrane ...
. It is located in the southern part of the
Aegean Sea The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated embayment A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that directly connects to a larger main body of water, such as an ocean, a lake, or another bay. A large bay is usually called a Gulf ...

Aegean Sea
separating the Aegean from the
Libyan Sea The Libyan Sea (Ancient Greek, Greek , Latin ''Libycum Mare'', Arabic البحر الليبي) is the portion of the Mediterranean Sea north of the North Africa, African coast of Ancient Libya, ancient ''Libya'', i.e. Cyrenaica, and Marmarica ...
.


Island morphology

The island has an elongated shape: it spans from east to west, is at its widest point, and narrows to as little as (close to
Ierapetra Ierapetra ( el, Ιεράπετρα, lit=sacred stone; ancient name: ) is a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in S ...
). Crete covers an area of , with a coastline of ; to the north, it broaches the
Sea of Crete 300px, Map of the Sea of Crete The Sea of Crete (, ''Kritiko Pelagos''), or Cretan Sea, is a sea, part of the Aegean Sea The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated embayment A bay is a recessed, coastal body of water that direc ...
( el, Κρητικό Πέλαγος, links=no); to the south, the
Libyan Sea The Libyan Sea (Ancient Greek, Greek , Latin ''Libycum Mare'', Arabic البحر الليبي) is the portion of the Mediterranean Sea north of the North Africa, African coast of Ancient Libya, ancient ''Libya'', i.e. Cyrenaica, and Marmarica ...
( el, links=no, Λιβυκό Πέλαγος); in the west, the
Myrtoan Sea The Myrtoan Sea (also Mirtoan Sea; el, Mυρτώο Πέλαγος, ''Myrtoo Pelagos'' ) is a subdivision of the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a connected to the , surrounded by the and almost completely enclosed by land: on th ...
, and toward the east the Carpathian Sea. It lies approximately south of the Greek mainland.


Mountains and valleys

Crete is mountainous, and its character is defined by a high mountain range crossing from west to east, formed by six different groups of mountains: *The White Mountains or
Lefka Ori Lefka Ori ( el, Λευκά Όρη, meaning "White Mountains") or Madares (Μαδάρες from the Cretan Greek Cretan Greek, or the Cretan dialect ( el, Κρητική Διάλεκτος, ), is a variety of Modern Greek spoken in Crete Crete ...

Lefka Ori
*The Idi Range (
Psiloritis Mount Ida ( el, Ἴδα), known variously as Idha, Ídhi, Idi, Ita. The massif including the mountain is called Psiloritis ( el, Ψηλορείτης). At 2,456 m (8,058 feet), Ida is the highest mountain on Crete. It has the highest topographic ...

Psiloritis
) *
Asterousia Mountains The Asterousia Mountains are a range in southern Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island i ...
*
Kedros
Kedros
*The
Dikti Mountains
Dikti Mountains
*Thripti These mountains lavish Crete with valleys, such as
Amari valleyThe Amari Valley is a fertile valley on the foothills Rocky Mountain foothills near Denver, Colorado, CO. Foothills or piedmont are geography, geographically defined as gradual increases in elevation at the base of a mountain range, higher hill ran ...
, fertile plateaus, such as
Lasithi plateau The Lasithi Plateau ( el, Οροπέδιο Λασιθίου, ''Oropedio Lasithiou''), sometimes spelt Lassithi Plateau is a high endorheic An endorheic basin (; also spelled endoreic basin or endorreic basin) is a drainage basin A drai ...

Lasithi plateau
,
Omalos Omalos ( el, Ομαλός) is a small village in western Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, : , : '','' ) is the largest and most populous of the , the largest island in the world and the largest island in the , after , , , and . Cre ...
and
Nidha The Nida Plateau ( el, Οροπέδιο Νίδας), is a plateau In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Ea ...
; caves, such as Gourgouthakas, Diktaion, and Idaion (the birthplace of the ancient Greek god
Zeus Zeus or , , ; grc, Δῐός, ''Diós'', label=genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Ling ...

Zeus
); and a number of gorges. Mountains in Crete are the object of tremendous fascination both for locals and tourists. The mountains have been seen as a key feature of the island's distinctiveness, especially since the time of Romantic travellers' writing. Contemporary Cretans distinguish between highlanders and lowlanders; the former often claim to reside in places affording a higher/better climatic but also moral environment. In keeping with the legacy of Romantic authors, the mountains are seen as having determined their residents' 'resistance' to past invaders which relates to the oft-encountered idea that highlanders are 'purer' in terms of less intermarriages with occupiers. For residents of mountainous areas, such as Sfakia in western Crete, the aridness and rockiness of the mountains is emphasised as an element of pride and is often compared to the alleged soft-soiled mountains of others parts of Greece or the world.


Gorges, rivers and lakes

The island has a number of gorges, such as the Samariá Gorge,
Imbros GorgeImbros Gorge ( el, Φαράγγι Ίμπρου, Faragi Imbrou) is an 11 km long canyon A canyon (; archaic British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic language ...
,
Kourtaliotiko Gorge The Kourtaliotiko Gorge ( el, Κουρταλιώτικο Φαράγγι), also known as the Asomatos Gorge ( el, Φαράγγι Ασώματου), is a gorge on the southern side of the western part of the island of Crete. It is situated where the K ...

Kourtaliotiko Gorge
,
Ha Gorge 220px, The V shaped exit of Ha Gorge Ha Gorge ( el, Φαράγγι Χά) is a narrow gorge A canyon (; archaic British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic langua ...
, Platania Gorge, the Gorge of the Dead (at
Kato Zakros Zakros ( el, Ζάκρος; Linear B: zakoro) is a site on the eastern coast of the island of Crete, Greece, containing ruins from the Minoan civilization. The site is often known to archaeologists as Zakro or Kato Zakro. It is believed to have been ...

Kato Zakros
,
Sitia Sitia ( el, Σητεία) is a port town and a municipality in Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional unit on the island of Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and mos ...
) and
Richtis Gorge Richtis Gorge ( el, Φαράγγι του Ρίχτη, Faraggi tou Richti) is a gorge in Crete, GreeceMap of Richtis Gorge here. It is a state protected park near Exo Mouliana, Sitia, eastern Crete (Greece) that starts at the traditional village Exo ...
and (Richtis) waterfall at Exo Mouliana in
Sitia Sitia ( el, Σητεία) is a port town and a municipality in Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional unit on the island of Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and mos ...
. The rivers of Crete include the
Ieropotamos River The Geropotamos ( el, Γεροπόταμος or Ιερός Ποταμός) is a watercourse in southern Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th large ...
, the Koiliaris, the Anapodiaris, the Almiros, the Giofyros, and Megas Potamos. There are only two freshwater lakes in Crete: Lake Kournas and Lake Agia, which are both in Chania regional unit.
Lake Voulismeni
Lake Voulismeni
at the coast, at Aghios Nikolaos, was formerly a freshwater lake but is now connected to the sea, in Lasithi. Three artificial lakes created by dams also exist in Crete: the lake of Aposelemis Dam, the lake of Potamos Dam, and the lake of Mpramiana Dam. File:HaGorgeExit.jpg,
Ha Gorge 220px, The V shaped exit of Ha Gorge Ha Gorge ( el, Φαράγγι Χά) is a narrow gorge A canyon (; archaic British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic langua ...
File:Samaria Gorge 09.jpg, Samariá Gorge File:Crete Aradaina3 tango7174.jpg, Aradaina Gorge File:Venetian Bridge over Megalopótamos River, Préveli, Crete.jpg, Venetian Bridge over Megalopotamos River


Surrounding islands

A large number of islands, islets, and rocks hug the coast of Crete. Many are visited by tourists, some are only visited by
archaeologists Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts in order to gain a better understanding of it. The technique h ...
and
biologist A biologist is a professional who has specialized knowledge in the field of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Mol ...
s. Some are environmentally protected. A small sample of the islands includes: *
Gramvousa Gramvousa also Grampousa ( el, Γραμβούσα or Γραμπούσα, further names include ''Akra'', ''Cavo Buso'', ''Cavo Bouza'', ''Garabusa'' and ''Grabusa'') refers to two small uninhabited islands off the coast of a peninsula also known G ...

Gramvousa
(
Kissamos Kissamos ( el, Κίσσαμος) is a town and municipality and in the west of the island of Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island i ...

Kissamos
, Chania) the pirate island opposite the Balo lagoon *
Elafonisi Elafonisi ( el, Ελαφονήσι "deer island") is an island located close to the southwestern corner of the Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin In bioge ...

Elafonisi
(Chania), which commemorates a shipwreck and an Ottoman massacre * Chrysi island (
Ierapetra Ierapetra ( el, Ιεράπετρα, lit=sacred stone; ancient name: ) is a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in S ...
,
Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional units of Greece, regional unit on the island of Crete, to the east of Heraklion. Its capital is Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Agios Nikolaos, the other major towns being Ierapetra and Sitia. The mou ...

Lasithi
), which hosts the largest natural '' Juniperus macrocarpa'' forest in Europe *
Paximadia Paximadia ( el, Παξιμάδια, " rusks") are two small uninhabited islands in the gulf of Mesara located approximately south of Agia Galini in Rethymno (regional unit), Rethymno regional unit. They are in the Libyan Sea next to the southern ...
island (Agia Galini,
Rethymno Rethymno ( el, Ρέθυμνο, , also ''Rethimno'', ''Rethymnon'', ''Réthymnon'', and ''Rhíthymnos'') is a city in Greece on the island of Crete. It is the capital of Rethymno (regional unit), Rethymno regional unit, and has a population of more ...
) where the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis were born *The Venetian fort and leper colony at
Spinalonga Spinalonga ( el, Σπιναλόγκα) is an island located in the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete, in Lasithi, next to the town of Plaka. The island is further assigned to the area of Kalydon (Elounda), Kalydon. It is near the Spinalonga p ...

Spinalonga
opposite the beach and shallow waters of
Elounda Elounda ( el, Ελούντα, Elúnda), alternatively transliterated as Elounta or Elouda, is a small town on the northern coast of the island of Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and most popu ...

Elounda
( Agios Nikolaos, Lasithi) *
Dionysades The Dionysades ( el, Διονυσάδες, also Γιανυσάδες - ''Gianysades'') is a small group of islands off Sitia on the northeast coast of Crete. The group includes the islands Gianysada, Dragonada, Paximada, and Paximadaki. Administrat ...
islands which are in an environmentally protected region together the Palm Beach Forest of Vai in the municipality of
Sitia Sitia ( el, Σητεία) is a port town and a municipality in Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional unit on the island of Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and mos ...
, Lasithi Off the south coast, the island of
Gavdos Gavdos ( el, Γαύδος, ) is the southernmost List of islands of Greece, Greek island, located to the south of its much larger neighbour, Crete, of which it is administratively a part, in the regional unit of Chania (regional unit), Chania. It ...

Gavdos
is located south of
Hora Sfakion Image:Chora Sfakion 1941 evacuation monument.jpg, 200px, Monument commemorating the evacuation during World War II, WW2 of British and Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, ANZAC forces from Hora Sfakion in May 1941. ''Click on the left plaque for ...

Hora Sfakion
and is the
southernmost
southernmost
point of
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
.


Climate

Crete straddles two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and the
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
n, mainly falling within the former. As such, the climate in Crete is primarily
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...
. The atmosphere can be quite humid, depending on the proximity to the sea, while winter is fairly mild. Snowfall is common on the mountains between November and May, but rare in the low-lying areas. While some mountain tops are snow-capped for most of the year, near the coast snow only stays on the ground for a few minutes or hours. However, a truly exceptional cold snap swept the island in February 2004, during which period the whole island was blanketed with snow. During the Cretan summer, average temperatures reach the high 20s-low 30s Celsius (mid 80s to mid 90s Fahrenheit), with maxima touching the upper 30s-mid 40s. The south coast, including the
Mesara Plain The Messara Plain or simply Messara ( el, Μεσσαρά) is an alluvial plain in southern Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in ...
and
Asterousia Mountains The Asterousia Mountains are a range in southern Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island i ...
, falls in the North African climatic zone, and thus enjoys significantly more sunny days and high temperatures throughout the year. There,
date palm ''Phoenix dactylifera'', commonly known as date or date palm, is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae The Arecaceae is a family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birt ...

date palm
s bear fruit, and
swallows The swallows, martins, and saw-wings, or Hirundinidae, are a family of passerine A passerine is any bird of the Order (biology), order Passeriformes (, Latin ''passer'' (“sparrow”) + ''formis'' (“-shaped”)), which includes more than h ...

swallows
remain year-round rather than migrate to
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
. The fertile region around
Ierapetra Ierapetra ( el, Ιεράπετρα, lit=sacred stone; ancient name: ) is a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in S ...
, on the southeastern corner of the island, is renowned for its exceptional year-round agricultural production, with all kinds of summer vegetables and fruit produced in
greenhouse A greenhouse (also called a glasshouse, or, if with sufficient heating, a hothouse) is a structure with walls and roof made chiefly of transparent material, such as glass, in which plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photo ...

greenhouse
s throughout the winter. Western Crete (Chania province) receives more rain and the soils there suffer more erosion compared to the Eastern part of Crete.


Geography

Crete is the most populous island in Greece with a population of more than 600,000 people. Approximately 42% live in Crete's main cities and towns whilst 45% live in rural areas.


Administration

Crete with its nearby islands form the Crete Region ( el, Περιφέρεια Κρήτης, translit=, , ), one of the 13
regions of Greece In geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
which were established in the 1987 administrative reform. Under the 2010 Kallikratis plan, the powers and authority of the regions were redefined and extended. The region is based at
Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larg ...
and is divided into four regional units (pre-Kallikratis
prefectures A prefecture (from the Latin ''Praefectura'') is an administrative jurisdiction traditionally governed by an appointed prefect. This can be a regional or local government subdivision in various countries, or a subdivision in certain international ...

prefectures
). From west to east these are:
Chania Chania ( el, Χανιά ; vec, La Canea) is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania (regional unit), Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about west of Rethymno and west of Heraklion. The mun ...
,
Rethymno Rethymno ( el, Ρέθυμνο, , also ''Rethimno'', ''Rethymnon'', ''Réthymnon'', and ''Rhíthymnos'') is a city in Greece on the island of Crete. It is the capital of Rethymno (regional unit), Rethymno regional unit, and has a population of more ...
,
Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in lar ...
, and
Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional units of Greece, regional unit on the island of Crete, to the east of Heraklion. Its capital is Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Agios Nikolaos, the other major towns being Ierapetra and Sitia. The mou ...

Lasithi
. These are further subdivided into 24
municipalities A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, ...
. The region's governor is, since 1 January 2011, Stavros Arnaoutakis, who was elected in the November 2010 local administration elections for the
Panhellenic Socialist Movement The Panhellenic Socialist Movement ( el, Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Κίνημα (''Panellenio Sosialistiko Kinema''), ), known mostly by its acronym PASOK, (; , ) is a social-democratic political party in Greece. Until 2015, ...
.


Cities

Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larg ...
is the largest city and capital of Crete, holding more than a fourth of its population.
Chania Chania ( el, Χανιά ; vec, La Canea) is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania (regional unit), Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about west of Rethymno and west of Heraklion. The mun ...

Chania
was the capital until 1971. The principal cities are: *
Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larg ...
(''Iraklion'' or ''Candia'') (144,422 inhabitants)2011 Census *
Chania Chania ( el, Χανιά ; vec, La Canea) is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania (regional unit), Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about west of Rethymno and west of Heraklion. The mun ...

Chania
(''Haniá'') (53,910 inhabitants) *
Rethymno Rethymno ( el, Ρέθυμνο, , also ''Rethimno'', ''Rethymnon'', ''Réthymnon'', and ''Rhíthymnos'') is a city in Greece on the island of Crete. It is the capital of Rethymno (regional unit), Rethymno regional unit, and has a population of more ...
(34,300 inhabitants) *
Ierapetra Ierapetra ( el, Ιεράπετρα, lit=sacred stone; ancient name: ) is a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in S ...
(23,707 inhabitants) * Agios Nikolaos (20,679 inhabitants) *
Sitia Sitia ( el, Σητεία) is a port town and a municipality in Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional unit on the island of Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and mos ...
(14,338 inhabitants) File:Venetian Fortress in Heraklion Crete NE side.jpg, Venetian fortress in
Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larg ...
File:Kreta - Chania - Kathedrale der drei Märtyrer.jpg,
Chania Chania ( el, Χανιά ; vec, La Canea) is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania (regional unit), Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about west of Rethymno and west of Heraklion. The mun ...

Chania
cathedral File:Rethymno Fortezza Mosque 02.JPG,
Rethymno Rethymno ( el, Ρέθυμνο, , also ''Rethimno'', ''Rethymnon'', ''Réthymnon'', and ''Rhíthymnos'') is a city in Greece on the island of Crete. It is the capital of Rethymno (regional unit), Rethymno regional unit, and has a population of more ...
Fortezza Mosque


Economy

The economy of Crete is predominantly based on services and tourism. However, agriculture also plays an important role and Crete is one of the few Greek islands that can support itself independently without a tourism industry. The economy began to change visibly during the 1970s as tourism gained in importance. Although an emphasis remains on agriculture and stock breeding, because of the climate and terrain of the island, there has been a drop in manufacturing, and an observable expansion in its service industries (mainly tourism-related). All three sectors of the Cretan economy (agriculture/farming, processing-packaging, services), are directly connected and interdependent. The island has a per capita income much higher than the Greek average, whereas unemployment is at approximately 4%, one-sixth of that of the country overall. As in many regions of Greece,
viticulture Viticulture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power o ...

viticulture
and
olive The olive, botanical name ''Olea europaea'', meaning "European olive", is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodivers ...

olive
groves are significant;
oranges The orange is the fruit of various citrus species in the family (biology), family Rutaceae (see list of plants known as orange); it primarily refers to Citrus × sinensis, ''Citrus'' × ''sinensis'', which is also called sweet orange, to dis ...
, citrons and
avocado The avocado (''Persea americana''), a tree likely originating from southcentral Mexico, is Biological classification, classified as a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae. The fruit of the plant, also called an avocado (or avocado pe ...

avocado
es are also cultivated. Until recently there were restrictions on the import of bananas to Greece, therefore bananas were grown on the island, predominantly in greenhouses. Dairy products are important to the local economy and there are a number of speciality cheeses such as
mizithra Mizithra or myzithra ( ) is a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximate ...

mizithra
,
anthotyros Anthotyros () (Anthotyro in modern Greek, "flowery cheese") is a traditional fresh cheese. There are dry Anthotyros and fresh Anthotyros. Dry Anthotyros is a matured cheese similar to Mizithra. Anthotyros is made with milk and whey from sheep milk ...
, and . The
Gross domestic product Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary Image:National-Debt-Gillray.jpeg, In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed to King George III are contrasted with the beggar whose legs and arms were amputated, in the ...
(GDP) of the region was €9.4 billion in 2018, accounting for 5.1% of Greek economic output. GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power was €17,800 or 59% of the EU27 average in the same year. The GDP per employee was 68% of the EU average. Crete is the region in Greece with the fifth highest GDP per capita.


Transport infrastructure


Airports

The island has three significant airports,
Nikos Kazantzakis Nikos Kazantzakis ( el, Νίκος Καζαντζάκης ; 18 February 188326 October 1957) was a Greek writer. Widely considered a giant of modern Greek literature, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in nine different years. ...
at Heraklion, the Daskalogiannis airport at
Chania Chania ( el, Χανιά ; vec, La Canea) is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania (regional unit), Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about west of Rethymno and west of Heraklion. The mun ...

Chania
and a smaller one in
Sitia Sitia ( el, Σητεία) is a port town and a municipality in Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional unit on the island of Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and mos ...
. The first two serve international routes, acting as the main gateways to the island for travellers. There is a long-standing plan to replace Heraklion airport with a completely new airport at Kastelli, where there is presently an air force base.


Ferries

The island is well served by ferries, mostly from
Piraeus Piraeus ( ; el, Πειραιάς ; grc, Πειραιεύς ) is a port city The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Trieste.html"_;"title="Barcola_near_Trieste">Barcola_near_Trieste,_a_small_local_port A_port_is_a_ Barcola_near_Tr ...

Piraeus
, by ferry companies such as
Minoan Lines Minoan Lines is one of the largest passenger ferry companies in Europe, and one of the dominant passenger ferry companies in Greece, sailing between Piraeus and Crete and in the Adriatic Sea, between Patras and various Italian ports. The company w ...
and
ANEK Lines ANEK Lines (Ανώνυμη Ναυτιλιακή Εταιρεία Κρήτης, ''Anonymi Naftiliaki Eteria Kritis'', Anonymous Shipping Company of Crete) is one of the largest passenger shipping company in Greece. It was founded in 1967 by numer ...
.
Seajets Seajets is a Greece, Greek/Cyprus, Cypriot ferry company operating passenger and freight ferry services in the Aegean Sea. History Seajets was established in 1989. Today, it operates a fleet of 14 High-speed craft, high speed vessels, and 3 convent ...
operates routes to
Cyclades The CYCLADES computer network A computer network is a group of computers that use a set of common communication protocols over digital signal, digital interconnections for the purpose of sharing resources located on or provided by the Node (ne ...

Cyclades
.


Road Network

Although almost everywhere is covered by the road network, there is a lack of modern highways, although this is gradually changing with the completion of the northern coastal spine highway. In addition, a European Union study has been devised to promote a modern highway to connect the North and the South parts of the island via a tunnel. The study proposal includes a 15.7 km of section of road between the villages of Agia Varvara and Agia Deka in central Crete. Ut is hoped to benefit both tourists and locals by improving the connections to the southern part of the island and by reducing accidents. The new road section forms part of the route between Messara in the south and Crete's largest city Heraklion, which houses the island's main airport and principal ferry links with mainland Greece. Traffic speeds on the new road will increase by 19 km/hour (from 29 km/hours to 48 km/hour), which should reduce journey times between Messara and Heraklion by 55 minutes. The scheme is also expected to improve road safety by cutting the number of accidents along the route. Building works include construction of three road tunnels, five bridges and three junctions. This project is expected to create 44 jobs during the implementation phase. The investment falls under Greece's "Improvement of Accessibility" Operational Programme, which aims to improve the country's transport infrastructures as well as its international connections. The Operational Programme works to link Greece's more prosperous and less developed regions,and thus help to promote greater territorial cohesion. Total investment for the project "Completion of construction of the section of Ag. Varvara - Ag. Deka (Kastelli) (22+170 km to 37+900 km) of the vertical road axis Irakleio – Messara in the prefecture of Irakleio, Kriti" is EUR 102 273 321, of which the EU's European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 86 932 323 from the Operational Programme "Improvement of Accessibility" for the 2007 to 2013 programming period. Work falls under the priority "Road Transport – trans-European and trans-regional route network of the regions on the Convergence objective".


Railway

Also, during the 1930s there was a narrow-gauge industrial railway in Heraklion, from Giofyros in the west side of the city to the port. There are now no railway lines on Crete. The government is planning the construction of a line from Chania to Heraklion via Rethymno.Rackham, O. & Moody, J., 1996
The Making of the Cretan Landscape
Manchester University Press,


Development

Newspapers have reported that the Ministry of Mercantile Marine is ready to support the agreement between Greece,
South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and sharing a Korean Demilitarized Zone, land border with North Korea. Its western border is for ...

South Korea
,
Dubai Ports World Dubai Ports World is an Emirati multinational logistics company based in Dubai Dubai ( ; ar, دبي, translit=Dubayy , ) is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the capital of the Emirate of Dubai.The Government and ...
and China for the construction of a large international container (cargo), container port and free trade zone in southern Crete near Tympaki; the plan is to expropriate 850 ha of land. The port would handle 2 million containers per year, but the project has not been universally welcomed because of its environmental, economic and cultural impact.No Container Transshipment Hub in Timbaki
. Retrieved 27 May 2007.
As of January 2013, the project has still not been confirmed, although there is mounting pressure to approve it, arising from Greece's difficult economic situation. There are plans for underwater cables going from mainland Greece to Israel and Egypt passing by Crete and Cyprus: EuroAfrica Interconnector and EuroAsia Interconnector. They would connect Crete electrically with mainland Greece, ending energy isolation of Crete. At present Greece covers electricity costs differences for Crete of around €300 million per year.


History

Hominids settled in Crete at least 130,000 years ago. In the later Neolithic and Bronze Age periods, under the Minoans, Crete had a highly developed, literate civilization. It has been ruled by various ancient Greek entities, the Roman Empire, the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
, the
Emirate of Crete The Emirate of Crete ( ar, إقريطش, Iqrīṭish or , ''Iqrīṭiya''; gr, Κρήτη, Krētē) was a Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam, a Monotheism, monotheistic Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic religion. The de ...
, the Republic of Venice and the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
. After a brief period of independence (1897–1913) under a provisional Cretan government, it joined the Kingdom of Greece. It was occupied by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.


Prehistoric Crete

In 2002, the paleontologist Gerard Gierlinski discovered fossil footprints possibly left by ancient human relatives 5,600,000 years ago. The first human settlement in Crete dates before 130,000 years ago, during the
Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek palaios - old, lithos - stone), is a period in prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history ...
age. Settlements dating to the aceramic Neolithic in the 7th millennium BC, used cattle, Domestic sheep, sheep, Domestic goat, goats, pigs and dogs as well as domesticated cereals and legumes; ancient
Knossos Knossos (also Cnossos, both pronounced ; grc, Κνωσός, Knōsós, ; Linear B: ''Ko-no-so'') is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and has been called Europe's oldest city. Settled as early as the Neolithic period, the na ...

Knossos
was the site of one of these major Neolithic (then later Minoan) sites. Other neolithic settlements include those at Kephala, Magasa, Crete, Magasa, and Trapeza, Crete, Trapeza.


Minoan civilization

Crete was the centre of Europe's first advanced civilization, the Minoan civilization, Minoan (). This civilization wrote in the undeciphered script known as Linear A. Early Ancient Crete, Cretan history is replete with legends such as those of Minos, King Minos, Theseus and the Minotaur, passed on orally via poets such as Homer. The Minoan eruption, volcanic eruption of Thera may have been the cause of the downfall of the Minoan civilization.


Mycenaean civilization

In 1420 BC, the Minoan civilization was overrun by the
Mycenaean civilization Mycenaean Greece (or the Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC.. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland ...
from mainland Greece. The oldest samples of writing in the Greek language, as identified by Michael Ventris, is the Linear B archive from Knossos, dated approximately to 1425–1375 BC.


Archaic and Classical period

After the Bronze Age collapse, Crete was settled by new waves of Greeks from the mainland. A number of city states developed in the Archaic Greece, Archaic period. There was very limited contact with mainland Greece, and Greek historiography shows little interest in Crete, and as a result, there are very few literary sources. During the 6th to 4th centuries BC, Crete was comparatively free from warfare. The Gortyn code (5th century BC) is evidence for how codified Civil law (legal system), civil law established a balance between aristocratic power and civil rights. In the late 4th century BC, the aristocratic order began to collapse due to endemic infighting among the elite, and Crete's economy was weakened by prolonged wars between city states. During the 3rd century BC, Gortyn, Kydonia (
Chania Chania ( el, Χανιά ; vec, La Canea) is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania (regional unit), Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about west of Rethymno and west of Heraklion. The mun ...

Chania
), Lyctus, Lyttos and Polyrrhenia challenged the primacy of ancient Knossos. While the cities continued to prey upon one another, they invited into their feuds mainland powers like Macedon and its rivals Rhodes and Ptolemaic Egypt. In 220 BC the island was tormented by a Lyttian War, war between two opposing coalitions of cities. As a result, the Macedonian king Philip V of Macedon, Philip V gained hegemony over Crete which lasted to the end of the Cretan War (205–200 BC), when the Rhodes, Rhodians opposed the rise of Macedon and the Roman Republic, Romans started to interfere in Cretan affairs. In the 2nd century BC Ierapytna (
Ierapetra Ierapetra ( el, Ιεράπετρα, lit=sacred stone; ancient name: ) is a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in S ...
) gained supremacy on eastern Crete.


Roman rule

Crete was involved in the Mithridatic Wars, initially repelling an attack by Roman general Marcus Antonius Creticus in 71 BC. Nevertheless, a ferocious three-year campaign soon followed under Quintus Caecilius Metellus Creticus (died 55 BC), Quintus Caecilius Metellus, equipped with three legions and Crete was finally conquered by Rome in 69 BC, earning for Metellus the title "''Creticus''". Gortyn was made capital of the island, and Crete became a Roman province, along with Cyrenaica that was called Creta et Cyrenaica. Archaeological remains suggest that Crete under Roman rule witnessed prosperity and increased connectivity with other parts of the Empire. In the 2nd century AD, at least three cities in Crete (Lyttos, Gortyn, Hierapytna) joined the Panhellenion, a league of Greek cities founded by the emperor Hadrian. When Diocletian redivided the Empire, Crete was placed, along with Cyrene, under the diocese of Moesia, and later by Constantine I to the diocese of Macedonia.


Byzantine Empire – first period

Crete was separated from Cyrenaica . It remained a province within the eastern half of the Roman Empire, usually referred to as the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire after the establishment of a second capital in Constantinople by Constantine in 330. Crete was subjected to an attack by Vandals in 467, the great earthquakes of 365 Crete earthquake, 365 and 415, a raid by Slavs in 623, Arab raids in 654 and the 670s, and again in the 8th century. In , the Emperor Leo III the Isaurian transferred the island from the jurisdiction of the Pope to that of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.


Andalusian Arab rule

In the 820s, after 900 years as a Roman, and then Eastern Roman (Byzantine) island, Crete was captured by Muwallads led by Abu Hafs (pirate), Abu Hafs,Reinhart Dozy, ''Histoire des Musulmans d'Espagne: jusqu'à la conquête de l'Andalousie par les Almoravides'' (French) pg. 711–1110, Leiden, 1861 & 1881, 2nd edition who established the
Emirate of Crete The Emirate of Crete ( ar, إقريطش, Iqrīṭish or , ''Iqrīṭiya''; gr, Κρήτη, Krētē) was a Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam, a Monotheism, monotheistic Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic religion. The de ...
. The Byzantines launched a campaign that took most of the island back in 842 and 843 under Theoktistos. Further Byzantine campaigns in 911 and 949 failed. In 960/1, Nikephoros II, Nikephoros Phokas' Siege of Chandax, campaign completely restored Crete to the Byzantine Empire, after a century and a half of Arab control.


Byzantine Empire – second period

In 961, Nikephoros II Phokas, Nikephoros Phokas returned the island to Byzantine rule after expelling the Arabs. Extensive efforts at conversion of the populace were undertaken, led by John Xenos and Nikon the Metanoeite, Nikon "the Metanoeite". The reconquest of Crete was a major achievement for the Byzantines, as it restored Byzantine control over the Aegean littoral and diminished the threat of Saracen pirates, for which Crete had provided a base of operations. In 1204, the Fourth Crusade seized and sacked the imperial capital of Constantinople. Crete was initially granted to leading Crusader Boniface of Montferrat in the partition of spoils that followed. However, Boniface sold his claim to the Republic of Venice, whose forces made up the majority of the Crusade. Venice's rival the Republic of Genoa immediately seized the island and it was not until 1212 that Venice secured Crete as a colony.


Venetian rule

From 1212, during Republic of Venice, Venice's rule, which lasted more than four centuries, a Renaissance swept through the island as is evident from the plethora of artistic works dating to that period. Known as The Cretan School or Post-Byzantine Art, it is among the last flowerings of the artistic traditions of the fallen empire. The most notable representatives of this Cretan renaissance were the painter El Greco and the writers Nicholas Kalliakis (1645–1707), Georgios Kalafatis (professor) (–1720), Andreas Musalus (–1721) and Vitsentzos Kornaros. Under the rule of the Catholic Republic of Venice, Venetians, the city of Heraklion, Candia was reputed to be the best fortified city of the Eastern Mediterranean.M. Greene. 2001. Ruling an island without a navy: A comparative view of Venetian and Ottoman Crete. ''Oriente moderno'', 20(81), 193–207 The three main forts were located at
Gramvousa Gramvousa also Grampousa ( el, Γραμβούσα or Γραμπούσα, further names include ''Akra'', ''Cavo Buso'', ''Cavo Bouza'', ''Garabusa'' and ''Grabusa'') refers to two small uninhabited islands off the coast of a peninsula also known G ...

Gramvousa
,
Spinalonga Spinalonga ( el, Σπιναλόγκα) is an island located in the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete, in Lasithi, next to the town of Plaka. The island is further assigned to the area of Kalydon (Elounda), Kalydon. It is near the Spinalonga p ...

Spinalonga
, and Fortezza Castle, Fortezza at Rethymnon. Other fortifications include the Kazarma fortress at Sitia. In 1492, Jews expelled from Spain settled on the island. In 1574–77, Crete was under the rule of Giacomo Foscarini as Proveditor General, Sindace and Inquisitor. According to Starr's 1942 article, the rule of Giacomo Foscarini was a Dark Age for Jews and Greeks. Under his rule, non-Catholics had to pay high taxes with no allowances. In 1627, there were 800 Jews in the city of Candia, about seven percent of the city's population. Marco Foscarini was the Doge of Venice during this time period.


Ottoman rule

The Ottoman Empire, Ottomans Cretan War (1645–1669), conquered Crete (Girit Eyâleti) in 1669, after the siege of Candia. Many Greek Cretans fled to other regions of the Republic of Venice after the Ottoman–Venetian Wars, some even prospering such as the family of Simone Stratigo (c. 1733 – c. 1824) who migrated to Dalmatia from Crete in 1669. Islamic presence on the island, aside from the interlude of the Emirate of Crete, Arab occupation, was cemented by the Ottoman wars in Europe, Ottoman conquest. Most Cretan Muslims were local Greek converts who spoke Cretan Greek language, Greek, but in the island's 19th-century political context they came to be viewed by the Christian population as Turks. Contemporary estimates vary, but on the eve of the Greek War of Independence (1830), as much as 45% of the population of the island may have been Muslim. A number of Sufi orders were widespread throughout the island, the Bektashi order being the most prevalent, possessing at least five tekkes. Many Cretan Turks fled Crete because of the unrest, settling in Turkey, Rhodes, Syria, Libya and elsewhere. By 1900, 11% of the population was Muslim. Those remaining were relocated in the 1924 population exchange between Greece and Turkey. During Easter of 1770, a notable revolt against Ottoman rule, in Crete, was started by Daskalogiannis, a shipowner from Sfakia who was promised support by Orlov Revolt, Orlov's fleet which never arrived. Daskalogiannis eventually surrendered to the Ottoman authorities. Today, the airport at Chania is named after him. Crete was left out of the modern Greek state by the London Protocol of 1830, and soon it was yielded to Egypt by the Ottoman sultan. Egyptian rule was short-lived and sovereignty was returned to the Ottoman Empire by the Convention of London (1840), Convention of London on 3 July 1840. Heraklion was surrounded by high walls and bastions and extended westward and southward by the 17th century. The most opulent area of the city was the northeastern quadrant where all the elite were gathered together. The city had received another name under the rule of the Ottomans, "the deserted city". The urban policy that the Ottoman applied to Candia was a two-pronged approach. The first was the religious endowments. It made the Ottoman elite contribute to building and rehabilitating the ruined city. The other method was to boost the population and the urban revenue by selling off urban properties. According to Molly Greene (2001) there were numerous records of real-estate transactions during the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman rule. In the deserted city, minorities received equal rights in purchasing property. Christians and Jews were also able to buy and sell in the real-estate market. The Cretan Revolt (1866–69), Cretan Revolt of 1866–1869 or Great Cretan Revolution ( el, links=no, Κρητική Επανάσταση του 1866) was a three-year uprising against Ottoman rule, the third and largest in a series of revolts between the end of the Greek War of Independence in 1830 and the establishment of the independent Cretan State in 1898. A particular event which caused strong reactions among the liberal circles of western Europe was the ''Holocaust of Arkadi''. The event occurred in November 1866, as a large Ottoman force besieged the Arkadi Monastery, which served as the headquarters of the rebellion. In addition to its 259 defenders, over 700 women and children had taken refuge in the monastery. After a few days of hard fighting, the Ottomans broke into the monastery. At that point, the abbot of the monastery set fire to the gunpowder stored in the monastery's vaults, causing the death of most of the rebels and the women and children sheltered there.


Cretan State 1898–1908

Following the repeated uprisings in 1841, 1858, 1889, 1895 and 1897 by the Cretan people, who wanted to join Greece, the Great powers#History, Great Powers decided to restore order and in February 1897 sent in troops. The island was subsequently garrisoned by troops from Great Britain, France, Italy and Russia; Germany and Austro-Hungary withdrawing from the occupation in early 1898. During this period Crete was governed through a committee of admirals from the remaining four Powers. In March 1898 the Powers decreed, with the very reluctant consent of the Sultan, that the island would be granted autonomy under Ottoman suzerainty in the near future. In September 1898 the Candia massacre in Candia, modern Heraklion, left over 500 Cretan Christians and 14 British servicemen dead at the hands of Muslim irregulars. As a result, the Admirals ordered the expulsion of all Ottoman troops and administrators from the island, a move that was ultimately completed by early November. The decision to grant autonomy to the island was enforced and a High Commissioner, Prince George of Greece, appointed, arriving to take up his post in December 1898.Robert Holland and Diane Markides, ''The British and the Hellenes: Struggles for Mastery in the Eastern Mediterranean 1850–1960''. p. 81. Oxford University Press, 2005. The flag of the
Cretan State The Cretan State ( el, Κρητική Πολιτεία, Kritiki Politeia; ota, كريد دولتى, Girid Devleti) was established in 1898, following the intervention by the Great Powers (United Kingdom, France, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Russ ...
was chosen by the Powers, with the white star representing the Ottoman suzerainty over the island. In 1905, disagreements between Prince George and minister Eleftherios Venizelos over the question of the ''enosis'' (union with Greece), such as the Prince's autocratic style of government, resulted in the Theriso revolt, one of the leaders being Eleftherios Venizelos. Prince George resigned as High Commissioner and was replaced by Alexandros Zaimis, a former Greek prime minister, in 1906. In 1908, taking advantage of domestic turmoil in Turkey as well as the timing of Zaimis's vacation away from the island, the Cretan deputies unilaterally declared union with Greece. With the break out of the First Balkan War, the Greek government declared that Crete was now Greek territory. This was not recognised internationally until 1 December 1913.


Second World War

During World War II, the island was the scene of the famous Battle of Crete in May 1941. The initial 11-day battle was bloody and left more than 11,000 soldiers and civilians killed or wounded. As a result of the fierce resistance from both Allied forces and civilian Cretan locals, the invasion force suffered heavy casualties, and Adolf Hitler forbade further large-scale paratroop operations for the rest of the war. During the initial and subsequent occupation, German firing squads routinely executed male civilians in reprisal for the death of German soldiers; civilians were rounded up randomly in local villages for the mass killings, such as at the Massacre of Kondomari and the Viannos massacres. Two German generals were later tried and executed for their roles in the killing of 3,000 of the island's inhabitants.


Civil War

In the aftermath of the Dekemvriana in Athens, Cretan leftists were targeted by the right wing paramilitary organization National Organization of Rethymno (EOR). Which engaged in attacks in the villages of Koxare and Melampes, as well as Rethymno in January 1945. Those attacks did not escalate into a full scale insurgency as they did in the Greek mainland and the Cretan ELAS did not surrender its weapons after the Treaty of Varkiza. An uneasy truce was maintained until 1947, with a series of arrests of notable communists in Chania and Heraklion. Encouraged by orders from the central organization in Athens, KKE launched an insurgency in Crete; marking the beginning of the Greek Civil War on the island. In eastern Crete the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE) struggled to establish its presence in Dikti and Psilorites. On 1 July 1947, the surviving 55 fighters of DSE were ambushed south of Psilorites, the few surviving members of the unit managed to join the rest of DSE in
Lefka Ori Lefka Ori ( el, Λευκά Όρη, meaning "White Mountains") or Madares (Μαδάρες from the Cretan Greek Cretan Greek, or the Cretan dialect ( el, Κρητική Διάλεκτος, ), is a variety of Modern Greek spoken in Crete Crete ...

Lefka Ori
. The Lefka Ori region in the west offered more favorable conditions for DSE's insurgency. In the summer of 1947 DSE raided and looted the Maleme Airport and motor depot at Chrysopigi. Its numbers swelled to approximately 300 fighters, the rise of DSE numbers compounded with crop failure on the island created serious logistical issues for the insurgents. The communists resorted to Cattle raiding, cattle rustling and crop confiscations which solved the problem only temporarily. In the autumn of 1947, the Greek government offered generous amnesty terms to Cretan DSE fighters and mountain bandits, many of whom opted to abandon armed struggle or even defect to the nationalists. On 4 July 1948, government troops launched a large scale offensive on Samariá Gorge. Many DSE soldiers were killed in the fighting while the survivors broke into small armed bands. In October 1948, the secretary of the Cretan KKE Giorgos Tsitilos was killed in an ambush. By the following month only 34 DSE fighters remained active in Lefka Ori. The insurgency in Crete gradually withered away, with the last two hold outs surrendering in 1974, 25 years after the conclusion of the war in mainland Greece.


Tourism

Crete is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Greece. 15% of all arrivals in Greece come through the city of Heraklion (port and airport), while charter journeys to Heraklion make up abou
20% of all charter flights in Greece
The number of hotel beds on the island increased by 53% in the period between 1986 and 1991. Today, the island's tourism infrastructure caters to all tastes, including a very wide range of accommodation; the island's facilities take in large luxury hotels with their complete facilities, swimming pools, sports and recreation, smaller family-owned apartments, camping facilities and others. Visitors reach the island via two international airports in Heraklion and
Chania Chania ( el, Χανιά ; vec, La Canea) is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania (regional unit), Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about west of Rethymno and west of Heraklion. The mun ...

Chania
and a smaller airport in
Sitia Sitia ( el, Σητεία) is a port town and a municipality in Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional unit on the island of Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and mos ...
(international charter and domestic flights starting May 2012) or by boat to the main ports of Heraklion, Chania, Rethimno, Agios Nikolaos and
Sitia Sitia ( el, Σητεία) is a port town and a municipality in Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional unit on the island of Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and mos ...
. Popular tourist attractions include the archaeological sites of the Minoan civilisation, the Venetian old city and port of
Chania Chania ( el, Χανιά ; vec, La Canea) is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania (regional unit), Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about west of Rethymno and west of Heraklion. The mun ...

Chania
, the Venetian castle at
Rethymno Rethymno ( el, Ρέθυμνο, , also ''Rethimno'', ''Rethymnon'', ''Réthymnon'', and ''Rhíthymnos'') is a city in Greece on the island of Crete. It is the capital of Rethymno (regional unit), Rethymno regional unit, and has a population of more ...
, the gorge of Samariá Gorge, Samaria, the islands of Chrysi,
Elafonisi Elafonisi ( el, Ελαφονήσι "deer island") is an island located close to the southwestern corner of the Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin In bioge ...

Elafonisi
,
Gramvousa Gramvousa also Grampousa ( el, Γραμβούσα or Γραμπούσα, further names include ''Akra'', ''Cavo Buso'', ''Cavo Bouza'', ''Garabusa'' and ''Grabusa'') refers to two small uninhabited islands off the coast of a peninsula also known G ...

Gramvousa
,
Spinalonga Spinalonga ( el, Σπιναλόγκα) is an island located in the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete, in Lasithi, next to the town of Plaka. The island is further assigned to the area of Kalydon (Elounda), Kalydon. It is near the Spinalonga p ...

Spinalonga
and the Palm Beach of Vai, which is the largest natural palm forest in Europe.


Transportation

Crete has an extensive bus system with regular services across the north of the island and from north to south. There are two regional bus stations in Heraklion. Bus routes and timetables can be found on KTEL website.


Holiday homes and immigration

Crete's mild climate attracts interest from northern Europeans who want a holiday home or residence on the island. European Union, EU citizens have the right to freely buy property and reside with little formality. In the cities of Heraklion and Chania, the average price per square metre of apartments ranges from €1,670 to €1,700. A growing number of real estate companies cater to mainly British immigrants, followed by Netherlands, Dutch, Germany, German, Scandinavian and other European nationalities wishing to own a home in Crete. The United Kingdom, British immigrants are concentrated in the western regional units of
Chania Chania ( el, Χανιά ; vec, La Canea) is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania (regional unit), Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about west of Rethymno and west of Heraklion. The mun ...
and
Rethymno Rethymno ( el, Ρέθυμνο, , also ''Rethimno'', ''Rethymnon'', ''Réthymnon'', and ''Rhíthymnos'') is a city in Greece on the island of Crete. It is the capital of Rethymno (regional unit), Rethymno regional unit, and has a population of more ...
and to a lesser extent in
Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in lar ...
and
Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional units of Greece, regional unit on the island of Crete, to the east of Heraklion. Its capital is Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Agios Nikolaos, the other major towns being Ierapetra and Sitia. The mou ...

Lasithi
.


Archaeological sites and museums

The area has a large number of archaeological sites, including the Minoan sites of
Knossos Knossos (also Cnossos, both pronounced ; grc, Κνωσός, Knōsós, ; Linear B: ''Ko-no-so'') is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and has been called Europe's oldest city. Settled as early as the Neolithic period, the na ...

Knossos
, Malia, Crete#History, Malia (not to be confused with the town of the same name), Petras and Phaistos, the classical site of Gortys, and the diverse archaeology of the island of Koufonisi, which includes Minoan, Roman, and World War II era ruins (nb. due to conservation concerns, access to the latter has been restricted for the last few years, so it is best to check before heading to a port). There are a number of museums throughout Crete. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum displays most of the archaeological finds from the Minoan era and was reopened in 2014.


Harmful effects

Helen Briassoulis, in a qualitative analysis, proposed in the ''Journal of Sustainable Tourism'' that Crete is affected by tourism applying pressure to it to develop at an unhealthy rate, and that informal, internal systems within the country are forced to adapt. According to her, these forces have strengthened in 3 stages: from the period from 1960 to 1970, 1970–1990, and 1990 to the present. During this first period, tourism was a largely positive force, pushing modern developments like running water and electricity onto the largely rural countryside. However, beginning in the second period and especially in the third period leading up to the present day, tourist companies became more pushy with deforestation and pollution of Crete's natural resources. The country is then pulled into an interesting parity, where these companies only upkeep those natural resources that are directly essential to their industry. File:Gortys R02.jpg, View of Gortyn File:Festos1(js).jpg, Archaeological site of Phaistos File:Knossos south propylaeum.jpg, Ruins of the Knossos, Palace of Knossos File:Archaeological Museum of Chania.jpg, Archeological Museum of
Chania Chania ( el, Χανιά ; vec, La Canea) is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania (regional unit), Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about west of Rethymno and west of Heraklion. The mun ...

Chania
File:AMC Intern of Museum of Chania (Crete) 2.jpg, Archaeological Museum of Chania File:Chania naval museum.jpg, Crete Naval museum File:Pluto Serapis and Persephone Isis Heraklion museum.jpg, Pluto (mythology), Pluto and Persephone in
Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larg ...
Museum File:Jars in Malia Crete the two.jpg, Jars in Malia, Crete, Malia, Crete


Fauna and flora


Fauna

Crete is isolated from mainland Europe, Asia, and Africa, and this is reflected in the diversity of the fauna and flora. As a result, the fauna and flora of Crete have many clues to the evolution of species. There are no animals that are dangerous to humans on the island of Crete in contrast to other parts of Greece. Indeed, the ancient Greeks attributed the lack of large mammals such as bears, wolves, jackals, and venomous snakes, to the labour of Hercules (who took a live Cretan bull to the
Peloponnese The Peloponnese (), Peloponnesia, or Peloponnesus (; el, Πελοπόννησος, Pelopónnēsos, ) is a peninsula and geographic regions of Greece, geographic region in southern Greece. It is connected to the central part of the country by the ...
). Hercules wanted to honor the birthplace of Zeus by removing all "harmful" and "venomous" animals from Crete. Later, Cretans believed that the island was cleared of dangerous creatures by the Apostle Paul, who lived on the island of Crete for two years, with his exorcisms and blessings. There is a natural history museum, the Natural History Museum of Crete, operating under the direction of the University of Crete and two aquariums – Aquaworld Aquarium, Aquaworld in Hersonissos and Cretaquarium in Gournes, displaying sea creatures common in Cretan waters.


Prehistoric fauna

Dwarf elephants, Hippopotamus creutzburgi, dwarf hippopotamus, dwarf mammoths, Candiacervus, dwarf deer, and Cretan owl, giant flightless owls were native to Pleistocene Crete.


Mammals

Mammals of Crete include the vulnerable kri-kri, ''Capra aegagrus cretica'' that can be seen in the national park of the and on Thodorou, Dia (island), Dia and Agioi Pantes (islets off the north coast), the Cretan wildcat and the Cretan spiny mouse.Thodorou Islands off Platanias
ExploreCrete.com
Other terrestrial mammals include subspecies of the Cretan marten, the Cretan weasel, the Cretan badger, the long-eared hedgehog, and the edible dormouse. The Cretan shrew, a type of white-toothed shrew is considered endemic species, endemic to the island of Crete because this species of shrew is unknown elsewhere. It is a relic species of the ''crocidura'' shrews of which fossils have been found that can be dated to the Pleistocene era. In the present day it can only be found in the highlands of Crete. It is considered to be the only surviving remnant of the endemic species of the Pleistocene Mediterranean islands. Bat species include: Blasius's horseshoe bat, the lesser horseshoe bat, the greater horseshoe bat, the lesser mouse-eared bat, Geoffroy's bat, the whiskered bat, Kuhl's pipistrelle, the common pipistrelle, Savi's pipistrelle, the serotine bat, the long-eared bat, Schreibers' bat and the European free-tailed bat.Wildlife on Crete
IntoCrete.com
File:Kri-kri 1.jpg, The Kri-kri (the Cretan ibex) lives in protected natural parks at the gorge of Samaria and the island of Agios Theodoros. File:Male Cretan ibex.jpg, Male Cretan ibex File:Kritikos Lagonikos 02.jpg, ''Cretan Hound'' or Kritikos Lagonikos, one of Europe's oldest hunting dog breeds


Birds

A large variety of birds includes eagles (can be seen in
Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional units of Greece, regional unit on the island of Crete, to the east of Heraklion. Its capital is Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Agios Nikolaos, the other major towns being Ierapetra and Sitia. The mou ...

Lasithi
), swallows (throughout Crete in the summer and all the year in the south of the island), pelicans (along the coast), and common cranes (including
Gavdos Gavdos ( el, Γαύδος, ) is the southernmost List of islands of Greece, Greek island, located to the south of its much larger neighbour, Crete, of which it is administratively a part, in the regional unit of Chania (regional unit), Chania. It ...

Gavdos
and Gavdopoula). The Cretan mountains and gorges are refuges for the endangered lammergeier vulture. Bird species include: the golden eagle, Bonelli's eagle, the bearded vulture or lammergeier, the griffon vulture, Eleanora's falcon, peregrine falcon, lanner falcon, European kestrel, tawny owl, little owl, hooded crow, alpine chough, red-billed chough, and the Eurasian hoopoe. The population of griffon vultures in Crete is the largest insular one of the species in the world and consists the majority of griffon vulture population in Greece.


Reptiles and amphibians

Tortoises can be seen throughout the island. Snakes can be found hiding under rocks. Toads and frogs reveal themselves when it rains. Reptiles include the Aegean wall lizard, Balkan green lizard, common chameleon, Chalcides ocellatus, ocellated skink, snake-eyed skink, moorish gecko, Turkish gecko, Kotschy's gecko, spur-thighed tortoise, and the Caspian turtle.Native Reptiles of Crete at Aquaworld
Aquaworld Aquarium.
There are four species of snake on the island and these are not dangerous to humans. The four species include the leopard snake (locally known as Ochendra), the Balkan whip snake (locally called Dendrogallia), the dice snake (called Nerofido in Greek), and the only venomous snake is the nocturnal European cat snake, cat snake which has evolved to deliver a weak venom at the back of its mouth to paralyse geckos and small lizards, and is not dangerous to humans.The Snakes of Crete by John McClaren
CreteGazette.com
Sea turtles include the green turtle and the loggerhead turtle which are both threatened species. The loggerhead turtle nests and hatches on north-coast beaches around Rethymno and Chania, and south-coast beaches along the gulf of Mesara.Crete p. 69
by Victoria Kyriakopoulos
Amphibians include the European green toad, American bullfrog (introduced), European tree frog, and the Cretan marsh frog (Endemism, endemic).


Arthropods

Crete has an unusual variety of insects. Cicadas, known locally as ''Tzitzikia'', make a distinctive repetitive ''tzi tzi'
sound
that becomes louder and more frequent on hot summer days. Butterfly species include the swallowtail butterfly. Moth species include the hummingbird moth. There are several species of scorpion such as Euscorpius carpathicus whose venom is generally no more potent than a mosquito bite.


Crustaceans and molluscs

River crabs include the semi-terrestrial ''Potamon potamios'' crab. Edible snails are widespread and can cluster in the hundreds waiting for rainfall to reinvigorate them.


Sealife

Apart from terrestrial mammals, the seas around Crete are rich in large marine mammals, a fact unknown to most Greeks at present, although reported since ancient times. Indeed, the Minoan frescoes depicting dolphins in Queen's Megaron at Knossos indicate that Minoans were well aware of and celebrated these creatures. Apart from the famous endangered Mediterranean monk seal, which lives in almost all the coasts of the country, Greece hosts whales, sperm whales, dolphins and porpoises. These are either permanent residents of the Mediterranean or just occasional visitors. The area south of Crete, known as the Greek Abyss, hosts many of them. Squid and octopus can be found along the coast and sea turtles and hammerhead sharks swim in the sea around the coast. The Cretaquarium and the Aquaworld Aquarium, are two of only three aquariums in the whole of Greece. They are located in Gournes and Hersonissos respectively. Examples of the local sealife can be seen there.Great Britons in Crete, John Bryce McLaren
BritsinCrete.net
Some of the fish that can be seen in the waters around Crete include: scorpion fish, dusky grouper, east Atlantic peacock wrasse, five-spotted wrasse, weever fish, common stingray, brown ray, mediterranean black goby, pearly razorfish, star-gazer, painted comber, damselfish, and the flying gurnard. File:Loggerhead sea turtle.jpg, The loggerhead sea turtle nests and hatches along the beaches of
Rethymno Rethymno ( el, Ρέθυμνο, , also ''Rethimno'', ''Rethymnon'', ''Réthymnon'', and ''Rhíthymnos'') is a city in Greece on the island of Crete. It is the capital of Rethymno (regional unit), Rethymno regional unit, and has a population of more ...
and
Chania Chania ( el, Χανιά ; vec, La Canea) is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania (regional unit), Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about west of Rethymno and west of Heraklion. The mun ...

Chania
and the gulf of Messara.


Flora

The Minoans contributed to the deforestation of Crete. Further deforestation occurred in the 1600s "so that no more local supplies of firewood were available". Common wildflowers include: camomile, daisy, gladiolus, hyacinth, Iris flower, iris, poppy, cyclamen and tulip, among others.Fielding, J. and Turland, N. "Flowers of Crete", Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, , 2008 There are more than 200 different species of wild orchid on the island and this includes 14 varieties of ''Ophrys cretica''.Crete p.68
by Victoria Kyriakopoulos
Crete has a rich variety of indigenous herbs including common Salvia officinalis, sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano.The Flora of Crete
ExploreCrete.com
Rare herbs include the endemic Origanum dictamus, Cretan dittany. and ironwort, ''Sideritis syriaca'', known as Malotira (Μαλοτήρα). Varieties of cactus include the edible Opuntia, prickly pear. Common trees on the island include the chestnut tree, chestnut, cypress tree, cypress, oak tree, oak, Olea europaea, olive tree, pine tree, pine, plane tree, plane, and tamarisk tree, tamarisk. Trees tend to be taller to the west of the island where water is more abundant. File:044 Dracunculus vulgaris at Akrotiri peninsula, Crete, Greece.jpg, Snake lily (''Dracunculus vulgaris'') File:Ophrys cretica-001.jpg, The ''Ophrys cretica'' orchid.


Environmentally protected areas

There are a number of environmentally protected areas. One such area is located at the island of
Elafonisi Elafonisi ( el, Ελαφονήσι "deer island") is an island located close to the southwestern corner of the Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin In bioge ...

Elafonisi
on the coast of southwestern Crete. Also, the palm forest of Vai in eastern Crete and the
Dionysades The Dionysades ( el, Διονυσάδες, also Γιανυσάδες - ''Gianysades'') is a small group of islands off Sitia on the northeast coast of Crete. The group includes the islands Gianysada, Dragonada, Paximada, and Paximadaki. Administrat ...
(both in the municipality of
Sitia Sitia ( el, Σητεία) is a port town and a municipality in Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional unit on the island of Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and mos ...
,
Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional units of Greece, regional unit on the island of Crete, to the east of Heraklion. Its capital is Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Agios Nikolaos, the other major towns being Ierapetra and Sitia. The mou ...

Lasithi
), have diverse animal and plant life. Vai has a palm beach and is the largest natural palm forest in Europe. The island of Chrysi, south of
Ierapetra Ierapetra ( el, Ιεράπετρα, lit=sacred stone; ancient name: ) is a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in S ...
, has the largest naturally-grown '' Juniperus macrocarpa'' forest in Europe. is a Man and the Biosphere Programme, World Biosphere Reserve and
Richtis Gorge Richtis Gorge ( el, Φαράγγι του Ρίχτη, Faraggi tou Richti) is a gorge in Crete, GreeceMap of Richtis Gorge here. It is a state protected park near Exo Mouliana, Sitia, eastern Crete (Greece) that starts at the traditional village Exo ...
is protected for its landscape diversity.


Mythology

Crete has a strong association with Ancient Greek Gods but is also connected with the Minoan civilization. According to Greek Mythology, The Psychro Cave, Diktaean Cave at Mount Dikti was the birthplace of the god Zeus. The
Paximadia Paximadia ( el, Παξιμάδια, " rusks") are two small uninhabited islands in the gulf of Mesara located approximately south of Agia Galini in Rethymno (regional unit), Rethymno regional unit. They are in the Libyan Sea next to the southern ...
islands were the birthplace of the goddess Artemis and the god Apollo. Their mother, the goddess Leto, was worshipped at Phaistos. The goddess Athena bathed in Lake Voulismeni. The ancient Greek god Zeus launched a lightning bolt at a giant lizard that was threatening Crete. The lizard immediately turned to stone and became the island of Dia (island), Dia. The island can be seen from Knossos and it has the shape of a giant lizard. The islets of Souda (island), Lefkai were the result of a musical contest between the Siren (mythology), Sirens and the Muses. The Muses were so anguished to have lost that they plucked the feathers from the wings of their rivals; the Sirens turned white and fell into the sea at Aptera, Greece, Aptera ("featherless") where they formed the islands in the bay that were called Lefkai (the islands of Souda (island), Souda and Leon (Souda Bay), Leon). Heracles, in one of his labors, took the Cretan bull to the Peloponnese. Europa (consort of Zeus), Europa and Zeus made love at Gortys and conceived the kings of Crete: Rhadamanthys, Sarpedon (brother of Minos), Sarpedon, and Minos. The labyrinth of the Palace of Knossos was the setting for the myth of Theseus#Minotaur, Theseus and the Minotaur in which the Minotaur was slain by Theseus. Icarus and Daedalus were captives of King Minos and crafted wings to escape. After his death King Minos became a judge of the dead in Hades, while Rhadamanthys became the ruler of the Elysian fields.


Culture

Crete has its own distinctive Mantinada, Mantinades poetry. The island is known for its Mantinades-based Music of Crete, music (typically performed with the Lyra (Cretan), Cretan lyra and the laouto) and has many indigenous dances, the most noted of which is the Pentozali. Since the 1980s and certainly in the 90s onwards there has been a proliferation of Cultural Associations that teach dancing (in Western Crete many focus on rizitiko singing). These Associations often perform in official events but also become stages for people to meet up and engage in traditionalist practices. The topic of tradition and the role of Cultural Associations in reviving it is very often debated throughout Crete. Cretan authors have made important contributions to Greek literature throughout the modern period; major names include Vikentios Kornaros, creator of the 17th-century epic romance ''Erotokritos'' (Greek Ερωτόκριτος), and, in the 20th century, Nikos Kazantzakis. In the Renaissance, Crete was the home of the Cretan School of icon painting, which influenced El Greco and through him subsequent European painting. Cretans are fiercely proud of their island and customs, and men often don elements of traditional dress in everyday life: knee-high black riding boots (''stivania''), Breeches#Types of breeches, ''vráka'' breeches tucked into the boots at the knee, black shirt and black headdress consisting of a fishnet-weave kerchief worn wrapped around the head or draped on the shoulders (''sariki''). Men often grow large mustaches as a mark of masculinity. Cretan society is known in Greece and internationally for family and clan feud, vendettas which persist on the island to date.Brian Murphy
Vendetta Victims: People, A Village – Crete's `Cycle Of Blood' Survives The Centuries
at ''The Seattle Times'', 14 January 1999.
Cretans also have a tradition of keeping firearms at home, a tradition lasting from the era of resistance against the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
. Nearly every rural household on Crete has at least one unregistered gun. Guns are subject to strict regulation from the Greek government, and in recent years a great deal of effort to control firearms in Crete has been undertaken by the Greek police, but with limited success. File:Sfakia-dance.jpg, Dancers from Sfakia. File:Vamos - Kafenion 3.jpg, Old man from Crete dressed in the typical black shirt. File:Koukouvagia.jpg, Dakos, traditional Cretan salad.


Sports

Crete has many football clubs playing in the local leagues. During the 2011–12 season, OFI Crete, which plays at Theodoros Vardinogiannis Stadium (Iraklion), and Ergotelis F.C., which plays at the Pankritio Stadium (Iraklion) were both members of the Superleague Greece, Greek Superleague. During the 2012–13 season, OFI Crete, which plays at Theodoros Vardinogiannis Stadium (Iraklion), and Platanias F.C., which plays at the Perivolia Municipal Stadium, near Chania, are both members of the Superleague Greece, Greek Superleague.


Notable people

Notable people from Crete include: *Nikos Kazantzakis, author, born in Heraklion, 7 times suggested for the Nobel Prize *Odysseas Elytis, poet, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1979, born in
Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larg ...
*Georgios Chortatzis, Renaissance author *Vitsentzos Kornaros, Renaissance author from Sitia, who lived in Heraklion (then Candia) *Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco), Renaissance artist, born in
Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larg ...
*Nikos Xilouris, famous composer and singer. *Psarantonis, Cretan folk singer and Cretan lyra player and brother of Nikos Xilouris. *Nana Mouskouri, singer, born in Chania *Eleftherios Venizelos, former Greek Prime Minister, born in Chania Prefecture *Konstantinos Mitsotakis, nephew of Eleftherios Venizelos and Prime Minister of Greece. *Daskalogiannis, leader of the Orlov Revolt in Crete in 1770 *Michalis Kourmoulis, leader of the Greek War of Independence from Messara Plain, Messara. *Eleni Daniilidou, tennis player, born in Chania *Louis Tikas, Greek-American labor union leader *Tess Fragoulis, Greek-Canadian writer, born in Heraklion *Nick Dandolos, a.k.a. Nick the Greek, professional gambler and high roller *Joseph Sifakis, a computer scientist, laureate of the 2007 Turing Award, born in
Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larg ...
in 1946 *Constantinos Daskalakis, Associate Professor at MIT's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department. *George Karniadakis, Professor of Applied Mathematics at Brown University; also Research Scientist at MIT *John Aniston (Giannis Anastasakis), Greek-American actor, father of Jennifer Aniston *George Psychoundakis, a shepherd, a war hero and an author. * Ahmed Resmî Efendi: 18th-century Ottoman statesman, diplomat and author (notably of two sefâretnâme). Turkey's first ever ambassador in Berlin (during Frederick the Great's reign). He was born into a Muslim family of Greek people, Greek descent in the Cretan town of
Rethymno Rethymno ( el, Ρέθυμνο, , also ''Rethimno'', ''Rethymnon'', ''Réthymnon'', and ''Rhíthymnos'') is a city in Greece on the island of Crete. It is the capital of Rethymno (regional unit), Rethymno regional unit, and has a population of more ...
in the year 1700. * Giritli Ali Aziz Efendi: Turkey's third ambassador in Berlin and arguably the first Turkish author to have written in novelistic form. * Al-Husayn I ibn Ali at-Turki – founder of the Husainid Dynasty, which ruled Tunisia until 1957. * Salacıoğlu (1750 Hanya – 1825 Kandiye): One of the most important 18th-century poets of Turkish folk literature. * Giritli Sırrı Pasha: Ottoman administrator, Leyla Saz's husband and a notable man of letters in his own right. * Vedat Tek: Representative figure of the First National Architecture Movement in Architecture of Turkey, Turkish architecture, son of Leyla Saz and Giritli Sırrı Pasha. * Paul Mulla (''alias Mollazade Mehmed Ali''): born Muslim, converted to Christianity and becoming a Roman Catholic bishop and author. * Rahmizâde Bahaeddin Bediz: The first Turkish photographer by profession. The thousands of photographs he took, based as of 1895 successively in Crete, İzmir, İstanbul and Ankara (as Head of the Photography Department of Turkish Historical Society), have immense historical value. * Salih Zeki: Turkish photographer in Chania * Ali Nayip Zade: Associate of Eleftherios Venizelos, Prefect of Drama Prefecture, Drama and Kavala Prefecture, Kavala, Adrianople, and
Lasithi Lasithi ( el, Λασίθι) is the easternmost regional units of Greece, regional unit on the island of Crete, to the east of Heraklion. Its capital is Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Agios Nikolaos, the other major towns being Ierapetra and Sitia. The mou ...

Lasithi
. * Ismail Fazil Pasha: (1856–1921) descended from the rooted Cebecioğlu family of Söke who had settled in Crete. He has been the first Minister of Public Works in the government of Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Grand National Assembly in 1920. He was the father of Ali Fuat Cebesoy, Ali Fuad and Mehmet Ali Cebesoy, Mehmed Ali. * Mehmet Atıf Ateşdağlı: (1876–1947) Turkish officer. * Mustafa Ertuğrul Aker: (1892–1961) Turkish officer who sank HMS Ben-my-Chree. * Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, alias ''Halikarnas Balıkçısı'' (The Fisherman of Halicarnassus), writer, although born in Crete and has often let himself be cited as Cretan, descends from a family of Ottoman aristocracy with roots in Afyonkarahisar. His father had been an Ottoman High Commissioner in Crete and later ambassador in Athens. *Likewise, as stated above, Mustafa Naili Pasha was Albanians, Albanian/Egyptian. * Bülent Arınç (born. 25 May 1948) has been a Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey since 2009. He is of Cretan Muslim heritage with his ancestors arriving to Turkey as Cretan refugees during the population exchange between Greece and Turkey at the time of Sultan Abdul Hamid II and is fluent in Cretan Greek. Arınç is a proponent of wanting to reconvert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, which has caused diplomatic protestations from Greece. * Joseph Solomon Delmedigo, Yoseph Shlomo Delmedigo, renaissance rabbi, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher. * Zach Galifianakis paternal grandparents, Mike Galifianakis and Sophia Kastrinakis, were from Crete. * Vicky Psarakis, vocalist for Canadian metal band The Agonist, is from Crete. * Georgios Kalaitzakis, Georgos Kalaitzakis, Greeks, Greek professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association is from
Heraklion Heraklion or Iraklion ( ; el, Ηράκλειο, , ) is the largest city and the administrative capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larg ...
, Crete.


See also

* Cretan Greek * Cretan lyra * Cretan Turks * Cretan wine * List of novels set in Crete * List of rulers of Crete * Mantinada, Mantinades


References


Sources

* * * *Francis, Jane and Anna Kouremenos (eds.) 2016. ''Roman Crete: New Perspectives''. Oxford: Oxbow.


External links

*
Natural History Museum of Crete
at the University of Crete.
Cretaquarium Thalassocosmos
in Heraklion.
Aquaworld Aquarium
in Hersonissos.
Ancient Crete
at Oxford Bibliographies Online: Classics.
Official Greek National Tourism Organisation websiteInteractive Virtual Tour of Crete
{{Authority control Crete, Aegean islands Islands of Greece Mediterranean islands Minoan geography Crete and Cyrenaica Territories of the Republic of Venice