Terrain shapes and bedrock
Through the strong disintegration of the coast, Greece is characterized by its proximity to the sea. Only a small part of the country’s interior has more than 80 km to the coast. A large number of mountain ranges are prominent elements of the Greek natural landscape. Movements along young fault lines (see fault lines) have divided the country into a large number of smaller streams and valleys. Volcanism is rare, but earthquakes often occur.
According to COUNTRYAAH, the core of Greece’s six topographical regions is Pindos, a mountain massif in the northwest. It forms a continuation to the south of the Dinaric Alps in the Western Balkans. The ridges, which continue on the Peloponnese Peninsula, are the result of a fold in Senalpine time. The highest peak is Smolikas, 2,637 m above sea level.
Peloponnese is separated from the rest of Greece by a long fault grave, which forms the Corinthian Gulf. The mountains here reach close to 2 400 m above sea level. At the far south, four peninsulas protrude in the direction of Crete. On the Arcadian limestone plateau, which is the main part of the Peloponnese, the surface water disappears into the soluble limestone, thereby creating different karst forms (see karst).
The western part of the Greek mainland, together with the islands of the Ionian Sea, form its own region. The island of Corfu in the north is fertile and has good rainfall. The other six major islands have uneven limestone relief and little rainfall.
The central part of Greece east of Pindos also has foothills from the highlands, each forming peninsulas and groups of islands. The streams and plains are trapped between the ridges. Mountains rise within the Gulf of Thermaikos as Olympos, Greece’s highest peak, 2,917 m above sea level, and Ossa, 1,978 m above sea level. To the south of this elevation area is Thessaly, a stream that used to have a lake. The two following ridges include the Thermopyle pass and the top Parnassos, 2,457 m above sea level, with a sweeping view of central Greece.
The northernmost region, ie. Macedonia and Thrace, form a fun and wooded area with many river basins and alluvial plains. The border river Evros (Maritsa) and some other rivers flow south. The Chalkidike peninsula extends into the Aegean Sea with its three characteristic headlands.
The Aegean island world also constitutes an extension of the Pindos mountain ranges. This includes the archipelago of the Northern and Southern Sporades and the Cyclades. The Aegean Sea is confined to the south to Crete, Greece’s largest island, which is a tertiary period raised by steep mountains, among them Ida (2,456 m above sea level), deep ravines and caves.
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Greece has a Mediterranean climate which is strongly modified by the varied topography. In the north, the weather has a continental character, similar to that in northern Macedonia and Bulgaria, while the maritime element is pronounced further south. In summer, the climate is dry and hot and only low rainfall falls during the high summer months. In July, the average temperature is 27 °C, slightly lower along the coast and on the islands where the land breeze is healthy.
Over the Aegean Sea, during the summer, persistent winds blow from the north, etesia, and bring clear and dry weather. They can reach bullet strength but moan during the night. The most pleasant months for those who want to avoid the summer heat are April-May or October-November; during the autumn, the sea also retains much of its summer heat.
In winter, low pressure moves in from the Atlantic and introduces humid, warm air from the west, but it can also come from cold air from the north, which gives frost in the northern parts. During winter and spring, numerous and heavy snow villages can fall in the northern mountain regions. The January temperature is in Thessaloniki in the north 6 °C, in Athens in the country’s central part 10 °C, while the Aegean islands are a few degrees warmer.
The winter rains last October-January (in the west September-February) and result in an annual rainfall of about 1,300 mm in the western mountain regions and in western Crete. Eastern Crete and lowland terrain in the central and northeastern parts of the mainland get below 600 mm. The region around the Gulf of Aegina including Athens is the driest with an annual rainfall of 400 mm.
Plant-and animal life
Greece is one of Europe’s most mountainous countries. Flora is one of the richest in Europe. The fauna has been affected by negative changes in recent decades, where predators in particular have been subjected to widespread persecution. illegal exposition of poison.
The Greek mainland is dominated by the Pindos Mountains with the Peloponnese Peninsula, which is an offshoot of the Dinaric mountain range. In the north-east are the regions of Macedonia and Thrace with the country’s largest agricultural countryside, as well as the largest lakes, castles and wetlands. Between Greece and western Turkey lies the Aegean Sea with a vast archipelago of islands – most mountainous and with low vegetation. To the south of Peloponnese lies Greece’s largest island, Crete, and to the west lies the Ionian Sea with its islands.
One of Greece’s most valuable and largest (126 km²) natural areas is Vikos-Aoos National Park in the northwest of the country, not far from the Albanian border. The park contains a large variety of different types of nature: mountains, lakes, rivers, deep ravines, caves and coniferous and deciduous forests. In addition to the dramatic Vikos canyon with plunges up to 1,000 m, the park is probably best known as one of the last mounts in brown bear Greece. Other mammals in the national park are wolves, otters, wildcats and a special subspecies of gems, balcony gems (Rupicaria rupicaria balcanica). Bird life is rich with species such as king eagle, snake eagle, dirt bait, Griffon, stone chicken, grouse, boreal, Western Rock Nuthatch, chough, Alpine Chough, wallcreeper, horned lark, stone thrush, Alpine accentor and white-winged snowfinch. Among the herbivores are the mountain water salamander (Triturus alpestris), meadow worm, and yellow-bellied bell frog. The large variety of different environments creates the conditions for a rich and diverse flora with both northern elements (eg book, forest salmon, nettle bell, horse chestnut (see horse chestnuts) and bohuslind) and more local specialties such as no less than four species of single and five species of oak.
On the border between Greece, Albania and Northern Macedonia, surrounded by beautiful mountains, lie two of the most important lakes in the Balkans, Lake Prespas and Lilla Prespasjön. The lakes have a unique fish fauna where nine of the eleven species are endemic, for example. Barbus prespensis, a relative of river barb. The abundance of fish is the basis for several species of fish living, including white pelican (see pelicans), large cormorant and dwarf cormorant. In Lilla prespasjön there is the world’s largest known colony of mug-headed pelicans. Oysters occur in the lakes and in surrounding mountains live wolf, brown bear, wild boar and balcony gems. On the botanical side, the area is known for the plant Centaurea prespana – a relative of reddish and cornflower that only occurs here.
In the northeastern part of Greece, from Thessaloniki in the west to Alexandroupolis in the east, where rivers from the Rhodesian mountains flow into the Aegean Sea, there are a number of valuable coastal lagoons and wetlands – Axios, Aliakmon, Strymon, Nestos, Porto Lagos and Evros. Here are also a number of lakes, including Kerkini and Mitrikou. All of these places have a rich bird life with nesting species such as white stork, spoon stork (see spoon stork), silk heron, dwarf tube room, large cormorant, dwarf cormorant, spore whip, wad swallow, cutting spot, black-legged beach popper and black-headed gull. Large amounts of white and mug-headed pelican utilize good nutritional conditions along with flamingo, copper duck,white-eyed diving ducks, bronze sibs and birds of prey as major scream eagles during autumn, winter and spring. Here is also Europe’s most important wintering area for mountain goose.
In the eastern part of the reserve is Greece Dadia with large amounts of nesting birds of prey (Egyptian vulture, Griffon, vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Glacial lake, eagles, imperial, booted eagle, Levant Sparrowhawk and berguv) and a rich reptile fauna. The many species of lizards, snakes and two terrestrial turtles (Greek turtle and Moorish turtle) form the food base for many of the birds of prey.
The Aegean Sea houses a fantastic archipelago of large and smaller islands with picturesque villages surrounded by azure waters, which are the destination for millions of tourists each year. Despite the tourist flow and thousands of years of intensive use of land and sea, the natural values are great. Many plants can be found in just one eastern Although quite intensive fishing can still experience the many colorful and interesting fish such as black scorpionfish (Scorpaena porcus), damselfish (Chromis chromis), Cretan parrotfish (sparisoma cretense), moray eels and mullet – the latter also popular food fish. Among the islands in the Northern Sporades and in the southern Aegean (Kimolos – Polyegos) are monk seals (see monk seals) its most important occurrence in Greece.
Crete is an important tourist destination but also something of a miniature Galapagos. The island has been isolated and without a mainland connection for thousands of years, creating many special forms of plants and animals. Until the last ice age, dwarf species of elephant, hippopotamus and a deer lived here. Today, there are still unique forms of wild cat, murder and badger. Among breeding birds are the mountain hen, black-chested singer, falcon and lamb lamb. Eleonora falcons, which first breed in late summer/autumn as they feed on migratory birds, have on their own isolated islands just north of Crete (eg Dionisiades and Dia) their largest known colonies in the world.
The third largest island of the Ionian Sea is Zakynthos. It is famous, above all, for its negligible bay turtles; Every year, between 850 and 2,000 females burrow their eggs on the sandy beaches of the Gulf of Laganas on the east side of the island.
On the shores of the Gulf of Laganas, the threatened beach lily (Pancratium maritimum) grows and in the waters offshore the seawater plant Posidonia oceanica (see Posidonia) grows in large “meadows” which constitute an important environment for many fish and other marine animals. To protect the turtles, coastal dunes and the marine environment, Greece’s first marine reserve has been set up here.
Greece has (2012) ten national parks (including Parnassos, Olympos, Pindos and Samaria), two of which are marine national parks (Zakynthos and Alonissos). About 16% of the land surface and 3% of the sea surface are nature protected in some form.