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Greece Geography

Geography

Occupying the southern most part of the Balkan Peninsula, Greece and its many islands (almost 1,500) extend southward from the European continent into the Aegean, Cretan, Ionian, Mediterranean and Thracian seas.

Crete and Evia are its two largest islands and major island groups include the Argo-Saronic, Cyclades, Dodecanese, Ionian, Northeast Aegean and Sporades.

With the vast percentage of its land comprised of hills and rugged mountains, Greece is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe. Its 13,676 km toothy-edged shoreline is deeply indented by dozens of gulfs.

The western half of the country is dominated by the steep peaks of the Pindus mountains, a range of the Dinaric Alps that stretch south from Albania and Macedonia. Typical elevations here exceed 2,500 meters, and those mountains are punctuated by numerous lakes, rivers and wetlands.

The highest Greek mountain is Mount Olympus, rising to 2,918 meters (9,570 ft). To its immediate southwest stand the massive Meteora rock formations; gigantic pillars of stones worn smooth by wind and water over thousands of years.

In the far-north along its border with Bulgaria, the heavily-forested Southern Rhodope Mountain range spreads across the land.

Greece is home to a series of ancient volcanoes, including those on the islands of Kos, Methana, Milos, Nisyros, Poros and Santorini. None are currently erupting, and the last recorded significant eruptions occurred on the island of Nisyros in 1887/1888, and on the island of Santorini in 1950.

The Peloponnese Peninsula is slightly separated from the mainland by the Corinth Canal, a 4-mile long man-made canal through the Isthmus of Corinth. This narrow canal is used primarily for shipping purposes.

While most of the smaller rivers in Greece dry up in the heat of summer, rivers of note include the Acheloos, Aliacmon, Evros and Pinios. Lakes of size include Trichonis, Vegoritis and Volvi.

Geography Greece
Location: Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey

Geographic coordinates:

39 00 N, 22 00 E

Map references:

Europe

Area:

total: 131,940 sq km
land: 130,800 sq km
water: 1,140 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than Alabama

Land boundaries:

total: 1,228 km
border countries: Albania 282 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Turkey 206 km, Macedonia 246 km

Coastline:

13,676 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Climate:

temperate; mild, wet winters; hot, dry summers

Terrain:

mostly mountains with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917 m

Natural resources:

lignite, petroleum, iron ore, bauxite, lead, zinc, nickel, magnesite, marble, salt, hydropower potential

Land use:

arable land: 21.1%
permanent crops: 8.78%
other: 70.12% (2001)

Irrigated land:

14,220 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:

severe earthquakes

Environment - current issues:

air pollution; water pollution

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds

Geography - note:

strategic location dominating the Aegean Sea and southern approach to Turkish Straits; a peninsular country, possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands

Note: The information tabled directly above was researched by and provided by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency

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This page was last modified on August 12, 2015.