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CRETE FACTS

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POLITICS

Crete has been a part of Greece (Hellenic Republic) since 1913, which itself has only been autonomous since 1832, when Turkish occupation ended.
Greece is a presidential parliamentary republic. There are 13 administrative districts of Greece, subdivided into 51 administrative districts or prefectures. There is also oneself-governed territorial division, Agion Oros, on Mt. Athos. The prefectures are then further sub-divided into local regions of either Dimos (city), or Kinotita (community). There are 900 Dimos and 133 Kinotites.
Crete is made up of 4 prefectures, Iraklion, Chania, Lassithi, and Rethymnon. Each of these districts is run by a local governor appointed by the central government in Athens. The prefectures are represented in parliament by deputies, the number of which is determined by the population of the prefecture.
Greece became the tenth member of the European Union in 1981, and adopted the Euro as its currency in 2001.

 

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POPULATION

The indigenous population is 600,000, living mainly along the north coast where all the major towns are located. Iraklion 130,000, Chania 60,000, Rethymnon 20,000, Agios Nikolaos 7,000. The rest live in small towns on the south coast and small mountain villages. In addition to the indigenous population there are over two million visitors a year, chiefly from Germany, Scandinavia, Britain, and the rest of Europe.

GEOGRAPHY

Crete is Greece's and Europe's southernmost island, lying160 miles south of Athens and 200 miles north of Libya. It is 160 miles long and between 9 miles and 35 miles wide, giving it an area of 3,200 square miles, and over 600 miles of coastline. It is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus and Corsica respectively.
The mountainous interior stretches along the full length of the island reaching heights of around 8,000 feet. Rivers in Crete tend to be seasonal, drying up during the summer months, though a few flow all year round.

ECONOMY

The mainstay of the islands economy is agriculture, closely followed by tourism, and the associated service industries. Over half of the islands territory is devoted to agriculture with the chief crops being olives, grapes, and citrus fruits. Crete is self sufficient in fruit and vegetables, and also exports a considerable amount. There is also large scale sheep and goat farming, and cheese production.
Tourism whilst a major economic factor is confined mainly to the summer season of May to October. There is some tourism during the winter months, as the climate is more conducive to walking then, and the wild flowers and birds are also an attraction.

TRANSPORT

There are three airports on Crete that handle civilian flights. These are situated at Iraklion, Chania and Sitia. Two main harbours at Souda and Iraklion have ferry services to mainland Greece, and ferries and taxi boats serve the villages on the south coast, some of which are not accessible by road. The only internal public transport is the bus  service operated by KTEL. There are plenty of vehicle hire facilities and taxis.

LANGUAGE

Greek, but spoken with a local dialect. English and other European languages are commonly spoken, especially in tourist areas.

RELIGION

Greek Orthodox 98% Muslim 1.7% Other 0.3%

LIFE EXPECTANCY

78.7 years

LITERACY RATE

97%