This article is about the Greek island.
For other uses, see Crete (disambiguation).
|Native name: Κρήτη|
|Area||8,450 km (3,260 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||2,456 m (8058 ft)|
|Highest point||Mount Ida (Psiloritis)|
|Largest settlement||Heraklion (pop. 211,370)|
|Pop. density||75/km (194/sq mi)|
Cydonians and Pelasgians
Crete (Greek: Κρήτη, Modern: Kríti, Ancient: Krḗtē, [krέːtεː) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus and Corsica.
It bounds the southern border of the Aegean Sea.
Crete rests approximately 160 km (99 mi) south of the Greek mainland.
It has an area of 8,336 km (3,219 sq mi) and a coastline of 1,046 km (650 mi).
Crete and a number of islands and islets that surround it constitute the Region of Crete (Greek: Περιφέρεια Κρήτης), 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, located on the north shore of the island.
As of 2011, the region had a population of 623,065.
The Peloponnese is to the region's northwest.
Humans have inhabited the island since at least 130,000 years ago, during the Paleolithic age.
The Minoan civilization was overrun by the Mycenaean civilization from mainland Greece.
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.
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.
The palace of Knossos, a Bronze Age settlement and ancient Minoan city, is also located in Heraklion.
The current name "Crete" is first attested in the 15th century BC in Mycenaean Greek texts, written in Linear B, through the words ke-re-te (*Krētes; later Greek: Κρῆτες [krɛː.tes, plural of Κρής [krɛːs) and ke-re-si-jo (*Krēsijos; later Greek: Κρήσιος [krέːsios, "Cretan").
Its etymology is unknown.
One proposal derives it from a hypothetical Luwian word *kursatta (cf.
kursawar "island", kursattar "cutting, sliver").
In Latin, the name of the island became Creta.
The original Arabic name of Crete was Iqrīṭiš (Arabic: اقريطش < (της) Κρήτης), but after the Emirate of Crete's establishment of its new capital at ربض الخندق Rabḍ al-Ḫandaq (modern Iraklion), both the city and the island became known as Χάνδαξ (Chandax) or Χάνδακας (Chandakas), which gave Latin, Italian, and Venetian Candia, from which were derived French Candie and English Candy or Candia.
Main article: Geography of Greece
Crete is the largest island in Greece and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
The island has an elongated shape: it spans 260 km (160 mi) from east to west, is 60 km (37 mi) at its widest point, and narrows to as little as 12 km (7.5 mi) (close to Ierapetra).
Crete covers an area of 8,336 km (3,219 sq mi), with a coastline of 1,046 km (650 mi); to the north, it broaches the Sea of Crete (Greek: Κρητικό Πέλαγος); to the south, the South Cretian Sea (Greek: Νότιο Κρητικό Πέλαγος); in the west, the Myrtoan Sea, and toward the east the Karpathian Sea.
It lies approximately 160 km (99 mi) 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 2,454 m (8,051 ft)
- The Idi Range (Psiloritis 2,456 m (8,058 ft)
- Asterousia Mountains 1,231 m (4,039 ft)
- Kedros 1,777 m (5,830 ft)
- The Dikti Mountains 2,148 m (7,047 ft)
- Thripti 1,489 m (4,885 ft)
These mountains lavish Crete with valleys, such as Amari valley, fertile plateaus, such as Lasithi plateau, Omalos and Nidha; caves, such as Gourgouthakas, Diktaion, and Idaion (the birthplace of the ancient Greek god 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 Gorge, Kourtaliotiko Gorge, Ha Gorge, Platania Gorge, the Gorge of the Dead (at Kato Zakros, Sitia) and Richtis Gorge and (Richtis) waterfall at Exo Mouliana in Sitia.
The rivers of Crete include the Ieropotamos River, 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 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.
Main article: List of Greek islands
A large number of islands, islets, and rocks hug the coast of Crete.
Some are environmentally protected.
A small sample of the islands includes:
- Gramvousa (Kissamos, Chania) the pirate island opposite the Balo lagoon
- Elafonisi (Chania), which commemorates a shipwreck and an Ottoman massacre
- Chrysi island (Ierapetra, Lasithi), which hosts the largest natural Lebanon cedar forest in Europe
- Paximadia island (Agia Galini, Rethymno) where the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis were born
- The Venetian fort and leper colony at Spinalonga opposite the beach and shallow waters of Elounda (Agios Nikolaos, Lasithi)
- Dionysades islands which are in an environmentally protected region together the Palm Beach Forest of Vai in the municipality of Sitia, Lasithi
Main article: Climate of Greece
Crete straddles two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and the North African, mainly falling within the former.
As such, the climate in Crete is primarily Mediterranean.
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 and Asterousia Mountains, falls in the North African climatic zone, and thus enjoys significantly more sunny days and high temperatures throughout the year.
The fertile region around Ierapetra, 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 greenhouses throughout the winter.
Western Crete (Chania province) receives more rain and the soils there suffer more erosion compared to the Eastern part of Crete.
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.
|Regional governor||Stavros Arnaoutakis (PASOK)|
|Total||8,335.88 km (3,218.50 sq mi)|
|Density||75/km (190/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
|Summer (DST)||UTC+3 (EEST)|
|ISO 3166 code||GR-M|
Crete with its nearby islands form the Crete Region (Greek: Περιφέρεια Κρήτης, Periféria Krítis, [periˈferia ˈkritis), one of the 13 regions of Greece which were established in the 1987 administrative reform.
Under the 2010 Kallikratis plan, the powers and authority of the regions were redefined and extended.
These are further subdivided into 24 municipalities.
Main article: Cities of Greece
Heraklion is the largest city and capital of Crete.
Chania was the capital until 1971.
The principal cities are:
- Heraklion (Iraklion or Candia) (151,324 inhabitants)
- Chania (Haniá) (53,910 inhabitants)
- Rethymno (34,300 inhabitants)
- Ierapetra (23,707 inhabitants)
- Agios Nikolaos (20,679 inhabitants)
- Sitia (14,338 inhabitants)
Further information: Economy of Greece
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.
Until recently there were restrictions on the import of bananas to Greece, therefore bananas were grown on the island, predominantly in greenhouses.
The Gross domestic product (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.
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.
Although the road network leads almost everywhere, 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 study has been devised from European Union to promote a modern highway that will connect the North and the South parts of the island via a tunnel.
According to the study the project should be include 15.7 km of section of road between the villages Agia Varvara and Agia Deka in central Crete, benefits both tourists and local people by improving the accessibility to the southern part of the island and lessen the accidents.
The new road section forms part of the route between Messara in the south and Crete's capital city Heraklion, which provides the island's airport and principal sea port link 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.
The programme aims to improve the country's transport infrastructures as well as its international connections.
It will therefore have a key role to play in making Greece's remote and landlocked regions more accessible and economically attractive.
This Operational Programme works to link Greece's more prosperous and less developed regions, which should 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".
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.
Newspapers have reported that the Ministry of Mercantile Marine is ready to support the agreement between Greece, South Korea, Dubai Ports World and China for the construction of a large international 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.
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.
They would connect Crete electrically with mainland Greece, ending energy isolation of Crete.
Now Hellenic Republic covers for Crete electricity costs difference of around €300 million per year.
Main article: History of Crete
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.
After a brief period of independence (1897–1913) under a provisional Cretan government, it joined the Kingdom of Greece.
Main article: Prehistoric Crete
In 2002, the paleontologist Gerard Gierlinski discovered fossil footprints 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 age.
Settlements dating to the aceramic Neolithic in the 7th millennium BC, used cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and dogs as well as domesticated cereals and legumes; ancient Knossos was the site of one of these major Neolithic (then later Minoan) sites.
Main article: Minoan civilization
Crete was the centre of Europe's first advanced civilization, the Minoan (c. 2700–1420 BC).
This civilization wrote in the undeciphered script known as Linear A.
Main article: Mycenaean Greece
In 1420 BC, the Minoan civilization was overrun by the Mycenaean civilization 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 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.
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.
In 220 BC the island was tormented by a war between two opposing coalitions of cities.
As a result, the Macedonian king Philip V gained hegemony over Crete which lasted to the end of the Cretan War (205–200 BC), when the Rhodians opposed the rise of Macedon and the Romans started to interfere in Cretan affairs.
In the 2nd century BC Ierapytna (Ierapetra) gained supremacy on eastern Crete.
Main article: Crete and Cyrenaica
Nevertheless, a ferocious three-year campaign soon followed under Quintus Caecilius Metellus, equipped with three legions and Crete was finally conquered by Rome in 69 BC, earning for Metellus the title "Creticus".
Archaeological remains suggest that Crete under Roman rule witnessed prosperity and increased connectivity with other parts of the Empire.
Byzantine Empire – first period
Main article: Byzantine Crete
Crete was separated from Cyrenaica c. 297.
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.
Andalusian Arab rule
Main article: Emirate of Crete
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.
Byzantine Empire – second period
Main article: Byzantine Crete
In 961, Nikephoros Phokas returned the island to Byzantine rule after expelling the Arabs.
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.
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.
Main article: Kingdom of Candia
The most notable representatives of this Cretan renaissance were the painter El Greco and the writers Nicholas Kalliakis (1645–1707), Georgios Kalafatis (professor) (c. 1652–1720), Andreas Musalus (c. 1665–1721) and Vitsentzos Kornaros.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Daskalogiannis eventually surrendered to the Ottoman authorities.
Today, the airport at Chania is named after him.
Egyptian rule was short-lived and sovereignty was returned to the Ottoman Empire by the 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.
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 of 1866–1869 or Great Cretan Revolution (Greek: 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 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 an outbreak of rioting in Candia, modern Heraklion, left over 500 Cretan Christians, and 14 British servicemen, dead.
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.
The flag of the Cretan State 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.
Main article: Tourism in Greece
Crete was 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 seven years ago made up .
Overall, more than two million tourists visited Crete some years back, when the increase in tourism was reflected in the number of hotel beds, rising 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 and a smaller airport in Sitia (international charter and domestic flights starting May 2012) or by boat to the main ports of Heraklion, Chania, Rethimno, Agios Nikolaos and Sitia.
Popular tourist attractions include the archaeological sites of the Minoan civilisation, the Venetian old city and port of Chania, the Venetian castle at Rethymno, the gorge of Samaria, the islands of Chrysi, Elafonisi, Gramvousa, Spinalonga and the Palm Beach of Vai, which is the largest natural palm forest in Europe.
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.
EU citizens have the right to freely buy property and reside with little formality.
Archaeological sites and museums
Main article: List of museums in Greece § Crete
The area has a large number of archaeological sites, including the Minoan sites of Knossos, 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.
Helen Briassoulis proposed in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism that Crete is a victim of external tourist systems 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 1960–1970, 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.
Fauna and flora
Main article: Crete Mediterranean forests
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.
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 in Hersonissos and Cretaquarium in Gournes, displaying sea creatures common in Cretan waters.
Main article: Mammals of Greece
Mammals of Crete include the vulnerable kri-kri, Capra aegagrus cretica that can be seen in the national park of the Samaria Gorge and on Thodorou, Dia and Agioi Pantes (islets off the north coast), the Cretan wildcat and the Cretan spiny mouse.
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.
A large variety of birds includes eagles (can be seen in 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 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.
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, ocellated skink, snake-eyed skink, moorish gecko, Turkish gecko, Kotschy's gecko, spur-thighed tortoise, and the Caspian turtle.
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 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 loggerhead turtle nests and hatches on north-coast beaches around Rethymno and Chania, and south-coast beaches along the gulf of Mesara.
Crete has an unusual variety of insects.
Cicadas, known locally as Tzitzikia, make a distinctive repetitive tzi tzi 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.
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.
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.
Examples of the local sealife can be seen there.
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.
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, poppy, cyclamen and tulip, among others.
Rare herbs include the endemic Cretan dittany.
Varieties of cactus include the edible prickly pear.
Trees tend to be taller to the west of the island where water is more abundant.
Environmentally protected areas
There are a number of environmentally protected areas.
One such area is located at the island of Elafonisi on the coast of southwestern Crete.
Vai has a palm beach and is the largest natural palm forest in Europe.
Main article: Greek mythology
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.
The island can be seen from Knossos and it has the shape of a giant lizard.
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 ("featherless") where they formed the islands in the bay that were called Lefkai (the islands of Souda and Leon).
Main article: Culture of Greece
Crete has its own distinctive Mantinades poetry.
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.
Crete is also famous for its traditional cuisine.
The nutritional value of the Cretan cuisine was discovered by the American epidemiologist Ancel Keys in the 1960, being later often mentioned by epidemiologists as one of the best examples of the Mediterranean diet.
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), 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 vendettas which persist on the island to date.
Cretans also have a tradition of keeping firearms at home, a tradition lasting from the era of resistance against the Ottoman Empire.
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.
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 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 Greek Superleague.
Main page: :Category:People from Crete
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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 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 descent in the Cretan town of Rethymno 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 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 and Kavala, Adrianople, and 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 in 1920. He was the father of Ali Fuad and 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 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.
- 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.
- Cretan Greek
- Cretan lyra
- Cretan Turks
- Cretan wine
- List of novels set in Crete
- List of rulers of Crete
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crete.