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Crete is one of the 13 regions of Greece. It is the biggest island in Greece and the second biggest (after Cyprus) of the East Mediterranean. It lies at the Southern Aegean Sea and at the crossroads of three continents Europe, Asia and Africa. Crete covers an area of 8.336 sq.kms. The length of the island is 260 km, but the shore-length is 1.046 km. The biggest width is 60 km from the Dion cape to the Lithinon cape, while the smallest is 12 km and is called "isthmus of Ierapetra". A high mountain range crosses the island from West to East, formed by three different groups of mountains. To the West the White Mountains (2.452 m), in the middle the mountain of Idi (Psiloritis-2.456 m) and to the East the mountain of Dikti (2.148 m). These mountains gifted Crete with fertile plateaus like Lasithi, Omalos and Nidha, caves like Diktaion and Idaion cave, and gorges like the famous Gorge of Samaria. The Island has a long history that goes back to the Neolithic times. It is however known for the Minoan civilization the flourished from 2600 to 1100 B.C. The island is full of relics of the Minoan ages the most famous being the palaces at Knossos and Faistos. Crete is divided to four prefectures: Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion, Lasithi. The capital of the island is the city of Heraklion. The most dynamic sector of the cretan economy is tourism. The excelent climate of the island, the beautiful landscape along with the remarkable tourist resorts, attract as many as 2.000.000 visitors every year. Crete is also known for the quality of its agricultural products that , due to the good climate, are produced all year around.These include olives, grapes, tomatoes, potatoes, oranges etc. Stock breeding has traditionally played, an extremely important role to the life of the Cretans, and still does. In the Cretan plateaus sheep and goats are bred for their milk,wool and meat. The Cretan cheeses ,especially Gruyere, and "athotiros" are famous for their quality and distinctive taste. Another occupation for quite a few Cretan is fishing (..obviously). Although the quantity of fish in Crete is limited the quality is generally very good. There are several "spin-off" industries involved with the packaging and shipping of these products.Other industries operating on the island are involved with excavation and processing of marble, production of plastics, farming machinery etc..
There are two higher education institutions in Crete, the University of Crete with schools in Heraklion and Rethimnon and the Polytechnic of Chania, based in Chania. Heraklion is also the base of the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas one of the most important research organizations in Greece. The Foundation comprises seven research Institutes with five of them based in Crete (Biology, Computer Science,Applied Mathematics, Laser and Microelectronics, Mediterranean Studies) Article sourced with thanks from Interkriti Graphic sourced with thanks from Interkriti CRETE LINKS: Explore Crete, the guide about real Crete Crete - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia *Crete* travel guide - discover Crete's gems by CreteTravel.com Holidays in Crete - Hotels, Car Rental - Crete TOURnet Crete holiday guide - unspoilt Crete away from large resorts http://www.crete-web.gr/
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