Mainland Greece is the Southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula and the Southern frontier of the European Continent.
The Greek Peninsula consists of mainland Greece Attica (Athens), Peloponese, Central Greece, Thessaly, Epirus, Macendonia (Northern Greece), Thrace and the Islands.
The majority of the Greek Islands are spread in the Aegean Sea. Some are isolated, like Crete (to the South), Ikaria, Chios and Lesbos (to the East), and Thassos and Samothrace (to the North). Others form groups, such as the Cyclades, Sporades and the Dodecannese. The largest ones are Crete and Evia.
• The Ionian Islands: located off the Western shores of Greece. Zakynthos, Ithake, Cephalonia, Lefkada, Paxi and Kithira, have always been a special link with Western Europe, evident even today in the disposition and manners of the people.
• The Cyclades Islands: famous for the cubist white architecture, set against piercing blue sea and sky, consist of 39 islands, of which 24 are inhabited. The more important ones being Amorgos, Anafi, Andros, Antiparos, Delos, Folegandros, Ios, Kea, Kimolos, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paris, Santorini, Serifos, Syros and Tinos.
• The Sporades Islands: green, fertile and busting with pine and olive groves, consist of Alonissos, Skiathos, Slopelos and Skyros. They lie off the Eastern shores of mainland Greece.
• The Dodekanesse Islands: Astipalea, Kos, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kassos, Kastelorizo, Lipsos, Leros, Nissiros, Patmos, Rhodes, Symi and a number of smaller island. All 12 Islands are distinctive for their features and unique architectural characteristics.
• The Saronic Gulf : the stretch of sea that links the shores of Attica to those of the Peloponese, which also contains another group of small islands: Salamis, Aegina, Poros, Hydra, and Spetses, all adding it’s variety to the general surroundings.
Variety is in fact, the hallmark of the Greek landscape. There are high mountain ranges such as the Pindos range and the majestic Mount Olympus, home of the Greek Gods, with its summit, the Pantheon, being the highest peak in Greece, at an altitude of 9,570 feet. The Macedonia Mountain and Thrace are intersected by a few valleys through which relatively small rivers flow.
On the other hand, the endless lacework of the coastline produces a series of scenic surprises. It is these heavily intended shores which give Greece the rare beauty, quite unique in the Mediterranean.
The market variety of the terrain above water continues below the surface, along the seabed. Close to Cape Tainaron, off the Southern tip of the Peloponese, the so-called Oinoussai Pit is 15,900 feet deep, making it the deepest point in the Mediterranean.
Vegetation and climate conform to variations within each geographical area. The variety of plants is exceptional. Some 6.000 indigenous species have been recorded, 250 of which flow rich on the island of Crete. These impressive figures result from Greece’s geographical position between Europe and Africa.