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Cretans

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Cretans

For other uses, see Crete (disambiguation).

Crete
Περιφέρεια Κρήτης
Region of Greece

Coordinates: 35°13′N 24°55′E / 35.21°N 24.91°E / 35.21; 24.91Coordinates: 35°13′N 24°55′E / 35.21°N 24.91°E / 35.21; 24.91

Country  Greece
Capital Heraklion
Regional units
Area
 • Total 8,336 km2 (3,219 sq mi)
Highest elevation 2,456 m (8,058 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 623,065
 • Density 75/km2 (190/sq mi)
ISO 3166 code GR-M
Website

Crete (Greek: Κρήτη Kríti; [kriti]) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits (such as its own poetry, and music). Crete was once the center of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700–1420 BC), which is currently regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe.[1]

Name


The island is first referred to as Kaptara in texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century BC,[2] repeated later in Neo-Assyrian records and the Bible (Caphtor). It was also known in ancient Egyptian as Keftiu, strongly suggesting some form similar to both was the Minoan name for the island.[3]

The current name of Crete first appears in Mycenaean Greek as ke-re-si-jo "Cretan" in Linear B texts. In Ancient Greek, the name Crete (Κρήτη) first appears in Homer's Odyssey.[4] Its etymology is unknown. One speculative proposal derives it from a hypothetical Luvian word *kursatta (cf. kursawar "island", kursattar "cutting, sliver").[5] In Latin, it 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 (Khandhax) or Χάνδακας (Khandhakas), which gave Latin and Venetian Candia, from which French Candie and English Candy or Candia. Under Ottoman rule, in Ottoman Turkish, Crete was called Girit (كريت).

Physical geography

Main article: Geography of Greece




Crete is the largest island in Greece and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea separating the Aegean from the Libyan Sea.

Island morphology

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 km2 (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 Libyan Sea (Greek: Λιβυκό 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 three different groups of mountains:



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