With an overall area of 8338 km2 (about ¼ of the Netherlands) and roughly 623.340 inhabitants, Crete is, by far, the largest of the Greek islands. The isle has a length of 260 kilometres and a width that can vary between the 12 and 60 kilometres. In 1913, Crete native and political leader Eleftherios Venizelos was able to unite Crete with the rest of Greek. It can be divided into four large areas; each of them having their own province.
In the west there is Chania with its equally named capital Chania. A good part of this province is occupied by the White Mountains, or Lefka Ori, as the Greeks call it. These mountains are covered in snow all year through. This, however, is not the sole reason as to why they are called the ‘White Mountains’, as the mountains are also a great source of chalk. Chania was Crete’s capital from 1842 till 1971.
Further to the east you’ll come across Rethymno. The capital, once again equal of name, has around 30.000 inhabitants. Out of all provinces this area is the driest, which can be seen by the mountains clear of foliage. In the past Rethymno was Crete’s sole source of olive trees, but nowadays these trees can grow anywhere on the island. A large part of the area is taken up by Mount Ida, with its highest point Psyloritis (2456 metres), also covered in snow year-round.
Between east and west there is the province of Heraklion. Its capital of the same name doubles as Crete’s largest and capital city with 180.000 inhabitants. Heraklion is Greek’s fifth largest city after Athene, Thessaloniki, Piraeus and Patras. While Chania used to be Crete’s capital, it has since been forced to give up on this tiled in favour of the better located Heraklion and its bigger airport. In this province lies the Dikti mountain along with the Messara plain, the latter of which partly has resulted in Heraklion becoming Crete’s most fertile province.
In the east is Lassithi, with its capital Agios Nikolaos being home to 20.000 people. The capital is located near the coast and has a magnificent port and nearby lake – the lake being connected to the ocean by a canal. The first hotel was built here in 1960.
Crete’s main products that are currently being exported are: olives, olive oil, grapes, raisins, wine, tomatoes and cucumbers. There are also a lot of herbs, spices, nuts and diantus.
On the island there are a lot of possibilities for a half-day or one-day trip.