Greece is famous for its natural beauty. The land is mountainous and rugged and, as the ancient Greek geographer Strabo wrote, “the sea presses in upon the country with a thousand arms”. In natural resources, however, the country is relatively poor. Although a small country, Greece has a very diverse topography. The most important physiographic divisions of the country are the central mountains; the damp, mountainous region in the west; the dry, sunny plains and lower mountain ranges in eastern Thessaly, Macedonia, and Thrace; Central Greece, the south-eastern finger of the mainland that cradled the city-states of Greece; the mountainous region of the Peloponnese Peninsula; and the islands, most of which are in the Aegean.
The central mountain area, the Pindus Mountains, extends in a north to south direction and is one of the most rugged, isolated, and sparsely populated parts of the country. Mount Olzmpus (2,917 m/9,570 ft), the highest peak in Greece, was considered in ancient times to be the home of the gods. The western slopes, which extend through Epirus down to the Ionian Sea, are somewhat lower and more hospitable. The south-eastern extremity of Central Greece, known as Attica, is broken into many isolated valleys and plains by mountain ridges. The most famous part of Greece, the Athenian plain, is in Attica. The largest plain of the eastern coastal area, however, is in the area of ancient Boeotia, to the north of Attica.
Thessaly, a plain ringed by mountains, is one of the more fertile parts of the country. Macedonia has the largest plains in Greece. Thrace, to the east of Macedonia, has a varied topography consisting of mountains, valleys, and several coastal plains.
Pelopónnisos is mountainous, but to a lesser degree than Central Greece, and is shaped somewhat like a giant hand with impassable mountain ridges extending like fingers into the sea. Between the mountain ridges are narrow valleys, isolated from one another, which open on to the sea. The western section of Pelopónnisos is less mountainous than the eastern section. The islands of the Aegean Sea are generally high, rugged, stony, and dry, and consequently their contribution to the economic life of the country is limited. They are important, however, because of their great beauty, historical importance, and strategic military value.
The climate of Greece is similar to that of other Mediterranean countries. In the lowlands the summers are hot and dry, with clear, cloudless skies, and the winters are rainy. The mountain areas are much cooler, with considerable rain in the summer months. Frost and snow are rare in the lowlands, but the mountains are covered with snow in the winter. Precipitation varies greatly from region to region. In Thessaly less than 38 mm (1.5 in) falls in some years, whereas parts of the western coast receive about 1,270 mm (50 in). The mean annual temperature in Athens is about 17° C (63° F); the extremes range from a normal low of -0.6° C (31° F) in January to a normal high of 37.2° C (99° F) in July.
Greece is relatively poorly endowed with natural resources of economic value. Less than one third of the land is arable; the rest consists mostly of barren mountains. The forests, probably abundant in ancient times, have to a great extent been depleted. Subsequent soil erosion has made efforts at reforestation difficult. Greece lacks coal, and its lignite is of low quality. There are no significant reserves of natural gas. The deposits of bauxite and iron ore are rich in metal content, but the reserves of other commercially important minerals, such as chromium, nickel, copper, uranium, asbestos, and magnesite, are relatively small. Although the waters surrounding the country are inhabited by a large variety of fish, only relatively few species are plentiful. "Greece" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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