It has a population of 600000 and spans 260 km from east to west, is 60 km at its widest point, and narrows to as little as 12 km.
Crete is a unique place to visit: a combination of mountain ranges (Lefka Ori and Psiloritis are the highest) , gorges (Samaria is the most famous), traditional villages (like Vamos), magnificent beaches, important cities such as Heraklion, Hania, Rethymnon, Agios Nikolaos, Ierapetra, Sitia and ancient monuments including the Minoan sites of Knossos and Phaistos. Crete was once the center of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700's 1420 BC), which is currently regarded as the earliest recorded civilization in Europe. Remnants of all civilizations, periods and conquerors, can be found all around Crete: prehistoric, Minoan Mycenaean, Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman. Crete has a rich mythology mostly connected with the ancient Greek Gods. The Idaion cave at Mount Ida was the birthplace of the god Zeus.
There are several environmentally protected areas: the island of Elafonisi on the coast of southwestern Crete, the palm forest of Vai in eastern Crete. Samaria Gorge is a World Biosphere Reserve and Richtis Gorge is protected for its landscape diversity.
Crete is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Greece. Fifteen percent of all arrivals in Greece come through the city of Heraklion (port and airport), while charter journeys to Heraklion last year made up 20% of all charter flights in Greece. The island has a great diversity of tourist resorts able to satisfy every taste and purse, from west to east and north to south and magnificent beaches with 88 blue flags.
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