Crete is one of the 13 regions into which Greece is divided. It forms the largest island in Greece and the second largest in the East Mediterranean, with a population of 650,000 (2005). The island has an elongated shape : it spans 260 km from east to west and 60 km at its widest, although the island is narrower at certain points, such as in the region close to Ierapetra , where it reaches a width of only 12 km. Crete covers an area of 8,336 km², with a coastline of 1046 km ; to the north it broaches the Sea of Crete (Greek: Κρητικό Πέλαγος) ; to the south the Libyan Sea ; in the west the Myrtoan Sea, and toward the east the Karpathion Sea. It lies approximately 160 km south of the Greek mainland.
Crete is extremely mountainous, and its character is defined by a high mountain range crossing from West to East, formed by three different groups of mountains.
- The White Mountains or Lefka Ori (2,452 m)
- The Idi range (Psiloritis (35.18° N 24.82° E) 2,456 m)
- The Dikti mountains (2,148 m)
- Kedros (1,777 m)
- Thripti (1,489 m)
The island of Crete is a periphery of Greece, consisting of four prefectures (Greek: νομοί):
- Chania – Chania town – Paleochora – Samaria
- Heraklion – Heraklion town – Hersonissos – Malia – Matala – Knossos
- Lasithi – Agios Nicolaos – Lasithiplateau- Ierapetra – Vai
- Rethymno – Rethymnon town – Spili – Preveli – Anogia