46 Crete Facts: Learn More About The Most Populous Greek Island

Keerthana Ramasamy
Nov 01, 2022 By Keerthana Ramasamy
Originally Published on Mar 08, 2022
Edited by Sarah Nyamekye
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Read on for more Crete facts such as it was known as Kriti. It is a region in Greece, accessible from many cities in Europe.

Crete, the largest island in Greece, has a vibrant culture and diverse features, with breathtaking beaches.

Crete is located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Peloponnese peninsula. It is a popular tourist destination thanks to its stunning beaches and interesting historical sites.

Many people visit this island for its sunshine beach experience with standard yet affordable holiday packages for tourists. In addition, the island is known for its world-renowned museums and sightseeing. This article will take a closer look at Crete and learn more about its history, culture, and economy.

History Of Crete

Crete is the most populous Greek island and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. It is located in the Mediterranean Sea and has a population of over 650,000 people. Crete is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and rich history. Let's know the Crete facts majoring in their history.

Crete refers to two mountains on its western side. It's also called Crete or Kriti by locals, meaning landmass or peak of the hill from different origins. The name for this large and populous Greek island was first mentioned in the 'Iliad' (a poem dialect), where it is referred to as 'Krete'.

Crete was the center of Europe's first advanced civilization, the Minoan Civilization, and is also one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations, with over two million visitors a year.

Crete civilization and inhabitants trace to 7000 BC, and artifacts like pottery on the island trace back to 5000 BC.

Crete is named after Crete, a son of Zeus and Europa in Greek mythology who was considered its first king.

Crete's history has been marked by long periods of war and occupation from outside forces such as Romans or Turks who ruled over Crete for various periods.

These islands have seen the birth of European civilization and the king of gods, Nana Mouskouri.

Crete played an important strategic role during World War II when British troops made their way into German territory through Crete island but were forced to evacuate due to a lack of support from Churchill's forces.

Geographical Details

This largest Greek island covers 3,451.37 sq mi (8,939 sq km). Crete has approximately 620,000 people, and its capital and largest city is Heraklion. Let's dig deep into some more Crete facts.

Crete is the most mountainous island in Greece, with its highest peak being Mount Ida at 8,057.74 ft (2,456 m) above sea level.

Mount Ida is also known as Psiloritis.

The island is 162 mi (260 km) long, 37 mi (60 km) wide, and 39,370 ft (11,999.97 m) narrow.

Crete has a Mediterranean climate, with hot and dry summers and mild winters, with Gavdos island on North and Mediterranean on its south coast.

Crete's summer month experiences temperatures from 81.5 -85.1 F (27.5-29.5 C) from June to September.

Crete's average temperature is 79 F (26 C) during July, the hottest month of the year.

And the coldest temperature can be experienced in January at 52 F (11 C).

Crete receives plenty of rainfall throughout the year, with an annual average of 30 mm (1.18 in) in spring.

Crete's economy is mainly based on agriculture and mining.

The main agricultural products include olives, grapes, citrus fruits, wheat, barley, potatoes, and tobacco.

Crete is home to the largest olive trees and palm trees.

The olive oil production accounts for almost half of Greece's total olive oil output each year.

Crete is the most densely populated island in Greece, with a population of 621,340 people.

The island also has an unemployment rate of around 20%.

Crete is located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Peloponnese peninsula, surrounded by White Mountains, Dikty Mountains, and Mount Psiloritis.

The largest city in Crete is Heraklion, which has a population of over 140,000 people.

Heraklion, the capital city, has around 95 sq mi (245 sq km).

Chania is the largest city on the west coast, with an area of 4.85 sq mi (12.56 sq km) and a population of approximately 200,000 people as of 2011.

Rethymnon is the oldest town in Crete after Knossos; it has an area of 10.34 sq mi (26.78 sq km) and a population of over 42,000 people as of 2011.

Other major cities in Crete include Chania, Rethymnon, and Agios Nikolaos. These cities are home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the island and historical sites and cultural attractions.

Tourism In Crete

Every year over two million tourists visit Crete, one of Greece's popular holiday destinations. Various luxurious hotels, family-owned apartments, sports and recreation centers, and camping facilities are available for tourists worldwide. Here are a few Crete facts featuring the tourism sector.

Crete is home to some of Greece's most famous historical sites and ancient ruins, such as Knossos Palace, Phaistos palace, and the archaeological site of Gortyn.

Crete's primary industries include tourism, shipping, agriculture, and mining. It is the most important industry in Crete, accounting for around 47.2% of GDP. The island's excellent beaches and historical sites attract millions of tourists every year.

Crete is also home to the largest port in Greece, which is located in Heraklion. The port is a central hub for shipping, and it handles around 60% of all Greek exports.

The best month for swimming in Crete is in August, with an average temperature of 77 F (25 C).

Various sports like fishing, mountain climbing, hiking, and water sports like skiing and surfing give tourists a chance to experience a sport of memories.

Crete is home to Pankritio Stadium that hosts football matches and community events.

Crete's main tourist attraction sites are Venetian city, port of Chania, Rethymno Venetian castle, Vai palm beach, and islands of Spinalonga, Chrysi, Elafonisi, and hill trails at Samaria Gorge, a famous national park.

Greek mythology states that Crete is the birthplace of Zeus, a significant deity in Greece. Islands hold two mountains in honor of the birth diety.

Other tourists attractions in Crete are the palace of Knossos and the ceremonial center of Minoans.

People of ancient Greece believed that King Minos constructed an underground maze to retain Minotaur in Crete. Minotaur is a half-bull, half-human, known as Asterion. 

Life In Crete

As a must-visit tourist destination in Europe, Crete is famous for the best beaches, stunning historic sites, and vibrant culture.

Crete has been inhabited since the Neolithic period (around 6000 BC), which makes it one of the oldest places in Europe.

The first inhabitants were hunter-gatherers who lived off wild animals such as deer or boar that they hunted with stone tools made from flint and obsidian. They also gathered nuts, fruits, cereals, and pulses which grew naturally within this fertile climate.

Crete's currency is the Greek Euro, represented as EUR.

The official language of Crete is Greek; however, there is a Cretan dialect that holds sound accents similar to ancient Greek.

There are many festivals conducted throughout the year. The most popular festival is the Chestnut Festival, conducted during October in the village of Elos.

Chestnut festival is celebrated to welcome fall.

Crete's most popular dish is 'Greek Moussaka' (a dish based on eggplant or potato often included with ground meat) or 'Fasolada' (a traditional Greek soup).

Crete's traditional sweets include 'Kalitsounia' (a type of cheese pie), 'Melomakarona' (cookies made with honey), and 'Paximathia' (hard bread biscuits).

Crete is also famous for its wine produced in the Rethymnon and Chania regions, which has been available since the Bronze Age.


What is the Crete flag?

The flag of Cretan state adopts blue with a white cross and a red carton on the upper left placed with a white star.

What is Cretan food?

Crete is famous for its delicious food, including sweet potatoes and lamb.

Why was Crete so important?

Crete was so important because it was an ancient Greece-influenced organization of city-states home to some of Greece's most ancient and significant archaeological sites, including Knossos and Phaistos.

What does the name Crete mean?

Crete was created by volcanic activity and inhabited since antiquity. Crete comes from the ancient Greek word 'Kriti', which means 'a landmass'. Therefore, Crete was called Kriti during ancient times and remains known as Kurt (Crete) today.

How was Crete named?

The island of Crete was named after the Minoan civilization that once flourished there. The Minoans were a mysterious people who left no written records behind. What we know about them comes from archaeological excavations and hieroglyphic inscriptions.

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Written by Keerthana Ramasamy

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Electrical and Electronics Engineering

Keerthana Ramasamy picture

Keerthana RamasamyBachelor of Engineering specializing in Electrical and Electronics Engineering

With a background in electrical and electronics engineering from Sri Ramakrishna Engineering College, Keerthana brings a unique blend of technical expertise and creative flair to her role as a content writer. Her natural curiosity and passion for exploring new career paths led her to the exciting world of content marketing, where she has honed her content optimization, SEO, and Google Analytics skills. Keerthana's experience as a Content Marketing Specialist at GetMyUni has provided her with hands-on experience in digital marketing and editing, allowing her to create engaging and impactful content.

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Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

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Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

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