Athens is the capital of the Hellenic Republic of Greece. It lies to the South East of the European continent, on the coast of the Aegean Sea, at the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula. Athens has a population of over three million inhabitants. Wondering the streets of the ancient city of Athens one notices the strong presence of limestone marble in its historical structures; indeed Athens is surrounded by the limestone-rich mountains of Aigaleo, Parnes, Pentelikon and Hymettus. The city grew up on the plain of Attica, nestled between the mountains, and contains a few isolated hills, notably the flat-topped Acropolis. The river Ilissus runs through Athens but is dry for much of the year, flowing abundantly only after winter rainstorms. Athens has a typical Mediterranean climate: summers are dry and hot, winters are mild.
Just south of Athens the terrain is open and low-lying and activity there is centred around Piraeus, Greece’s main port, which give access to the myriad of Greek islands as well as to the rest of the Mediterranean coast.
About a fifth of the Greek territory is made up of islands which number more than 2,000 scattered in the Ionian and Aegean Seas. Some of the most well-known and visited are Mykonos, Paros, Rhodes, Kefalonia, Crete and Corfu. The beauty of its islands and coastline, together with ancient ruins and mountains, make Greece one of the most popular countries in Europe for holiday makers. Much of Greece is in fact mountainous and rocky and the Pindus mountain range stretches northwards from the Gulf of Patra. The Peloponnesus Mountains lie to the south of the country. The highest point in Greece is Mount Olympus at 2,917 m. Greece’s coastline is 13,676 km long and its regions and islands are divided into prefectures or ‘Nomoi’. Mainland Greece consists of the Central Region, ‘Nomos Attikis’ (which includes Athens), Peloponnese, Thessaly to the east, Epirus to the west, Macedonia in the north, Thrace in the northwest and Euboea (the second largest of the Greek islands). Greece’s natural resources include oil, magnetite, lignite, bauxite, hydroelectricity and marble.
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