Crete is the second largest insland in the Eastern Mediterranean, after Cyprus, and has all features of an island and a mainland place.
Crete, with a population of 650,000 in the prefectures of Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Lassithi, is one of the 13 regions into which Greece is divided. It forms the largest island in Greece and the second largest (after Cyprus) in the Eastern Mediterranean.
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.
The coastline of Crete is 1046km long, with extremely beautiful beaches along it. The north coastline consists mainly of long, sandy beaches, that are mainly affected by winds. North coast beaches are generally easily accessed and thus, are more popular.
Crete covers an area of 8,336 km², being extremely mountainous. These mountains gifted Crete with fertile plateaus, such as Lasithi, Omalos and Nida; caves, such as Diktaion and Idaion; and gorges, such as the famous gorge of Samaria. The protected area of the Samaria Gorge is the home of kri-kri (Cretan Ibex), while Cretan mountains and gorges are refuges for the endangered vulture Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus).