Greece/Geography

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Greece is located in southeastern Europe on the southern tip of the Balkan Peninsula. The Greek mainland is bounded on the north by Bulgaria, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Albania; on the east by the Aegean Sea and Turkey; and on the west and south by the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas. The country consists of a large mainland; the Peloponnesus Peninsula, connected to the mainland by the Isthmus of Corinth; and more than 1,400 islands, including Crete, Rhodes, Corfu, and the Dodecanese and Cycladic groups. Greece has more than 14,880 kilometers (9,300 mi.) of coastline and a land boundary of 1,160 kilometers (726 mi.).

About 80% of Greece is mountainous or hilly. Much of the country is dry and rocky; only 28% of the land is arable. Greece has mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Temperatures are rarely extreme, although snowfalls do occur in the mountains and occasionally even in Athens in the winter.

Greece is located at the junction of three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece's foreign policy, despite its joining NATO in 1952 and its accession to the European Community in 1981, has remained focused on the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean region.

Greece maintains full diplomatic, political, and economic relations with its south-central European neighbors. It provided a 250-man military contingent to IFOR/ SFOR in Bosnia and assigned a 1,200-man unit to KFOR in Kosovo. Diplomatic relations with Bulgaria were restored in 1965--after a 24-year break--when Bulgaria renounced its claim to Greek territory in Thrace and Macedonia. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Greece has had good relations with Russia and has opened embassies in a number of the former Soviet republics, which it sees as potentially important trading partners.

Location: Southern Europe, bordering the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, between Albania and Turkey

Geographic coordinates: 39 00 N, 22 00 E

Map references: Europe

Area:
total: 131,940 sq km
land: 130,800 sq km
water: 1,140 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Alabama

Land boundaries:
total: 1,210 km
border countries: Albania 282 km, Bulgaria 494 km, Turkey 206 km, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 228 km

Coastline: 13,676 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
territorial sea: 6 nm

Climate: temperate; mild, wet winters; hot, dry summers

Terrain: mostly mountains with ranges extending into the sea as peninsulas or chains of islands

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Olympus 2,917 m

Natural resources: bauxite, lignite, magnesite, petroleum, marble, hydropower

Land use:
arable land: 19%
permanent crops: 8%
permanent pastures: 41%
forests and woodland: 20%
other: 12% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 13,140 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: severe earthquakes

Environment - current issues: air pollution; water pollution

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

Geography - note: strategic location dominating the Aegean Sea and southern approach to Turkish Straits; a peninsular country, possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands