Inhabitants, economy, civilization, popular art

--Crete is the biggest island in Greece and one of the major isles in the Mediterranean. It lies in the Southern part of the Aegean Sea and has an area of 8.331 square kilometers (almost equal in size to Corsica but much smaller than Sardinia or Sicily). It is an island with a marked mountainous relief, sunshine and a fine climate.

Population & administration

--The inhabitants of Crete are Greek people whose language is Greek and whose religion is Christian Orthodox. The island has a population that amounts to 600.000 inhabitants (60% of whom reside in the urban areas).
--Administratively Crete is divided in four prefectures whose most important cities are Heraklion, Chania, Rethymnon, Aghios Nikolaos and Sitia. With regard to communication, Crete is connected with the rest of Greece by air through regular and frequent services from the airports of Chania, Heraklion and Sitia, as well as by coastal lines with daily services of big Ferry Boats from the ports of all the major cities

Economy and civilisation

--From an economic point of view Crete ranks among the prosperous and developed regions of Greece with tourism being one of its main sources of income (on an annual basis 1/3 of all visitors to Greece arrive at Crete) together with agriculture, stock raising and fishing.
--Throughout the past 30 years many factors have contributed to the rapid development of tourism in Crete; the island’s splendid ancient history (archaeological sites, historical monuments and museums are a credit to all corners of the isle) the warm sun and the moderate climate, the wonderful beaches, the beautiful mountains, the hospitable nature of Cretans and of course a wide infrastructure in tourist resorts.
--But apart from issues pertinent to economic significance Crete is renowned the world over for its age- old presence in the international cultural foreground, especially in the fields of painting, theatre, literature and politics. It rests with the University of Crete, whose significance and international radiance are known, to keep up this glorious tradition.

Traditional way of life

--Life in Crete is characterized by liveliness, hard work, enthusiasm and observance of tradition. Although the fruits of economic development and the modern lifestyle have become an integral part of contemporary life in Crete, under no circumstances have they been able to alter the character of Cretans and alienate them from traditional ways of life.
--The inhabitants of the island keep on being devoted to the principles of Christianity as well as their manners and customs. Religion plays a definitive role in their lives and this close relationship manifests itself on any given occasion. At Saints’ feasts people hold religious festivals and celebrate at village fêtes.
--At Christmas, Easter, the Assumption of the Virgin on the 15th of August and at every other religious festival, they hold celebrated feasts and festivities.

Social life

--In the provinces weddings and christenings constitute events to which most of the times the whole village participates and the revelry habitually last until the morning after the festive occasion. Young people attend dancing schools where they learn Cretan folk dances while there is an ever growing number of youths streaming into music schools to study Cretan music and learn the rudiments of the island’s celebrated musical instruments, the three-stringed lyre and the lute.

Popular art

--Ceramics has picked up the threads of a tradition as old as the history of the island itself. In fact the renowned earthen pots and earthenware jars of ancient Knossos are not so much different from those made today in many villages of the hinterland. The vivid colors of embroideries, rags and knitwear are a unique token of the creative imagination omnipresent in this age-old folklore art.

Life in the countryside

--Life in the countryside flows through the alternate engagement in different activities, ranging from picking and grinding olives for the production of the exceptional Cretan olive-oil, to the picking of fruits and vegetables, viniculture, the picking of grapes, the drying-up of raisins and the production of the special local wine and the celebrated raki.
--Pastoral life follows the same perennial path inextricably combined with the constant movement of sheep and goats taking place every summer. This quaint practice lends life and colour to the high plateaus and the mountainous grasslands. It is there that one comes across the picturesque shepherds’ lodges made of stone, the so called “mitata” attesting to an age-long architectural tradition.
--Fishing life is equally as lively in the boisterous little harbors with thousands of fishing boats putting out to the deep blue waters of the Cretan open sea.