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Balos beach on the Crete island, Greece. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea at 8,336 km² (3,219 square miles).
Crete was the center of the Minoan civilization (ca. 2600–1400 BC), the oldest Greek civilization.
Today Crete is one of the thirteen peripheries of Greece and a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece. While it retains its own local cultural traits (such as its own music and dialect), Cretans identify themselves as Greeks.
For centuries the island was known by its Italian name Candia, from the medieval name of its capital Heraklion, Chandax. In Classical Latin it was called Creta and in Turkish Girit.
Crete is the location of significant ancient history, which provides popular modern day tourist destinations. They include the Minoan sites of Knossos and Phaistos, the classical site of Gortys, the Venetian old city and port of Chania, the Venetian castle at Rethymno, and the Samaria Gorge.