Greece was recently found to be the 15th best country in Europe for nature lovers to live. Out of the 33 countries rated in the study, 15 is not too bad, and a short analysis accompanying the results actually names the country one of the best for nature lovers to travel to, but there are several important aspects of nature in Greece which the research does not account for – one of them particularly glaring: the sea.
The study, conducted by uswitch.com, looked at several factors which may be interesting to a nature lover looking to relocate, namely each country’s amount of forest, flat land, water coverage (not the surrounding seas), wildlife richness, and hiking trails. In a short analysis accompanying the results, it noted that 22.44 percent of Greece is covered by forest, which may appear a higher number than expected considering the devastating effects of forest fires in the country over the years, and the fact that its most famous tourist destinations consist mainly of arid land. It also pointed out the country’s high average rating for outdoor trails, and its very high ranking in the wildlife section. Though while Greece placed very high for wildlife – the third country in Europe, in fact, with 1128 species accounted for – it still did not include fish.
Shimmering, mysterious, and life-giving, one could certainly argue that many nature lovers moving to Greece would do so for the sake of the sea. Greece borders to the Aegean Sea to the east, to the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and to the Ionian Sea and to the west. In total, it boasts nearly 14 thousand kilometers of coastline – the longest by far in Europe if we don’t count that of Norway (technically the world’s second longest due to its sovereignty over Svalbard, in the Arctic Sea), and thousands of islands of which hundreds are inhabited (170-227 out of 3000-6000 total, sources disagree).
Besides the islands, where one can live surrounded by blue (a proven secret to happiness), chosen by many thousands of expats, there are also uncountable places on the Greek mainland where one can enjoy the sea year-round. Deep inlets penetrate the country from all sides besides the north, while peninsulas and headlands shoot out into the deep. In fact, hardly anywhere in the country can you find yourself more than couple of hours away from the coast. Nature lovers can swim, dive, paddle, sail, and observe the wildlife of the seas during most of the year.
Also not considered in the study is elevation. While Greece ranks somewhere in the middle in the flatland category, circa 80 percent of Greek land is actually mountainous. And while all Greek mountains may not be forest clad, mountaineers would vouch for their value as easily accessible natural environments with fresh air, outdoor activities abound, and unbeatable views.
This article first appeared in Greece-Is.com, an English-language publishing initiative by Kathimerini.