Crete is Greece’s largest island, the fifth largest in the entire Mediterranean and the most southern region of the European Union. It lies south of the Aegean Sea, enjoying a privileged geographical position between three continents – Europe, Africa and Asia. The island has an area of 8,261 square kilometers and a coastline that stretches for 1,046 kilometres. Long and thin, it extends 260 kilometres from west to east, varying in width from about 60 kilometres in the centre of the island to just 12 kilometres at its narrowest near Ierapetra in the east. Mountain ranges, snow-crested during much of the year, stretch from west to east, forming the ‘backbone’ of the island: the White Mountains, rising to 8,045 ft., Mount Idhi or Psiloritis (8,058 ft.), the Dhikti Mountains (7,047 ft.) and the Sitia Mountains (4,843 ft.). The most notable plains are those of Messara and Chania, while a number of smaller ones are located between mountain ranges and hills. The narrow length of the island, its rock types and relatively low rainfall has not favored the formation of significant rivers.