Although it is a country with a small area, Greece is blessed with a varied natural environment that is full of contrasts. It is made up of many kilometres of coastline, low and high mountains, rivers, lakes, and gorges which are home to a huge number of plant and animal species. An important role is played here by the fact that Greece is both a neighbour to Asia and to Africa this has led to its enrichment with species which exist nowhere else in Europe. The sea constitutes the main element of the Greek landscape. From a very early date, people inhabited the hundreds of small and large islands which it enfolds in its embrace. The islanders, instead of taming the natural landscape, learned to coexist with it. Thus with only very slight intervention and an architectural harmony linked to the natural environment, unique and inimitable landscapes were created which are immediately recognisable to everyone.
On the other hand, the mountains which dominate mainland Greece always inspired awe in the Greeks, who located the residence of the gods on the highest peak of all – Olympos. Even today, there are forests of great importance in the mountains, with the virgin forest of Rhodopi among the last in Europe. A number of regions have been declared national forests, national parks and ‘forests of particular aesthetic interest’, while countless others have been incorporated into the ‘Natura’ network.