Greece is a country located in Southern Europe, on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. Greece is surrounded on the north by Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia and Albania; to the west by the Ionian Sea; to the south by the Mediterranean Sea and to the east by the Aegean Sea and Turkey. The country ranges approximately in latitude from 35°00′N to 42°00′N and in longitude from 19°00′E to 28°30′E. As a result, it has considerable climatic variation, as discussed below. The country consists of a large mainland; the Peloponnese, a peninsula connected to the southern tip of the mainland by the Isthmus of Corinth; and around 3,000 islands, including Crete, Rhodes, Corfu, the Dodecanese and the Cyclades. According to the CIA World Factbook, Greece has 13,676 kilometres (8,498 mi) of coastline.
80% of Greece is mountainous, and the country is one of the most mountainous countries of Europe. The Pindus, a chain of mountains lies across the center of the country in a northwest-to-southeast direction, with a maximum elevation of 2637 m. Extensions of the same mountain range stretch across the Peloponnese and underwater across the Aegean, forming many of the Aegean Islands including Crete, and joining with the Taurus Mountains of southern Turkey. Central and Western Greece contain high and steep peaks dissected by many canyons and other karstic landscapes, including the Meteora and the Vikos Gorges – the latter being one of the largest of the world and the third deepest after the Copper Canyon in Mexico and the Grand Canyon in the USA, plunging vertically for more than 1,100 metres. Mount Olympus is the highest point of Greece and the fourth highest in relative topographical prominence in Europe, rising to 2,919 m above sea level. The Rhodope Mountains form the border between Greece and Bulgaria; that area is covered with vast and thick forests. Plains also are found in eastern Thessaly, in central Macedonia and in Thrace. Western Greece contains lakes and wetlands.