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Profile of Attica

Attica ( prefecture of Attica) is an administrative region in Greece, situated at the southernmost point of central Greece. Attica is well-known because of Athens, the capital of Greece. This region covers a greater area than the historical region of Attica. The great history of Greece is connected with Athens, where the notion of democracy was invented.

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica periphery and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Today a cosmopolitan metropolis, modern Athens is central to economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece and it is rated as an Alpha world city. In 2008, Athens was ranked the world's 32nd richest city by purchasing power and the 25th most expensive in a UBS study. The Greek capital has a population of 655,780 (796,442 back in 2004) within its administrative limits and a land area of 39 km2 (15 sq mi).

The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by a number of ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, widely considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains a vast variety of Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of remaining Ottoman monuments projecting the city's long history across the centuries. Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery.

Administration

The Attica region was established in the 1987 administrative reform, and until 2010 comprised the 4 prefectures of Athens, East Attica, Piraeus and West Attica. It covers about 3,808 square kilometers The periphery encompasses the most populated region of Greece, reaching 3,812,330 inhabitants in 2011, of which more than 95% are inhabitants of the Athens metropolitan area, while it is however, one of the smallest peripheries in the country.

With the 2010 Kallikratis plan, the region's powers and authority were redefined and extended. Sine 1 January 2011, the region is subdivided into 8 peripheral units:North Athens, West Athens, Central Athens, South Athens, East Attica, Piraeus, Islands, West Attica

The region's governor is, since 1 January 2011, Ioannis Sgouros, who was elected in the November 2010 local administration elections for the Panhellenic Socialist Movement.

Geography

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Aerial view of Rafina.

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Panoramic view of the western part of the city and the port of Piraeus (periphery of Attica) in Greece.

Attica is a triangular peninsula jutting into the Aegean Sea. It is naturally divided to the north from Boeotia by the 10 mi (16 km) long Kithairon mountain range. To the west it is bordered by the sea and canal of Corinth. The Saronic Gulf lies to the south and the island of Euboea lies off the north and eastern coasts. Mountains separate the peninsula into the plains of Pedias, Mesogaia, and Thriasion. The mountains include Hymettus, the eastern portion of the Geraneia, Parnitha, Aigaleo and the Penteli mountains. Four mountains, Aigaleo, Parnitha, Penteli and Hymettus (clockwise from the southwest) delineate the hilly plain on which the Athens-Piraeus metroplex now spreads. The plain of Mesógeia, lies to the east of Mount Hymettus and is bound to the north by the foothills of Mount Penteli, to the east by the Euboean Gulf and Mount Merenta, and to the south by the mountains of Lavrio). Athens' water reservoir, Lake Marathon, is an artificial lake created by damming in 1920. Pine and fir forests cover the area around Parnitha. Hymettus, Penteli, Merenta and Lavrio are forested with pine trees, whereas the rest are covered by bushery.

The Cephisus River is the longest river and Parnetha or Parnitha is the highest mountain in Attica. The prefecture also has parklands in the Hymettus, Penteli and the Parnitha mountains and the southern part of the peninsula.

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View of Mount Penteli, the second-tallest mountain surrounding Athens.

Athens sprawls across the central plain of Attica that is often referred to as the Athens or Attica Basin (Greek: Λεκανοπέδιο Αττικής). The basin is bounded by four large mountains: Mount Aegaleo to the west, Mount Parnitha to the north, Mount Penteli to the northeast and Mount Hymettus to the east. Beyond Mount Aegaleo lies the Thriasian plain, which forms an extension of the central plain to the west. The Saronic Gulf lies in the southwest. Mount Parnitha is the tallest of the four mountains (1,413 m (4,636 ft)) and it has been declared a national park.

Athens is built around a number of hills. Lycabettus is one of the tallest hills of the city proper and provides a view of the entire Attica Basin. The geomorphology of Athens is deemed to be one of the most complex in the world due to its mountains and causes a temperature inversion phenomenon which, along with the failure of the Greek Government to control industrial pollution, is responsible for the air pollution problems the city has recently faced.

Climate

Attica enjoys for the most part a Mediterranean/subtropical climate. It has a distinct long dry period in the summer and a short wet period in the winter. Temperatures often surpass 38 °C (100 °F) during the city's notorious heatwaves.The highest amounts of percipitation is observed during the winter months. The southern part of the peninsula has a hot semi-arid climate.

The city of Athens is affected by the urban heat island effect in some areas which is caused by human activity, altering its temperatures compared to the surrounding rural areas, that has detrimental effects on energy usage, expenditure for cooling, and health. The urban heat island of the city has been found partially responsible also for alterations of the climatological temperature time-series of specific Athens meteorological stations due to its impact on the temperatures and the temperatures trends recorded by some meteorological stations.

Tourism

Athens has been a popular destination for travelers since antiquity. Over the past decade, the city's infrastructure and social amenities have improved, in part due to its successful bid to stage the 2004 Olympic Games. The Greek Government, aided by the EU, has funded major infrastructure projects such as the state-of-the-art Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, the expansion of the Athens Metro system, and the new Attiki Odos Motorway.

Environment

By the late 1970s, the pollution of Athens had become so destructive that according to the then Greek Minister of Culture, Constantine Trypanis, "...the carved details on the five the caryatids of the Erechtheum had seriously degenerated, while the face of the horseman on the Parthenon's west side was all but obliterated." A series of strict measures taken by the authorities of the city throughout the 1990s resulted in the improvement of air quality; the appearance of smog (or nefos as the Athenians used to call it) has become less common. Widespread measures taken by the Greek authorities throughout the 1990s have improved the quality of air over the Attica Basin. Nevertheless, air pollution still remains an issue for Athens, particularly during the hottest summer days. In late June 2007, the Attica region experienced a number of brush fires, including a blaze that burned a significant portion of a large forested national park in Mount Parnitha, considered critical to maintaining a better air quality in Athens all year round. Damage to the park has led to worries over a stalling in the improvement of air quality in the city.

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