Physical Description of the MR

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Geography

  • The Monastic Republic consists of the easternmost peninsula of Chalkidiki and several offshore islands. Like the other two peninsulas of Chalkidiki, it has a northwest to southeast orientation.
  • It has the Greek Empire on its northern border. On the west is Holy Mountain Bay; on the east, the Thracian Sea; and on the south, the Aegean Sea.
  • The eastern tip of the peninsula is known as Cape Timiou Prodros and the western as Cape Pinnes.
  • Mt. Athos itself, at 6670' (2033 m.) always snow-capped, lies at the end of the peninsula at the coordinates 40º09'29"N and 24º19'49"E.
  • The largest island, Amoulián (4.5 km2), is inhabited and has the town of Amoulián. To the southeast of the island are some uninhabited islands known as the Drenia Islands.

Territorial Waters

  • Starting at a point five miles due north of Cape Arapis, 40.5138N, 24.0106E,
  • Thence due southwest to the northeast end of the border with the Hellenic Empire, 40.3934N, 23.8990E,
  • Thence to the southwest end of the border, 40.3634N, 23.88.12E,
  • Thence due southwest to a point five miles northwest of Ammouliani Island, 40.3376N, 23.8465E,
  • Thence due southeast to a point five miles southwest of Cape Pinnes, 39.9540N, 24.2578E,
  • Thence due northeast to a point five miles southeast of Cape Timiou Prodros, 40.1243N, 24.5709E,
  • Thence due northwest to the starting point.
  • The air space above to a height of 10 miles.

Climate

  • The Republic enjoys an average of over 300 days or around 3,000 hours of sunshine a year.
  • The climate is temperate Mediterranean, with cold wet winters from November to March, when Mount Athos itself is usually snow-capped and the east coast is lashed by north winds, and hot dry summers modified by the sea.
  • The lowest temperatures occur during December to February ranging between 3.5°C (19°F) to 19°C (66°F), while the highest temperatures occur during the summer months and range between 23°C (72°F) and 34°C (93°F).
  • Rainfall is low, ranging between 500 (20 in.) and 700 (26 in.) mm.
  • The west coast is sheltered and warmer.

Vegetation

  • The mountain mass is cleft by deep ravines along which flow deep torrents and countless streams. There are no lowland areas on the Holy Mountain.
  • The whole peninsula is covered with dense vegetation. The vegetation is not unusual except that, having been well protected for centuries, it preserves species now becoming rare.
  • There are three vegetation zones, the lowest being the Mediterranean zone with evergreens of pine, holm oak (Quercus ilex), cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), wild olive (Olea europea), lentisk (Pistachio lentiscus), laurel (Laurus nobilis), arbutus (Arbutus unedo), and heather (Erica spp.).
  • The middle zone consists of deciduous forests of sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), linden (Tilia cordata), cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), Hungarian oaks (Quercus trainetto), oriental plane (Platanus orientalis), and black pine (Pinus negra).
  • The highest zone is characterized by the sub-alpine vegetation of high mountain ranges, i.e., sclerophyllous scrub and rock.
  • Traditional conservation has left much of the forest unusually intact and logging is no longer permitted.
  • The monks are permitted to harvest lumber for use in their crafts.

Fauna

  • The list of endemic mammals includes grey wolf (Canis lupus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), red fox (V. vulpes), jackal (Canis aureus), European badger (M. meles), beech marten (Martes foina), stoat (Mustela erminea), weasel (Mustela nivalis vulgaris), European hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor), shrews (Crocidura spp.) and several species of mice. The monk seal (M. monachus) has been seen coming ashore.
  • Among the birds are black stork (Ciconia nigra), short-toed eagle (Circaëtus gallicus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaëtos), lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni), capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), eagle owl (B. bubo), Yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan), and Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii).
  • The Holy Mountain is an important area for raptor breeding and passage.
  • The numerous wetlands of the north Aegean coast attract wading birds which may pass through.
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