AGRICULTURE

Much of the soils in Greece are made up of silty, sandy soil. Limestone is a characteristic type of soil found in this country. The soil is not very fertile. Only about 30 percent of the total land area in Greece can support crops. Most farms are small because there are no major valleys in Greece. Wheat is Greece’s main crop. Other major crops include corn and other grains, cotton, figs, olives, oranges, peaches, potatoes, sugar beets, tobacco and tomatoes. Greece is one of the world’s leading producers of olive oil and raisins. Some natural vegetation found in Greece is small shrubs and hardy pine trees.

In the Mycenean times, Greece was a land of thickly forested mountains. Farmers were limited in the amount of crops they could grow other than a bit of barley and wheat, a few grape vines, fig trees and olive trees. By 650 BC much of the forest was cut down for shipbuilding and the creation of coal for the metalworkings. This might appear as a blessing to the farmers as they could have more farming land. However this was disastrous as the rain fell in the winter along the mountainsides it washed away any fertile soil that may have been there. The tree roots were not there to hold the fertile soil. This resulted in the land becoming even more infertile. The statesman Solon tried to solve the problem by asking his citizens to plant olive trees. The olive trees were meant to hold the fertile soil, however this did not happen because the olive tree roots spread into the deeper soil for moisture leaving the surface bare to be washed away. The situation was so bad that in Athens the statesmen decided to import grains from Egypt to feed its population. This explains why Greece has so many olive trees today. These trees have become conditioned to the limited amount of moisture and grow with minimal watering.

OTHER NATURAL RESOURCES

Greece has many mineral deposits. These are marble, clay, nickel, coal, bauxite, ore, and chromate. The country only has one major petroleum deposit in the Aegean Sea near Thasos. These minerals have been used throughout history as is well witnessed in the structure of the acropolis and other ancient monuments. Some were even exported to other countries.

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