Crete (Greek: Κρήτη) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, and the fifth-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica. Crete and a number of surrounding islands and islets constitute the region of Crete (Greek: Περιφέρεια Κρήτης), one of the 13 top-level administrative units of Greece. The capital and the largest city is Heraklion. As of 2011, the region had a population of 623,065.
Crete forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece, while retaining its own local cultural traits (such as its own poetry and music). It was once the center of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700–1420 BC, named after the legendary King Minos), which had its capital at Knossos and is the earliest known civilisation in Europe.
Tradition held that Crete was the ancestral homeland of the Philistinians, who were closely related to the Ellenes of the mainland. Although the two cultures acknowledged their ancient kinship, after 3,000 years they had evolved separately to the point where even their languages were no longer mutually intelligible.