The sovereign nation of Greece comprises more than 1, islands. Covering an area of 8, km 2 , Crete is the fifth-largest Mediterranean Sea island after the islands of Corsica, Cyprus, Sicily, and Sardinia. It is also the most populous among all the Aegean Islands and has a total population of around , inhabitants. The island of Crete is situated in the southernmost part of the Aegean Sea. The island is positioned about km to the south of the mainland of Greece.
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It bounds the southern border of the Aegean Sea. Its capital and largest city is Heraklion , located on the north shore of the island. As of [update] , the region had a population of , The Dodecanese are located to the northeast of Crete, while the Cyclades are situated to the north, separated by the Sea of Crete. The Peloponnese is to the region's northwest. Humans have inhabited the island since at least , years ago, during the Paleolithic age. Crete was the centre of Europe 's first advanced civilization, the Minoans , from to BC.