Due to their geographical position and rich nature, Greece and Finland are attractive travel destinations, and that explains a developed system of tourism in these countries. However, there are specific differences in the physical geography of these states. The paper will discuss the differences of geological features, climate, resources, and ecological problems in Greece and Finland as well as methods of responding to them.
Greece is divided into two parts: mainland and island. The majority of the country’s territory is covered with mountains and plateaus. In the west, there are the mountains of Pindos, and they are dissected by river valleys and intermountain basins. The Greek land has a variety of rare geological landscapes. It has active volcanoes, spectacular caves, grand canyons, large and small geological fractures, rare rocks, and minerals. Geotourism is a type of alternative tourism that has grown rapidly in recent years in Greece. Tourists visit several unique places of geological interest. Greece is also rich in minerals. The country has substantial reserves of nickel ore, which makes the country rank first in Europe. Large reserves of iron ore are found on the islands of the Aegean Sea. In the north of the Aegean Sea, oil and natural gas are extracted. Overall, the territory of Greece is characterized by a low level of environmental hazard and an acceptable level of anthropogenic impact. However, there is a great concern that is related to the human use of resources. Tourism that gives high profits creates environmental problems. The most visible effects include coastal roads, overpumping, and producing waste.
In contrast to Greece, the territory of which is covered by mountains, the most of the territory of Finland is lowlands. Finland lies on crystalline granite shield that is the basis of Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea. Its modern relief was made by a huge glacier that covered the Scandinavian Peninsula. Thick ice, creating enormous pressure, caused extensive deflection of the earth's crust. After the melting of the glacier, the reverse recovery process began. Moreover, it takes place currently. The recently melted glacier left many traces of its presence in the form of a complex system of numerous lakes and rivers with undeveloped valleys. Many islands and submerged rocks off the coast of Finland are also the consequences of glacier activity. Finland is a popular destination for active winter holidays. Skiing, ice-boats, and snow-cats are popular winter sports in Finland. As for natural reserves, according to Hellstrom et al., Finland “has considerable reserves of many minerals, as well as other important abundant natural resources including clean water, undeveloped arable land, and natural products such as berries, mushrooms, fish and game.” The human use of the geological features of Finland does not present concern for the future. The government implements strategies of protecting nature to avoid harming the environment.
The climate in Finland is much colder than in many other countries. However, the weather varies considerably depending on the time of year. Winter is cold and snowy, with the air temperature often below zero degrees Celsius. In spring, it is often still cool, but warmer than in winter. During summer, air temperature averages around 20 degrees Celsius. Autumns are usually cold, rainy, and windy. Climate change presents a great concern for Finland. The period of severe storms has shifted from autumn to winter. The water level in the Baltic Sea rose, which caused the heating of seawater. Moreover, the ice became thinner, and the marine life has changed. Among the most pressing environmental problems in the country are the issues of soil acidification and warming of the atmosphere due to the impact of natural fuels. These problems are recognized as international. To avoid further climate problems, the energy strategy of the government of Finland assumes the reduction in the share of oil in the production of energy and the increase of the share of wind energy. As stated in the report made by Aalto University, “Finland was one of the first countries to publish a National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change.” Its goal consisted in conducting a survey of the effects of climate change in the world and Finland and assessing the necessity for measures of adaptation.
Greece has a Mediterranean climate. The weather is rather invariable throughout most of the country and its islands. Because of its geographical location, Greece has warm winters and sunny summers. The temperature in summer in Greece often exceeds 30 degrees already in the morning. Global climate change was already felt by ancient Greece. Due to reduction of the amount of grass, cattle were replaced by sheep and goats. Today, climate change, which threatens Greece with the flooding of its cities, the complete destruction of forests and the reshaping of the landscape, are the main threat to the country. Thus, according to Giannakopoulos et al., “Agriculture and tourism are undoubtedly the most important economic sources for Greece and these may be more strongly affected” by climate change in the future. To overcome this threat, Greece has to cooperate with the international community.
In Greece, water resources are scarce. Rivers are characterized by their small length and rapid currents. The rivers are fed mainly by rain and snow. The longest river in Greece, stretching nearly 300 km and entirely located within the country, is the Haliacmon. Greece's rivers are not suitable for navigation, but they play a crucial role as a source of energy. They have an even greater economic significance for irrigation during the dry summer season. Water pollution is the result of long-term relief from the wastewater of industrial pollutants, toxic agricultural chemicals, such as fertilizers, and pesticides. However, the management of water resources in Greece has made significant progress in the recent years, especially after the establishment of new legal requirements on water and sanitation. Nevertheless, some of Greece's largest rivers and lakes, the Dojran and the Prespa, are fed by tributaries that occur not only in Greece but also in neighboring countries. Therefore, there is the need to coordinate Greece’s efforts with other states.
In Finland, which is often called “the land of thousand lakes”, there are nearly 190,000 lakes, occupying 9% of its area. The most extensive lake is the Saimaa that is located in the southeast of the country. The number of rivers in Finland comes to 2,000. They abound with rapids and waterfalls. Most of the rivers are short, and they connect the lakes to each other or the flow from the lakes into the sea. The largest rivers are the Kemijoki, the Oulu, and the Tornio. The Kemijoki River has the most ramified network of tributaries. Fishing is very popular in Finland. Pure and rich fishing waters of the country offer unlimited opportunities for various types of fishing and boating. Moreover, Finland is known for pure water. The environmental field in Finland has a high degree of organization that enables efficient coordination at the state level across the country. Finland has developed a number of useful systems for monitoring and use of water resources.
Biosphere / Environmental Sustainability Challenges
The main environmental sustainability issues in Greece are rapid urbanization and tourism expansion. Greece’s nature faces significant challenges from power stations, transport, the overexploitation of resources, biodiversity loss, increasing production of waste. The Sustainable Greece 2020 program is aimed at raising awareness in Greek society.
The main environmental issues in Finland are water and air pollution that are related to urbanization and tourism. However, in contrast to Greece, Finland occupies one of the first places in the world in terms of ecology. The number of oil-producing plants, population density, the amount of emitted carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases, and the methods of disposal of waste play a crucial role in the solution of any problems in Finland. However, this country would not achieve such good results without a true understanding of the importance of environmental issues nearly all Finnish citizens.
In conclusion, there are many differences in physical geography of Greece and Finland. Although both countries are attractive for tourists, Greece has more environmental problems. Finland has achieved greater success in overcoming problems. Finland's environmental programs are developed not only by the government of the country but also by society as a whole. In Finland, their implementation is widely practiced in the lives of ordinary people's ideas and projects. Many methods of resolving problems in Finland should be used by the Greek government.