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The climate of Greece is what meteorologists call “Mediterranean,” meaning intermittent heavy rain during a few winter months and hot, dry summers. Snow falls on the upper ranges of the mountains in Greece, but most Greek communities received little snow. Winters could be cold and blustery, however. Since the amount of annual precipitation was highly variable, farming was a precarious business of boom and bust, with drought and flood both to be feared. Like the modern residents of southern California, however, whose climate is also “Mediterranean,” the Greeks thought their climate the world's best1 despite its hazards. “The Greeks occupy a middle position [between hot and cold climates] and correspondingly enjoy both energy and intelligence,” said the fourth-century philosopher Aristotle, who believed climate controlled a people's political destiny2. “For this reason they retain their freedom and have the best of political institutions. In fact, if they could forge political unity among themselves, they could control the rest of the world.”

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