The city-states of Greece were located on arid, wooded, mountainous peninsulas and islands. With about 80 percent of all Greek land covered in mountains, there were no cities or villages more than about 10 miles away from a mountain. There were also several active volcanoes nearby, most notably the volcano that destroyed the Minoan civilization on Santorini, which contributed to the region's frequent earthquakes.
Water also was critical for the ancient Greeks. No city was more than 50 miles from the ocean, and a large number of cities were built near or on the coastline. The arid climate induced by Greece's mountainous terrain made fresh water a premium. Most rivers or springs were credited with their own god or nymph as a protector, and many were considered sacred sites.
Few major mountains were without an associated god or set of myths. Volcanoes were also associated with the gods, who were thought to forge their weapons and tools within the hot depths. The mountains also held
caves, which were frequently associated with cults or, in the case of caves near volcanoes, seers and mystics. The Delphic oracle was located in such a cave below the Temple of Apollo. Here Greeks believed the Pythia, the seer-priestess, inhaled a fume emitted from the floor and allegedly spoke prophecy for the gods.