Chania (Greek: Περιφερειακή ενότητα Χανίων) is one of the four regional units of Crete; it covers the westernmost quarter of the island. Its capital is the city of Chania. Chania borders only one other regional unit: that of Rethymno to the east. The western part of Crete is bounded to the north by the Cretan Sea, and to the west and south by the Mediterranean Sea. The regional unit also includes the southernmost island of Europe, Gavdos.
Chania regional unit, often informally termed 'Western Crete', is a beautiful and in many parts unspoilt part of the island. Districts include verdant Apokoronas, mountainous Sfakia, and Selino in the far South West corner. Some other notable towns in the Chania prefecture are: Hora Sfakion, Kastelli-Kissamos, Palaiochora, Maleme, Vryses, Vamos, Georgioupolis and Kalives.
The natural park of Samaria Gorge, a major tourist attraction and a refuge for the rare Cretan wild goat or kri kri, is in the South of the regional unit. The White Mountains or Lefka Ori, through which the Samaria, Aradena, Imbros and other gorges run, are the limestone peaks topped by snow until May that occupy much of Chania regional unit. They contain more than 40 peaks over 2,000 meters high. The highest peak in this area is Pachnes, at 2,453 meters above sea level.
The regional unit also includes three headlands, known as the "three heads" of Crete. From east to west, they are: Akrotiri, Rodopos (also called Spatha) and Gramvousa.
Western Crete is popular with tourists for its spring flowers that linger on into early May in the mountains. Birdwatching is also popular, with the lammergeier and golden eagle especially sought for. As an island, Crete has many endemic species of plant and animal.
Crete's only freshwater lake, Lake Kournas, is in the regional unit close to the border with Rethymno regional unit, 47 km from Chania. It is relatively large, with a perimeter of 3.5 km. The lake used to be called 'Korisia' after ancient 'Korion', a city thought to be in the area with a temple to Athena. The lake used to be reportedly full of eels but now is better known for its terrapins and tourists. Tavernas and pedalo rental shops line part of the shore. Overall, however, the lake retains its beauty, the White Mountains reflected in the mirror-like waters. Chania is the regional unit of Crete that receives the most precipitation. The Exkursionsflora von Kreta by Jahn & Schoenfelder has a precipitation map and text confirming that in general, western Crete, in casu Chania prefecture, has more precipitation than any other region on an average basis.