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Latest update: 08/06/2009 18:17 +0300

Geography & Orientation in Cyprus:
CYPRUS | HISTORY | GEOGRAPHY & ORIENTATION | PRACTICAL GUIDE

'Petra tou Romiou' on the south coast of Cyprus

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, after Sicily and Sardinia, with an area of 9,251 sq kilometres (3,572 sq miles).

It is situated at the north-eastern corner of the Mediterranean, at a distance of 300 kilometres north of Egypt, 90 kilometres west of Syria, and 60 kilometres south of Turkey. Greece lies 360 kilometres to the north-west (Rhodes and Karpathos).

Cyprus lies at a latitude of 34°33' - 35°34' North and longitude 32°16'-34°37' East.

The country has two mountain ranges: the Pentadaktylos range which runs along almost the entire northern coast, and the Troodos massif in the central and south-western parts of the island. Cyprus' coastal line is indented and rocky in the north with long sandy beaches in the south. The north coastal plain, covered with olive and carob trees, is backed by the steep and narrow Pentadaktylos mountain range of limestone, rising to a height of 1.042 m. In the south, the extensive mountain massif of Troodos, covered with pine, dwarf oak, cypress and cedar, culminates in the peak of Mount Olympus, 1.953 m. above sea level. Between the two ranges lies the fertile plain of Messaoria.

Skiing on the Troodos

Climate
Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate: hot, dry summers from June to September and mild, wet winters from November to March, which are separated by short Autumn and Spring seasons of rapid change in weather patterns in October, April and May.

Sunshine is abundant during the whole year, particularly from April to September when the daily average exceeds 11 hours. Winds are on the whole light to moderate. Gales are very infrequent and heavy storms rare.

Snow hardly falls in the lowlands and on the northern range, but is a frequent feature every winter on ground above 1.000 metres in the Troodos range. From December till April snow is usually in evidence there, but hardly continuous. Yet during the coldest months it lies in considerable depth for several weeks, attracting skiers.

Almond tree in blossom

Flora and Fauna
With its approximately 1.800 species, subspecies and varieties of flowering plants, Cyprus is an extremely interesting place for nature lovers and has all the attributes which make it a botanist's paradise. Being an island, it is sufficiently isolated to allow the evolution of a strong endemic flowering element. At the same time, being surrounded by big continents, it incorporates botanological elements of the neighbouring land masses. About 7% of the indigenous plants of the island - 140 different species and subspecies - are endemic to Cyprus.

The present-day fauna of Cyprus includes some 7 species of land mammals, 26 species of amphibians and reptiles, 365 species of birds, and a great variety of insects, while the coastal waters of the island give shelter to 197 fish species and various species of crabs, sponges and echinodermata.

The moufflon

The largest wild animal that still lives on the island is the Cyprus moufflon (Ovis orientalis ophion), a rare type of wild sheep that can only be found in Cyprus. Cyprus is used by millions of birds as a stopover during their migration from Europe to Africa and back. The main reason for that is the existence on the island of two wetlands, with unique and international importance, namely the Larnaka and Akrotiri salt lakes. From the numerous wild birds of Cyprus, birds of prey are the most fascinating and among them the Eleonora's falcon (Falco eleonorae) and the imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca) are the jewels in the crown. The island’s sea creatures include seals and turtles. Two marine turtles, the Green turtle (Chelona mydas) and the Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) breed regularly on the island's sandy beaches and are strictly protected. The main forest plant species are the Brutia pine (Pinus brutia) and the Black pine (Pinus nigra) found in the Troodos mountain area. The Cyclamen (Cyclamen cyprium) has been declared Cyprus’ national plant while the Golden oak (Quercus alnifolia) has become the island’s national tree.

Source: Press and Information Office of the Ministry of the Interior


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