An island in the far eastern Mediterranean Sea, below Turkey and to the west of Syria, Cyprus is is actually two countries - the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (recognised only by Turkey) and the southern Republic of Cyprus. There are two large mountain ranges on the island: the Kyrenian Range in North Cyprus and the Troödos Massif in the centre of the Republic. The northern mountains are mainly limestone, the southern are volcanic rock. These ranges are separated by the Mesaoria Plain.
Cyprus has always been an island, and many Cypriot species, particularly plants, are found nowhere else in the world. There are three main habitats in Cyprus: the mountain ranges, the coastal plains and the cultivated lands. The coastal plains are irrigated by seasonal streams, and some support citrus orchards, but native flora and fauna have been largely displaced by tourism. The best areas to see wildlife are the mountainous areas of the island and the Akamas Peninsula (which, although not a national park, has been managed for conservation). The North, being less touristed, also has a larger population of native flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for griffon vultures, foxes, fruit-eating bats, sea turtles and moufflon, a wild sheep endemic to Cyprus.
The Cypriot climate is typically Mediterranean, with very hot summers in July and August. Most of the year is dry, with unpredictable rains falling in December, January and February. Cyprus often suffers drought years, and water is such a scarce commodity that it is often rationed.
Total area includes 3355 sq km in North Cyprus.
771,657 (July 2003 est.)
9,250 sq km (of which 3,355 sq km are in the Turkish Cypriot area)
Greek 85.2%, Turkish 11.6%, other 3.2% (2000)
Greek, Turkish, English
Greek Orthodox 78%, Muslim 18%, Maronite, Armenian Apostolic, and other 4%
www.gonorthcyprus.co.uk The Lala Mustafa Pasa Mosque was constructed between the years 1298-1312 in the Lusignan period is one of the most beautiful Gothic structures of the Meditteranean region.
The Lusignan kings would be inaugurated as the King of Cyprus at the St. Sophia Cathedral in Nicosia first, and following this they would be crowned as the King of Jerusalem at the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Famagusta.
These ceremonies continued to be held until 1571 when the cathedral was turned into a mosque by the Ottoman Turks. The architecture of the western front of the building has been influenced by the architecture of the Reims Cathedral. It has an unparalleled window with Gothic style tracery. The 16th century Venetian gallery in the courtyard is today used as a reservoir for ablutions.
A Venetian insignia can be seen above the circular windows at the entrance. The relief ornamented with animal figures is thought to have been brought from a temple in Salamis. The apsis of the cathedral is in the Eastern style and is composed of three parts as in most Cyprus churches. The windows in the top part have been well preserved. There are two chapels at the side. The cumbez tree in front -a tropical fig tree- is a rare tree in the north of the island.