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Cyprus Geography
 
 
 

General

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. In the Eastern Basin of the Mediterranean, it is located south of the Anatolian peninsula (Asia Minor), or modern-day Turkey, of the Asian (or Eurasian) mainland; thus, it is generally included in Western Asia, or the Middle East, geographically.

Cyprus measures 240 kilometres latitudinally and 100 km longitudinally, with Turkey 75 km to the north. Other neighbouring territories include Syria and Lebanon to the east (105 km and 108 km, respectively), Israel 200 km to the southeast, Egypt 380 km to the south, and Greece to the west-north-west: 280 km to the small Dodecanesian island of Kastellórizo (Meyísti), 400 km to Rhodes, and 800 km to the Greek mainland.

The physical setting for life on the island is dominated by the mountain masses and the central plain they encompass, the Mesaoria. The Troodos Mountains cover most of the southern and western portions of the island and account for roughly half its area. The narrow Kyrenia Range, extending along the northern coastline, occupies substantially less area, and elevations are lower. The two mountain systems run generally parallel to the Taurus Mountains on the Turkish mainland, whose silhouette is visible from northern Cyprus. Coastal lowlands, varying in width, surround the island.

The Mediterranean climate, warm and rather dry, with rainfall mainly between November and March, favours agriculture. In general, the island experiences mild wet winters and dry hot summers. Variations in temperature and rainfall are governed by altitude and, to a lesser extent, distance from the coast.

The higher mountain areas are cooler and moister than the rest of the island. They receive the heaviest annual rainfall, which may be as much as 1,000 millimeters. Sharp frost also occurs in the higher districts, which are usually blanketed with snow during the first months of the year. Plains along the northern coast and in the Karpas Peninsula area average 400 to 450 millimeters of annual rainfall. The least rainfall occurs in the Mesaoria, with 300 to 400 millimeters a year. Variability in annual rainfall is characteristic for the island, however, and droughts are frequent and sometimes severe. Earthquakes, usually not destructive, occur from time to time.

Summer temperatures are high in the lowlands, even near the sea, and reach particularly uncomfortable readings in the Mesaoria. Because of the scorching heat of the lowlands, some of the villages in the Troodos have developed as resort areas, with summer as well as winter seasons. The mean annual temperature for the island as a whole is about 20° C. The amount of sunshine the island enjoys enhances the tourist industry. On the Mesaoria in the eastern lowland, for example, there is bright sunshine 75 percent of the time. During the four summer months, there is an average of eleven and one-half hours of sunshine each day, and in the cloudiest winter months there is an average of five and one-half hours per day.

Overview

Location :
Middle East, island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey

Geographic coordinates :
35 00 N, 33 00 E

Map references :
Middle East


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