Geography

Cyprus is not only the place where history, cultures and civilisations meet: it’s also where the continents of Africa, Europe and Asia meet. This location, as a geographical and cultural crossroads, and the fact that Cyprus is an island — the third largest in the Mediterranean – gives the island its unique qualities. It’s a place of stunning beauty and contrasts. The Kyrenia Mountain Range runs like a spine along the full stretch of North Cyprus, dominating the landscape. Facing north towards Turkey it rises sheer out of the Mediterranean Sea and nestles a narrow but fertile coastal littoral along its shores. These mountains are the home to three legendary Crusader castles that perch precipitously on the jagged limestone crags. The high peaks give way to gentler rolling foothills as the mountain chain stretches eastwards along the Karpaz ‘panhandle’ towards Cape Zafer at the very tip of the peninsula in the north-east of the island.

The mountain slopes are extremely rich in flora, much of which is endemic to the island, including the ‘Brossica hilarionis’ or St. Hilarion cabbage and the very rare and strictly protected ‘Tulipa cypria’ which has an annual festival dedicated to it at the village of Avtepe in the Karpaz peninsula

The southern slopes of the range look out onto Cyprus’s extensive Mesaoria Plain, situated in the middle of which is the capital Nicosia. This is the agricultural ‘bread basket’ of North Cyprus but it is naturally prone to water resource problems due to the seasonal disparity in rainfall — in fact it reasons almost none from June to September.

In addition to its mountains, North Cyprus has a rich and varied coastal geography, with expansive sandy beaches, especially on the southern shores of the Karpaz. These are also the protected nesting grounds of Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas).