Cyprus is the largest island in the eastern Mediterranean, comprising an area of 9.251 sq km within which lives a population of 862.000 inhabitants. The area of Cyprus is characterised by considerable diversity of scenery, ranging from flat plains a few metres above sea level, to lofty mountainous areas reaching a height of 1951 metres. A large number of geomorphologic features, like raised beaches, tombolos, sea cliffs and sea caves, cuestas, ravines and gorges, river captures, coastal sand dunes, beautiful tiny isles and, above all, fine and coarse-grained sandy beaches are encountered. A great variety of rocks, belonging to different geologic eras and ranging from sedimentary to metamorphic and igneous, with their hardness, colour and texture affect the relief, lending a distinct colour to the landscape of Cyprus.
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The natural vegetation, influenced by the island’s position among three continents, is rich and varied with a number of endemic plants. Equally significant is the fauna of the island, with its unique moufflons roaming in herds in the forests of Pafos and Troodos. Moreover, millions of migratory birds use Cyprus as a stopover in their movement from the cold north-European countries to the warm countries of the African continent, and vice versa, during autumn, winter and spring.
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Road Map of Cyprus
What, however, makes Cyprus a very attractive and fascinating country for the foreign visitor, is its long and tempestuous history, dating back to the neolithic times. Recent excavations at Skillourokampos, north of Amathous in Limassol district, place the neolithic era in Cyprus at 8200 B.C. Besides, all conquerors and settlers have left their imprints on the surface of the island. Every span of land in Cyprus has something to reveal to the visitor, local or foreign. It has often been written, that nowhere else in the world will the visitor find a similar size of land with such a large variety of physical and man-made environment. It is this tremendous variety of landscape that satisfies all needs and tastes, however capricious and unique they are.
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The visitors can visit archaeological sites and museums, popular neighbourhoods and folk art museums, basilicas and Byzantine frescoed churches, traditional houses and wine-presses. They can walk over cobbled streets and medieval bridges or they can admire the large wine jars of the last two centuries, currently placed in the houseyards for decorative purposes. They can take part in local festivals and dance contests or they can watch or participate in the citrus, olive and grape gathering. Yet, if they like isolation, trekking, or countryside exploration, there are unspoilt areas, nature trails, large expanses of forest land and small, declining villages preserving their genuine customs and habits, particularly their hospitality. It is not surprising that the fruitful Greek imagination, wise and infallible in all its creative conceptions, chose, out of all islands, Cyprus, as the birthplace of the Goddess of Love and Beauty, a symbolical realization of the island’s natural beauties and its poetic, romantic environment.
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This guide, published by SELAS, aims at presenting to the visitors of Cyprus the physical and cultural heritage of the island. We are confident that, in the end, foreign visitors will be fascinated by the wealth of historical, physical, cultural and economic features of Cyprus. The difficult task of preparing this unique guide was undertaken by George Karouzis, a leading travel writer and Christina G. Karouzi, a geographer-cartographer. Both have written many blogs on Cyprus or have compiled and designed maps and plans of the island.
Cyprus, the extreme south-eastern European country, lies about 70km south of Turkey, 100km west of Syria and about 270km east of Kastellorizon, the extreme south-eastern limit of Greece. Irregular in shape, often said to resemble a deerskin, the island has a maximum length of 225km from the extreme west to the extreme east, while its largest width from the extreme north to the extreme south is only 94km. Its strategic position at the cross-roads of three continents (Europe, Asia and Africa), in the middle of the ancient world (Egypt, Mesopotamia, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Crete), near the Suez Canal and the oil- producing countries of the Middle East as well as its proximity to important land and sea routeways, have shaped its destiny throughout centuries. It is not surprising, therefore, that Cyprus has been settled or conquered successively by a large number of foreign peoples, who have left their imprints indelibly stamped on the surface of the Cypriot landscape. The landscape of Cyprus resembles an open-air historical and ethnographic museum. Greek columns, Hellenistic theatres, Roman mosaics, Byzantine churches with superb frescoes, Gothic monuments, Venetian walls and bridges, Turkish baths and mosques and even the afforestation and road works of the British are ubiquitous in Cyprus.
Since 1960, Cyprus is an independent and sovereign Republic, member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the nonaligned Movement, the British Commonwealth as well as member of many other International
Organizations. Moreover, Cyprus is since May 2004 a full member of the European Union.
Cyprus, is administratively divided into six districts (Nicosia, Famagusta, Pafos, Limassol, Larnaka, and Kyrenia), with Kyrenia lying entirely within the occupied part of Cyprus. Only nine settlements of the Famagusta district are free, while a number of villages within Nicosia and Larnaka districts are included in the occupied part of Cyprus. No special routes or sites of interest concerning the occupied part of Cyprus are described in this touring guide.