About Cyprus

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, after Sicily and Sardinia, with an area of 9.251 sq. kms (3.572 sq. miles).

It is situated at the north-eastern corner of the Mediterranean, at a distance of 300 km north of Egypt. The Greek island of Rhodes lies 360 km to the north-west.

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 Troodos range and the Pentadaktylos mountain range lies the fertile plain of Messaoria. Arable land constitutes 46.8 per cent of the total area of the island. There are no rivers, only torrents which flow after heavy rain.

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. Sunshine is abundant during the whole year, particularly from April to September when the daily average exceeds eleven 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. During the coldest months it lies in considerable depth for several weeks, attracting skiers.

The food of Cyprus reflects the rich and turbulent history of the island. You will find tastes influenced by the Middle East, Asia Minor and the Venetians, all using fresh local ingredients, herbs and spices and olive oil. The Mediterranean diet, with its grains and pulses, sun-ripened fresh fruit and vegetables, high-protein fish, lean meat and poultry and wine, is a healthy option.

Cyprus has a long tradition in winemaking that goes back over 4,000 years. In ancient times wine was a major source of wealth for the island. Commandaria is acknowledged to be the oldest wine in the world and was probably the first to be given an 'Appellation d'Origin'(label of geographical origin). Legend says that Commandaria was originally made for Richard the Lionheart and the Crusaders. The dessert wine, which has a taste like sweet sherry, has been made using the same method for hundreds of years. The grapes are picked late, dried in the sun to enhance their sugar content and then pressed. The run-off is collected and fermented in tanks or in huge earthen ware jars. The sweet wine of Cyprus became known throughout Europe under the name Commandaria depicting its geographical origin "Commandarie" which was the name given to the land owned by the Knights Templar and later the Knights of St. John.

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