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Flag of CyprusThe Republic of Cyprus is an island in the Eastern Mediterranean (part of the Middle East), located thirty-five miles south of Turkey and sixty-four miles south-west of Syria. Nicosia, the capital city, is located centrally on the island. It is divided into two sections, with Turkish and Greek communities separated by a fortified border. Larnaka, one of Cyprus’ main ports, is on the southern coast of the island. The most important cities in Northern Cyprus are Famagusta and Kyrenia.

Cyprus consists of two mountainous regions, separated by the Mesaoria plain. The Troodos, the southern mountain group, is taller with the highest peak, Mount Olympus, rising two thousand metres above sea level. The Kyrenia mountain group, in the north, is about half as high; the Pentadaktylos Mountain is very striking with a peak resembling five fingers.

The weather in Cyprus is usually sunny and hot with some rain during the winter months.

Cyprus has a variety of flora with numerous species of plants. Flowers include cyclamen, cistus, chrysanthemums, orchids, poppies and thyme.

The Larnaca Salt Lake is on the Ramsar list of Wetlands of International Importance. The Salt Lakes near Larnaka and Limassol are home to migrating birds and flamingoes in the cooler season of the year.

Urbanization has led to a decrease in wildlife habitats although there are still a few moufflon (wild sheep) which is Cyprus’ largest animal. Small creatures are bats, lizards, chameleons, geckos, tree frogs, snakes, and praying mantids. Loggerhead turtles lay their eggs on the beach at Lara; there are green turtles and monk seals in the Akamas Peninsula.

Remains of Neolithic circular buildings are found near Larnaka and on the foothills of the Troodos. Kition (Larnaka), an ancient city, was rebuilt by the Mycenaean Greeks. There are also Roman architectural remains: the theatres in Kourion (Limassol) and Salamis.

Many Christian churches were built during the Byzantine era (330-1191 AD) such as the eleventh century Angeloktisti church in Kiti, near Larnaka. After the Turkish invasion in 1571, a number of churches were converted into mosques and minarets were added – one such conversion is the Omeriye Mosque.

The French Lusignans ruled Cyprus from the end of the twelfth century to the end of the fifteenth century. During this period Gothic architecture flourished, especially in Nicosia.

The Venetian (1489-1571) occupation left fortified walls in Nicosia (Leftkosia) and Famagusta. In fact, Famagusta has some excellent Venetian architecture. A number of monasteries, such as the monastery at Agia Napa, were also built during this period.

Some Turkish architecture survives from the Ottoman period (1571-1878), in particular the eighteenth century Kamares Aqueduct.

British Colonial buildings, such as, St Paul’s Anglican Church in Nicosia, remain from the British administration of the later nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.

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