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CYPRUS is an island republic that lies in the eastern Mediterranean about 85 kilometers or 53 miles south of Turkey. It has been unofficially partitioned since 1974 – the northeastern portion forming the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
The island’s shape somewhat resembles a saucepan with the “handle” formed by the long, narrow Karpas Peninsula pointing northeastwards towards Turkey. A range of mountains extends along much of the northern coast with a still higher range, the Troodos Mountains, in the center and southwest. Between the mountains lies the extensive Messoria Plain. The highest point is Mount Olympus (1,951 meters or 6,401 feet) in the southwest.
Forests, mainly confined to the mountain slopes, cover about 13 percent of Cyprus and include cedar, cypress, pine, and juniper trees. Native wildlife is poorly represented except for birds, many species that use the island as a stopover point during migration. The island has a Mediterranean climate with dry, hot summers and mild, moist winters, during which most of the annual rainfall experienced.
Agriculture accounts for about 17 percent of the land. The Mediterranean climate contributes towards the great variety of crops grown, such as early potatoes, vegetables, cereals, tobacco, olives, bananas, and grapes. The grapes are used for the strong wines and sherries for which Cyprus is famous.
The main mineral found is copper, while asbestos, gypsum, and iron pyrites are also important. Fishing is a significant industry, but, above all, the island depends on visitors, and it is the tourist industry that has led to a recovery in the economy since 1974.
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Two mountain ranges and the central plain between them, called the Mesaoria, dominate the topography of Cyprus. The Troodos Mountains cover most of the country’s southern and western parts, accounting for roughly half its total area – including the southwestern Nicosia District, all of the Paphos and Limassol districts except their coastal plains, and the western Larnaca District. The narrow Kyrenia Range, extending along the northern coastline, occupies a far smaller area, with lower elevations.
Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided into autonomous northern and southern sectors, separated by what is known as the Green Line. The Turkish sector north of the line, whose self-proclaimed government is recognized only by Turkey, comprises 37 percent of the island. The Greek sector, whose government is recognized internationally, takes up 59 percent. The remainder belongs to a buffer zone controlled by the United Nations.
Cyprus is located at the far northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea.
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