Fascinating Facts About Cyprus

Below are some 18 fascinating facts about Cyprus.

Geography

One of the geographical facts about Cyprus, is that the Island rose from the sea about 20 million years ago. In geological terms it is an ophiolite; created when a section of the Earth’s oceanic crust is uplifted and exposed above sea level.
It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily and Sardinia.

When you visit, you can take mini-cruises to neighbouring lands. Israel is 200km to the Southeast of Cyprus, Egypt 380km to the South and Greece 280km to the Northwest.

The island has the warmest climate in in the Mediterranean. As well as being famous for having 340 days of sunshine, Cyprus is one of Europe’s most Southerly ski resorts. At around 6,400ft high, the Troodos Mountains get snow.

Plants & wildlife
In the early 1900’s, Winston Churchill commissioned a project to save the island’s majestic forests that had been depleted due to ship building and fuel smelting.

Cypriots were the first civilisation to have pet cats. A human and cat grave was discovered at a 9,500 year old Neolithic burial site. In 325 AD, Saint Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, brought boatloads of cats to the island to deal with a vast population of venomous snakes.

The Moufflon is a wild sheep, found in the Troodos Mountains. The sub-species is native only to Cyprus and is part of the Cyprus Airways logo.

The island is world renowned for its orchids. It is home to over 50 species, including 5 that cannot be found anywhere else in the World.

Cyprus is one of only a few places in the world where Green and Loggerhead Turtles nest. The turtles travel from the Caribbean to breed at Lara Bay, a beach reserve in the Akamas region.

Produce
One of the more fascinating facts about Cyprus concerns wine production. Cyprus wines are amongst the world’s oldest production dates back to around 2000 BC. Experts believe that grapes cultivated on the island are some of the oldest in the world.

Commanderia is a sweet, Cypriot red wine. It gets its name from the headquarters of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem who started exporting it to Europe where it became famous.

Read more about the wine of Cyprus.

Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese, similar to mozzarella which is made from goat and sheep milk. It originated in Byzantine Cyprus.

Zyvania is a very strong distilled spirit and it is Cyprus’s national drink. It is made from Cyprus grape varieties of Xynisteri and Mavro and has been enjoyed since the end of the 15th century.

History
Richard Byron once said – “History in this island is almost too profuse. It gives one a sort of mental indigestion.”

The earliest known human activity on Cyprus dates back to the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the Neolithic village of Khirokitia, a World Heritage Site.

The etymology of the island’s name is unknown. Suggestions are that it was derived from the Greek word for cypress tree, the Greek for henna plant, or the Sumerian word for copper (due to its natural copper resources).

Cyprus is known as the Island of Love. Throughout history it has been associated with romance. It is the legendary birth place of love goddess Aphrodite. Antony gave it as a gift to his beautiful Cleopatra. Richard Lionheart fell in love and married Berengaria of Navarre in Cyprus, while on his way to the Holyland.

Perfume originated from Cyprus. 4000 year old traces of perfume scented with lavender, bay, rosemary and coriander were found by archaeologists in Pyrgos. Experts believe they were produced on an industrial scale, discovered in alabaster bottles in an enormous underground cave.

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