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Geography, climate and population
Cyprus is the largest island in the Eastern Mediterranean with an area
of 9 250 km▓. The main features of the island's topography include two mountain ranges,
the Kyrenia in the north, which rises to 1 024 metres, and the Troodos in the centre,
rising to 1 951 metres. Between these two main mountain ranges lies a wide plain, the
Mesaoria plain, which rises from sea level to about 325 metres. Between the two mountain
ranges and the sea there are narrow fertile coastal plains.
The area of the country currently under government control, to which
this country profile and the accompanying tables will refer unless otherwise stated, is
about 5 807 km▓.
The cultivable area is estimated at 165 433 ha, which is 28% of the
total area under government control. In 1994, cultivated land amounted to 111 649 ha, of
which 69 509 ha consisted of annual crops and 42 140 ha consisted of permanent crops. Most
land is private. There are 51 300 farm holdings and according to the 1994 Census of
Agriculture, the average holding size is 3.5 ha divided into 4.5 parcels of land.
The climate of Cyprus is typical of the Eastern Mediterranean, with mild winters and hot, dry summers. Average daily minimum temperature is 9░C in January, while the average daily maximum is 35░C in August. The mean annual precipitation for the whole island is 503 mm, ranging from 290 mm in the east to 1 190 mm in the Troodos mountains. Most of the rain falls in the winter months from December to February, with snow falling frequently in the Troodos mountains. Hail storms are common and often cause considerable crop damage. There are large variations in rainfall from year to year.
The total population for the whole island is 742 000 according to United
Nations estimates (1995), of which 46% is rural. According to the National Demographic
Report of 1994, the total population in the government-controlled areas amounted to 638
300 (as against 734 000 for the whole island), of which 32% was rural, but the method used
for to estimate the rural population differs from the one used by United Nations. The
annual population growth is 1 %.
Agriculture, including crop production, livestock,
fisheries and forestry accounted for 5.4 % of the GDP in 1994, down from 10% in 1980. The
share of agriculture's contribution to GDP can however vary from year to year depending on
the prevailing weather conditions, particularly rainfall. Although the share of
agriculture in the GDP has had a declining trend in recent years, owing to more rapid
development in the other sectors of the economy, agricultural exports still play a
significant role in the country's foreign exchange earnings, accounting for over 21 % of
total exports in 1994. The percentage of the total economically active population engaged
in agriculture has also declined in recent years. In 1994 it was 11.6% compared with 17%
in 1980. Nevertheless, agriculture is still considered an important sector and efforts are
directed towards increasing production and maintaining people in rural areas through
integrated development projects.