Geography and population
Cyprus is the largest island in the
Eastern Mediterranean with an area of 9 250 km². 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 km².
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 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
Climate and water resources
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.
A water balance cannot be easily calculated
for the government-controlled area of Cyprus. A water balance for the whole
island, however, indicates 900 million m³/year of renewable water resources.
Surface runoff is estimated to represent about 830 million m³/year. The natural
aquifer recharge is estimated at 300 million m³, of which about 70 million
m³ flows to the sea and 100 million m³ emerges from springs.
There are 14 main rivers, none of which
provides perennial flow. The source of water for these rivers originates in
the Troodos mountains. The main groundwater aquifers are the Western Mesaoria
(Morphou), Kokkinochoria (South-eastern and Eastern Mesaoria) and the Akrotiri.
Smaller aquifers exist in other parts of the country.
The map below shows the ecological zones, as shown on the
FAO global map of ecological zones produced as part of the FRA 2000. Please refer
to FRA Working Paper 20 for
further information on the Global Ecological Zone map.