Located at the cross-roads of three continents, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, situated 40 miles south of Turkey at its nearest coastal point. It is smaller than Sicily and Sardinia and larger than Corsica and Crete. North Cyprus comprises a total area of 1357 square miles, with over half of the Island’s 240 miles of coastline.
Cyprus has been divided into two autonomous states since 1974. This came about by virtue of the linguistic and cultural differences, and as a result of communal friction which lasted for 11 years (see history). Greek Cypriots are situated in the southern and the Turkish Cypriots in the northern part of Cyprus. A boundary known as the “Green Line” runs through Lefkoşa (Nicosia), the capital of both South and North Cyprus, separating the two states. At present there are five border crossings, offering 24 hour unrestricted access for EU citizens to pass across.
The Five Regions
North Cyprus has five distinct regions offering unique experiences for everyone:
Güzelyurt and its citrus groves in the West;
The Venetian harbour town of Girne (Kyrenia) is backed by the dramatic wooded slopes of the Beşparmak, or Five Finger, Mountains in the North;
The spectacular finger shaped Karpaz Panhandle in the East, in the region ofIskele;
The “outdoor museum” of Gazimağusa ( Famagusta) on the eastern coastline and its surrounding sandy bays;
Lefkoşa ( Nicosia), is a fascinating city to explore and the only remaining divided city in the world – with the border crossing open for all EU citizens without restriction.
The geography of North Cyprus is characterized by a unique blend of beaches, plains and mountains. The long northern coastline is backed by The Kyrenia or Beşparmak (Five Finger) mountain range, forming a startling backdrop with its wooded slopes and magnificent jagged limestone peaks, the highest of which is Mount Selvili at 3357 ft. The lower hills and lowlands are alive with lush greenery, rare species of birds and butterflies, and a natural diversity of flowers that is unmatched in the Mediterranean, with an estimated 19 endemic plant species. Sandy beaches and rocky coves await discovery along the shore.
To the east of the island, the Five Finger mountain range loses height as it extends along the narrow peninsula known as Karpaz or “Panhandle”, a spectacular finger-shaped region of rolling hills and unspoiled sandy bays which points to Syria. To the south of the Five Finger range lie the plains of Mesaoria and the capital city Lefkoşa. Other major centres are Güzelyurt in the west, the resort town of Girne on the northern coast, and the second resort town of Gazimağusa in the east.