The physical and natural features of North Cyprus
North Cyprus makes up 36% of the entire island of Cyprus located in the Mediterranean Sea’s north-eastern corner. It lies approximately 40 miles south of Turkey’s south coast (which can be seen on a clear day), 60 miles east of Syria, and 250 miles north of Egypt. The island is 3,571 square miles in size, with 486 kilometers of magnificent coastline. In the southern half of the island, there are two British Sovereign bases. After Sicily and Sardinia, Cyprus is the Mediterranean’s third largest island. North Cyprus has a population of around 300,000 people, the bulk of whom are Turkish Cypriots and settlers from mainland Turkey. The two languages, Turkish and English, are commonly spoken in North Cyprus.
The island is geographically located on the Anatolian Plate, and hence in the Asian area. In terms of culture, however, it has a European character. Cyprus has been split in two since 1974, with the Republic of Cyprus in the south and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the north. It has a Mediterranean climate with a more continental vibe. Nicosia, the capital, experiences hot summers, with an average daily temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. There may be snow in the higher alpine places during the brief winter season.
North Cyprus’s physical features
The two mountain ranges separated by the broad and lush Masarya plain are the island’s most prominent characteristics. Mesarya is a Greek word that means “place between the mountains.” The Kyrenia range, often known as the Five Finger Mountains, is located in the north (named after its fist-shaped mountain said to be the fist of Alexandra the Great). The Trodos Mountains make up the southern range.
The Kyrenia Mountain Range stretches for around 80 kilometers, going parallel to the shore. It covers over 100 square miles and is primarily made up of limestone, dolomite, and marble. The tallest mountain, Kyparissovouno (Selvili Tepe) above Lapta, with an elevation of 3,557ft, is above 2000ft above sea level.
The island was formed by volcanic activity and is separated into two mountain groupings. The highest peak in the Troodos Mountains is Mount Olympus (1,952 m). Parts of this hilly terrain are forested. Stone pines, Aleppo pines, cedars, and cypresses cover these areas, which are highly vegetated. The west and east of the island have steep terrain, whereas the island’s edges have a coastal plain. A big number of people visit the gorgeous sandy beaches. Cyprus’ fauna is generally nondescript, except for the tranquil island donkeys. Amphibians and reptiles, as well as hundreds of bird species and a variety of fish, call this place home. If travelers are lucky, they may be able to witness chameleons and turtles.
According to an InterNations poll, Cyprus ranks second among the ‘Top Countries with the Best Weather & Climate,’ coming in at number two. North Cyprus has a typical Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild winters. The average temperature in the summer can reach 40 degrees Celsius, while the lowest temperature in the winter is around 15 degrees Celsius. Spring and autumn are brief and pleasantly brisk.
Beaches abound for kilometers
You will be spoiled for choice because North Cyprus has so many beaches, ranging from huge stretches of sandy beach clubs with full amenities to remote coves off the coastline. Some prominent beaches (those with numerous hotels and restaurants, for example) will charge a nominal fee to use their facilities. The Karpaz National Park comprises of Altin Kumsal (Golden Beach), which is regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. This beach is perhaps the most pristine on the entire island, with 12 kilometers of untouched coastline and clear sea spanning as far as the eye can see. Another popular beach is the İskele Long Beach which shares similar features with the Golden Beach.
Cyprus flora and fauna
North Cyprus is home to 39 mammals, 381 birds, 33 reptiles, 200 fish, and around 5000 insect species. 22 bats, 13 terrestrial mammals, 3 marine mammals, and 1 type of seal were among the 39 mammal species reported. Moufflon is home to Cyprus’ largest mammal, the Ovia Aaris (Gmelini) Ophion. The island is home to 33 different reptile species. There are ten snake species, 19 lizard species, and four turtle species.
At the Karpaz, you will see Cyprus donkeys that are an icon of the island…
Karpaz is known as the “City of Civilizations,” which is located on the peninsula’s tip, blends the island’s natural beauties. The Karpasz National Park stretches from the Cape Zafer and Klides islands in the east to DipKarpaz town, Ronnas sand dunes, and the old city of Karpasia in the west. The list of animal species found in Cyprus is led by wild donkeys. Donkeys are protected in specific parts of the National Park in Karpaz and are watched with great curiosity by visitors. Wild donkeys continue to proliferate on the pristine lands.
As a general rule, beaches to the west are pebbly, while those to the east are sandy. The ‘Green’ and ‘Loggerhead’ turtles use the vast sandy sections of beach along the north eastern coast and in Karpaz as breeding sites. They lay their eggs between June and October, and you are advised to exercise extra caution during this period because certain beaches are monitored to safeguard the nests. You can visit the research station at Alagadi Beach if you wish to learn more about turtles or participate in an organized ‘Turtle Watch.’ The scientists who work there speak English and are always delighted to interact with visitors – they can be located in the beach hut.
The Peninsular coast is also a preferred nesting spot for sea turtles, which was one of the key grounds for establishing a National Park on this portion of the island. Green (Chelonia Mydas) and Loggerhead (Caretta Caretta) sea turtle nests can be found on different beaches.
North Cyprus beaches have become nesting sites for 200 adorable Caretta Caretta (Loggerhead) turtles and Green turtles, coming to lay their eggs every year. They prefer the sandy beaches of Alagadi, Akdeniz, and Karpaz. The greatest time to see these adorable critters for the first time in the water is at the end of August or the beginning of September.
Birds, butterflies, and more… including pink flamingos!
The island’s geographic location makes it an important stopover for migratory birds. More than 370 bird species visit the area each year. There are almost 50 different butterfly species to be seen in North Cyprus. The İskele Wildlife Information Centre is made up of two buildings (information and exhibition hall), as well as a rocky terrain that reaches behind the building and contains a stretch of limestone flora that inspired the establishment of the Wildlife Centre. It boasts of a lovely garden that is well-kept by the personnel. Many travelers come to Cyprus because of its uniqueness.
Three endangered species of birds exclusively reside in Cyprus, especially in the winter and spring. Oenanthe Cypriaca (Cyprus Wheatear) Sylvia Melanothorax (Cyprus Warbler) Otis Scops Cyprius (Cyprus Scops Owl) Maniola Cypricola, one of three native butterfly species in North Cyprus, make up the butterflies of Cyprus. North Cyprus is home to more than 50 butterfly species, and because of its geographic location, it is also a stopover station for migratory birds. Imagine waking up on New Year’s Day to the most stunning sight of pink flamingos migrating to Cyprus’s milder environment. You can click here to read more about animals and bird hunting in North Cyprus.
Flowering seasons in North Cyprus, a relaxing stroll through untouched nature…
Another aspect of its beauty is a bird’s eye perspective of North Cyprus’s vegetation. In Springtime, the Mediterranean’s ultimate splendour is reflected. Discover North Cyprus’ indigenous plants, which are in full bloom. For flowers, herbs, and plants such as Cyprus white thyme and Cyprus cloves, the flowering season is between October and April. There are 38 species of this kind identified. There are various types of Cyprus roses, including Yellow Rose, Cyprus Rose, Rock Rose, and Chinese Rose.
Bougainvillea is a genus of thorny decorative vines, shrubs, and trees with blooms that resemble spring leaves near their flowers, with up to 18 species in a rainbow of hues. Sunflower and marigold fields abound, as do lilies, buttercups, poppies, daisies, and other flowers; all of nature’s treasures are right outside your door! Flowers and plants that are perennial can be found throughout all seasons. Cyprus Medos tulips are the most well-known native to North Cyprus flora (also known as Tulipa Cypria).
The most notable flora and fauna vanities are daffodils, mountain tulips, orchids, and lilies, and gigantic trees. The Sycamore Fig tree in front of the Lale Mustafa Pasha Mosque in Famagusta is about 700 years old. This tree is thought to be the oldest on the island of Cyprus.
The Orchid Festival is held in early March. The municipality turns the event into a two-day festival with attractions, as well as entertainment, folk dancing, music, local foods, and kiosks selling handicrafts, providing an exciting setting in which to observe the residents and pass the time! Orchids, in particular, thrive in this climate, and the Denizli Gemikonagi Development Association hosts the annual Orchid Valley & Orchid Observation Tour at Lefke European University. They display visitors roughly 32 endemics that are unique to Cyprus at the festivals. You can read our previous blog post to know more about North Cyprus festivals.
Turkish coffee is a way of life…
The history of Turkish coffee in North Cyprus dates back to the Ottoman period, with families migrating from various parts of Anatolia. Since then, Cypriots too have been preparing their everyday coffee in their own unique way. At the time, making coffee at home was a time-consuming task. It involved roasting green coffee beans in a pan, then grinding them by hand in a mill, and finally boiling the coffee over hot coals.
All of this effort for a small cup of this exquisite beverage. They warm the sand on which they roast the coffee today during picnics. When you purchase Turkish coffee, you can consume it in different ways depending on your preferences. Either without sugar (sade), with a small amount of sugar (as şekerli), moderately sweet (orta), or sweet (şekerli).
Orange and lemon groves Guzelyurt, the citrus and fruit orchard capital of the world!
The ‘heart and soul’ of fresh fruit production in North Cyprus is in Guzelyurt. Guzelyurt, often known as “Beautiful Land,” is an agricultural market town notable for its flat landscapes, fruit marketing sector, and a wealth of fruit species that provide for the entire island. Its rich red soil is ornamented with Jaffa and Washington Oranges, Lemons, Satsumas, Mandarins, Carob, Walnuts, Strawberries, banana crops, figs, pomegranates, and watermelon crops, making it easy to produce in large quantities. The orchards are a sight to behold and a must-see attraction.
From June to October, apples are harvested, apricots are available while avocados are available from June to July virtually all year. Cherries from the end of July to the beginning of September, Formosa’s from early June to the end of September Grapefruit, late October to May; honey-melon, late July to September Strawberries end of October – end of April, Tangerines end of October – end of April, Peaches late June – early September, Plums late June – early September, Peaches late June – early September, Peaches late June – early September, Peaches late June – early September, Peaches late June – early September, Peaches late June – early September, Peaches Tomatoes are available all year. Watermelon season is from May through the end of October.
Cyprus’ fruit is a dream come true!
Harvesting fruit remains a pleasure and privilege, and it is an integral aspect of life in North Cyprus. Exotic fruit, such as figs and tiny bananas, merge with the taste buds and look as wonderful as they taste in Cyprus oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines, pomegranates, and other local species of island fruit produced is mind-blowing! Fruits are available all year, thanks to seasonality; bananas are available beginning in April and continue until the end of the winter. The aromatic juice and balanced sugar-acidity of the Cypriot fruit get it great marks. Nothing compares to the abundance of seasonal fruit available in Cyprus.
One thing tourists should remember is to live in the moment. Serve chilled as a wonderful snack with a slice of halloumi, or as a lovely ending to any dinner.