Country profile - Distinguishing factors (Cyprus)
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, situated at its north-eastern corner. Being at the intersection of important transport and communication routes it links Europe to the Middle East and Asia. The history of the island, being one of the oldest recorded in the world, was largely influenced by its geographic location. Its strategic position at the crossroads of three continents, as well as its considerable supplies of copper and timber in the past, combined to make it a highly desirable territorial acquisition. Over the centuries, Cyprus was conquered by various nations but managed to retain intact its Greek identity, language and culture. Its geographic position, the country’s island character, its isolation over the centuries from the mainland and its climatic conditions have all led to the creation of a great biological diversity and a significant number of native species.
Being an island, Cyprus is sufficiently isolated to have allowed the evolution of a strong endemic element. At the same time, being surrounded by big continents, it incorporates elements of the neighbouring land masses. About 7% of the indigenous plants of the island – 140 different species and subspecies – are endemic to Cyprus.