Cyprus

Cyprus

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean (after the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia) and the world's 81st largest. It measures 240 kilometers long from end to end and 100 km wide at its widest point, with 75 km to the north. Other neighboring territories include Syria and Lebanon to the east (105 km and 108 km, respectively), Israel 200 km to the southeast, Egypt 380 km to the south, and Greece to the west-northwest: 280 km to the small Dodecanese island of Kastellorizo 400 km to Rhodes and 800 km to the Greek mainland.

The physical relief of the island is dominated by two mountain ranges, the Troodos Mountains and the smaller Kyrenia Range, and the central plain they encompass, the Mesaoria. The Troodos Mountains cover most of the southern and western portions of the island and account for roughly half its area. The highest point on Cyprus is Mount Olympus at 1,952 m (6,404.20 ft), located in the center of the Troodos range. The narrow Kyrenia Range, extending along the northern coastline, occupies substantially less area, and elevations are lower, reaching a maximum of 1,024 m (3,359.58 ft).

The name Cyprus has a somewhat uncertain etymology. One suggestion is that it comes from the Greek word for the Mediterranean cypress tree (Cupressus semperviress), κυπάρισσος (kypárissos), or even from the Greek name of the henna plant (Lawsonia Alba), κύπρος (kýpros). Another school suggests that it stems from the Eteocypriot word for copper. Georges Dossin, for example, suggests that it has roots in the Sumerian word for copper (zubar) or for bronze (kubar), from the large deposits of copper ore found on the island.

Through overseas trade the island has given its name to the Classical Latin word for copper through the phrase aes Cyprium, "metal of Cyprus", later shortened to Cuprum. Cyprus is also known as the Island of Aphrodite, or Love since according to Phoenician mythology, Astarte, goddess of love and beauty, who was later identified with the Greek goddess Aphrodite, was born on the shores of Paphos.

The standard demonym relating to Cyprus or its people or culture is Cypriot. The terms Cypriote and Cyprian are also, less frequently, used.