With its approximately 1.800 species, subspecies and varieties of flowering plants, Cyprus is an extremely interesting place for nature lovers and has all the attributes which make it a botanist's paradise. Being an island, it is sufficiently isolated to allow the evolution of a strong endemic flowering element. At the same time, being surrounded by big continents, it incorporates botanological elements of the neighbouring land masses. About seven percent of the indigenous plants of the island - 140 different species and subspecies - are endemic to Cyprus. The Cyclamen (Cyclamen cyprium) has been declared Cyprus' national plant while the Golden oak (Quercus alnifolia) has become the island's national tree.
The best period of the year to study the native flora, especially the herbaceous plants, is spring, but also winter in the lowlands, where the flowering season begins early with the first rains. On the mountains and along main streams this period is extended.
Cultivated plants on the lowlands include cereals, irrigated crops of various vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, etc.), whereas citrus species are commonly cultivated along the coastal zone. Olive, carob, and almond trees constitute a major component of cultivated plants at low and mid altitudes. At medium altitudes, vineyards are dominant in many places, especially in the Limassol and Pafos Districts. At higher elevations, in addition to vineyards, there are orchards of apple, cherry and peach trees.
Forest vegetation on state and private land covers about 42% of the total area of the island (about 18.5% are high forests and 23.5% are other wooded land). They are natural forests consisting mainly of Calabrian pine (Pinus brutia) and Black pine (Pinus nigra ssp. Pallasiana), which covers the higher slopes of the Troodos Range.
Other species include the Cypress, Juniper, Plane tree and Alder. Endemic species include the Golden oak (Quercus alnifolia) which is restricted on the Troodos mountain range, and Cedar (Cedrus brevifolia), which is restricted around the Tripylos area in the Pafos Forest. The forests of Cyprus are an important national resource. They provide timber and non-wood products and contribute significantly to the beauty of the landscape, the preservation of the national heritage, the protection of water supplies, and contribute to the economic development of village communities. Forests also attract visitors from foreign countries, in this way contributing to the national economy.
The present-day fauna of Cyprus includes some 7 species of land mammals, 26 species of amphibians and reptiles, 365 species of birds, and a great variety of insects, while the coastal waters of the island give shelter to 197 fish species and various species of crabs, sponges and echinodermata.
The largest wild animal that still lives on the island is the Cyprus moufflon (Ovis orientalis ophion), a rare type of wild sheep that can only be found in Cyprus. Cyprus is used by millions of birds as a stopover during their migration from Europe to Africa and back. The main reason for that is the existence on the island of two wetlands, with unique and international importance, namely the Larnaka and Akrotiri salt lakes. From the numerous wild birds of Cyprus, birds of prey are the most fascinating and among them the Eleonora's falcon (Falco eleonorae) and the imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca) are the jewels in the crown. The island's sea creatures include seals and turtles. Two marine turtles, the Green turtle (Chelona mydas) and the Loggerhead turtle (Caretta careta) breed regularly on the island's sandy beaches and are strictly protected.