Akrotiri Peninsula at a Glance



Akrotiri peninsula was once a small island, which was merged with the rest of Cyprus,  through processes  spanning thousands of years. Akrotiri Salt Lake is the result of the gradual unification of the surrounding land. The geomorphologic phenomenon of the connection of an island with a dry part of land within a timeframe of thousands of years is called tompolo. In the case of Akrotiri Peninsula, the specific geomorphologic phenomenon is called double tompolo, because there is connection of two sites of the island with the two sites of mainland.

The south cliffs of the Peninsula, a locality also known as Aetokremmos, host the earliest known archaeological site in Cyprus and it is believed to be the first part of the island ever to be inhabited by people during the pre-Neolithic period. The site holds 12,000 year-old fossilized bones of pygmy hippos and pigmy elephants, that were probably driven to extinction by the first human inhabitants of the island.

Stathis Theofilou
Spyros Spyrou

Protection & Management

Akrotiri peninsula is recognized and designated for its biodiversity importance. The largest area of Akrotiri Peninsula is located within the boundaries of the British Sovereign Base Area of Akrotiri, and together with Dhekelia (at northeast of Larnaca), are those parts of Cyprus that remained under British jurisdiction, following the end of British colonial rule and the declaration of the independent Republic of Cyprus in 1960.

British Bases Decrees designated it as an equivalent to a Special Protection Area (Natura 2000 site for birds) and a Special Area of Conservation (Natura 2000 site for habitats, flora and fauna other than birds) in 2010 and 2015 respectively. Akrotiri Peninsula has also been identified as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), following recognized BirdLife International criteria. Additionally, the wetlands of the peninsula are designated as a RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance.

The obligation for the management and protection of the area is statutory, deriving from the Protection and Management of Nature and Wildlife Ordinance 2007 and the Game and Wild Birds Ordinance 2008. The requirement under this legislation is to protect biodiversity, through the conservation of natural habitats, flora and fauna by maintaining or restoring their favourable conservation status.

Mosaic of Habitats & Species

Akrotiri Peninsula is one of the most important marine and terrestrial biodiversity hotspots in Cyprus, due to a unique combination of factors, including its location, geomorphology and diverse hydrological conditions.

It is the largest natural aquatic system in Cyprus, centred around a seasonal salt lake, which is one of the few major salt lakes within the eastern Mediterranean in semi-natural condition, that includes a wide range of saline and freshwater influences. It hosts a mosaic of different habitats, from coastal sand dunes to Mediterranean forests of junipers and from saltmarshes to grazing marshes and reedbeds. At the same time, supports a significant number of rare, vulnerable or endangered species of plants and animals. It also supports a high number of internationally important migratory birds, providing them with a significant resting, breeding and feeding habitat. The salt lake supports large congregations of water birds, such as Greater Flamingo. The peninsula is also a raptor bottleneck site in the autumn with good numbers of harriers, falcons and eagles. Episkopi Cliffs have a breeding colony of Eleonora’s Falcon in the summer and are also one of the last roosting and nesting places of the Griffon Vulture on the island.

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Additionally, Akrotiri Peninsula is considered one of the most pristine and valuable marine areas of Cyprus and the Mediterranean Sea. The remote marine environment of Akrotiri hosts diverse coastal and marine habitat mosaics, ranging from seagrass beds to sand dunes, sea cliffs and rocky reefs to remote submerged sea caves. Akrotiri supports healthy meadows of the endemic seagrass Posidonia oceanica, as well as Cymodocea nodosa seagrasses and shallow reefs covered with canopy forming Cystoseira species, coralligenous communities and sponges. The submerged sea caves at Akrotiri cliffs provide one of the few breeding refuges of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) on the island and coastal habitats include nesting beaches of the endangered Green turtle and Loggerhead turtle.

Phoebe Vayanou


The several archaeological and religious sites from different periods prove that the area was inhabited during the different historic eras, such as from Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Christian periods. A few of those include:

  • Kourion Archeological site – one of the most spectacular archaeological sites on the island of Cyprus, only 12km northwest of Akrotiri village

  • Monastery of Agios Nicolaos of Cats – situated on Cape Gata southeast of Akrotiri Salt Lake, it is perhaps one of the first byzantine monasteries of Cyprus as it dates to the 4th century

  • Agios Dimitrianos – close to Akrotiri marsh it is a small chapel (basilica) dating to the Arabs Raids period, 12th century

  • George Church – situated southwest of Akrotiri village, it is a stone-built basilica, probably dated back to 17th century

Besides the archaeological and religious sites, an important historical tradition of the Akrotiri area is basketry, one of the oldest fields of handcrafting. In the past, many residents of Akrotiri area dealt with basketry professionally, while nowadays this traditional professional is practiced by a few, since it is no longer profitable. The raw material used for the making of baskets, mainly included plants found in wetlands and the constant need for raw material contributed to the wetlands conservation. In Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre, visitors can receive information about this traditional technique.

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