The Mediterranean climate, warm and rather dry, with rainfall mainly between November and March, favors agriculture. In general, the island experiences mild wet winters and dry hot summers. Variations in temperature and rainfall are governed by altitude and, to a lesser extent, distance from the coast.
The higher mountain areas are cooler and moister than the rest of the island. They receive the heaviest annual rainfall, which may be as much as 1,000 millimeters. Sharp frost also occurs in the higher districts, which are usually blanketed with snow during the first months of the year. Plains along the northern coast and in the Karpas Peninsula area average 400 to 450 millimeters of annual rainfall. The least rainfall occurs in the Mesaoria, with 300 to 400 millimeters a year. Variability in annual rainfall is characteristic for the island, however, and droughts are frequent and sometimes severe. Earthquakes, usually not destructive, occur from time to time.
Summer temperatures are high in the lowlands, even near the sea, and reach particularly uncomfortable readings in the Mesaoria. Because of the scorching heat of the lowlands, some of the villages in the Troodos have developed as resort areas, with summer as well as winter seasons. The mean annual temperature for the island as a whole is about 20° C. The amount of sunshine the island enjoys enhances the tourist industry. On the Mesaoria in the eastern lowland, for example, there is bright sunshine 75 percent of the time. During the four summer months, there is an average of eleven and one-half hours of sunshine each day, and in the cloudiest winter months there is an average of five and one-half hours per day.
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