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Geography of Kythera


Kythira, with a range of 284 sq. kilometers, are mostly hilly with several small valleys and green ravines. The coasts are steep discontinued, mainly to the East, by many sandy beaches, or beaches composed of small pebbles. In the central part of the island a smooth plateau is formed, with the highest peaks  Mermigkaris (507 m),  Dighenis (407 m) and Agia Elesa (447 m). 

The surface of the island is particularly interesting because in many areas of the plateau beautiful ravines and streams are formed, which in good hydrologically years flow throughout the year. Also, along the coast many small coves and a relatively large bay are formed, this of St. Nicholas Avlemonas. 

The climate of the island is mild with an average annual temperature of 19o C, while during the months of December, January, February and March and for some days, the temperature drops close to 5-7 C. The humidity is intense, especially on the plateau, while the strong winds blowing in the area create problems for navigation, especially in winter. The most common wind is North (North Wind), but in recent years the frequency of westerly winds (Ponentes) has significantly increased, and this may be due to the ongoing Climate Change. 

The subsoil of Kythera has none exploitable mineral, while much earlier small amounts of iron and coal were mined in Karava and Mitata area respectively.

The flora is rich with shrubs and trees. Dominating the Schinos (pistacia   lentiscus) and yew or holly (Quercus coccifera). In earlier times there were oak forests, only few of which trees have been preserved. Still thrive pines, cypress and eucalyptus (Gerakariou is an important grove north of the island) there are also olive trees, arbutus, heather or heather, myrtles, osier, maples, sycamores, tamarisk and carob. In many areas thyme, sage, oregano, (all aromatic) and other shrubby or bushy plants grow. Their aroma, especially during Spring and Summer, is unique. 

Olive tree cultivation is widespread and the produced oil is generally organic of premium quality. Of course, other fruit-bearing trees are also cultivated, such as fig, orange, tangerine, lemon, apricot, pear, almond, apple, sloes, etc. 
Also a large number of flowers grows, such as wild orchids, wild tulips, yellow crocuses, daisies, manousos, hyacinths, anemones, etc. A distinctive flower and plant of Kythera is "semprevives' (plant always lives) that grows in very rugged and arid areas, such as Agia. Elesa, the islet Chitra and elsewhere. The local crafts makes widespread use of this yellow flower that itself -dried and remains intact for many years.

On Kythera many animals and birds live, like the hedgehog, hare, marten, the partridge, the sparrow, the goldfinch, the cock, the falcon, blackbird, kingfisher, aigaioseagull, and more. The island is a migratory stopover for birds migrating during Spring and Autumn and some of them (tired or hurt) overwinter on Kythera. 

Kythera is the ideal place not only for monitoring and observing fowl (bird watching), but also for lovers of hunting. 
The main species of reptiles of Kythira are lizard, gecko, zamenis situla or vatrachologos and  tyflofis. Recently vipers were presented, which were brought in feed from the Peloponnese. 

The sea of Kythera is rich in many kinds of fish, although in recent years their populations have declined due to overfishing. Such kinds are skaros, snapper, mullet, melanura,  sargus, red porgy,  menoula,  butt sparidae, whitebait, the grouper and more. Also at the west coast of the island the Mediterranean monk seal (monachus - monachus) and the turtles caretta - caretta live,  which have already been observed in some nests. 

The fauna and flora of Kythira is rich and has a great variety of species, which the visitor hardly meets on any other islands. But it requires the attention and care of all of us so far not to disturb the existing balance of the ecosystem.