The word Paralimni means "by the lake". Historically, Paralimni was built on the shores of a shallow lake, which filled with water only in the wintertime.
In the beginning of the 20th century, as a result of reclamation work, the whole of the lakebed was reclaimed for agricultural purposes. Paralimni has not always been where it is now. Originally it was built on a hill, which was situated between Deryneia and its present location.
However, in the 15th century, it was moved inland to avoid detection by the sea pirates. It is said that the first people to settle at Paralimni arrived just after the capture of the near town of Famagusta by the Ottoman Turks in 1571. The first settlement was called Saint Demetrius and this place still bears his name today.
In 1986, after a referendum, Paralimni was declared a municipality with the name "Paralimni". In May 1986 the first elections were held for the office of mayor and municipal council. Nikos Vlittis was elected the first mayor and served from 1986-2006. In December 2006, Nikos Vlittis lost the mayoralty to Andreas Evaggelou who will serve as a mayor until 2011.
Architecturally, Paralimni has been nondescript, little if anything remains of the original village. Outside of the town centre the houses are not very attractive, little more than squat rectangular blocks. This is more than compensated for by their very attractive gardens, especially when the trees are in blossom or fruit. However, it seems that the new and emerging generations who earn higher salaries than their parents and grandparents, spend larger amounts of money in building modern and picturesque houses.
Right at the heart of Paralimni, lies a moderate yet fulfilling shopping centre with many shops and a small entertainment scene including modern cafes and bars. Due to the fact that Paralimni has rapidly grown in size, the island's biggest food retailers have built or rented branches there including Carrefour, Orfanides. There are also many local supermarkets such as Kokkinos.
The countryside surrounding Paralimni has rich red soil and is famous for growing Cyprus Potatoes plus picturesque windmills - used to draw water from underground aquifers to irrigate the surrounding land. Sadly, many of these are now derelict having been replaced by electric or diesel-powered pumps. Before the rise of tourism, the rich agricultural land surrounding Paralimni was the source of Paralimni's wealth, and is still of great importance.
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