Paralimni is a town situated in the southeast of Cyprus, slightly inland, within the Famagusta District. Since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, it has increased in size and status, due to the migration of many refugees fleeing from the north. Many of the people who work in the tourist industry of Protaras and Ayia Napa live in Paralimni, which is now the temporary administrative centre of the Famagusta District and the biggest municipality of the Greek Cypriot-controlled area of the district.
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 winter. At the beginning of the 20th century, the whole lakebed was reclaimed for agricultural purposes. Paralimni has not always been where it is now; it was built originally on a hill, which was situated between Deryneia and its present location. In the 15th century, it was moved inland to avoid detection by sea pirates. It is said that the first people to settle at Paralimni arrived just after the capture of the nearby 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, it was declared a municipality with the name "Paralimni". Outside of the town centre, the houses are little more than small rectangular blocks, but this is compensated for by their attractive gardens, especially when the trees are in blossom. The new and emerging generations who earn higher salaries than before are spending larger amounts of money in building modern and picturesque houses.
The countryside surrounding Paralimni has rich red soil and is famous for growing Cyprus potatoes, as well as its picturesque windmills, which are used to draw water from underground aquifers to irrigate the surrounding land. Many of these windmills are now derelict, having been replaced by electric or diesel-powered pumps.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 its wealth, and is still of great importance today.
Protaras is a predominantly tourist resort which comes under the administrative jurisdiction of Paralimni Municipality.