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Republic of Cyprus
Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία (Greek)
Kypriakí Dimokratía
Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti (Turkish)
Flag Coat of arms
AnthemὝμνος εἰς τὴν Ἐλευθερίαν
Ýmnos eis tīn Eleutherían
Hymn to Liberty1
Location of  Cyprus  (green)

– on the European continent  (light green & grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)  —  [Legend]

(and largest city)
Nicosia (Λευκωσία, Lefkoşa)
35°08′N 33°28′E / 35.133°N 33.467°E / 35.133; 33.467
Official language(s) Greek and Turkish[1]
Ethnic groups  77% Greek, 18% Turkish, 5% other (2001 est.)[2]
Demonym Cypriot
Government Presidential republic
 -  President Dimitris Christofias
Independence from the United Kingdom 
 -  Zürich and London Agreement 19 February 1959 
 -  Proclaimed 16 August 1960 
EU accession 1 May 2004
 -  Total 9,251 km2 (167th)
3,572 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  1.1.2010 estimate 801,851[3] 
 -  Density 117/km2 (85th)
221/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $22.721 billion[4] (107th)
 -  Per capita $29,853[4] (29th)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $24.922 billion[4] (86th)
 -  Per capita $32,745[4] (26th)
Gini (2005) 29 (low) (19th)
HDI (2007) 0.914[5] (very high) (32nd)
Currency Euro2 (EUR)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 -  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Drives on the Left
Internet TLD .cy3
Calling code 357
1 Also the national anthem of Greece.
2 Before 2008, the Cypriot pound.
3 The .eu domain is also used, shared with other European Union member states.

Cyprus (Greek: Κύπρος, Kýpros, IPA: [ˈcipros]; Turkish: Kıbrıs), officially the Republic of Cyprus (Greek: Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία, Kypriakī́ Dīmokratía, IPA: [cipriaˈci ðimokraˈtia]; Turkish: Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti), is a Eurasian island country in the Eastern Mediterranean,[6][7] south of Turkey and west of Syria and Lebanon. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of its most popular tourist destinations.[8] An advanced,[9] high-income economy with a very high Human Development Index,[10][11] the Republic of Cyprus was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement until it joined the European Union on 1 May 2004.[12][13]

The earliest known human activity on the island dates back to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Choirokoitia, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the Tombs of the Kings. Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world,[14] and is the site of the earliest known example of feline domestication.[15][16] At a strategic location in the Middle East,[17][18][19][20] Cyprus has been occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Hittites, Assyrians, Egyptians, Macedonians, Ptolemies, Persians, Byzantines, Rashiduns, Umayyads, Lusignans, Venetians and Ottomans. It was placed under British administration in 1878 until it was granted independence in 1960,[21] becoming a member of the Commonwealth the following year.

In 1974, following 11 years of intercommunal violence[22] and an attempted coup d'état by Greek Cypriot nationalists,[23][24] Turkey invaded and occupied the northern portion of the island. The intercommunal violence and subsequent Turkish invasion led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Cypriots and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot political entity in the north. These events and the resulting political situation are matters of ongoing dispute.

The Republic of Cyprus has de jure sovereignty over the entire island of Cyprus and its surrounding waters except small portions that are allocated by treaty to the United Kingdom as sovereign military bases. The Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts, the area under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, comprising about 59% of the island's area and the Turkish-occupied area in the north,[25] calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, covering about 37% of the island's area and recognized only by Turkey.



The name Cyprus has a somewhat uncertain toponymy. One suggestion is that it comes from the Greek word for the Mediterranean cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens), κυπάρισσος (kypárissos), or even from the Greek name of the henna plant (Lawsonia alba), κύπρος (kýpros). Another school suggests that it stems from the Eteocypriot word for copper. Georges Dossin, for example, suggests that it has roots in the Sumerian word for copper (zubar) or for bronze (kubar), from the large deposits of copper ore found on the island.

Through overseas trade the island has given its name to the Classical Latin word for copper through the phrase aes Cyprium, "metal of Cyprus", later shortened to Cuprum.[26] Cyprus is also known as the Island of Aphrodite, or Love[27] since according to Phoenician mythology, Astarte, goddess of love and beauty, who was later identified with the Greek goddess Aphrodite, was born on the shores of Paphos.

The standard demonym relating to Cyprus or its people or culture is Cypriot. The terms Cypriote and Cyprian are also, less frequently, used.



Ancient times

Temple to Apollon Ilatis outside the city of Limassol
Kourion Theatre outside the city of Limassol

The earliest confirmed site of human activity on Cyprus is Aetokremnos, situated on the south coast, indicating that hunter-gatherers were active on the island from around 10,000 BC,[28] with settled village communities dating from 8200 BC. The arrival of the first humans correlates with the extinction of the dwarf hippos and dwarf elephants.[29] Water wells discovered by archaeologists in western Cyprus are believed to be among the oldest in the world, dated at 9,000 to 10,500 years old.[14]

Remains of an 8-month-old cat were discovered buried with its human owner at a separate Neolithic site in Cyprus.[15] The grave is estimated to be 9,500 years old, predating ancient Egyptian civilization and pushing back the earliest known feline-human association significantly.[16] The remarkably well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating to approximately 6800 BC.[30]

The island was part of the Hittite empire during the late Bronze Age until the arrival of two waves of Greek settlement.[31] The first wave consisted of Mycenaean Greek traders, which started visiting Cyprus around 1400 BC. A major wave of Greek settlement is believed to have taken place following the Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece in the period 1100–1050 BC, with the island's predominantly Greek character dating from this period.[32][33] Cyprus occupies an important role in Greek mythology being the birthplace of Aphrodite and Adonis, and home to King Cinyras, Teucer and Pygmalion.[34] Beginning in the 8th century BC Phoenician colonies were founded on the south coast of Cyprus, near present day Larnaca and Salamis.[32]

Cyprus was ruled by Assyria for a century starting in 708 BC, before a brief spell under Egyptian rule and eventually Persian rule in 545 BC.[32] The Cypriots, led by Onesilos, king of Salamis, joined their fellow Greeks in the Ionian cities during the unsuccessful Ionian Revolt in 499 BC against the Achaemenid Empire. The revolt was suppressed without bloodshed, although Cyprus managed to maintain a high degree of autonomy and remained oriented towards the Greek world.[32] The island was brought under permanent Greek rule by Alexander the Great and the Ptolemies of Egypt following his death. Full Hellenization took place during the Ptolemaic period, which ended when Cyprus was annexed by the Roman Republic in 58 BC.

Middle Ages

Catherine Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus.

When the Roman Empire was divided into Eastern and Western parts in 395, Cyprus became part of the East Roman, or Byzantine Empire, and would remain part of it until the crusades some 800 years later. Under Byzantine rule, the Greek orientation that had been prominent since antiquity developed the strong Hellenistic-Christian character that continues to be a hallmark of the Greek Cypriot community.[32] Beginning in 649, Cyprus suffered from devastating raids launched from the Levant, which continued from the next 300 years.[32] Many were quick piratical raids, but others were large-scale attacks in which many Cypriots were slaughtered and great wealth carried off or destroyed.[32]

No Byzantine churches survive from this period, thousands were killed, and many cities, such as Salamis, were destroyed and never rebuilt.[32] Byzantine rule was restored in 965, when General Nikephoros Phokas (later Emperor) scored decisive victories on land and sea.[32] In 1191, during the Third Crusade, Richard I of England captured the island from Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus[35] He used it as a major supply base that was relatively safe from the Saracens. A year later Richard sold the island to the Knights Templar, who, following a bloody revolt, in turn sold it to Guy of Lusignan. His brother and successor Amalric was recognized as King of Cyprus by Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor.[32]

Following the death in 1473 of James II, the last Lusignan king, the Republic of Venice assumed control of the island, while his Venetian widow, Queen Caterina Cornaro reigned as figurehead. Venice formally annexed Cyprus in 1489, following the abdication of Caterina.[32] Using it as an important commercial hub, the Venetians fortified Nicosia, the current capital city in Cyprus, with its famous Venetian Walls. Throughout Venetian rule, the Ottoman Empire frequently raided Cyprus. In 1539 the Ottomans destroyed Limassol and so fearing the worst, the Venetians also fortified Famagusta and Kyrenia.[32]

During the almost four centuries of Latin rule, there existed two societies on Cyprus. The first consisted of Frankish nobles and their retinue, as well as Italian merchants and their families. The second, the majority of the population, consisted of Greek Cypriots serfs and laborers. Although a determined effort was made to supplant native traditions and culture, the effort failed.[32]

Ottoman Empire

Historic map of Cyprus by Ottoman Empire's Kaptan Pasha, Piri Reis

In 1570, a full scale Ottoman assault with 60,000 troops brought the island under Ottoman control, despite stiff resistance by the inhabitants of Nicosia and Famagusta. 20,000 Nicosians were put to death, and every church, public building, and palace was looted.[36] The previous Latin elite was destroyed and the first significant demographic change since antiquity took place when Ottoman Janissaries were settled on the island.[23]

The Ottomans abolished the feudal system previously in place and applied the millet system to Cyprus, under which non-Muslim peoples were governed by their own religious authorities. In a reversal from the days of Latin rule, the head of the Church of Cyprus was invested as leader of the Greek Cypriot population and acted a mediator between Christian Greek Cypriots and the Ottoman authorities.[36] Ottoman rule of Cyprus was at times indifferent, at times oppressive, depending on the temperaments of the sultans and local officials, and during this period the island fell into economic decline.[36]

Reaction to Ottoman misrule led to uprisings by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, although none were successful. By 1872, the population of the island had risen to 144,000 comprising 44,000 Muslims and 100,000 Christians.[37] Centuries of neglect by the Turks, the unrelenting poverty of most of the people, and the ever-present tax collectors fueled Greek nationalism, and by 19th century the idea of enosis, or union, with newly independent Greece was firmly rooted among Greek Cypriots.[36]

Modern History

In the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), administration, but not sovereignty, of the island was ceded to the British Empire in 1878 in exchange for guarantees that Britain would use the island as a base to protect the Ottoman Empire against possible Russian aggression.[32] The island would serve Britain as a key military base in its colonial routes. By 1906, when the Famagusta harbour was completed, Cyprus was a strategic naval outpost overlooking the Suez Canal, the crucial main route to India which was then Britain's most important colony. Following the outbreak of World War I and the entry of the Ottoman Empire on the side of the Central powers, the United Kingdom annexed the island in 1914.[32]

In 1915, Britain offered Cyprus to Constantine I of Greece on condition that Greece join the war on the side of the British, which he declined. In 1923, under the Treaty of Lausanne, the nascent Turkish republic relinquished any claim to Cyprus and in 1925 it was declared a British Crown Colony.[32] Many Greek Cypriots fought in the British Army during both World Wars, in the hope that Cyprus would eventually be united with Greece.[38] During World War II many enlisted in the Cyprus Regiment.

In January 1959, the Church of Cyprus organized a referendum, which was boycotted by the Turkish Cypriot community, where over 90% voted in favor of "enosis", meaning union with Greece.[39][40] Restricted autonomy under a constitution was proposed by the British administration but eventually rejected. In 1955 the EOKA organisation was founded, seeking independence and union with Greece through armed struggle. At the same time the TMT, calling for Taksim, or partition, was established by the Turkish Cypriots as a counterweight.[41] Turmoil on the island was met with force by the British.


On August 16, 1960, Cyprus attained independence after an agreement in Zürich and London between the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey. The UK retained two Sovereign Base Areas in Akrotiri and Dhekelia while government posts and public offices were allocated by ethnic quotas giving the minority Turks a permanent veto, 30% in parliament and administration, and granting the 3 mother-states guarantor rights.

In 1963 inter-communal violence broke out, partially sponsored by both "motherlands" with Turkish Cypriots being forced into enclaves and Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios III calling for unilateral constitutional changes as a means to ease tensions over the whole island. The United Nations was involved and the United Nations forces in Cyprus (UNICYP) deployed at flash points.[42]

In 1964, Turkey attempted to invade Cyprus [43] in response to the ongoing Cypriot intercommunal violence, but was stopped by a strongly worded telegram from the U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 5, 1964; who warned that the United States would not stand beside Turkey in case of a consequential Soviet invasion of Turkish territory.[44]

Current dispute

Following a coup d'état engineered by the Greek Junta, Turkey launched a full-scale military invasion of the island in 1974. The Turkish air force began bombing Greek positions on Cyprus, hundreds of paratroops were dropped in the area between Nicosia and Kyrenia, where well-armed Turkish Cypriot enclaves had been long-established, while off the Kyrenia coast 30 Turkish troop ships protected by destroyers disgorged 6,000 men as well as an array of tanks, trucks, and armored vehicles.

Three days later, when a ceasefire had been agreed, Turkey had landed 30,000 troops on the island and captured Kyrenia, the corridor linking Kyrenia to Nicosia, and the Turkish-Cypriot quarter of Nicosia. The junta in Athens, and then the Sampson regime in Cyprus fell from power. In Nicosia Glafkos Clerides assumed the presidency and constitutional order was restored; ostensibly removing the pretext the Turks gave for the invasion. The Turks used a period of negotiations to reinforce their Kyrenia bridgehead and prepare for the second phase of the invasion, which began on 14 August and resulted in the seizure of Morphou, Karpasia, Ammochostos and the Mesaoria. The Greek forces were unable to resist the Turkish advance.

International pressure led to a ceasefire at which point 37% of the island had been taken over by the Turks and 180,000 Greek Cypriots were evicted from their homes in the north. At the same time, around 50,000 Turkish Cypriots moved to the areas under the control of the Turkish Forces and settled in the properties of the displaced Greek Cypriots. In 1983 Turkish Cypriots proclaimed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which is officially recognised only by Turkey.

As of today, there are 1,534 Greek Cypriots[45] and 502 Turkish Cypriots[46] missing as a result of the fighting. The events of the summer of 1974 dominate the politics on the island, as well as Greco-Turkish relations. Around 150,000 settlers from Turkey are believed to be living in the north in violation of the Geneva Convention and various UN resolutions.[47][48] Following the invasion and the capture of its northern territory by Turkish troops, the Republic of Cyprus announced that all of its ports of entry in the north are closed, as they are effectively not under its control.

The last major effort to settle the Cyprus dispute was the Annan Plan. It gained the support of the Turkish Cypriots but was rejected by the Greek Cypriots.

In July 2006, the island served as a safe haven for people fleeing Lebanon because of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.[49]

In March 2008, a wall that for decades had stood at the boundary between the Greek Cypriot controlled side and the UN buffer zone was demolished.[50] The wall had cut across Ledra Street in the heart of Nicosia and was seen as a strong symbol of the island's 32-year division. On 3 April 2008, Ledra Street was reopened in the presence of Greek and Turkish Cypriot officials.[51]


Topographic image of Cyprus

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean (after the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia) and the world's 81st largest. It measures 240 kilometers long from end to end and 100 km wide at its widest point, with Turkey 75 km to the north. Other neighbouring territories include Syria and Lebanon to the east (105 km and 108 km, respectively), Israel 200 km to the southeast, Egypt 380 km to the south, and Greece to the west-northwest: 280 km to the small Dodecanesian island of Kastellórizo (Meyísti), 400 km to Rhodes, and 800 km to the Greek mainland.

The physical relief of the island is dominated by two mountain ranges, the Troodos Mountains and the smaller Kyrenia Range, and the central plain they encompass, the Mesaoria. The Troodos Mountains cover most of the southern and western portions of the island and account for roughly half its area. The highest point on Cyprus is Mount Olympus at 1,952 m (6,404.20 ft), located in the center of the Troodos range. The narrow Kyrenia Range, extending along the northern coastline, occupies substantially less area, and elevations are lower, reaching a maximum of 1,024 m (3,359.58 ft).

Geopolitically, the island is subdivided into four main segments. The Republic of Cyprus, the internationally recognized government, occupies the southern two-thirds of the island (59.74%). The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus occupies the northern third (34.85%) of the island and is recognized only by Turkey, as it consists of the Turkish-occupied areas. The United Nations-controlled Green Line is a buffer zone that separates the two and covers 2.67% of the island. Lastly, two bases under British sovereignty are located on the island: Akrotiri and Dhekelia, covering the remaining 2.74%.



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The Presidential Palace (Residence) in Nicosia.

Cyprus is a Presidential republic. The head of state and of the government is the President who is elected by a process of Universal suffrage for a five-year term. Executive power is exercised by the government with legislative power vested in the House of Representatives whilst the Judiciary is independent of both the executive and the legislature.

The 1960 Constitution provided for a presidential system of government with independent executive, legislative and judicial branches as well as a complex system of checks and balances including a weighted power-sharing ratio designed to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots. The executive was led by a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice president elected by their respective communities for five-year terms and each possessing a right of veto over certain types of legislation and executive decisions. Legislative power rested on the House of Representatives who were also elected on the basis of separate voters' rolls.

Following clashes between the two communities the Turkish Cypriot seats in the House remain vacant since 1965. Turkish Cypriots refused to establish the state of affairs before the invasion of Cyprus as is evident in the Secretary-General of the United Nations who said The Turkish Cypriot leaders have adhered to a rigid stand against any measures which might involve having members of the two communities live and work together, or which might place Turkish Cypriots in situations where they would have to acknowledge the authority of Government agents. Indeed, since the Turkish Cypriot leadership is committed to physical and geographical separation of the communities as a political goal, it is not likely to encourage activities by Turkish Cypriots which may be interpreted as demonstrating the merits of an alternative policy. The result has been a seemingly deliberate policy of self-segregation by the Turkish Cypriots[52] By 1974 the two communities had returned to a more tolerant state of living.[52]

In 1974 Cyprus was divided de facto into the Greek Cypriot controlled southern two-thirds of the island and the Turkish controlled northern third. The Turkish Cypriots subsequently declared independence in 1983 as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus but were recognized only by Turkey. In 1985 the TRNC adopted a constitution and held its first elections. The United Nations recognizes the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the entire island of Cyprus.

The House of Representatives currently has 59 members elected for a five year term, 56 members by proportional representation and 3 observer members representing the Armenian, Latin and Maronite minorities. 24 seats are allocated to the Turkish community but remain vacant since 1964. The political environment is dominated by the communist AKEL, the liberal conservative Democratic Rally, the centrist[53] Democratic Party, the social-democratic EDEK and the centrist EURO.KO.

On 17 February 2008 Dimitris Christofias of the AKEL was elected President of Cyprus, on AKEL's first electoral victory without being part of a wider coalition. Cyprus is currently one of only two countries in the world to have a democratically elected socialist government (the other being Nepal), and the only European Union member state under communist leadership. Christofias took over government from Tassos Papadopoulos of the Democratic Party who had been in office since February 2003.


The Republic of Cyprus is divided into six districts:[54] Nicosia, Famagusta, Kyrenia, Larnaca, Limassol and Paphos.

Map of Cyprus Districts Greek name Turkish name
Nicosia Larnaca Limassol Paphos Akrotiri Kyrenia Famagusta Dhekelia Cyprus districts.jpg
About this image
Famagusta    Αμμόχωστος (Ammochostos)    Gazimağusa   
Kyrenia Κερύvεια (Keryneia) Girne
Larnaca Λάρνακα (Larnaka) Larnaka/İskele
Lemesos Λεμεσός (Lemesos) Limasol/Leymosun
Nicosia Λευκωσία (Lefkosia) Lefkoşa
Paphos Πάφος (Pafos/Bafos) Baf/Gazibaf

Exclaves and enclaves

Pyrgos, a Greek Cypriot exclave on Morphou Bay

Cyprus has four exclaves, all in territory that belongs to the British Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia. The first two are the villages of Ormidhia and Xylotymvou. The third is the Dhekelia Power Station which is divided by a British road into two parts. The northern part is an exclave, like the two villages, whereas the southern part is located by the sea and therefore not an exclave although it has no territorial waters of its own.[55]

The UN buffer zone runs up against Dhekelia and picks up again from its east side off Ayios Nikolaos and is connected to the rest of Dhekelia by a thin land corridor. In that sense the buffer zone turns the Paralimni area on the southeast corner of the island into a de facto, though not de jure, exclave.

Pyrgos is a de facto exclave of the government-controlled part of the island. It is the only Greek Cypriot town located on the TRNC-controlled Morphou Bay.

Human rights

The constant focus on the division of the island can sometimes mask other human rights issues. Prostitution is rife in both the government-controlled and the Turkish-controlled regions leading to the government being criticised for its lack of controls[56] and for the role of Cyprus in the sex trade as one of the main destinations for human trafficking from Eastern Europe.[57] The Turkish-controlled regime has been the focus of occasional freedom of speech criticisms[58] regarding heavy-handed treatment of newspaper editors.

Domestic violence legislation remains largely unimplemented[59] and mistreatment of domestic staff, mostly immigrant workers from developing countries, are sometimes reported in the Cypriot press[60] and are the subject of several campaigns by the anti-racist charity KISA.


The Cypriot National Guard is the main military institution of the Republic of Cyprus. It is an combined arms force, with land, air and naval elements. The National Guard is a required 25 month service for all men upon completing their 18th birthday.

The land forces of the Cypriot National Guard comprise the following units:

  • First Infantry Division (Ιη Μεραρχία ΠΖ)
  • Second Infantry Division (ΙΙα Μεραρχία ΠΖ)
  • Fourth Infantry Brigade (ΙVη Ταξιαρχία ΠΖ)
  • Twentieth Armored Brigade (ΧΧη ΤΘ Ταξιαρχία)
  • Third Support Brigade (ΙΙΙη Ταξιαρχία ΥΠ)
  • Eighth Support Brigade (VIIIη Ταξιαρχία ΥΠ)

The air force includes the 449th Helicopter Gunship Squadron (449 ΜΑΕ) – operating SA-342L and Bell 206 and the 450th Helicopter Gunship Squadron (450 ME/P) – operating Mi-35P, BN-2B and PC-9. Current Senior officers include Supreme Commander, Cypriot National Guard: Lt. Gen. Konstantinos Bisbikas, Deputy Commander, Cypriot National Guard: Lt. Gen. Savvas Argyrou and Chief of Staff, Cypriot National Guard: Maj. Gen. Gregory Stamoulis.


The Cypriot economy is prosperous and has diversified in recent years.[61] According to the latest IMF estimates, its per capita GDP (adjusted for purchasing power) at $28,381 is just above the average of the European Union.[62] Cyprus has been sought as a base for several offshore businesses for its highly developed infrastructure. Economic policy of the Cyprus government has focused on meeting the criteria for admission to the European Union. Adoption of the euro as a national currency is required of all new countries joining the European Union and the Cypriot government adopted the currency on 1 January 2008.[61]

Oil has recently been discovered in the seabed between Cyprus and Egypt and talks are underway between Lebanon and Egypt to reach an agreement regarding the exploration of these resources.[63] The seabed separating Lebanon and Cyprus is believed to hold significant quantities of crude oil and natural gas.[63] However the government of Cyprus states that the Turkish Navy doesn't allow the exploration of oil in the region.[63][64]

The economy of the Turkish-occupied area (effectively a district of the Mersin Province) is dominated by the services sector which includes the public sector, trade, tourism and education with smaller agriculture and light manufacturing sectors. The economy operates on a free-market basis although it continues to be handicapped by the political isolation of Turkish Cypriots, the lack of private and governmental investment, high freight costs and shortages of skilled labor. Despite these constraints the economy turned in an impressive performance in 2003 and 2004 with growth rates of 9.6% and 11.4%. The average income in the area was $15,984 in 2008.[65] Growth has been buoyed by the relative stability of the Turkish new lira and by a boom in the education and construction sectors.

The island has witnessed a massive growth in tourism over the years and as such the property rental market in Cyprus has grown along side. Added to this is the capital growth in property that has been created from the demand of incoming investors and property buyers to the island.[66]


In Cyprus, the euro was introduced in 2008. Three different designs were selected for the Cypriot coins. The designs were chosen from entrants in a competition in 2005

The €2 coin is a legacy of an old national practice of minting silver and gold commemorative coins.

To commemorate this event, a €5 collector coin was also issued. Unlike normal issues these coins are not legal tender in all of the eurozone and so cannot be used in any other country but Cyprus.


Ethnographic map of Cyprus prior to the 1974 illegal Turkish invasion.
Population growth (numbers for the entire island, excluding in recent years some 150,000 Turkish immigrants residing in Northern Cyprus).
Population structure.

According to the first population census after the declaration of independence, carried out in December 1960 and covering the entire island, Cyprus had a total population of 573,566, with ethnic Greeks comprising 77% of the island's population and ethnic Turks 18% (other nationals accounted for the remaining 5%).[67] According to the last census covering the entire island (April 1973), the population of Cyprus was 631,778 with the ethnic Turkish community estimated at 19% of the total (about 120,000).[68]

The subsequent censuses conducted in 1976–2001 after the de facto division of the island covered only the population in the area controlled by the Republic of Cyprus government, and the number of Turkish Cypriots residing in Northern Cyprus was estimated by the Republic of Cyprus Statistical Service on the basis of population growth rates and migration data. In the last census of 2001 carried out by the Republic of Cyprus, the population in the area controlled by the government was 703,529. The number of Turkish Cypriots residing in Northern Cyprus was estimated by the Republic of Cyprus Statistical Service at 87,600, or 11% of the reported total.[68]

The latest available estimates by the Republic of Cyprus Statistical Service put the island’s population at the end of 2006 at 867,600, with 89.8% (778,700) in the government controlled area and 10.2% (88,900) Turkish Cypriots in Northern Cyprus.[68] However, the Republic of Cyprus estimate of Turkish Cypriots does not represent the total population of Northern Cyprus. In addition, the Republic of Cyprus Statistical Service also estimated that 150,000–160,000 Turkish immigrants (described as “illegal settlers” in the Republic of Cyprus Statistical Abstract 2007,[68] footnote on p. 72) were living in Northern Cyprus, bringing the de facto population of Northern Cyprus to about 250,000. This estimate produced by the Republic of Cyprus matches the results of the 2006 population census carried out by Northern Cyprus, which gives 265,100 as the total population of Northern Cyprus.[69] The total population of Cyprus is thus slightly over 1 million, comprising 778,700 in the territory controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus and 265,100 in Northern Cyprus.

Cyprus has seen major increases in the numbers of permanent citizens. Sizeable communities from Britain, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, and other Eastern European states exist. By the end of 2007, about 124,000 immigrants settled in Cyprus, the three largest groups being 37,000 Greeks, 27,000 Britons, and 10,000 Russians. The island is also home to a Maronite minority of 6,000, an Armenian minority of around 2,000, and refugees mainly from Serbia, Palestine, and Lebanon. There is also a Kurdish minority present in Cyprus.

Outside Cyprus there is a significant and thriving Cypriot diaspora in other countries, with the United States, the United Kingdom, Greece and Australia hosting the majority of migrants who left the island after the de facto division in 1974. The Cypriot population of the United Kingdom is estimated to number 150,000.

Pyla village in Larnaca District is the only settlement in Cypriot government-controlled territory with a mixed Greek and Turkish Cypriot population.


Y-Dna haplogroups are found at the following frequencies in Cyprus : J (43.07% including 6.20% J1), E1b1b (20.00%), R1 (12.30% including 9.2% R1b), F (9.20%), I (7.70%), K (4.60%), A (3.10%).[70] J, K, F and E1b1b haplogroups consist of lineages with differential distribution within Middle East, North Africa and Europe while R1 and I are typical in West European populations.


Religion in Cyprus[2]
religion percent
Greek Orthodoxy
Sunni Islam

Most Greek Cypriots are members of the autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus,[2][71][72] whereas most Turkish Cypriots are adherents of Sunni Islam. According to Eurobarometer 2005,[73] Cyprus is one of the most religious countries in the European Union, alongside Malta, Romania, Greece, and Poland. The first President of Cyprus, Makarios III, was an archbishop.

Given the special legal status of the Church of Cyprus, the country is also one of only five EU states to have an established state church, alongside Denmark (Danish National Church), Greece (Church of Greece), Malta (Roman Catholic Church) and the United Kingdom (Church of England (only in England)). In addition to the Greek Orthodox and Muslim communities, there are also small Bahá'í, Jewish, Protestant (including Pentecostal), Roman Catholic (including Latin Rite and Maronite) and Armenian Apostolic communities in Cyprus.

Hala Sultan Tekke, situated near the Larnaca Salt Lake, is considered the third holiest site in Sunni Islam[74][75][76][77][78][79][80] and an object of pilgrimage for both Muslims and Christians.[81][82]


Pancyprian Gymnasium, the oldest functioning high school in Cyprus.

Cyprus has a highly developed system of primary and secondary education offering both public and private education. The high quality of instruction can be attributed to a large extent to the above-average competence of the teachers but also to the fact that nearly 7% of the GDP is spent on education which makes Cyprus one of the top three spenders of education in the EU along with Denmark and Sweden.

State schools are generally seen as equivalent in quality of education to private-sector institutions. However, the value of a state high-school diploma is limited by the fact that the grades obtained account for only around 25% of the final grade for each topic, with the remaining 75% assigned by the teacher during the semester, in a minimally transparent way. Cypriot universities (like universities in Greece) ignore high school grades almost entirely for admissions purposes. While a high-school diploma is mandatory for university attendance, admissions are decided almost exclusively on the basis of scores at centrally administered university entrance examinations that all university candidates are required to take.

The majority of Cypriots receive their higher education at Greek, British,Turkish, other European and North American universities. It is noteworthy that Cyprus currently has the highest percentage of citizens of working age who have higher-level education in the EU at 30% which is ahead of Finland's 29.5%. In addition 47% of its population aged 25–34 have tertiary education, which is the highest in the EU. The body of Cypriot students is highly mobile, with 78.7% studying in a university outside Cyprus.



The art history of Cyprus can be said to stretch back up to 10,000 years, following the discovery of a series of Chalcolithic period carved figures in the villages of Khoirokoitia and Lempa[83] and the island is also the home to numerous examples of high quality religious icon painting from the Middle Ages.

In modern times Cypriot art history begins with the painter Vassilis Vryonides (1883–1958) who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice.[84] Arguably the two founding fathers of modern Cypriot art were Adamantios Diamantis (1900–1994) who studied at London's Royal College of Art and Christopheros Savva (1924–1968) who also studied in London, at St Martins School of Art.[85] In many ways these two artists set the template for subsequent Cypriot art and both their artistic styles and the patterns of their education remain influential to this day. In particular the majority of Cypriot artists still train in England[86] although art schools in Greece are also popular and local art institutions such as the Cyprus College of Art, University of Nicosia and the Frederick Institute of Technology are becoming more popular.

One of the features of Cypriot art is a tendency towards figurative painting although conceptual art is being rigorously promoted by a number of art “institutions” and most notably the Nicosia Municipal Art Centre [13]. Municipal art galleries exist in all the main towns and there is a large and lively commercial art scene. Cyprus was due to host the international art festival Manifesta in 2006 but this was cancelled at the last minute following a dispute between the Dutch organizers of Manifesta and the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture over the location of some of the Manifesta events in the Turkish sector of the capital Nicosia.[87][88]

Other notable Cypriot artists include Rhea Bailey, Mihail Kkasialos, Ioannis Kissonergis, Theodoulos Gregoriou, Helene Black, George Skoteinos, Kalopedis family, Nicos Nicolaides, Stass Paraskos, Arestís Stasí, Telemachos Kanthos, Konstantia Sofokleous and Chris Achilleos.


The bouzouki, the mainstay of most Cypriot folk music.

The traditional folk music of Cyprus has several common elements with Greek, Turkish, and Arabic music including Greco-Turkish dances such as the sousta, syrtos, zeibekikos, tatsia, and kartsilamas as well as the Middle Eastern-inspired tsifteteli and arapie. There is also a form of musical poetry known as chattista which is often performed at traditional feasts and celebrations. The instruments commonly associated with Cyprus folk music are the bouzouki (pictured), oud ("outi"), violin ("fkiolin"), lute ("laouto"), accordion, Cyprus flute ("pithkiavlin") and percussion (including the "toumperleki"). Composers associated with traditional Cypriot music include Evagoras Karageorgis, Marios Tokas, Solon Michaelides and Savvas Salides.

Popular music in Cyprus is generally influenced by the Greek Laïka scene with several artists including Anna Vissi, Evridiki, and Sarbel earning widespread popularity in Cyprus, Greece and parts of the Middle East. Hip Hop, R&B and reggae are also very popular genres on the island and have been supported by the emergence of Cypriot rap and the urban music scene at Ayia Napa. Cypriot rock music and Éntekhno rock is often associated with artists such as Michalis Hatzigiannis and Alkinoos Ioannidis. Metal also has a small following in Cyprus represented by bands such as Winter's Verge and Quadraphonic.


Literary production of the antiquity includes the Cypria, an epic poem, probably composed in the late seventh century BC and attributed to Stasinus. The Cypria is one of the very first specimens of Greek and European poetry.[89] The Cypriot Zeno of Citium was the founder of the Stoic philosophy. Epic poetry, notably the "acritic songs", flourished during Middle Ages. Two chronicles, one written by Leontios Machairas and the other by Voustronios, refer to the period under French domination (15th century). Poèmes d'amour written in medieval Greek Cypriot date back from 16th century. Some of them are actual translations of poems written by Petrarch, Bembo, Ariosto and G. Sannazzaro.[90]

Modern literary figures from Cyprus include the poet and writer Kostas Montis, poet Kyriakos Charalambides, poet Michalis Pasiardis, writer Nicos Nicolaides, Stylianos Atteshlis, Altheides, Loukis Akritas[91] and Demetris Th. Gotsis. Dimitris Lipertis, Vasilis Michaelides and Pavlos Liasides are folk poets who wrote poems mainly in the Cypriot-Greek dialect[92][93]. Lawrence Durrell lived in Northern Cyprus from 1952 until 26 August 1956 and wrote the book Bitter Lemons concerning his time there which won the second Duff Cooper Prize in 1957. The majority of the play Othello by William Shakespeare is set on the island of Cyprus. Cyprus also figures in religious literature such as the Acts of the Apostles according to which the Apostles Barnabas and Paul preached on the island.


Slices of fresh halloumi (hellim) cheese with mint leaves packed in the center.

Halloumi or Hellim cheese originated in Cyprus[94][95] and was initially made during the Medieval Byzantine period,[96] subsequently gaining popularity throughout the Middle-East. Halloumi (Hellim) is commonly served sliced, either fresh or grilled, as an appetiser.

Seafood and fish dishes of Cyprus include squid, octopus, red mullet, and sea bass. Cucumber and tomato are used widely in salads. Common vegetable preparations include potatoes in olive oil and parsley, pickled cauliflower and beets, asparagus and kolokassi(gölevez). Other traditional delicacies of the island are meat marinated in dried coriander, seeds and wine, and eventually dried and smoked, such as lountza (smoked pork loin), charcoal-grilled lamb, souvlaki (pork and chicken cooked over charcoal), and sheftalia (minced meat wrapped in mesentery). Pourgouri (bulgur, cracked wheat) is the traditional carbohydrate other than bread, and is used to make the Cypriot delicacy koubes.

Fresh vegetables and fruits are common ingredients in Cypriot cuisine. Frequently used vegetables include courgettes, green peppers, okra, green beans, artichokes, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and grape leaves, and pulses such as beans, broad beans, peas, black-eyed beans, chick-peas and lentils. The commonest among fruits and nuts are pears, apples, grapes, oranges, mandarines, nectarines, mespila, blackberries, cherry, strawberries, figs, watermelon, melon, avocado, lemon, pistachio, almond, chestnut, walnut, hazelnut.

Cyprus is also well-known for its desserts, including lokum, also known as Turkish Delight.[97] This island has protected geographical indication (PGI) for its lokum produced in the village of Geroskipou.[98]


Governing bodies of sport in Cyprus include the Cyprus Automobile Association, Cyprus Badminton Federation,[99] Cyprus Basketball Federation, Cyprus Cricket Association, Cyprus Football Association, Cyprus Rugby Federation and the Cyprus Volleyball Federation. Marcos Baghdatis is one of the most successful tennis players in international stage. He was a finalist at the Australian Open in 2006, and reached the Wimbledon semi-final in the same year. Also Kyriakos Ioannou a Cypriot high jumper born in Limassol achieved a jump of 2.35 m at the 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics held in Osaka, Japan, in 2007 winning the bronze medal.

Football is by far the most popular spectator sport. Notable teams include APOEL Nicosia FC, Anorthosis Famagusta FC and AC Omonia are widely considered to be the three best teams in Cypriot football history. APOEL being the first team to win 20 championship titles since 1926, and Anorthosis being the eldest club since 1911 which apart from its 13 championship titles was the pioneer for the biggest achievements of Cyprus football history in Europe as being the first Cypriot team qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2008. Other notable teams include:AEL Lemesos,Apollon FC, Aris Lemesos FC, Olympiakos Nicosia and Nea Salamina FC Famagusta. Stadiums or sports venues in Cyprus include the GSP Stadium (the largest in Cyprus), Tsirion Stadium, Makario Stadium, Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium, Ammochostos Stadium and Neo GSZ Stadium. The Cyprus Rally – which takes place in Lemesos – is also on the World Rally Championship sporting calendar.


Newspapers include Kıbrıs Gazetesi, Kıbrıs Postası, Phileleftheros, Politis (Cyprus), Simerini, Cyprus Mail, the Cyprus Observer, Famagusta Gazette, Cyprus Today, Cyprus Weekly, Financial Mirror, Haravgi, Makhi and Kathimerini (in a special Cypriot edition). TV channels include ANT1 Cyprus, Bayrak TV, Kıbrıs Genç TV, Kanal T, Alfa TV, Cyprus Avrasya TV, CNC Plus TV, Akdeniz TV, Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, Lumiere TV, Middle East Television, Kıbrıs Ada TV, Mega Channel Cyprus and Sigma TV.



Main roads of Cyprus
A1 Highway – Limassol

The Cyprus Government Railway ceased operation on the 31st December 1951, the remaining modes of transport are by road, sea, and air. Of the 10,663 km (6,626 mi) of roads in the Greek Cypriot area as of 1998, 6,249 km (3,883 mi) were paved, and 4,414 km (2,743 mi) were unpaved. As of 1996 the Turkish Cypriot area had a similar ratio of paved to unpaved, with approximately 1,370 km (850 mi) of paved road and 980 km (610 mi) unpaved. Cyprus is one of only four EU nations in which vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road, a remnant of British colonisation, the others being Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom.


Number of licensed vehicles[100]
Vehicle Category 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Private vehicles 270,348 277,554 291,645 324,212 344,953
Taxis 1,641 1,559 1,696 1,770 1,845
Rental cars 8,080 8,509 9,160 9,652 8,336
Buses 3,003 2,997 3,275 3,199 3,217
Light trucks (lighter than 40 tonnes) 107,060 106,610 107,527 105,017 105,327
Heavy trucks (over 40 tonnes) 10,882 11,182 12,119 12,808 13,028
Motorcycles (2 wheels) 12,956 14,983 16,009 16,802 16,836
Motorcycles (3 wheels) 42 41 43 55 558
Scooters 28,987 25,252 25,464 24,539 22,987
TOTAL 442,999 448,687 466,938 498,054 517,087

In 1999, Cyprus had six heliports and two international airports: Larnaca International Airport and Paphos International Airport. Nicosia International Airport has been closed since 1974 and although Ercan airport was still in use it was only for flights from Turkey. Since 2006 Ercan International Airport has been mentioned in talks between Britain, United States and the EU for direct flights, with the EU sanctioning the opening,[101] however International flights direct are still unavailable.

Public transport in Cyprus is limited to privately run bus services (except in Nicosia), taxis, and 'shared' taxi services (referred to locally as service taxis). Per capita private car ownership is the 5th highest in the world. In 2006 extensive plans were announced to improve and expand bus services and restructure public transport throughout Cyprus, with the financial backing of the European Union Development Bank. The main harbours of the island are Limassol harbour and Larnaca harbour, which service cargo, passenger, and cruise ships.


Cyta, the state-owned telecommunications company, manages most Telecommunications and Internet connections on the island. However, following the recent liberalisation of the sector, a few private telecommunications companies have emerged including MTN, Cablenet, TelePassport, OTEnet Telecom, Omega Telecomand PrimeTel.

International membership

The island nation Cyprus is member of: Australia Group, CN, CE, CFSP, EBRD, EIB, EU, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ITUC, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITU, MIGA, NAM, NSG, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO.[102][103]

International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
State of World Liberty Project State of World Liberty Index[104] 9 out of 159
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 2006[105]
Human Development Index 2004[106]
Human Development Index 2000[106]
29 out of 177
29 out of 177
29 out of 177
The Economist Worldwide Quality-of-life Index, 2005[107] 23 out of 111
University of Leicester Satisfaction with Life Index[108] 49 out of 178
Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom[109] 20 out of 157
Reporters Without Borders Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006[110]
Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2005[111]
30 out of 168
25(tied) out of 168
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2006[112]
Corruption Perceptions Index 2005[113]
Corruption Perceptions Index 2004[114]
37 out of 163
37 out of 158
36 out of 145
World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report[115] 46 out of 125
International Monetary Fund GDP per capita[116] 31 out of 180
Yale University/Columbia University Environmental Sustainability Index 2005[117] not ranked
Nationmaster Labor strikes[118] not ranked
A.T. Kearney / Foreign Policy Globalisation Index 2006[119]
Globalisation Index 2005[120]
Globalisation Index 2004[121]

not ranked

See also


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  121. ^ "A.T. Kearney/Foreign Policy Magazine Globalisation Index 2004" (PDF). A.T. Kearney/FOREIGN POLICY. 2004. Retrieved 2007-04-27. 

Further reading

  • Hitchens, Christopher (1997). Hostage to History: Cyprus from the Ottomans to Kissinger. Verso. ISBN 1-85984-189-9. 
  • Brewin, Christopher (2000). European Union and Cyprus. Eothen Press. ISBN 0-906719-24-0. 
  • Dods, Clement (ed.) (1999). Cyprus: The Need for New Perspectives. The Eothen Press. ISBN 0-906719-23-2. 
  • Durrell, Lawrence (1957). Bitter Lemons. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571201-55-5. 
  • Faustmann, Hubert and Nicos Peristianis (2006). Britain and Cyprus: Colonialism and Post-Colonialism, 1878–2006. Bibliopolis. ISBN 978-3-93392-536-7. 
  • Gibbons, Harry Scott (1997). The Genocide Files. Charles Bravos Publishers. ISBN 0-9514464-2-8. 
  • Hannay, David (2005). Cyprus: The Search for a Solution. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1-85043-665-7. 
  • Ker-Lindsay, James (2005). EU Accession and UN Peacemaking in Cyprus. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-9690-3. 
  • Ker-Lindsay, James and Hubert Faustmann (2009). The Government and Politics of Cyprus. Peter Lang. ISBN 978-3-03911-096-4. 
  • Leventis Yiorghos, (2002). Cyprus: The Struggle for Self-Determination in the 1940s. Peter Lang. ISBN 3-631-38411-4. 
  • Leventis Yiorghos, Murata Sawayanagi Nanako, Hazama Yasushi (2008). Crossing Over Cyprus. Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA) Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS). ISBN 978-4-86337-003-6. 
  • Mirbagheri, Farid (1989). Cyprus and International Peacemaking. Hurst. ISBN 1-85065-354-2. 
  • Nicolet, Claude (2001). United States Policy Towards Cyprus, 1954–1974. Bibliopolis. ISBN 3-933925-20-7. 
  • Oberling, Pierre (1982). The Road to Bellapais. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-88033-000-7. 
  • O'Malley, Brendan and Ian Craig (1999). The Cyprus Conspiracy. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1-86064-737-5. 
  • Palley, Claire (2005). An International Relations Debacle: The UN Secretary-General's Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus, 1999–2004. Hart Publishing. ISBN 1-84113-578-X. 
  • Papadakis, Yiannis (2005). Echoes from the Dead Zone: Across the Cyprus Divide. I.B. Tauris. ISBN 1-85043-428-X. 
  • Plumer, Aytug (2003). Cyprus, 1963–64: The Fateful Years. Cyrep (Lefkosa). ISBN 975-6912-18-9. 
  • Richmond, Oliver (1998). Mediating in Cyprus. Frank Cass. ISBN 0-7146-4431-5. 
  • Richmond, Oliver and James Ker-Lindsay (eds.) (2001). The Work of the UN in Cyprus: Promoting Peace and Development. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-91271-3. 
  • Tocci, Nathalie (2004). EU Accession Dynamics and Conflict Resolution: Catalysing Peace or Consolidating Partition in Cyprus?. Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-4310-7. 
  • Anastasiou, Harry (2008). Broken Olive Branch: Nationalism Ethnic Conflict and the Quest for Peace in Cyprus. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0815631960. 

External links

General information
Official publications

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Cyprus article)

From Wikitravel

Europe : Cyprus
Petra tou Romiou
Quick Facts
Capital Nicosia
Government republic
Currency euro (€1 = 100 cents)
Area 9,250 sq km (of which 3,355 sq km are in the Turkish Cypriot area)
Population 784,301 (July 2006 est.)
Language Greek, Turkish, English
Religion Greek Orthodox 78%, Muslim 18%, Maronite, Armenian Apostolic, and other 4%
Electricity 240V/50Hz (UK plug)
Calling Code +357
Internet TLD .cy
Time Zone UTC +2

Cyprus (Greek Κυπρος, Turkish Kıbrıs, [1]) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey. After Sicily and Sardinia, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Although the island lies close to the Middle East, it is considered to be a European country and is a member of the European Union.

As the two regions are nearly completely separate from a traveller's point of view, this article will concentrate on the southern territory governed by the Republic of Cyprus. This is not a political endorsement of claims by either side in the dispute. For travel information regarding North Cyprus, visit the Northern Cyprus article.


Cyprus gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1960. Despite a constitution which guaranteed a degree of power-sharing between the Greek Cypriot majority and the Turkish Cypriot minority, the two populations – with backing from the governments of Greece and Turkey, respectively – clashed vehemently in 1974, with the end result being the occupation of the northern and eastern 40% of the island by Turkey. In 1983, the Turkish-held area declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus". So far, only Turkey recognizes the TRNC, while all other governments and the United Nations recognize only the government of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island. The UN operates a peacekeeping force and a narrow buffer zone between the two Cypriot ethnic groups. Fortunately, open hostilities have been absent for some time, as the two sides (now with the growing involvement of the European Union) gradually inch towards a reunification of some sort.


Temperate; Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool winters.


Central plain with mountains to north and south; scattered but significant plains along southern coast.


Cyprus is divided into 6 administrative regions, each named for its administrative capital. Since 1974, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus administers the whole of Kyrenia district, most of Famagusta district, and the northern portion of Nicosia district. The Republic of Cyprus administers the following districts:

Famagusta district
Larnaca district
Limassol district
Nicosia district
Paphos district


Note that Cypriot cities have a variety of historical spellings and writings, all in fairly common use, and which change according to the context, whether it be Greek Cypriot, Turkish or English tourist. The following list emphasizes traditional English spellings, that will most often be encountered by the traveller.

  • Akamas Peninsula
  • Ayia Napa - in the far east of the Republic, considered by many to be the main party town of Cyprus
  • Troodos Mountains
  • Lefkara The Lace village,in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains, a charming little town with lots of character, in the heart of Cyprus.

Get in

Cyprus is a member of the Schengen Agreement but has not yet fully implemented it. For EU, EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) or Swiss citizens an officially approved ID card (or a passport) is sufficient for entry. In no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length. Others will generally need a passport for entry.

Travel to/from any other country (Schengen or not) from/to Cyprus will (as of now) result in the normal border checks.

Inquire at your travel agent, call the local consulate or embassy of Cyprus.

The visa list is already consistent with those of the Schengen countries fully implementing the agreement.

As of January 2010 only the citizens of the following non-EU/EEA/Swiss countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area; note that they must not stay longer than three months in half a year and must not work while in the EU: Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia*/**, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.

Note that

  • while British subjects with the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British Overseas Territories citizens connected to Gibraltar are considered "United Kingdom nationals for European Union purposes" and therefore eligible for unlimited access to the Schengen Area,
  • British Overseas Territories citizens without the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British subjects without the right of abode in the United Kingdom as well as British Overseas citizens and British protected persons in general do require visas.

However, all British Overseas Territories citizens except those solely connected to the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas are eligible for British citizenship and thereafter unlimited access to the Schengen Area.

Further note that

(*) Macedonian, Montenegrin and Serbian citizens need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel and

(**) Serbian citizens with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate (Serbs residing in Kosovo) still do need a visa.

By plane

Cyprus' main airport is Larnaca International Airport (LCA) and is on the outskirts of Larnaka.

The previous main international airport located SW of Nicosia is now located on the Green Line separating the Greek and Turkish parts of Cyprus - it has been out of use since 1974.

Cyprus is serviced by a variety of different carriers, the main one being the Cypriot Cyprus Airways. There are flight connections with most major European towns, e.g. London, Birmingham, Manchester, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Milan) and many Eastern European countries. Unfortunately almost all non-Cyprus Airways scheduled flights arrive and depart in the middle of the night (2/3 o'clock). There are also connections to almost all Middle Eastern capitals. There are no flights to Turkey from the south.

There are also charter flights to the western airport of Paphos.

By boat

Occasional ferries connect Cyprus to Greece. Services to Israel and Egypt have been terminated for time being, however there are 2 and 3 day cruises running in the summer months from about April to October. These mini cruises also run to Syria, Lebanon, Rhodes, the Greek Islands, The black Sea and The Adriatic. The ferry service from Greece runs from Piraeus, Rhodes and Ayios Nikolaos in Crete to Limassol. See the itinerary here: You may also catch a freighter from Italy, Portugal, Southampton and various other European ports. See Grimaldi Freighter Cruises providing you with the opportunity to bring a vehicle to Cyprus throughout the year.

There is a regular ferry service from Turkey, connecting Taşucu to Girne (north of Nicosia) .

Travelling to and from the north

Prior to Cyprus's accession to European Union, evidence of entry to Northern Cyprus resulted in denial of entry to the Greek part of Cyprus at the very least. After the accession and according to EU legislation that considers Cyprus to have been admitted in full an entry to the Turkish part is formally an entry to whole Cyprus and must therefore not result in any disadvantage to travellers from the EU. Travellers from non-EU member states (as, for instance, Turkish citizens) must enter the island via one of the legal entry points (i.e. entry points in the Southern part of the island) in order to visit the Southern part.

The Cyprus embassy in Washington on the phone (June 2006) when asked if the border is open to U.S. citizens, didn't give a 'No', but said that they recommend entering from the "legal" points in the Greek side.

Different entities and web pages claim different things. In June 2006, 4 U.S. passport holders (the writers herein) took a boat from Turkey to Northern Cyprus. On the boat there were other casual travelers planning to cross the border to take a flight back home. We were needing to get to Limassol to catch another boat. The local who gave us a ride to Ledra Palace thought we wouldn't be able to cross. The person at the gate told him that it is ok. We passed with no problems, noticing the sand bags and bullet holes on the deserted buildings. The Greek side let us in without stamping our passports and no questioning. In Limassol the woman in the passport control made a little fuss about entering from the north, but after a few minutes we got our passports back and boarded. I am not sure what this means... it is possible that Greek side won't let us in in the future. You don't have problem entering from the check points from south to north and vice versa.The only problem is that the Turkish side in the north wants to stamp the passports , as it is like you are entering a different country. The only country that is recognised by the UN is the Republic of Cyprus. The "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" is only recognised by Turkey , which actually controls the northern territory of Cyprus.

Update: As of October 2007, We (two Canadian passport holders) travelled from Tasucu, Turkey to Larnaca, Cyprus in the south. The plan was to travel to Israel which necessitated our cross from the North to South in Cyprus. While our internet research suggested that we could catch a bus, we were advised by taxi drivers at Larnaca that this was not possible. In the end, we took a taxi from Larnaca to Limassol. This took approximately 1 1/2 hours and cost 90 Cyprus pounds. Our taxi driver advised us that it could have cost up to 120 Cyprus pounds.

Our real concern was whether we would be allowed to board to boat from Limassol to Haifa, Israel. It is possible to take a boat on Louis Cruise lines which offers a 3 day cruise to "the Holy Land" that lands in Haifa. It is also possible to take this cruise one way for 178 Cyprus pounds for two people.

At Limassol, the woman at passport control was a bit confused and went into the back office but we were allowed to board the boat with no trouble and little fanfair. This is, of course, subject to change. There is no need to have the stamp in Northern Cyprus on a separate piece of paper instead of your passport as you will need to advise passport control in the south how you got into the country.

The main crossings between the south and north are:

  • Astromerits/Zodhia (by car only)
  • Agios Dometios/Kermia/Metehan
  • Ledra Palace (by foot only) - the oldest crossing, just outside the walls of old Nicosia to the west of the city
  • Pergamos/Beyarmudu
  • Strovilia near Agios Nikolaos - located at the eastern part of the island
  • Ledras Str. - the new crossing opened in 2008. Located at the old "dead-end" of the most popular street of Nicosia.

Get around

Public transportation in Cyprus is surprisingly poor, and most Cypriots drive. There are no railways in Cyprus.

By bus

As of July 2005 Cyprus' on-again, off-again intercity bus services appear to be running again. Enquire locally. It will cost CYP 0.80 for few KM ride and frequency is 30 minutes to 1 hour in limassol city.

By shared taxi

Services run every half-hour or so from 6 or 7 in the morning, but terminate at 5 or 6 PM on the dot. You can book a taxi to pick you up anywhere and ask to be dropped off anywhere in city limits; the flip side is that it will often take you longer to get in or out of the city than the journey itself! Figure on £4-6 for a taxi ride on any of these, with an increased price on Sundays and holidays. Also known as a service taxi.

By car

Car hire is the easiest (but the most expensive) way to get around the island. Cypriots drive on the left side of the road, in keeping with British and British Commonwealth practice. However, driving standards are poor. Drivers attack their art with an equal mix of aggressiveness and incompetence and view road rules as mere guidelines. Some main roads do not even have road markings and people often sound their horn, especially in Nicosia. Take care when crossing the roads, and even greater care when driving on them.

  • the many archaeological and antiquities sites scattered around the island, dating from the New Stone Age through to the Roman Empire
  • the beautiful coastline of the island - still quite unspoilt in many places - is well worth exploring
  • Nicosia, the capital as it has a wealth of history, preserved Venetian walls surrounding the city, some wonderful bars and restaurants within the old walls of the city and of course the 'green line' - the dividing line with the Turkish part of Cyprus, which cuts through the centre of Nicosia, now the only divided capital
  • the Troodos mountains, rising as high as 1952 metres, offering some beautiful trail walks and also quaint little villages such as Kakopetria, Platres and Phini. In winter there is the chance to ski there and the ski resort is being developed
Hamam Omerye, Nicosia
Hamam Omerye, Nicosia
  • Hamam Omerye in Nicosia, Cyprus is a 14th Century building restored to operate once again as a hammam for all to enjoy, relax and rejuvinate - it is indeed a place to rest. Dating back to French rule and located in the heart of Nicosia's old town is Hamam Omerye - a true working example of Cyprus' rich culture and diversity, stone struggle, yet sense of freedom and flexibility. The site's history dates back to the 14th century, when it stood as an Augustinian church of St. Mary. Stone-built, with small domes, it is chronologically placed at around the time of Frankish and Venetian rule, approximately the same time that the city acquired its Venetian Walls. In 1571, Mustapha Pasha converted the church into a mosque, believing that this particular spot is where the prophet Omer rested during his visit to Lefkosia. Most of the original building was destroyed by Ottoman artillery, although the door of the main entrance still belongs to the 14th century Lusignan building, whilst remains of a later Renaissance phase can be seen at the north-eastern side of the monument. In 2003, the [EU] funded a bi-communal UNDP/UNOPS project, "Partnership for the Future", in collaboration with Nicosia Municipality and Nicosia Master Plan, to restore the Hamam Omerye Bath, revitalising its spirit and sustaining its historical essence. The hamam is still in use today and after its recent restoration project, it has become a favourite place for relaxation in Lefkosia. In 2006 it received the Europa Nostra prize for the Conservation of Architectural Heritage.


The official languages of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish. English is very widely spoken by locals of all ages thanks to previous British rule. Other common languages spoken on the island are French, German and Russian


Since 2008, the official currency of Cyprus is the euro (€). If you have any old Cypriot pounds lying around, the Central Bank of Cyprus in Nicosia will exchange them at a rate of CYP 0.585274 per €1 until 2017.

  • Cypriot wine - the iconic local variety known as Commandaria is strong, sweet and somewhat akin to Porto wine
  • Lacework of an intricate nature - from the village of Lefkara.
  • Zivania - is a strong spirit based alcoholic drink
  • Leather goods such as shoes and handbags
  • Jewellery
  • Cypriot meze (appetizers akin to Spanish tapas) are an art form, and some restaurant serve nothing but. Meze are available in a meat variety or fish variety but quite often come as a mixed batch, which is rather pleasing.
  • Halloumi (Χαλλουμι) is a uniquely Cypriot cheese, made from a mix of cow's and sheep's milk. Hard and salty when raw, it mellows and softens when cooked and is hence often served grilled.
  • Taramosalata is traditionally made out of taramas, the salted roe of the cod or carp. The roe is either mixed with bread crumbs or mashed potatoes. Parsley, onion, lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar are added and it is seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • Tahini


There are countless hotels and hotel apartments of varying degrees of luxury within Cyprus. Some of the hotels are: Holiday Inn, Four Seasons, Le Meridien, Hilton, Elias Beach Hotel. Alternative self-catering accommodation is offered in restored traditional houses in picturesque villages all over Cyprus through the government Agrotourism initiative.


Cyprus' climate and natural advantages mean that there is always a steady supply of travellers seeking employment and residency on the island. Perhaps the biggest change that has occurred in recent years has been the accession of southern Cyprus to the European Union on 1 May 2004, opening up new employment opportunities for European citizens.

The burgeoning Cypriot tourism industry, however, means that there is a huge seasonal demand for temporary workers of most nationalities during the summer months, with a definite preference for English-speaking workers in order to service the very large numbers of British tourists. The Greek Cypriot South remains the best overall bet for jobs, as the South is where the majority of the tourist trade is located. The Turkish North is much harder to get work in as a traveller, as the local economy is in a precarious position and high local unemployment means competition for work is fierce.

Seasonal employment will most probably involve working in one of the countless bars, hotels and resort complexes of the South. Such work is usually poorly paid, but accommodation is often thrown in as some compensation and the Cypriot lifestyle usually makes up for low wages. Many holiday companies employ 'reps' (representatives) and marketing staff to assist their operations on the island - this work is usually more financially rewarding.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) is another worthwhile option, well paid though often difficult to find.

Finally, Cyprus' ongoing construction boom in tourism infrastructure results in a demand for skilled builders and tradesmen.


If you are considering an extended stay on the island, there are a number of educational courses that you can take. Popular options include Greek language courses and arts courses. Most will have a tuition fee attached, and EU nationals should not have any visa problems. If you are from outside the EU, you will need to speak to individual colleges/organisations about visa requirements. Some popular travel and learn programmes include:

  • Theatre Cyprus - A Gap-Year Theatre Training Programme [2], a Gap-Year drama programme that offers a 10 month course in Cyprus and also allows time to explore the surrounding continents (Europe, North Africa and the Middle East).
  • Tekni Art [3], also run a one year visual arts programme between September and July.



Cyprus operates on a 240 V, 50 Hz electrical system, they use both 2-pin and the 3-pin British plugs.

Stay safe

Cyprus is a remarkably safe country, with very little violent crime. Cars and houses frequently go unlocked. That said however, it is wise to be careful when accepting drinks from strangers, especially in Ayia Napa, since there have been numerous occasions of muggings. There also used to be some residual hostility towards people of Turkish origin or appearance but not anymore.

Note also that the numerous Cypriot "cabarets" are not what their name implies but rather bordels associated with organized crime.


It is best to avoid discussion of the various merits of the Greek-Turkish divide and events beginning in 1974 in some quarters. Any sully of Archbishop Makarios will be looked down upon.

  • Internet access is increasingly available in tourist centres in the guise of internet cafes and side rooms equipped with monitors. Prices vary, so shop about. 2 pounds an hour seems average, but you can do better.Many cafes now offer free wi-fi access. Most hotels and resorts now offer internet access to their guests under various arrangements.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

Simple English

Official flag
National information
National anthem: Ymnos eis tin Eleftherian (Hymn to Liberty) - (also the anthem of Greece)
About the people
Official languages: Greek, Turkish
Population: (# of people)
  - Total: 800.000 ab. (2009) (ranked 155°)
  - Density: 77,3 per km²
Geography / Places
Location of  Republic of Cyprus  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (light green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (light green)

Capital city: Nicosia
Largest city: Nicosia
  - Total: 9.251 km² (ranked 132°)
Politics / Government
Established: 1974
Economy / Money
(Name of money)
Euro € & Yeni Türk lirası (New Turkish lira)
International information
Time zone: UTC + 2
Telephone dialing code: (South Cyprus)+357 (North Cyprus)+90
Internet domain: .cy

Cyprus is a country in the Mediterranean Sea. It is a member state of the European Union. Although it is close to Asia, Cyprus is a part of Europe because of the culture and history of the people. It is an island . The capital is Nicosia. Most of the population speaks Greek, and a minority is Turkish-speaking. In July 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus and since then the north part of the island is under illegal Turkish occupation (according to the Greek government). Turkish Northern Cyprus is not recognised by any international organisation and when entering by aeroplane, a short stop must be made in an airport in mainland Turkey.

In 2004 Cyprus joined the European Union and on 1 January 2008 Cyprus adopted the Euro, the single European currency. Northern Cyprus accepts Turkish lira, and sometimes the Euro or United States Dollar.

File:Kyrenia castle
Kyrenia castle, northern Cyprus

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