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Quick Facts
CapitalNicosia
Governmentrepublic
CurrencyGreek Cypriot area: Cypriot pound (CYP)
Areatotal: 9,250 sq km (of which 3,355 sq km are in the Turkish Cypriot area)
water: 10 sq km
land: 9,240 sq km
Population767,314 (July 2002 est.)
LanguageGreek, Turkish, English
ReligionGreek Orthodox 78%, Muslim 18%, Maronite, Armenian Apostolic, and other 4%
Country Calling Code+357
Internet TLD.cy

Cyprus (Greek ??????, Turkis K?br?s) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey. After Sicily and Sardinia, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. While the island lies close to the Middle East, because of its large Greek population, it is considered to be a European country and is a member of the European Union.

Understand

Cyprus since 1974 is a divided nation with the western and more southern part of the island, which is under Greek Cypriot control, known as the Republic of Cyprus (internationally recognised), while the Turkish Cypriot area, in the northern and eastern part of the island, refers to itself as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC, recognised only by Turkey). The United Nations operates a peacekeeping force on the island between the two Cypriot ethnic groups. Hostilities are currently absent and have been for some time, as the two sides (now with the growing involvement of the European Union) gradually inch towards a reunification of some description...

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. Information on travelling in the northern Turkish-Cypriot region can be found under Northern Cyprus. This is not a political endorsement of claims by either side in the dispute.

History

Independence from the UK was approved in 1960 with constitutional guarantees by the Greek Cypriot majority to the Turkish Cypriot minority. In 1974, a Greek-sponsored attempt to seize the government was met by military intervention from Turkey, which soon controlled almost 40% of the island. In 1983, the Turkish-held area declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus", but it is recognized only by Turkey.

Climate

Temperate; Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool winters

Terrain

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

highest point 
Olympus 1,951 m

Cities

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 emphasises traditional English spellings, that will most often be encountered by the traveller

  • Nicosia (also Nikosia, Lefkosia)
  • Larnaca Larnaka
  • Limassol Lemesos
  • Paphos Pafos
  • Vasilikos

Other destinations

  • Ayia Napa - in the far east of the Republic, considered by many to be the party capital of Cyprus
  • Akamas Peninsula
  • Troodos Mountains
  • Karpas Peninsula

Get in

As Cyprus is a member state of the European Union most travellers from European and North American countries won't need a visa for entry. European Union citizens can enter with a valid identity card, too.

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 the non-visa traveller. Travellers who need a visa for Cyprus (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.

By plane

Southern Cyprus' main airport is Larnaca International Airport, located on the outskirts of Larnaka.

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

By boat

Occasional ferries connect Cyprus to Greece. Services to Israel and Egypt have been terminated for time being.

Get around

Public transportation in Cyprus is surprisingly poor, and most Cypriots drive.

By bus

As of July 2005 Cyprus' on-again, off-again intercity bus services appear to be running again. Enquire locally.

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 increaed price on Sundays and holidays. Also known as a service taxi. Provided only by mainland Greek (i.e. Athenian), but they are mutually intelligible.

Cyprus' close historic links with the United Kingdom and large numbers of British tourists mean that English is very widely spoken (and well), especially in the Greek-Cypriot South. It has become an unspoken status symbol and point of honour among Cypriots to be able to communicate well in English.

Other common languages spoken on the island are French, German and especially - with large numbers of Russian and businessmen - Russian.

Buy

  • Cypriot wine - the iconic local variety known as Commandaria is strong, sweet and somewhat akin to port wine
  • Lacework of an intricate nature - from the village of Lefkara.

Eat

Cypriot food bears a distinct resemblance to Greek cooking, and uses lemons and olives extensively.

  • Cypriot meze (appetizers akin to Spanish tapas) are an art form, and some restaurant serve nothing but.
  • Halloumi (????????) 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.

Drink

Ouzo

Zinvania

Sleep

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Work

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.

Cope

Electricity

Cyprus operates on a 240 V, 50 Hz electrical system. It uses the same plugs as those employed in the UK.

Stay safe

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Respect

Best to avoid discussion of the various merits of the Greek-Turkish divide and events beginning in 1974 in some quarters...

Contact

Internet

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. Most hotels and resorts now offer internet access to their guests under various arrangements.

External links