Cyprus (Greek Κυπρος, Turkish Kıbrıs, ) 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.
Cyprus since 1974 is a divided nation with the western and more southern part of the island, which is under Greek Cypriot the control of the Republic of Cyprus (internationally recognised), while the Turkish occupied 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...
Independence from the UK was achieved in 1960 with constitutional guarantees by the Greek Cypriot majority to the Turkish Cypriot minority. In 1974, Turkey unilaterally invaded Cyprus, and has since occupied 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.
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 district carries the name of its administrative capital. Following the Turkish Invasion in 1974, and the division of the island, the republic of Cyprus has no effective control over the whole of the Kyrenia and parts of the Famagusta districts.
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
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.
Cyprus' main airport is Larnaca International Airport (LCA) and is located 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.
Occasional ferries connect Cyprus to Greece. Services to Israel and Egypt have been terminated for time being. There is a regular ferry service from Turkey, connecting Taşucu to Girne (north of Nicosia) . See Northern Cyprus page for details.
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 Cyprus" is only recognised by Turkey , which actually controls the northern territory of Cyprus.
The main crossings between the south and north are:
A sixth crossing, on Ledra Street in the centre of Nicosia, could open up soon as the wall across the street was dismantled by the Republic of Cyprus authorities on 9 March, 2007.
Public transportation in Cyprus is surprisingly poor, and most Cypriots drive.
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 30M to 1 Hr in limassol city.
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 Travel & Express.
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.
The official languages of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish, although in practice Turkish is no longer spoken in the south. Cypriot Greek differs quite significantly from 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.
Cypriot food bears a distinct resemblance to Greek cooking, and uses lemons and olives extensively.
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.
Cyprus operates on a 240 V, 50 Hz electrical system..
Cyprus is a remarkably safe county, with very little violent crime. Cars and houses frequently go unlocked. That said however, it is wise to be careful when accepting drinks from stangers, especially in Ayia Napa, since there have been numerous occasions of muggings. Note also that the numerous Cypriot "cabarets" are not what their name implies but rather brothels 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 and punishments may be put into place.
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.