Cyprus (Greek Κυπρος, Turkis 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. 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.
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...
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.
Temperate; Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool winters
Central plain with mountains to north and south; scattered but significant plains along southern coast.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Services run every half-hour or so from 6 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 £3-4 for a taxi ride on any of these.
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.
Hebrew is also widely understood, due 99% of Cypriot casinos being owned by Israelis.
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. It uses the same plugs as those employed in the UK.
Best to avoid discussion of the various merits of the Greek-Turkish divide and events beginning in 1974 in some quarters...
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.