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  • The Miscellaneous Cyprus

    Aphrodite's Rock, According to a legend, this was the birthplace of Aphrodite ©xlibber/flickr

    The beautiful sight of Aphrodite’s Rock(Petra tou Romiou), According to a legend, this was the birthplace of Aphrodite ©xlibber/flickr

    Cyprus is an island country situated on the Mediterranean. It is located south of Turkey, north of Egypt, northwest of Israel, west of Lebanon and Syria and east of Egypt.

    The capital and largest city of the country is Nicosia. The currency of Cyprus is Euro. The total area of the country is 9,251 sq km and the coastline is 648 km. It is a member of the European Union and The Commonwealth of Nations.

    The political status of the country is republic with an executive president.

    The population of the island consists of 1.300.000 people, 71% of them living in urban areas. Around 80% of the population is Greek Cypriot and 17-18% of the are Turkish Cypriot. The rest of the population are made of Armenians, Maronites, British and other European descents.

    Greek and Turkish are the two official languages of Cyprus. A former British colony, English is also widely spoken, being one of the best English speaking countries in Europe. Russian, French and German also can be heard inside the country.

    The beautiful and panoramic Agioi Anargiroi, Protaras ©Lefteris Katsouromallis/flickr

    The beautiful and panoramic Agioi Anargiroi, Protaras ©Lefteris Katsouromallis/flickr

    Cyprus is one of the most religious nation in Europe yet freedom of religion is granted and well respected. Most Greek Cypriots belong to the Cypriot Orthodox Church while most Turkish Cypriots are Sunni Islams. Small groups of Anglicans, Roman Catholics, the Armenian church and others are also present.

    The economy of the country is highly developed and stable, despite going through many tragedies throughout the centuries. The major sectors are tourism and financial services as well as agriculture, exporting mainly citrus fruits. Recently Cyprus explored and found oil and gas which augmented the countries economy.

    Cyprus for centuries was ruled by many empires like Assyria, Egypt, Macedonia, Persia, Rome and later on the Byzantine Empire, Franks, the Venetians, the Ottoman Turks and the British Empire. Because each of these empires that shaped the island, it achieved outstanding architectural legacy besides its exceptional natural landscapes, having many popular attractions. Some of the attractions are:

    • Painted Churches of Troodos Region
    • Paphos
    • Choirokoitia
    • Troodos Mountain
    • Petra Tou Romiou
    • Nissi Beach
    • Church of Saint Lazarus
    • Buyuk Han
    • Fig Tree Bay
    • Selimiye Mosque
    • Kykkos Monastery
    • Kyrenia Castle
    • Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque
    • Cape Greco
    • Stavrovouni Monastery
    • Kolossi Castle
    • Hala Sultan Tekke

    The infrastructure and transportation are excellent and modern. 70% of the roads are paved and in good shape. Cyprus has no railway.

    Like most former British colony, the traffic is on the left side. Cyprus is among the only European nations in Europe which drives on the other side along with Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom. It totally has 12.500 km of roads.

    Nissi Beach, one of the countries finest beaches ©Thulborn-Chapman Photography/flickr

    Nissi Beach, one of the countries finest beaches ©Thulborn-Chapman Photography/flickr

    Both Paphos and Larnaca has an international airport. Nicosia closed its airport in 1974.

    The major ports of Cyprus are in Limassol and Larnaca.

    The health care system is one of the finest and developed in Europe. Both public and private hospitals are widespread, all of them being well equipped. Medical care is free for low income families, displaced people and government employees and the government also proposed national insurance scheme. Cyprus has one of the lowest infant mortality in the world which is three per 1,000 live births. The life expectancy is 80 years.

    The immigration and customs are easy for members of the European Union but a bit harder for other continents. Visas are required by most Foreign visitors except for the members of the European Union. Only some food product and plant material imports are not allowed in the country.

     

    The topography of the country is very diverse yet beautiful. Appealing sandy beaches can be found on the south and scenic rugged rocky coastline on the north. The center and western part of the country is mountainous, the Troodos mountains are being situated there. Mt Olympus is the highest point of Cyprus, being 1,951 meters. The water sources are in the south. Steep slopes and narrow valleys are also present at the interior of the country.

    The climate of the country is Mediterranean with hot dry summers(June to September) and mild wet winters(November to March).

    The vegetation is vast and rich. Forests cover around 20% of Cyprus. It has over 2.000 types of flower species and subspecies. Pine Woods, some palm trees, succulents are most the common tree types in the country. It has the typical Mediterranean flora. An important animal is the agrino, a wild sheep that is protected by the state.

    The Brief History of Cyprus

    The earliest known history of Cyprus can be traced back 9.000 years. Many myths and later on history was written about Cyprus. As mentioned before, Cyprus was ruled by many empires for centuries and even millenniums thanks to its perfect location. They used the island as an important strategic base.

    Cyprus was exclusively comprised only with Greek Cypriots until the Ottoman period when many Turkish people settled on the island.

    The modern history of the country, however, starts from the year of 1878. Cyprus was part of the British Empire, leaving a great legacy for the country that still can be seen nowadays also. They achieved the island in 1878 from the Ottoman Turks, allying and agreeing with them and made it as a protectorate for the British Empire. In 1914 the British annexed totally the island and finally made it as a British Crown Colony in 1925.

    The British period served well for Cyprus, as it developed much of its infrastructure, improved its economy, injected its culture, traditions, made English(1914-1960) besides of Greek and Turkish as official language, established new institutions, laws, rights and many others that still can be seen nowadays. Many Cypriots fought in the British army in both World Wars. By time, on the other hand, most Cypriots(particularly the Greek Cypriots) started becoming disillusioned and campaigned Enosis ( a movement for union with Greece ). This period of Enosis took place between the 1930’s and 1950’s, the leader being Archbishop Makarios III.

    The United Kingdom tried to reason with the Cypriots by giving them intern self-government but they considered it as unacceptable. The EOKA, a Greek Cypriot nationalist guerilla fighters group was formed by Georgios Grivas and began attacking the British army. Meanwhile, the Turkish Resistance Organisation was also found but they supported the British and the continuation of British Rule and also for Taksim(the partition of Cyprus) . Because of the two groups opposite ideology, they were fierce enemies and bloodshed was common and widespread.

    The northern town of Kyrenia, Cyprus ©Inga Pylypiuk/flickr

    The northern town of Kyrenia, Cyprus ©Inga Pylypiuk/flickr

    The republic of Cyprus gained complete independence from the United Kingdom in 1960. However the UK still retains areas like Akrotiri and Dhekelia, being British Overseas Territory and Sovereign Base Areas. These retained areas were signed by Greece, Turkey, United Kingdom and both representatives of Cypriot communities under the treaty of peace in 1960. The main purpose of this treaty and bases is to protect the integrity and stability of Cyprus.

    Few years later, there were violent outbreaks again between the two communities and the British established the ceasefire line called “the green line” that the UN troops took succeeded.

    In 1974, there was a Greek military coup d’etat that overthrew Makarios and established an authoritarian government led by Nikos Sampson. The Greek military junta preferred Enosis. Turkey invaded the island twice and occupied the northern territory of Cyprus. Today Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey.

    Although Cyprus has de jure sovereign over the the entire island(except Dhekelia and Akrotiri), in reality Cyprus is de facto split in two parts.

    Despite all the tragedies Cyprus faced, it is one of the most unique and impressive country in the world, being a worth visit destination. It is a rich country known for having stable economy and it is also praised for its human rights, even if the country is split in two parts. The British left a significant influence on the island.

     

     

     

     

     

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