Cyprus Kypros - Kibris
Temple of Apollo near Limassol
The quick travel guide to Cyprus and Nicosia
The island nation of Cyprus is located in the eastern Mediterranean 75 km to the south of Turkey. Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean and is 240 km long and around 100 km at the widest point. Much of the island is dominated by two mountain ranges - the Troodos Mountains which lie to the south of the island and the Kyrenia Range along the north east coast. At the heart of the island is the central plain known as the Mesaoria. The highest point on Cyprus is Mount Olympus at 1,952 m, located in the centre of the Troodos range. The highest point of the Kyrenia Range, is 1,024 m.
The population of Cyprus is 725,000 and is made up of Greek Cypriot 81%, Turkish Cypriot 19%. The capital is Nicosia with a population of 175,00 it is located near the centre of the country. The Republic of Cyprus is in effect 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, which calls itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, covering about 37% of the island's area and recognized only by Turkey. 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 official languages are Greek and Turkish and English is widely spoken.
Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate along the coast and semi-arid climate around the capital Nicosia with long, hot and dry summers. Winters are relatively mild with rain between mostly December and February. The temperature in Nicosia can rise to 37C in summer and drop to 5C in the winter months. Snow is possible in the Troodos mountains.
Cyprus was occupied by settlers from Greece some 3000 years ago. It was occupied by the Egyptian and Persian empires some time before 500BC.The island became part of the Roman Empire in 58BC. 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.
More recently 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. 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. 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. Many Greek Cypriots fought in the British Army during both World Wars, in the hope that Cyprus would eventually be united with Greece. 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 favour of "enosis", meaning union with Greece. On August 16, 1960, Cyprus attained independence after an agreement in Zürich and London between the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey. The UK retained the two Sovereign Base Areas of 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 (UNFICYP) deployed at flash points. In 1964, Turkey attempted to invade Cyprus 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.
At the present time Cyprus is divided into six districts: Nicosia, Famagusta, Kyrenia, Larnaca, Limassol and Paphos. The currency is the Euro from January 2008.
Map of Cyprus
Interactive map of Cyprus
Guide to Europe
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