|Population||784,301 (July 2006 est.)|
|Electricity||240V/50Hz (UK plug)|
|Time zone||UTC +2|
Cyprus (Greek Κύπρος, 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. It is geographically part of Asia.
Three states occupy the island: the Republic of Cyprus (a member of the European Union) is a state with wide international recognition. However it only controls territory in the south. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus acts as a de facto separate country. The British military base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, while legally separate from either republic, have open borders with the Republic of Cyprus.
Cyprus gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1960. Despite a constitution which guaranteed a degree of power-sharing between the Greek Cypriot majority and the Turkish Cypriot minority, the two populations – with backing from the governments of Greece and Turkey, respectively – clashed vehemently in 1974, with the end result being the occupation of the northern and eastern 40% of the island by Turkey. In 1983, the Turkish-held area declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus". So far, only Turkey recognizes the TRNC, while all other governments and the United Nations recognize only the government of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island. The UN operates a peacekeeping force and a narrow buffer zone between the two Cypriot ethnic groups. Fortunately, open hostilities have been absent for some time, as the two sides (now with the growing involvement of the European Union) gradually inch towards a reunification of some sort.
Temperate; Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters.
Central plain with mountains to north and south; scattered but significant plains along southern coast.
Cyprus is divided between two distinct cultures of Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Cyprus is divided into 6 administrative regions, each named for its administrative capital. Since 1974, the whole of Kyrenia district, most of Famagusta district, and the northern portion of Nicosia district are occupied by Turkish forces. The Turkish Cypriot community administers those areas. The Republic of Cyprus administers the following 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 emphasizes traditional English spellings, that will most often be encountered by the traveller.
- Nicosia (also Nikosia, Lefkosia "Lefkosa") - the divided capital
- Larnaca Larnaka
- Limassol Lemesos "Limasol"
- Paphos Pafos "Baf"
- Akamas Peninsula
- Ayia Napa - in the far east of the Republic, considered by many to be the main party town of Cyprus
- Troodos Mountains
- Lefkara The Lace village,in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains, a charming little town with lots of character, in the heart of Cyprus.
Minimum validity of travel documents
Cyprus is a member of the Schengen Agreement although has yet to fully implemented it. For EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) citizens, an officially approved ID card (or a passport) is sufficient for entry. Other nationalities will generally require a passport for entry.
Travel to/from any other country (Schengen or not) from/to Cyprus will (as of now) result in the normal immigration checks, although customs checks will be waived when travelling to/from another EU country.
Inquire with your travel agent or with the the local embassy or consulate of Cyprus.
Only the nationals of the following non-EU/EFTA countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area: Albania*, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia*/**, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan*** (Republic of China), United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.
These non-EU/EFTA visa-free visitors may not stay more than 90 days in a 180 day period in the Schengen Area as a whole and, in general, may not work during their stay (although some Schengen countries do allow certain nationalities to work – see below). The counting begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving one Schengen country for another. However, New Zealand citizens may be able to stay for more than 90 days if they only visit particular Schengen countries – see the New Zealand Government's explanation.
If you are a non-EU/EFTA national (even if you are visa-exempt, unless you are Andorran, Monégasque or San Marinese), make sure that your passport is stamped both when you enter and leave the Schengen Area. Without an entry stamp, you may be treated as an overstayer when you try to leave the Schengen Area; without an exit stamp, you may be denied entry the next time you seek to enter the Schengen Area as you may be deemed to have overstayed on your previous visit. If you cannot obtain a passport stamp, make sure that you retain documents such as boarding passes, transport tickets and ATM slips which may help to convince border inspection staff that you have stayed in the Schengen Area legally.
- British subjects with the right of abode in the United Kingdom, and British Overseas Territories citizens connected to Gibraltar, are considered "United Kingdom nationals for European Union purposes" and therefore eligible for unlimited access to the Schengen Area.
- British Overseas Territories citizens without the right of abode in the United Kingdom, and British subjects without the right of abode in the United Kingdom, as well as British Overseas citizens and British protected persons in general, do need visas.
However, all British Overseas Territories citizens except those solely connected to the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas are eligible for British citizenship and thereafter unlimited access to the Schengen Area.
Note also that
(*) nationals of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel.
(**) Serbian nationals with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate (residents of Kosovo with Serbian passports) do need a visa.
(***) Taiwan nationals need their ID number to be stipulated in their passport to enjoy visa-free travel.
Cyprus' main airport is Larnaca International Airport (LCA) and is 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 cities, e.g. London, Birmingham, Manchester, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Milan) and many Eastern European countries. There are also connections to almost all Middle Eastern capitals. There are no flights to Turkey from the south.
There is a frequent and cheap (€1.50) public bus connection from the airport into central Larnaca, but it is poorly indicated. The bus stop is at the departure hall level (upstairs) and shows a sign with a series of three digit bus numbers. Buses go to "Finikoudes", at the beach in Larnaca where buses to other distinatons in Cyprus leave (see "getting around" section).
There is also a direct Larnaca Airport - Nicosia, Nicosia - Larnaca Airport Bus service provided by Kapnos Airport Shuttle. The journey takes around 30-45 minutes (depending on the traffic and the hour), and a one way ticket costs €8 per person. There are bus routes throughout the night. More information about the service and the timetable can be found at the bus service website: http://www.kapnosairportshuttle.com .
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 the time being; however, there are 2 and 3 day cruises running in the summer months from about April to October and they take passengers one way between Israel and Cyprus. These mini cruises also run to Syria, Lebanon, Rhodes, the Greek Islands, The Black Sea and The Adriatic. The ferry service from Greece runs from Piraeus, Rhodes and Ayios Nikolaos in Crete to Limassol. See the itinerary here: You may also catch a freighter from Italy, Portugal, Southampton and various other European ports. See Grimaldi Freighter Cruises providing you with the opportunity to bring a vehicle to Cyprus throughout the year.
There is a regular ferry service from Turkey, connecting Taşucu to Girne (north of Nicosia) .
Traveling 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 travelers from the EU. Travelers 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. But there are recent (2012) examples of people entering Northern Cyprus from Turkey, crossing the border without any problems, although it was noticed when leaving Cyprus.
The main crossings between the south and north are:
- Astromerits/Zodhia (by car only)
- Agios Dometios/Kermia/Metehan
- Ledra Palace (by car or foot) - the oldest crossing, just outside the walls of old Nicosia to the west of the city
- Strovilia near Agios Nikolaos - located at the eastern part of the island
- Ledras Str. (foot only) - the new pedestrian crossing opened in 2008. Located at the old "dead-end" of the most popular street of Nicosia.
In 2012, crossing the green line is very simple. The "visa form" to be completed is very basic (barely usable as a souvenir!) and requires only the name, the nationality and the passport (or identity card) number to be entered. Then it is stamped, and the whole procedure should take no more than three minutes. Upon return, it is stamped again.
Public transportation in Cyprus has been revamped with all new buses in Nicosia. Still, most Cypriots drive. There are no railways in Cyprus.
Bus Routes all over Cyprus
Lefkosia: http://www.osel.com.cy Lemesos: http://www.limassolbuses.com Pafos: http://www.pafosbuses.com Larnaka: http://www.zinonasbuses.com Ammochostos: http://www.oseabuses.com Intercity Routes: http://www.intercity-buses.com Entire Cyprus: http://www.cyprusbybus.com/
Intercity buses ("green buses") are reliable, comfortable and comparatively cheap, and quite frequent since the renovations in 2010. Note that Larnaca does not really have a bus station. Green buses stop near the beach at Finikoudes.
On the Turkish side, buses are more frequent (and smaller). In Nicosia, they depart from stops at the street north of the northern gate. Prices are similar to prices on the Greek side of Cyprus. Beware that return tickets may not be valid on all buses on the Turkish side.
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 increased price on Sundays and holidays. Also known as a service taxi.
Car hire is the easiest (but the most expensive) way to get around the island. Companies will typically not rent cars for fewer than three days, although some international vendors (Budget) will offer one or two day service for a high fee. Renting in advance can be beneficial as walk-in options are obviously limited to available cars. Cypriots drive on the left side of the road, in keeping with British and British Commonwealth practice. However, driving standards are poor. Drivers attack their art with an equal mix of aggressiveness and incompetence and view road rules as mere guidelines. Some main roads do not even have road markings and people often sound their horn, especially in Nicosia. Take care when crossing the roads, and even greater care when driving on them. Highways are generally of excellent condition and quite traversable, but other roads vary greatly in quality. As with surrounding countries, rental cars frequently use diesel fuel and manual transmission rentals are cheaper than automatic transmission, although not typically only by a few euro.
Even in hot weather it is advisable to keep the drivers window of the car closed. This is because truck drivers often flick lit cigarette ends out of their windows. Although a long time has elapsed since the event the writer was warned of the danger. (a motorist was killed when he lost control after a lit cigarette end went in his eye)
- the many archaeological and antiquities sites scattered around the island, dating from the New Stone Age through to the Roman Empire
- the beautiful coastline of the island - still quite unspoilt in many places - is well worth exploring
- Nicosia, the capital as it has a wealth of history, preserved Venetian walls surrounding the city, some wonderful bars and restaurants within the old walls of the city and of course the 'green line' - the dividing line with the Turkish part of Cyprus, which cuts through the centre of Nicosia, now the only divided capital
- the Troodos mountains, rising as high as 1952 metres, offering some beautiful trail walks and also quaint little villages such as Kakopetria, Platres and Phini. In winter there is the chance to ski there and the ski resort is being developed
- Paphos harbor and archeological park. Nearby Rock of Aphrodite can be a beautiful scene for picnics
- Hamam Omerye in Nicosia, Cyprus is a 14th Century building restored to operate once again as a hammam for all to enjoy, relax and rejuvenate - it is indeed a place to rest. Dating back to French rule and located in the heart of Nicosia's old town is Hamam Omerye - a true working example of Cyprus' rich culture and diversity, stone struggle, yet sense of freedom and flexibility. The site's history dates back to the 14th century, when it stood as an Augustinian church of St. Mary. Stone-built, with small domes, it is chronologically placed at around the time of Frankish and Venetian rule, approximately the same time that the city acquired its Venetian Walls. In 1571, Mustapha Pasha converted the church into a mosque, believing that this particular spot is where the prophet Omer rested during his visit to Lefkosia. Most of the original building was destroyed by Ottoman artillery, although the door of the main entrance still belongs to the 14th century Lusignan building, whilst remains of a later Renaissance phase can be seen at the north-eastern side of the monument. In 2003, the [EU] funded a bi-communal UNDP/UNOPS project, "Partnership for the Future", in collaboration with Nicosia Municipality and Nicosia Master Plan, to restore the Hamam Omerye Bath, revitalising its spirit and sustaining its historical essence. The hamam is still in use today and after its recent restoration project, it has become a favourite place for relaxation in Lefkosia. In 2006 it received the Europa Nostra prize for the Conservation of Architectural Heritage.
The official languages of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish. Greek is spoken predominately in the south and Turkish is spoken predominately in the north. English is very widely spoken by locals of all ages because of previous British rule. Other common languages spoken on the island are French, German and Russian.
Cyprus uses the euro (€, EUR) as its money. It is one of 23 European countries that use this common European currency: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain (which are all eurozone countries of the European Union or EU) together with the six non-EU members Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican that also solely use euros but have no say in eurozone affairs. These 23 countries together have a population of more than 330 million.
One euro is divided into 100 cents. Except for Kosovo and Montenegro, all issue their own coins with a distinctive, national face. However, all the coins' obverse looks the same, as do all bills or banknotes and all are legal tender in all 23 countries.
If you have any old Cypriot pounds lying around, the Central Bank of Cyprus in Nicosia will exchange them at a rate of CYP 0.585274 per €1 until 2017.
Northern Cyprus uses Turkish lira (TRY). Euros are generally also accepted in the tourist centres, but at the unfavourable rate of €1 buying 2 TRY rather than ~2.4 TRY. There are many ATMs in the North too.
Things to buy
- Cypriot wine - the iconic local variety known as Commandaria is strong, sweet and somewhat akin to Porto wine
- Lacework of an intricate nature - from the village of Lefkara.
- Zivania - a strong spirit based alcoholic drink
- Filfar - the traditional Cyprus orange liqueur
- Leather goods such as shoes and handbags
- Cypriot meze (appetizers akin to Spanish tapas) are an art form, and some restaurant serve nothing but. Meze are available in a meat variety or fish variety but quite often come as a mixed batch, which is rather pleasing.
- Kleftiko roasted lamb with flavours of herbs and lemon.
- Halloumi (Χαλλούμι) 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.
- Taramosalata is traditionally made out of taramas, the salted roe of the cod or carp. The roe is either mixed with bread crumbs or mashed potatoes. Parsley, onion, lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar are added and it is seasoned with salt and pepper.
There are countless hotels and hotel apartments of varying degrees of luxury within Cyprus. Some of the hotels are: Kefalos Beach Tourist Village, Holiday Inn, Le Meridien, Hilton, Elias Beach Hotel. Alternative self-catering accommodation is offered in restored traditional houses in picturesque villages all over Cyprus through the government Agrotourism initiative.
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 traveler, 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.
If you are considering an extended stay on the island, there are a number of educational courses that you can take. Popular options include Greek language courses and arts courses. Most will have a tuition fee attached, and EU nationals should not have any visa problems. If you are from outside the EU, you will need to speak to individual colleges/organisations about visa requirements. Some popular travel and learn programmes include:
- Theatre Cyprus - A Gap-Year Theatre Training Programme , a Gap-Year drama programme that offers a 10 month course in Cyprus and also allows time to explore the surrounding continents (Europe, North Africa and the Middle East).
- Tekni Art , also run a one year visual arts programme between September and July.
Beware that Greek Cyprus celebrates Easter on different dates than Western Europe, in most years. On Easter Sunday, many museums etc. are closed, and buses run reduced services in some places even until Easter Tuesday.
Cyprus operates on a 230 V, 50 Hz electrical system using the BS-1363 3-pin British plugs. Europlug adapters are widely available in local stores.
Cyprus is a remarkably safe country, with very little violent crime. Cars and houses frequently go unlocked. That said however, it is wise to be careful when accepting drinks from strangers, 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 1963 in some quarters. Any sully of Archbishop Makarios will be looked down upon.
- Internet access is increasingly available in tourist centres in the guise of Internet cafés and side rooms equipped with monitors. Prices vary, so shop about. €2 an hour seems average, but you can do better. Many cafés now offer free wi-fi access and hotels and resorts often offer Internet access to their guests.