Your comprehensive travel guide to Cyprus - All in one place!
The easternmost island in the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus is an independent nation with a long and colorful past. Legend has it that Cyprus was the birthplace of Aphrodite, and it’s easy to understand why the ancients chose this appealing island to worship the Greek goddess of love. With its mild climate, beautiful beaches, forested mountains and lush green valleys, Cyprus is the ideal destination for a romantic holiday.
Lovers of history will be enchanted by the ancient attractions in Cyprus as well. The isle is peppered with archeological sites, ruins and remnants of past empires, conquerors and civilizations. Mouth-watering cuisine and modern infrastructure make a vacation in Cyprus a pleasurable experience for any traveler.
History and Government
Cyprus was the site of early Phoenician and Greek colonies. For centuries its rule passed through many hands. Cyprus became an independent nation on Aug. 16, 1960, after Greek and Turkish Cypriots agreed on a constitution, which excluded both the possibility of partition as well as of union with Greece. Makarios became the country's first president.
Fighting between Greek and Turkish Cypriots flared up in the early 1960s, and a UN peacekeeping force was sent to the island in 1965. On July 15, 1974, Archbishop Makarios was overthrown in a military coup led by the Cypriot National Guard. On July 20, Turkey invaded Cyprus, asserting its right to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority. Turkey gained control of 30% of northern Cyprus and displaced some 180,000 Greek Cypriots. A UN-sponsored cease-fire was established on July 22, and Turkish troops were permitted to remain in the north.
In 1988, George Vassiliou, a conservative and critic of UN proposals to reunify Cyprus, became president. The purchase of missiles capable of reaching the Turkish coast evoked threats of retaliation from Turkey in 1997, and Cyprus's plans to deploy more missiles in Aug. 1999 again raised Turkey's ire.
Cyprus is the eastern island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is only 40 miles south of Turkey and 60 miles west of Syria and Lebanon. The capital and largest city is Nicosia and it is the only remaining divided capital in the world. The division occurred when Turkey invaded the island in May of 1974. Other important cities are six administrative districts; Paphos, Limassol, Larnaca and Nicosia are in the south government-controlled areas. Famagusta and Keryneia are in the northern Turkish controlled area. Two mountain ranges (Troodos on the southcentral part and Kyrenia mountains run along the northern coast of the island.) traverse the island from east to west; the highest point is Mt. Olympus in the southwest.
Cyprus has an estimated population of 1.20 million in 2019. In 2001, the population was comprised of 77% Greek Cypriots, 18% Turkish and 5% other, with about 10,500 people of Russian origin in the nation. The Republic of Cyprus is also home to about 110,000 foreign permanent residents and between 10,000 and 30,000 undocumented illegal immigrants.
Nearly every Greek Cypriot is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus. The majority of Turkish Cypriots adhere to Sunni Islam. Cyprus is considered one of the most religious countries of the European Union. 95% of the population is Christian Orthodox, 1.5% is Roman Catholic, 1.0% belongs to the Church of England and 0.6% is Muslim, with just 1.3% not stating or religion or choosing another denomination.
Culture in Cyprus is divided between its two ethnic halves, both with distinct attributes and religions which remain completely separate from each other. The strengths of Greek culture rest on music, dance, poetry, visual arts and pride in a long, troubled heritage, shown in traditional celebrations and festivals linked with Greek Orthodox saints’ days and similar events.
Food and Drink
All over the world-famous Moussaka is the traditional food of Cyprus and Greece. It is made with mince meat (normally lamb) courgettes, aubergines, potatoes and covered with a thick bechamel sauce.
Cyprus Food also includes popular dishes of roast lamb, pork, chicken and fish served with potatoes, pasta, rice and pulses (beans, lentils etc) which are often very simple and easy to cook. One such dish is fassoulia yiahni.
Cyprus Festivals on the island of love are full of wine, music, greek drama and fun and something the entire family will enjoy. Among famous festivals are Carnival, Kataklysmos (Festival of the Flood), Anthestiria (the Spring Flower festival), Panigiri (saint’s name day).
Greek Orthodox Easter and Christmas are important religious festivals celebrated by in all towns. The major festival at Christmas is held in Nicosia in Eleftheria (Freedom) Square.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Cyprus is from March until November when you will have a pleasant till hot temperature and limited rainfall. The highest average temperature in Cyprus is 36°C in August and the lowest is 16°C in January. In summer the weather and climate of Cyprus are suitable for a sun vacation.