World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



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Cyprus Travelling Guide
Cyprus Travelling Guide

General background: 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. UN-led talks on the status of Cyprus resumed in December 1999 to prepare the ground for meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive settlement.

Area comparative: About 0.6 times the size of Connecticut

Climate: Temperate; Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool winters

Terrain: Central plain with mountains to north and south; scattered but significant plains along southern coast.

Population: 767,314 (July 2002 est.)

Ethnic groups: Greek 85.2%, Turkish 11.6%, other 3.2% (2000)

Religions: Greek Orthodox 78%, Muslim 18%, Maronite, Armenian Apostolic, and other 4%

Language: Greek, Turkish, English

Government type: Republic

Capital: Nicosia

Legal system: Based on common law, with civil law modifications

Economic overview: Economic affairs are affected by the division of the country. The Greek Cypriot economy is prosperous but highly susceptible to external shocks. Erratic growth rates in the 1990s reflect the economy's vulnerability to swings in tourist arrivals, caused by political instability in the region and fluctuations in economic conditions in Western Europe. Economic policy is focused on meeting the criteria for admission to the EU. As in the Turkish sector, water shortages are a perennial problem; a few desalination plants are now online. The Turkish Cypriot economy has less than one-half the per capita GDP of the south. Because it is recognized only by Turkey, it has had much difficulty arranging foreign financing, and foreign firms have hesitated to invest there. It remains heavily dependent on agriculture and government service, which together employ about half of the work force. To compensate for the economy's weakness, Turkey provides substantial direct and indirect aid to tourism, education, industry, etc.

Communication/Telephone system: Excellent in both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot areas.

Places of interest: Crusader castles rub shoulders with ancient vineyards, frescoed monasteries overlook citrus orchards, and sandy, sun-soaked feet tread Roman mosaic floors.

Travel tips: If you could sneak your way past the UN guards and local toughs patrolling the Green Line, Cyprus would be two countries for the price of one. Unfortunately, this really is a country divided - since 1974, visitors have had to choose between the Turkish experience of the north and the Greek experience of the south.