Cyprus is the 3rd largest island of the eastern Mediterranean, attracting 2.4 million tourists annually.  Situated south of Turkey and west of Syria, Lebanon and Israel, east of Greece and Europe, it is in a strategic location and has attracted many invaders over the years.  A variety of nationalities flock here as it is the gateway between Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.  Cyprus has two international airports and a seaport and excellent connections with the rest of the world.  With relics from its colonial days it feels very familiar to the many expatriates that live here.

Cyprus has been conquered by the Persians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Romans, Venetians, Ottomans and British.  Such is its beauty that at one stage Mark Anthony gave Cyprus as a gift to his lover Cleopatra.  A former British colony, it became an independent republic in 1960 but many colonial remnants remain such as the banking and legal systems and the convenient fact that we drive on the left side of the road.  Many people here speak English, especially in the tourist areas, and all road signs are displayed in Greek and English.  We have been a member of the European Union since 1st May, 2004 and we use the Euro currency.

In 1974, after 11 years of civil unrest between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots and an attempted coup by Greek Cypriot nationalists backed by the Greek military junta in Athens, Turkey invaded and occupied 37% of the island.  The Turkish military intervention was secretly backed by the United States and NATO.  This led to the displacement of thousands of Cypriots and the establishment of a separate Turkish-Cypriot political entity in the north.  This event and the resulting political situation are matters of continuing dispute.

The Republic of Cyprus, the internationally-recognised state, has 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 island is partitioned into four main parts:

  • the free (unoccupied) area of Cyprus, comprising about 59% of the island's area in the south;
  • the Turkish-occupied area of Northern Cyprus, covering about 37% of the island's area and recognised only by Turkey;
  • the United Nations-controlled Green Line, separating the two areas previously mentioned and covering about 3% of the island's area; and
  • two British Sovereign Base Areas (Akrotiri and Dhekelia), covering about 3% of the island's area.
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