Introduction to Cyprus
A “jewel” of a Mediterranean island and the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, the island of Cyprus combines a rich cultural and archaeological heritage with great natural beauty and a welcoming population.
Cyprus is a small European island country located in the north-eastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea. The geography of Cyprus includes the central plain, the Mesaoria Plain, which is bordered by the Kyrenia and Pentadactylos mountains to the north, and the Troodos mountain range to the south and west. There are also scattered, but significant, plains along the southern coast.
Cyprus is endowed with golden beaches boasting clear blue waters, pine-scented forests and a superb climate. It is the sunniest country in Europe with over 300 days of sun annually. The environment is one of the healthiest in the world according to the World Health Organization and is relatively unspoiled by industrialization.
The Cyprus economy is booming and political stability has been firmly established for over thirty years. In May 2004, the Republic of Cyprus became a member of the European Union (EU). As one of the region's leading business centres, the island enjoys advantages in tourism, consultancy, shipping, telecommunications, banking, and insurance. Crime and violence are rare by US and European standards.
Cypriots have been famous since antiquity for their hospitality and the warm and friendly welcome they extend to visitors. Due to the geographic separation of the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities following the Turkish invasion in 1974, the Greek language now predominates in the south and Turkish in the occupied north. However, English is widely understood on both sides of the island, especially among the younger generations.
Cyprus is known for the vast amount of foreigners from all over the world that travel here to live, as well as, for vacation. This has also contributed to the continuation of English as a semi-official language.
Reflecting the two dominant populations, Cypriot cuisine has evolved as a fusion of Greek and Turkish cuisine with local twists to well known dishes. Further influences are evident from neighbouring countries, namely Arabic and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Cyprus also has intriguing historical locations such as the legendary site of Aphrodite's birthplace which is close to the coastal cliffs near Pafos. She was the goddess of beauty and love. The ruins of ancient Salamis near Famagusta, the Kourion theatre outside the city of Lemesos, the Kolossi Castle, and the Centaur floor mosaic in Pafos are just a few other examples of great places to see.
Since the dawn of recorded history, Cyprus has been one of the most sought-after areas of the region. Ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans, along with Crusaders, Byzantines, Franks and Ottomans, have all left a remarkable legacy for the modern visitor to explore.