Cyprus is a country of Europe
with a surface area of 9,251 km² (density of 121.12 inhab./km²). The population of Cyprus is 1,120,489 inhabitants in the last census.The capital of Cyprus is the city of Nicosia which has 206,200 inhabitants. The president of the unitary presidential constitutional republic is Dimítris Khristófias.
Cyprus or Republic of Cyprus is a European state located in the Mediterranean Sea, on the eponymous island. The country is a member of the European Union, the UN and the Commonwealth. Since 1974, the island has been split into two parts. Indeed, the north has detached itself from the Cypriot Republic to form the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which is not recognized by the international community.
Cyprus at a glance
Republic, Commonwealth member
Capital city: Nicosia
Administrative divisions: 6 districts or eparchies
Population: more than 1.1 million inhabitants
Main languages: Greek and Turkish
Main religion: Orthodox Christianity
Current President: Nikos Anastasiádis
Tourism: no restriction
A European island off the Middle East
The Republic of Cyprus occupies a large part of the island of the same name located in the Levantine Basin (Eastern Mediterranean). Although located off the coast of Turkey, Syria, Israel and Lebanon, in the Asian part of the Mediterranean, the island is considered European because of its culture and history.
With just over 9,250 km² and 648 kilometers of coastline, Cyprus is the third largest Mediterranean island.
The island is mountainous and its highest peak, Mount Olympus, culminates at 1,951 meters above sea level in the Troodos massif which occupies the entire center of the southern part of Cyprus. This region is particularly popular with tourists who discover many villages clinging to the mountainsides and monasteries in almost inaccessible "eagle nests" including the Kykkos monastery founded in the 11th century. It is also in this massif that tourists can enjoy the pleasures of winter sports on the 15 ski slopes open from January to March.
A second mountain range extends in the northern part of the island, the Kyrenia range, culminating at 1024 meters above sea level and separated from the Troodos by the Plaine de la MÃ © r6dee, an essentially agricultural region. Numerous castles built by the Byzantines from the 10th century recall the strategic position of the island in the Mediterranean.
The country is very arid because of the lack of permanent lakes and streams and despite the establishment of desalination systems for seawater.
Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers from May to October and wetter and colder winters, regular rains from November to January and snowfall in the Troodos Mountains. The summers are more bearable along the coast thanks to the sea breeze, while temperatures often reach 36 ° in the plain of the Mesaoria due to its enclavement between the mountains.
Although formerly the island of Cyprus was almost entirely covered by coniferous and deciduous forests, it has largely given way to shrubs, grazing areas, herbaceous and scrubland. The wildlife consists largely of endemic or migratory birds, reptiles and sheep, a symbol of the island. Cyprus is also home to colonies of turtles laying their eggs in the sandy beaches.
The birthplace of Aphrodite
The legend tells that the goddess Aphrodite was born off Cyprus, a bubbling of foam and, charmed by the beauty of the island, would have made her dwelling of it.
Less poetic but closer to reality, the settlement of Cyprus probably began during the pre-ceramic Neolithic, a period of prehistory of the Near East extending from the 11th to the 9th millennium BC. At that time, men became sedentary and lived on hunting but also on agriculture.
The first cities
Towards the 3rd millennium, several cities developed along the coasts and the excavations of necropolises made it possible to discover very beautiful anthropomorphic and zoomorphic potteries, witnesses of the opulence of the island which profits from its situation crossroads between the " Europe and the Middle East and its copper richness which gave it its name.
During the Bronze Age, Cypriot culture seems to have undergone many influences. Indeed, one finds large religious complexes and tombs of oriental type while the writing is very close to that of Crete.
This golden age ends with the destruction of many cities probably due to the attacks of the Sea Peoples during the migratory waves.
From the Persians to the Byzantines
As early as antiquity, Cyprus became the object of lust for many peoples attracted by its strategic position for trade, its wood and its copper which explains the artistic and cultural influences.
The island, however, remained independent, divided between ten city-kingdoms until the 6th century BC when the Persians managed to capture it after having fiercely contested the Greeks.
Cyprus was integrated into the Persian Empire before being successively captured by the Macedonians of Alexander the Great and by the Egyptians during the Ptolemaic dynasty.
In 58 BC, the island of Cyprus ceded by the Pharaohs to Rome became a Roman senatorial province. During the partition of the Roman Empire in 395, Cyprus was included in the lands granted to the Roman Empire of the East (Byzantine Empire), which granted it the right to own an autocephalous church and thus independent both from the legal point of view and on the spiritual level.
When Cyprus was invaded by the troops of the Umayyad caliphate in 649, an agreement allowed both the caliph and the Byzantine emperor to rule the island without taking into account the wars between the two empires. This situation will last three centuries despite the revolts of the people who are therefore subject to two taxations.
Finally, in 965, Cyprus became Byzantine, under Nicéphore Phocas and the rest for 150 years.
When in 1184, Isaac Doukas Comnene appropriated power in Cyprus, the emperor did not succeed in chasing him. It was then that Richard the Lionheart, on his way to lead the Third Crusade, made a forced stopover on the island and was very ill-received by the usurper prince who wanted to grab several ships. The king of England seized the island in a few days and imprisoned Isaac Doukas. Joined by Berengaria of Navarre, King Richard celebrates their wedding in Lemesos (Limassol).
Richard continues his route but leaves soldiers on the island which is successively sold to Robert de Sablé, a great Master of the Order of the Temple and to Guy de Lusignan who designates himself as King of Cyprus.
In 1291, the Mamelukes seized the citadel of Acre in Israel thus putting an end to the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem and the presence of the Westerners in the Holy Land. Hospitallers saved refuge in Cyprus. King Henry of Lusignan offered them the city of Limassol.
They are the ones who will endow the city with a defense system and lift a fleet capable of repelling the attacks of the Arab pirates. This is how Cyprus becomes a major maritime power. The Hospitallers, however, moved to the island of Rhodes after conquering it in 1307.
The Venetian period
Cyprus is still a kingdom belonging to the family of Lusignan but the island is placed under the tutelage of Genoa, one of the two largest Italian maritime republics with Venice.
Having married a large Venetian family in 1464, James II of Lusignan took advantage of this support to expel the Genoese. On the death of the king and his heir, the island became a Venetian colony in 1489. Cyprus had a long period of peace until 1571 when the Ottomans seized the island at the end of the "Cyprus War ".
The Ottoman period
Cyprus is therefore under Ottoman domination and has to adapt to important changes. The property of the Catholics is confiscated for the benefit of the Turkish soldiers. Many Cypriots converted to Islam and now speak Turkish, even though Venetian influence is still present in the arts and architecture. Similarly, Cypriots of Greek descent grouped together as an autonomous community retain their own cultural identity.
The British period
In 1878, Cyprus benefited from the British protectorate while remaining Ottoman at the end of the Russian-Turkish War. Indeed, the United Kingdom played the role of mediator and it is in this capacity that the Ottoman Empire ceded the island to him in exchange for the payment of an annual tribute. This agreement expired at the beginning of the First World War and Cyprus became a British colony.
The Cypriot people who were hoping to gain closer membership to Greece culturally were disappointed. Independent movements are emerging and a first revolt of the Cypriots known as "Oktovriana", against the British government breaks out in 1931.
The revolt was severely repressed and Governor Sir Richmond Palmer instituted a repressive and even dictatorial policy (Palmerokratia). It is in this context that the Second World War begins.
At the end of this period, the nationalists resumed their movements and obtained a referendum in 1950. Enosis (attached to Greece) was voted by more than 95% of the population of Greek origin, but The British refuse to take this vote into account and pursue its policy of repression.
In 1955, the struggle resumed and Cyprus finally became an independent republic in 1960, but the country experienced new tensions within the government itself. Indeed, the Greek and Turkish politicians oppose one another with great vetoes, preventing any advance.
Seeing that any friendly settlement between the two communities is now impossible, the Turks are demanding partition of the island called "Taksim". This claim literally sets fire to powder and the country is in full civil war with atrocities in 1964. Turkish Cypriots call for Turkey's military intervention while the Greek Cypriots are fomenting a coup in 1974 in order to overthrow President Makarios III and to try once again to be annexed to Greece.
It was then that Turkey invaded the island and occupied the northern territories, cutting Cyprus in two. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was proclaimed but not recognized by the international community, apart from Turkey.
Cyprus is a republic presided over by Nicos Anastasiades, a member of the conservative Democratic Rally, elected in February 2013 by 55.7% of the vote.
Members of Parliament are elected for a term of 5 years. Three of them must represent religious minorities (Maronite Christians, Roman Catholics and Armenian Orthodox). In principle, 24 seats are reserved for Turkish Cypriots but these have refused to sit since 1964 and their posts are therefore vacant.
Cyprus has been part of the European Union since 1 May 2004 and the euro area since 2008.
A slow economic recovery
After several years of negative growth, the economy of Cyprus has recovered slowly since 2015, relying mainly on tourism, maritime transport and services. It also benefited from the rescue plan put in place by the EU and the IMF to emerge from the crisis.
The agricultural sector suffers from near-permanent droughts, and only sheep and goat farming and the cultivation of a few Mediterranean products such as olive, lemon or grape, and cereals and potatoes providing the revenues to the rural population.
The tertiary sector accounts for a large part of the GDP and a policy aimed at improving the hotel infrastructure makes it possible to attract "new" tourists, especially the Russians.
A cultural duality
The total population of Cyprus is around 1,200,000. Despite a very low mortality rate and a life expectancy in excess of 78 years, natural increase is low. The immigration, however, allows for positive demographic developments in Cyprus.
77% of Cypriots are of Greek origin compared to 18% of Turkish origin. The other nations most represented in Cyprus are the United Kingdom, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia.
Similarly, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot are the majority languages of the country. They present some differences with the Greek and Turkish classics which are the official languages of the country.
90% of the Cypriots are Orthodox Christians but there are several religious minorities, including the Maronite Church, an Eastern Catholic church headed by the Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, and the Armenian Apostolic Church.
However, in the area claimed by the Turkish Cypriots, the population is predominantly Sunni Muslim, accounting for 18% of the total population of the island.
Cypriot cuisine is Mediterranean and similar to that of Greece and Turkey such as mezze, kebab or moussaka.
However, there are some Oriental and European influences, a legacy of its past.
Green and dry vegetables are ubiquitous and accompany meat dishes like kefta (dumplings). The dishes are often flavored with coriander, cumin and mint.
Cypriots also consume a lot of fruits.
Cyprus is a member of the European Union and therefore tourists from a Member State may move freely within its territory, including in the area occupied by Turkish Cypriots. They must simply carry valid identity papers.
The safety is assured throughout the country and no health risks are reported.
Only restriction to the program: it is forbidden to photograph the Turkish military zones.
Cyprus has turned its attention to tourism and its infrastructure is improving from season to season. The sunshine is almost permanent, only the winter months from November to January record some rains. However, it is recommended that those who are more fragile avoid the months of July and August because of the heat wave.
It is also possible to enjoy the pleasures of winter sports in the island's only ski resort at Mount Olympus.
Hiking and nature lovers appreciate the island's landscapes, from the beaches of the coast to the mountains of the Troodos Mountains. Cyprus also offers a rich architectural and cultural heritage. The visit of the monasteries, the archaeological sites of which Kourion and Paphos, castles, small villages or Kyrenia the Byzantine is essential.
Finally, the capital Nicosia seduces by the contrast between its splendid historical monuments and the modern architecture of its new districts.