Cyprus

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GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Population


Total population (millions): 0.8
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 69%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 0.7%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km²) : 9,251


Population origin

Greek 78% (99.5% of the Greeks live in the free areas; 0.5% of the Greeks live in the Turkish occupied areas), Turkish 18% (1.3% of the Turks live in the free areas; 98.7% of the Turks live in the Turkish occupied areas), other 4% (99.2% of the other ethnic groups live in the free areas; 0.8% of the other ethnic groups live in the Turkish occupied areas)



Main Cities Population
Levkosia 224 500
Lemesos 176 900
Larnaka 79 000
Nea Pafos 52 800



Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Nicosia (GMT+2 in winter, GMT+3 in summer).
Summer time from March to October



Languages
Official languages: Greek and Turkish. English is widely spoken.

Free translation tools

Eurodicautom
The European Union Dictionary (12 languages avalaible)

Systran
Free English-Greek-English translator of texts and web pages

Tranexp
Free English-Greek-Turkish-English translator of texts and web pages

Ectaco
Free English-Greek-Turkish-English Dictionnary





Religion
Religious practises : Greek Orthodox 78%, Muslim 18%, Maronite, Armenian Apostolic and other 4%


Political context

Cyprus is a Republic state based on parliamentary democracy. In 1974 Cyprus was divided into the Greek-Cypriot controlled southern two-thirds and the Turkish-occupied* northern one-third. The Republic of Cyprus (the official name of Cyprus) is the internationally recognized government of Cyprus and it controls the southern two-thirds of the island. Except Turkey, all foreign governments and the United Nations recognize the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island of Cyprus.
President is both the chief of the state and the head of the government. President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term and holds the executive powers. The Council of Ministers is appointed jointly by the President and Vice president. Under the 1960 constitution, the post of Vice President is reserved for a Turkish-Cypriot and thus lies vacant as of now.
The legislature of the Republic of Cyprus is unicameral. The parliament consists of House of Representatives with its members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms. People of Cyprus enjoy considerable political rights.
Judiciary is independent in Cyprus. It operates according to the British tradition by upholding the presumption of innocence and the right to due process. The source of the law is the constitution of 1960 which is based on common law. The country accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction but with reservations. Cyprus joined the European Union (EU) in May 2004. Both Greek and Turkish are the judicial languages in the country, having an interpreter is always possible.
The Republic of Cyprus is ruled by law. Foreign nationals in Cyprus enjoy equal treatment from the judiciary including the commercial disputes. A very low level of corruption exists in Cyprus. The government is taking necessary step to further eliminate the problem of corruption in the country.


Major political parties

KISOS (Movement for Social Democracy United Democratic Union of Centre), AKEL (Progressive Party of the Working People or Communist Party), DIKO (Democratic Party), DISY (Democratic Rally), EURO.KO (European Party), ADIK (Fighting Democratic Movement), Green Party of Cyprus, EDE (United Democrats Movement)


Major political leaders

President: Tassos PAPADOPOULOS (since March 2003) – DIKO


Next political election dates

Presidential: February 2008
Parliamentary: May 2011




Climate

 

 

Cyprus has a typical Mediterranean climate, with hot and dry summers and a cool, rainy season that extends from October to March. The annual temperature is 21°C (69°F). The annual rainfall averages less than 500 mm (less than 20 in).
The mountain areas are cooler and more given to rainfall than coastal regions.Mountainous areas can have snowfall for as long as ten weeks beginning in January.

 


Tourism


Number of visitors in Cyprus 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 2,349 2,470 ..
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005

 

Tourist sites
Nicosia (Lefkosia)
The capital of Cyprus since the 12th century, Nicosia is situated at the heart of the Messaoria Plain. It is currently divided by the UN buffer zone that separates the Turkish-occupied north of the island and the Government-controlled south. The old city, which has many quaint and ancient shops, is defined by walls built by the Venetians. Other attractions in Nicosia include the Cyprus Archaeological Museum, the Folk Art Museum, the old and new Arch-Episcopal Palaces, St John's Cathedral, the Makarios Cultural Centre/Byzantine Museum and the Byzantine churches. At the end of May the annual International State Fair and the Nicosia Art Festival are held in Nicosia.
Excursions: Nicosia District extends westwards into the vine-covered Troodos Mountains, where there are magnificent forests and valleys, and hill resorts such as Kakopetria, and the Byzantine churches in Galata. Nine Byzantine churches in the Troodos mountains have been listed as World Heritage sites by UNESCO. The area offers some interesting excursions, including: the Royal Tombs and Agios Irakleidios Monastery at Tamassos; the five-dome church and the mosque in Peristerona village; the 12th-century church of Panagia Forviotissa (Asinou) near Nikitari, one of the finest examples of Byzantine art in the Middle East; the church of Stavros tou Agiasmati in Platanistassa; Agios Ioannis Lampadistis in Kalopanayiotis; the Panagia tou Araka Monastery in Lagoudera; and the Machairas Monastery near Lazanias, approximately an hour's drive into the hills southwest of Nicosia. The area has countless other old churches and monasteries, including Kykkos (see Hill Resorts) and Araka, containing impressive and well-preserved Byzantine frescoes and shrines, and also a few pagan shrines where the ancients worshipped their gods. Pitsilia District produces most of the grapes for the Commandaria wine. There are many attractive villages, such as Zoopygi, where almond and walnut trees grow, Kalokhorio and, further up, Agros, a village with a small hotel and a few holiday homes. Southwest of Nicosia, near Deftera, there is a new riding school and sports centre.
Limassol (Lemesos)
Limassol is the second-largest town in Cyprus and the island's main port. Its modern harbour is constantly being expanded to meet the demands of trade and passenger traffic. Limassol is also the centre of the wine industry in Cyprus; most of the vines used grow on the slopes of the Troodos Mountains. In September the town has a wine festival, during which wine and food are served free. At Carnival, held at the start of Lent, the town bursts into celebration with bands, gaily decorated floats and dancing. Limassol is Cyprus' main tourist centre, with facilities such as the public tourist beach at Dhassoudi, backed by cafés and changing rooms. There is also a museum and public gardens with a small zoo and the castle.
Excursions: There are many places of historic and archaeological interest in and around Limassol. Amathus, 11km (7 miles) east of Limassol, was once the capital of a city-kingdom, but is now in ruins, partly covered by the sea. The Acropolis, Necropolis and the remains of an early Christian basilica can still be seen, as well as the new excavations in the lower part of the town. Further east lies the Ayios Georgios Alamanos nunnery and to the west is Kolossi Castle, headquarters of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. Curium has a superb Graeco-Roman theatre where concerts and Shakespeare's plays are performed in summer. The town has many sites of interest including the House of Eustolios, in which there are some beautiful mosaics; the Sanctuary of Apollo Yletis; the Stadium; the Acropolis with the ruins of the Forum; the Christian Basilica and many public buildings. To the south is the Lady's Mile Beach and Akrotiri Salt Lake, winter home of thousands of flamingoes. Limassol is also a good starting point for an excursion into the Troodos Mountains (see Excursions in Nicosia (Lefkosia) above). Water Mania at Phasouri, 10km (6.2 miles) west of Limassol, has a wave pool, body- and giant-aquatube slides.
Paphos
Built on a rocky escarpment, Upper Paphos commands a superb view of the coastline and the harbour of Lower Paphos is ringed by tavernas famous for their fish dishes. It is a place of historic and archaeological interest, including the remains of the House of Dionysus, a Roman villa with some fine mosaics, and the nearby Villa of Theseus. Other attractions include the District Museum, the castle overlooking the harbour, the Tombs of the Kings, the remains of the Byzantine castle of Saranda Kolones, the Panagia Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery and the Panagia Chryseleousa Church, the biggest early Christian basilica on the island.
Excursions: Paphos is an excellent centre for exploration; eastwards the land rises through the vineyards, the forests and the Cedar Valley; northwards, the road leads over the foothills, passing close to the monastery of Agios Neofytos (founded in AD 1220), and down to the little town of Polis on the north coast. Polis is an unexploited and virtually undeveloped beach area with one tourist hotel, a campsite and a few self-catering establishments; accommodation is also possible in private homes. Nearby is the fishing harbour of Latchi, which offers a variety of fish dishes including grilled swordfish steak. Westwards from Latchi is an unspoilt beach; beyond is the little grotto known as Fontana Amorosa. North of Paphos is Coral Bay which has a bathing beach and several good restaurants. Further on is the fishing village of Ayios Yeorgios tis Peyias, which has an early Christian basilica of the same name and some ancient tombs cut into rocks; and nearby is Lara Beach where a turtle hatchery has been established. In the opposite direction, towards Limassol, is the village of Yeroskipos, home of 'Greek Delight' (like 'Turkish Delight'), with a small but interesting folk museum; and Palaia Paphos (Aphrodite's Temple), with the Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite's Birthplace), near the village of Kouklia.
Larnaca
Southeast Cyprus provides a complete contrast to the rest of the country. The one-time sleepy little town of Larnaca has been brought to life by the nearby international airport. There is also a harbour with a number of deep-water berths, and a marina which accommodates up to 200 yachts. New hotels and apartment blocks have been built to keep pace with the town's growing popularity as a winter resort. The seafront is fringed by palm trees and cafés and tavernas. Other places of interest include Agia Faneromeni Church, dating from the eighth century BC and built over a rock cave; Larnaca Fort, the Archaeological District Museum, the Pierides Museum (another archaeological museum) and the ruins of the ancient city of Kition. The feast of Kataklysmos (the Greek Orthodox Whitsun) is celebrated throughout Cyprus, but with special enthusiasm in Larnaca. Crowds from all over the district and from Nicosia (Lefkosia) arrive at the shore for watersports, singing, dancing, eating and drinking.
Excursions: Near the airport is the Hala Sultan Tekkesi, standing in beautiful gardens on the edge of the Salt Lake, the winter home of migratory flamingoes. Nearby is the Church of Panayia Angeloktisti (meaning 'built by the angels'), containing a fine piece of Byzantine art - a sixth-century life-size mosaic of the Virgin Mary and Child.
Westwards is the village of Lefkara, famous for its lace, and the Nunnery of Ayios Minas; off the Limassol-Nicosia(Lefkosia) road stands Stavrovouni Monastery, the Chapelle Royal in Pyrga and Kornos village, famous for its pottery. Visitors can take camel rides on Sundays, when a caravan of camels is taken down to the sea from the Daktari Camel Park at Mazotos (tel: 322 210). Further west is Khirokitia, which has the remains of one of the earliest settlements in Cyprus dating from 5800 BC (neolithic period). To the east, Larnaca Bay has a public bathing beach with facilities comparable to those of Limassol, and several newly-built hotels.
Famagusta (Ammochostos) District
The town of Ammochostos (Famagusta) is in the zone occupied by the Turks, but much of what was once Ammochostos (Famagusta) District lies across the divide. There are excellent and comfortable hotels and hotel apartments of all categories. The whole of this area is very fertile, with many of the vegetable crops grown for export. To the southeast of Famagusta is an area famous for golden sand beaches ideal for children. Ayia Napa is very popular and has become a major clubbing resort. Other attractions in the area include traditional bouzouki and Cypriot dancing shows, a Dinosaur Park and Waterworld with the biggest wave pool in Europe, watersports and rock jumping. Cruises and boat trips can also be taken from the harbour, which is over looked by a 16th-century Venetian monastery. Around Cape Greco the coastline becomes indented with rocky coves and small sandy beaches, ideal for snorkelling, explorations by boat and picnics. Fig Tree Bay, Flamingo Bay and Pernera beaches are among the most popular, each with cafés and beach bars; there is also an aquarium at Protaras. Inland, the little town of Paralimni also provides entertainment for the tourist with restaurants, discotheques and cafés.
Hill Resorts
Platres, 1128m (3790ft) above sea level on the southern approaches to Mount Olympus, has many hotels to choose from. It is the ideal base for picnics and excursions through the forests and villages; many mountain villages offer accommodation of different categories with around 1958 beds between them. The scenery in this region is truly spectacular. Places of interest include Pedoulas, in the Marathasa Valley, famous for its cherries (and their blossoms in spring) and other fruits; Kalopanayiotis, known for its variety of fruit; Moutoullas, renowned for its hand-carved wooden bowls and the source of mineral water bottled and exported to the Middle East; Stavros tis Psokas where there is a controlled enclosure for the preservation of the moufflon, the wild sheep of Cyprus; Prodromos, the highest village in the island, 1400m (4600ft) above sea level, and reputed to grow the best apples; Kykkos Monastery, which houses a golden icon of the Virgin Mary; Throni tis Panayias, the tomb of the late Archbishop Makarios III in a setting so superb that it is worth a visit for this reason alone; the villages of Moniatis, Saittas and Phini, centres of local pottery, wood and lace industries; Mesapotamos Monastery and the Caledonian Falls; Omodhos village and Monastery of the Holy Cross with its small Folk Art Museum; and the Trooditssa Monastery.
Kakopetria, 670m (2200ft) above sea level on the northeastern slopes of Mount Olympus and less than an hour's drive from Nicosia, is popular among those not suited to the higher altitudes. It is a village with a delightful central square shaded by plane trees where apples, pears and peaches grow, and is beautiful in the spring. Like Platres, it is a centre for excursions into the surrounding landscape of forested mountains, deep gorges and fertile valleys.

For more information about tourism in Cyprus , check out the following web site(s) :
Cyprus Tourism Organization



Food


Traditional dishes
Local dishes include kebabs (lamb or other meat skewered and roasted over a charcoal fire) and dolmas (vine leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice).Major resorts have bars and restaurants of every category. In larger hotels, the indigenous cuisine tends to have an 'international flavour' although authentic local dishes may also be available. All over the island there are restaurants offering genuine Cypriot food. Charcoal-grilled meat is very popular, as is fresh seafood. Dishes include kebabs (pieces of lamb or other meat skewered and roasted over a charcoal fire), dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice) and tava (a tasty stew of meat, herbs and onions). One of the best ways of enjoying Cypriot food is by ordering mezze (snacks), a large selection of a number of different local dishes. Fresh fruit is plentiful and cheap, and very sweet desserts such as baklava are widely available. Waiter service is normal and in bars counter service is common. There are no licensing hours. Cyprus produces excellent wines, spirits and beers which can only be bought in the south. Coffee is Greek-style (short, strong and unfiltered), though cappuccino is available in most restaurants and bars. Traditional English tea can be bought everywhere. The highlight of the wine year is the annual wine festival, usually held in September, when free wine flows and local food is on offer. The festival is just one of many celebrated throughout the year in Limassol.


Last modified on December 2006

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