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Our professional guides bring to live the sites and places of interest you visit. Luxurious, air-conditioned coaches, with friendly drivers add to the enjoyment of our tours.

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Our professional  drivers will take you to the heart of this beautiful island, normally inaccessible except by…donkey!

ABOUT CYPRUS

Cyprus, an island-republic in the Eastern Mediterranean, stands at the crossroads of three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa. Its history and culture is living proof of its age-long function as a bridge between peoples and civilizations of Southeast Europe and the Middle East. The Syllabic-script-b, for example, found in Cyprus, is believed to be the link between the Phoenician and the Greek alphabets.

Today Cyprus is a modern state enjoying a democratic system of government with an executive president and a house of representatives where pluralistic expression is in full bloom.

Despite suffering an invasion by neighbour Turkey in 1974, which still occupies about 37% of its territory, Cyprus has managed to develop its economy to such an extent that it now constitutes a significant regional financial hub.

In addition to its role as a regional financial and services centre, Cyprus plays a significant role in acting as a bridge between the peoples of the Middle East. It enjoys good relations with both Arab countries and Israel and it could act as a catalyst for cementing the ongoing Peace Process among Middle East nations.

Cyprus is in quest of peace. It wishes to see an end to the tragic division of the island with the conclusion of a negotiated settlement between its two major communities - the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots - with the establishment of a federal republic, the withdrawal of foreign troops and settlers brought in from Turkey and the demilitarization of the island. Politically Cyprus has moved towards Europe and aspires to become the next member of the European Union. It is, however, still a member of the family of non-aligned nations and the Commonwealth and links with Third World Countries are expected to remain strong.

Small in area (9,250 sq km) and population (746,100 in 1997) it enjoys a high standard of living (about 6,700 CYP Pounds), low unemployment (3% in 1997) and inflation (3.1% in 1997). It has excellent communications and telecommunications infrastructure and has developed into a major off-shore banking centre. The island enjoys a very high educational and health services standard. Its ethnic composition is about 84,5% Greek Cypriots (including Maronites, Armenians and Latins) and 12,5% Turkish Cypriots and 3% others. Major religions include Orthodox Christianity (84%) and Islam (13%) while the official languages of the state are Greek and Turkish. English is widely spoken and used in business transactions.

Despite its small size, Cyprus's beauty is indeed unique. The island offers a rare variety of scenery consisting of an indented coastline with long, sandy beaches in numerous coves and a broad plain stretching between two mountain ranges which are mostly covered with forests of pine and cedar.

The climate is also quite diverse and according to Fador's Guide to Europe "one of the best climates in the world". Intense Mediterranean climate prevails at sea-level with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters, low humidities inland during summer and more than 300 days of sunshine a year. The mountains (highest peak Mount Olympus 1951m), on the other hand, enjoy cooler weather during the summer and the highest elevations are snow- clad for most of the winter. In addition to scenic beauty and a healthy climate the island possesses a wide variety of wild life - rare and endemic species of flora and fauna.

Cyprus is one of the richest open air museums of the world. Here to be found are neolithic settlements, ancient Greek temples, Roman theatres, villas, early Christian basilicas, Byzantine churches, impressive medieval monasteries, Crusader Castles, Gothic churches, Venetian fortifications, Ottoman mosques and aqueducts and British colonial buildings.

Yet, Cyprus's greatest asset is the friendliness and hospitality of the locals. In some villages old customs die hard. Young girls still engage in lace-making in the beautiful village of Lefkara and elsewhere, potters still create wondrous shapes to decorate their earthenware vessels, the sound of handlooms can still be heard in distant Pafos villages and old men congregate in the coffee shops for a game of backgammon or to listen to and discuss the day's interest news.

Towns and Population

The population of Cyprus is 793.100 of whom 80,7% are Greek Cypriots (including Armenians, Maronites and Latins), 87,600 (11,0%) are Turkish Cypriots and 66,000 (8,3%) foreigners residing in Cyprus. The density of the population is 86 persons / sq km.

The population does not include over 115.000 Turkish settlers illegally residing in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. The figure of the Greek Cypriot population includes about 9.000 Maronites, Armenians and Latins who, under the 1960 Constitution were asked to choose between the two communities and opted to join the Greek Cypriot community.

The language of the Greek Cypriot community is Greek and the community adheres to the Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus. The language of the Turkish Cypriot community is Turkish and the community adheres to Islam. The religious groups of Armenians, Maronites and Latins, in accordance with 1960 constitution, opted to belong to the Greek Cypriot community.

Nicosia, the capital city

The capital of the island is Nicosia with a population of 206.200 (end of 2001) in the sector controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus. It is situated roughly in the centre of the island and is the seat of government as well as the main business centre. The 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of 36 % of the island's territory literally cut the capital in half. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nicosia remains the only militarily divided capital in Europe.

The city dates back to the bronze age when it was known as Ledra, the actual name of the most popular commercial street. The name of Nicosia (Lefkosia, in Greek), probably comes from Lefkos, son of Ptolemy, who rebuilt the city in the 3rd century B.C. Another probability is that the name originated from the white poplar (lefki) which was abundant in the bed of the city's river. The city also bore the name of Lefkothea - the white goddess. The core of Nicosia is surrounded by 16th century Venetian fortifications. The city is rich in museums and monuments of different periods. Nicosia successfully blends its history with the developed modern administrative commercial and business centre it has become.

Limassol

The second largest town is Limassol in the south, which has around 161.200 (end of 2001) inhabitants. It is Cyprus' main commercial port and an important tourist resort.

Larnaca

Larnaca, in the south-east of the island, has a population of 72.000 (end of 2001) and is the island's second commercial port and an important tourist resort. To the north of the town lies the island's oil refinery, while to the south Larnaca International Airport is situated. The city of Larnaka is well-known for its picturesque sea-front which includes rows of palm trees (oi finikoudes, in the local Greek dialect). Much of the activity is centred around the city promenade during the major festivals. The most important of these for the city of Larnaka is Kataklysmos or the Festival of the Flood, celebrated in early summer with a series of cultural events.

Paphos

Paphos in the south-west with a population of about 47.300 (end of 2001) is a fast developing tourist resort, home to the island's second International Airport and an attractive fishing harbor. The Turkish invasion and occupation of the major tourist resorts of Keryneia and Ammochostos led to major investments by the government and the private sector in the district of Pafos. There was rapid economic activity in all fields but especially tourism. The government invested heavily in irrigation dams and water distribution works, road infrastructure and the building of Pafos airport, while private initiative concentrated on hotel, apartment and villa construction and the entertainment infrastructure.

Famagusta

In the Turkish occupied area, the town of Ammochostos (Famagusta), the hub of the pre-1974 tourist industry, is now a ghost town, deserted since 1974 when its inhabitants fled from advancing Turkish troops. The towns of Keryneia (Kyrenia), another important tourist resort on the north coast, and Morphou, situated in the important agricultural area of western Messaoria, are now inhabited almost exclusively by Turkish Cypriots and Turkish settlers as the Greek Cypriots were forced in 1974 to abandon their homes and properties and move to the south under the threat of guns and armament of the Turkish occupation army.

As a result of the Turkish invasion in 1974, 36% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus is still under the control of the Turkish occupation troops. Moreover, 162.000 Greek Cypriots ( 32% of the Greek Cypriot population ) have become refugees. Since the Turkish invasion and occupation of over a third of the island, the demographic balance has changed dramatically as a result of Turkey's colonization policies. There are more than 115,000 illegal Turkish settlers in the occupied area while an estimated 55.000 Turkish Cypriots have emigrated.

Travelers may enter the Republic of Cyprus only through the legal ports of entry - Larnaka and Pafos International Airports and the ports of Larnaka, Limassol and Pafos. The ports of Famagusta, Keryneia and Karavostasi, as well as the airports in the part of the island illegally occupied by the Turkish invasion forces have been declared by the Cyprus government as prohibited ports of entry and exit and no passenger should enter or leave the Republic through these ports.

 

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