The Republic of Cyprus

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Island Basics

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Cyprus is a Eurasian island country in the East of the Mediterranean Sea. It is located East of Greece and South of Turkey
The island of Cyprus consists of a total land area of 9,248 km sq (or 3,571 sq. mi.). The current population of the island is about 1,088,533 people. The population of the south however is the majority at 803,147 mainly Greek-speaking inhabitants.

Cyprus in terms of both population and area is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea after Sicily and Sardinia. It measures 149 mi. (240 km) long and 62 mi. (100 km) wide. On a map it can be found at about 35 degrees North of the equator and 33 degrees East of the Prime Meridian. The total area of the country is about 9, 250 kilometers sq., while the land area in Cyprus is about 9, 240 kilometers sq.

The island itself contains two mountain ranges. The larger Troodos Mountains cover most of the southern and western areas of the island and make up roughly half its area. Mount Olympus at 6,404 ft (1,952 m) is located in the middle of the Troodos Mountains and is the highest point on the island. Another notable chain of mountains is the smaller Kyrenia Range occupying less area on the northern coastline are substantially smaller in area. These mountains are lower than the Troodos reaching a maximum of 3,360 ft. (1,024 m). There is a central plain called the Mesaoria that is encompassed by these two ranges.

Climate

IS893-062-1.jpgCyprus-Snow+at+Troodos+Mountainstbn.jpgCyprus has a mixture of Mediterranean and Semi-arid giving the island a Subtropical feel. The island has both the warmest overall climate and the warmest winters of the Mediterranean part of the European Union. The winters on the coast are very mild and the summers warm to hot (left). It is however possible to see snow in the central part of the island and on the Troodos mountains (right). The summers are generally dry and rain occurs mostly in the winter. Because of the recent lack of rainfall, the country in recent years has suffered from a lack of water used in the household.

One Island, Two Peoples

On a geopolitical level, the island is subdivided into four main segments. The Republic of Cyprus and the internationally recognized government that goes along with it occupies the two-thirds of the island accounting for 59.74 % of the land. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus occupies the northern third of the island, but is recognized only by Turkey consisting of the Turkish-occupied areas consisting of 34.85% of the land. The Green Line acting as a buffer zone between the two regions is controlled by the United Nations and consists of 2.67% of the land. Finally, the remaining 2.74% of the land is under British sovereignty in the form two bases at Akrotiri and Dhekelia.

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Map of divided Cyprus


Cyprus-Mouflon.jpgHabitats & Wildlife


Cyprus has a very varied habitat due to its vast difference in elevation. There are many climate conditions supplying a diverse habitat for a unique array of flora and fauna. There are possibly thousands of endemic plant and sub-species of wild plants on the island. Wildlife can be seen in many areas of the island including the Troodos mountains, the Larnaca and Akrotiri salt lake regions, and the Akamas national park. The island is home to the Cyprus moufflon which has become the national symbol for the country. This animal is currently protected and can be seen in Paphos forests and near the Troodos Mountains.

On the island 40% of the land is arable, 7% filled with permanent crops, 10% made up of meadows and pastures, and 18% made of forests and woodlands.

Language and Religion

religion-223x300.jpg2313514060_704daa23f5_o.jpgBeing as the island is subdivide into two larger groups of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the prominent religions are divided as well. Almost all of the Greek Cypriots are members of the Greek Orthodox tradition, while the northern Turkish Cypriots adhere strictly to Sunni Islam beliefs and practices. Of all the European Union member countries, Cyprus ranks alongside Malta, Romania, Greece, and Poland as one of the most religious countries. It is also one of only six of the European Union States to have an established state church, however there are small pockets of Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant believers mixed into the main Sunni and Greek Orthodox designations.

Likewise, the Republic itself maintains the two official languages of Greek and Turkish. Minority languages include Cypriot Maronite Arabic, Romani, and Armenian. It has also been said that 76% of the population are fluent in Enlgish, 12% fluent in French, and 5% fluent in German.


Cultural Diversity

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The culture of the island is firmly divided between the two distinct genres of Greek and Turkish Cypriots maintaining it’s own independent way of life as linked to the greater cultures of Greece and Turkey. Unlike in many other countries around the world, cultural fusion between the two main groups is rather rare.

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Mosaic of Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, located near present day Larnaka
By island standards, it is said that the traditions of art and history can be maintained all the way back to about 8, 000 BC. Influences range from prehistoric carvings, high quality religious paintings dating from the middle ages, and French Gothic and Italian renaissance from the Latin era. The tradition of art and painting has remained a prominent part of the culture through to modern times. Traditional music too remains an important part of both the modern and historic cultural cohesiveness of the peoples , not to mention a strong tradition of poetry and prose ranging in influences from both the Eastern and Western traditions. In fact, in antiquity the philosophical tradition of Stoicism and epic poetry were prominent forces in shaping the culture of the island, not to mention the many religiously inspired writings that arose through the long history of the island.

Food and Cypriot Cuisine


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Loutza - smoked pork loin
Halloumi cheese was invented in Cyprus during the Medieval Byzantine period. Seafood such as squid, octopus, red mullet, and sea bass are common dishes. Tomato and cucumber form the basis of Cypriot salads while other vegetables include potatoes in olive oil and parsley, pickled cauliflower and beets, asparagus, and taro.
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Olives, chickpeas, lentils, and other common Cypriot foods
Fresh vegetables such as courgettes, green peppers, okra, green beans, artichokes, carrots, beans, chick-peas, and lentils are also commonly used in Cypriot cuisine. Lountza, charcoal-grilled lamb, souvlaki or pork and chicken cooked over charcoal, and sheftalia (a type of minced wrapped meat) are commonly marinated in dried coriander, other seeds, and wine and form the basis of the meat diet. Pears, apples, grapes, oranges, mandarins, nectarines, blackberries, strawberries, figs, watermelon, avocado, lemon, melon, almonds, chestnuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts are also very common both on their own and in deserts. Natural resources in Cyprus include copper, pyrites, asbestos, gypsum, timber, salt, marble, and clay earth pigment.

The Capitol City of Nicosia

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The thousand-year old capital city in the heart of the country

The capitol and largest city of the island of Cyprus is Nicosia, locally known as Lefkosia. The city is located on the Pedieos River in the approximate center of the island. is the governmental headquarters of the Republic and the houses the main business district on the island.

The city itself is located on the dividing line between the northern Turkish Cypriot and the Southern Greek Cypriot Communities. Although the wall between the two parts of the city was opened in 2008, Nicosia is unique in that it remains the world’s last divided capitol.

The population of the city south of the Green Line is 313, 400 people, while the inhabitants north of the Green Line number a mere 84, 893. The city has many shops, two modern shopping malls, many restaurants, and various forms of entertainment. It is also a trade and manufacturing center dealing in mainly textiles, leather, pottery, plastic, and a hub for the nearby copper mines.

Other Major Cities on the Island of Cyprus Include...

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kyrenia3.jpgPapos – home of Aphrodite, Adonis, Dionysus, and lucky mortals (left)

Larnaka – gateway to the island and entry point to adventure

Limassol - celebration of beaches, fortresses, & festivals

Famagusta (Turkish Cyprus) – city of the ‘gold’ beaches

Kyrenia (Turkish Cyprus) - the picturesque (right)