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Information about Cyprus

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Information about Cyprus

Facts about Cyprus

The (national) flag
Official name Official name: Kypriaki Dimokratia: Republic Cyprus;
The northern Turkish part calls itself Kuzey Kibris Türk Cumhuriyeti (Turkish republic of Northern Cyprus)
Surface 9.250 square km (3.355 km2 is Turkish Cypriot)
Inhabitants 1.14 million (2013)
Population density 123 people per km²
Capital Nicosia (or Lefkosia)
Currency The Euro is in use since 2008 in the Greek part of the island. On Turkish territory: Turkish lira (TRL)
Road network Most roads are fine but in the interior you have to watch out for holes and stones. We wrecked one rental car.
Fuel prices For actual fuel prices in all European countries see Autotraveler.ru.
Code licence plate CY
Telephone countrycode 357
Internet countrycode .cy
Time difference GMT +2; 1 hour later than in the Netherlands

Geographic data

Cyprus is situated in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, about 70 km. south of Turkey, 100 km. west of Syria, 772 km. southeast of the mainland of Greece and 350 km. north of Egypt. The maximum width of the island is about 225 km. (from Cape Arnauti in the west to Cape Apostolos Andres in the northeast). De maximum 'height' is 97 km. The total area is 9.250 square kilometers. After Sicily and Sardinia Cyprus is the largest island in the Mediterranean. To the north lie the Kyrenia mountains which consist mainly out of limestone. The mountains go up to about a 1000 meters and what is most striking about them are the sharp clifs and frayed edges. Except for Kyrenia, there are no harbours.
More to the southeast of the island dominate the the Troödos mountains with the Olympus (1953m.) as highest top of the island. This mountain range slopes more and climbs gradually to a height of 2000 meters. Mesaoria, a very fertile plain, lies between these mountain ranges. The south and east coast are known for their wide bays and here one can find some harbours: Famagusta, Paphos, Larnaka and Limassol. There aren't many rivers on Cyprus. They are more like mountain streams which have only water in the springtime. Cyprus used to have a lot of woods in the ancient times, but at the turn of the 20th century the mountain slopes were almost bare as a result of deforesting and fires. At the present almost a fifth of the island has some woodland by planting new trees and forests. Cyprus owes it's name to the trade of copper in the ancient times; Kypros is the Greek word for copper.

PopulationNaar boven

In july 2001 the population of Cyprus consisted of 762,887 inhabitants, 78% of them Greek-Cypriot and 18% of them Turkish-Cypriot (± 175.000). The remaining 4% consist of Armenians, Maronites and some refugees from Lebanon. The latter came to Cyprus after 1974. The north got an extra 20.000 to 40.000 farmers from Minor Asia. 53% of the total population live in one of the cities. Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, is the largest town on the island with almost 190.000 inwoners. The other cities are Limassol (145.000), Larnaka (64.000), and Paphos (34.000). The population density in the north is about 40 people per square km., in the south about 90 eople per sq. km2.

LanguagesNaar boven

The official languages are Greek in the south and Turkish in the north part of Cyprus. English is used for trade. The New Greek, which is being spoken and written in the south part, varies a little from the mother tongue. Most people also speak English, but in the northern part less than in the south. The Turkish in the north is similar as the language on the mainland of Turkey.

ClimateNaar boven

Cyprus is the most dry and warm island in the Mediterranean. It has a Mediterranean climate with long, dry summers and soft winters. The hottest months are July and August, with maximum temperatures above 40°C. The average temperature in summer is between 25 en 30°C. Best periods to visit are March - June and September - October. Coldest months are December, January and February with average temperatures in the mountains between 3 and 12°C. From January up to March the snowy mountain slopes are suitable for skiing. From October until March an average of 300 mm rain can fall, but in the western regio this can be as much as 1100 mm. The remaining of the year it is dry. The lime-rich soil retaions the water, so a lot of wells still flow in summer, but almost all rivers dry out. For more details, look at this weatherpage.

Flora and faunaNaar boven

In the mountains the Aleppo-pinetree can be found abundantly, but also some sort of sone-oak and a special species of ceder. On the western and southern slopes of the Troodos-mountains there are vast vine-yards. Somewhat lower on the slopes locust trees, cypresses, olive trees and ceratonia's (that's the latin name, we don't know the english term) can be found. The valleys are populated by poplars and eucalyptus trees and also many orchards wirh fruit trees. Near the coast palm trees and agaves. From February until May, Cyprus is one large sea of flowers. Narcisses are in blossom everywhere, next to cyclamen, irises, wild orchids, anemones, poppies, buttercups, peonies and the asphodel, which had an important symbolic meaning in earlier times.
There is not a great variety of mammals on Cyprus. Most striking is the mouflon, some sort of sheep. Furthermore there are foxes, rabbits, weasels and hares. Various species of bats also belong to the endemic mammals. Several species of reptiles live on the island: snakes, lizards, water turtles, frogs and chameleons. There are 53 different types of butterflies, among them some rare ones. Have a look at grayling.dirco.co.uk for more information.

Of birds there are about 300 species, many of them just spend the winter on the island. Migratory birds like the stork, buzzard, kite, crane and many songbirds and waterbirds settle down on Cyprus from the end of August on. Special are the approximately 10.000 flamingo's that spend the winter in the salt lakes.
Endemic birds are the wood pigeon, kestrel and barn owl. The most common bird of prey is the imperial eagle. More rare is the griffon vulture.
There is no freshwater fish on Cyprus, but in the stream in the Troodos mountains there are plenty of freshwater crabs. The sea around Cyprus hasn't much to offer: most sea animals live on a depth of almost 30 meters. Most common are the parrot fish, the shanny, the goby and the rainbow fish.
The Mediterranean monk seal and the dolphin are protected species. In the summer turtles lay their eggs on the sandbeaches and are protected also.
Several national and reservation parks were established over the last ten years. Two examples are the Athalasa park and Tripylos in the Troödos mountains.
More about wildlife on Cyprus can be found on http://www.natureofcyprus.org/ travel.com.cy.

EconomyNaar boven

Since Independence in 1960, Cyprus has been transformed from a backward, predominantly agricultural society to a modern thriving economy with a high per capita income for its citizens. Cyprus follows an open free market economic system whereas the state is limited to regulation, the provision of public utilities and indicative planning.
With Independence came rapid growth and a move away from dependence on agricultural production - which accounted for around 45% of the labour force and 20% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1961 - towards manufacturing and services. Between 1960-73, in addition to the comparatively very high growth rate, the inflation as well as the unemployment rate were very low.
The success story in both the economic and social fields came to an abrupt end with the Turkish invasion of 1974. The displacement of over a third of the island's population inevitably threw the economy into chaos. Every sector was seriously affected and unemployment reached unprecedented levels (around 30% ). The infrastructure collapsed, industrial output fell by over 50% as well as agricultural output. The tourist industry was almost devastated by the loss of the coastal towns of Kyrenia and Famagusta and of about two-thirds of its total hotel capacity.
But the Greek part of the island recovered quickly and the economy was stabilized around 1985 with an annual growth of 3.8% and unemployment rate of 3.4%. Inflation fluctuated around 5%.
The part of the labour force working in agriculture (32% in Turkish and 13% in Greek Cyprus) has dropped because of growth in other sectors, like industry, building industry, commerce and tourism. The deficit on the trade balance is partly compensated for by the revenues the British and UN troops provide and the money transfers of emigrants. Nevertheless, the foreign debt of Cyprus has increased strongly since 1980.
The economy on the Turkish part of the island is mostly orientated towards Turkey. Cut off of much international help (except Turkey's) and of export possibilities (since 1983 the European Union only imports via the Greek part), growth was underdeveloped compared with Greek Cyprus. North Cyprus is mainly agricultural land. Export consists for 80% of agricultural products which are exclusively exported to Turkey.

Agriculture, cattle breeding, fishing industryAlthough agriculture is no longer the backbone of the Cyprus economy, it retains an important position. Apart from providing valuable foreign exchange, the sector employs 12,5% of the labour force and provides materials for local industry. It contributes 5,5 % to GDP. The agricultural sector spans a diverse range of activities including animal husbandry, forestry, fishing and crop production with potatoes, other vegetables, citrus, grapes and cereals being the main crop products. The diversity of agricultural production reflects the wide range of soils and unique micro-climates in Cyprus which allow for the cultivation of strawberries, cherries, apricots and kiwis, as well as subtropical varieties such as avocados and bananas. New fruit varieties do well in Cyprus. In winter and early spring, substantial volumes of new potatoes, carrots and beetroot are exported. Recent years have also seen a major expansion of out-of-season salads and vegetable exports to the European Union with items such as okra and tomatoes doing especially well. The Cyprus-EC Customs Union Agreement has boosted the island's exports of fresh fruits and vegetables. Total agricultural exports to European Union countries reached C60 m by 1995.
46% of the island is still arable land; the most important area the plain of Messaoria, east of Nicosia.
Cattle breeding is also still of importance; it used to be sheep and goats, nowadays the farms breed cows and sheep for milk and eat.
The fishing industry is also growing. Better techniques lead to more production and fish is even being exported.
About 1750 square kilometers of Cyprus is covered with woods.

Mining industry and energy supply
In antiquity, Cyprus was for many centuries the biggest copper producer in the then known world and its mining industry lasted longer than all others.
Today mining is only taking place on the Greek part and copper is still one of materials, just as iron, chrome, asbestos, marble and plaster.
For the supply of energy, Cyprus totally depends on the import of oil from the Middle East.

Commerce and industry
Textile is the most important product for export, followed by potatoes, shoes, cement and raw materials. Furthermore canned fruit, wine, vegetables and olive oil is being exported. Most important export countries are Greece, the United Kingdom and the Arabic countries. In 1998 export was good for 1.1 billion dollar.
But the trade balance chronically shows a deficit because Cyprus has to import many products, being a small island. In 1998 it had to import for 3.5 billion dollar. Mainly these products are foods, oil and oil products, machines and chemical products. Main import countries are the United Kingdom, the USA, Germany, Greece and Italy. Cyprus has been linked to the European Union since 1973 by an Association Agreement which provides for the establishment of a customs union in two stages. This agreement contains arrangements on trade, financial and technical cooperation which are to be applied for the benefit of the entire population of the island. The first stage provided for the phased reduction of tariffs on industrial goods and agricultural products. After the invasion in 1974 this arrangement was only valid for the Greek part.
The commerce in the Turkish part is concentrated on Turkey. In 1998 it exported for 63.9 million dollar and imported for the amount of 374 million dollar.
The industry was heavily damaged by the events of 1974. The Greek part however, which had lost 70% of its production capacity, recovered quickly and flourishes again. Growth of the construction industry was considerable as a result of the thriving tourism. Apartments, holiday bungalows and hotels were build everywhere.
There is almost no heavy industry. Most companies have at most 5 employees and mainly agricultural products are processed. The most important branches are the foodsector, shoes-, textile-, paper- and tabacco-industry. In the cities there are a lot of one-person companies.
The biggest part of the processing industry is concentrated in the area around Nicosía and Limassol.

TourismNaar boven

Before 1974 tourism was mainly concentrated at Famagusta and Kyrenia, both part of the Turkish part now. After 1974 it changed to the southern and south-western parts of the Island, around Paphos. In 1974, almost 90% of the hotels came under Turkish command. By building new hotels tourism in the Greek part has made a spectaculair comeback and now is a very important source of income for the island (12% of the Gross National Product). The number of tourists has increased 6 times between 1980 en 1995 to about 2.1 million a year. Cyprus is very mostly visited by British people.
Tourists in the northern, Turkish part, are almost all from Turkey.
Ever since de elimination of Nicosía airport in 1974, Larnaka functions as the new internationale airport for Greek Cyprus. Páphos also has an airport; The Turkish part has airport Ercan. Cyprus Airways maintains flight to Europe and most Middle East countries.
Limassol and Larnaca took over as main harbour from Famagusta, which was closed for international ship traffic after 1974.
Since 1952, Cyprus has no railways left, but the road network is good. Most of the almost 10.000 km (1991) has been asphalted. Both parts of the island have a separate transportation system. One highway goes from the capital Nicosía to Limassol and Paphos (not quite finished yet (2002).

The Greek-Turkish conflict

Much can be said about this conflict that has gone on for decades now.
But since November 2001 some hope is arising, although the situation first seemed to worsen when talks where opened about Cyprus joining the European Union. Turkey threatened to intervene when it would come to that. Now there seems to be a breakthrough, or at least a chance for a breakthrough. In December 2001 the president of the Greek part of the island, Clerides, met with his Turkish colleague Denktash in the Tuskish territory. Special adviser Alvaro de Soto of the United Nations supervised the meeting.
For information on this meeting take a look at this press review on CNN.
For more detailed information take a look at the next websites: Peace-Cyprus.org, trying to reach peace in Cyprus and HRI.org about the Cyprus Problem.

The actual weather

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