All Other Destinations and Attractions in Cyprus
Republic of Cyprus - History & Geography
The summer months are hot and dry, with average temperatures of fully 82'F/28'C at Famagusta and 72 'F/22 'C in the mountain, regions. The winters are mild, with high precipitation, which in the Tróodos Mountains falls in the form of snow between November and March-April, offering excellent facilities for winter sports from the end of January to March. Precipitation is the highest in the mountain regions, particularly in the west (an average of up to 40in./l,000mm a year in the Tróodos), falling toward the east, with the lowest figures in the plain (about 16in./400mm). There are 340 days of sunshine in the year. The rivers, most of which rise in the Tróodos Mountains, have a flow of water only during the winter months.HistoryCyprus has been settled by man since the Stone Age, and the island's copper (Latin sea cyprium) was already being worked in the Chatcolithic period. Here the Cretan / Mycenaean culture came into contact with influences from Asia Minor and Mesopotamia. After being successively controlled by Egyptians, Achaeans, Phoenicians and Persians, Cyprus was occupied by Rome in 58 B.C. After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire the island fell to the Byzantines, in 1191 it was conquered by Richard Coeur-de-Lion of England; and in 1489 it passed to Venice. In 1570-71 it was taken by the Turks, who were compelled in 1878 to cede it to Britain.The resistance of the Greek population to British rule found expression in a rising in 1931 in favor of enosis (union with Greece); and even after Archbishop Makarios (1913-77) came to power as Ethnarch in 1950 guerrilla activity continued. In 1960 Cyprus became an independent republic within the British Commonwealth. In 1974 an attempted coup by officers of the National Guard aimed at securing union with Greece led to the occupation of the northern half of the island by Turkish troops, and most of the Greeks living in that area sought refuge in the southern half. Since the unilateral proclamation of a Turkish-Cypriot Federal State in 1975 the boundary between northern and southern Cyprus along the "Attila line", which passes through the island's capital, Nicosia, has become practically impassable.PopulationSince the division of Cyprus into two parts its population structure has undergone a fundamental change. Of the 650,000 inhabitants some 80% are Greeks professing the Orthodox faith, who occupy only 60% of the island's area, while the 18% of Turks (Muslims) has 40%. The vacuum created by the expulsion of the Greek population from northern Cyprus is being filled by the immigration of settlers from Anatolia, while there has been a considerable increase, over the past 10 years, in the emigration of Greeks from the overcrowded southern part of the island. In addition to Greeks and Turks there are small minorities of Armenians, Maronites and Jews. Some 58% of the population live in rural areas and 42% in towns.The six principal towns, all district capitals, are Nicosia (officially Lefkosia, Turkish Lefkoqa), Limassol (Lemesos) in the south, Famagusta (Ammokhostos, Turkish Magusa) in the east, Larnaca in the south Paphos in the southwest and Kyrenia (Turkish Game) in the north. Some 100sq. mi/260sq. km of the island around Dekelia on the southeast coast and Akrotirl at its southern tip are British sovereign base areas.EconomyA major contribution is made to Cyprus's economy by agriculture. Half of its total area is under cultivation, in particular the very fertile Mesaoria Plain (wheat and barley in the east, citrus fruits, olives and almonds in the west) and the northern coastal areas with their large plantations of citrus fruits. Fields of vegetables and orchards cover the lower slopes of the Tróodos Mountains and contribute most of the island's exports. The mild climate makes it possible, with the help of judicious irrigation, to harvest two or more crops a year.Stock-farming has declined in favor of crop-farming, but sheep and poultry are still extensively reared. Some 25% of the island's area is covered, with coniferous forests, but in order to preserve the stock these are not worked. Fishing is only of local importance.Cyprus is well supplied with minerals, although the copper mines of the Classical period are now almost worked out. The main export products are pyrites, asbestos, chromium, gypsum and umber. Industry is still in process of development. Most of the firms are of small or medium size, usually family-owned. The main emphasis is on the processing of agricultural produce (foodstuffs industries, textiles). The island's energy supply depends entirely on imported oil. There is a fairly dense road network of some 3,100mi/5,000km. One relic of the British occupation is that vehicles travel on the left. The tourist trade, which had been brought almost to a standstill by the tense political situation, has enjoyed a vigorous revival in the Greek part of the island during the last few years.
This region has been taken over by the Turkish occupation. Many of the Greek and Christian sites have been defaced or destroyed and the place names have been changed.Many of the villages were also damaged by a recent fire that swept through the area.
The principal port in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus is Kyrenia, (Kerinis; Turkish Girne; pop. 4,000), the ancient Kerynia, picturesquely situated on the flanks of the Pentadaktylos Range. Its remote and secluded situation gives it a particular charm. To the east of the harbor towers a massive castle (ninth-16th centuries).