Situated at the north-eastern end of the Mediterranean basin, Cyprus is the third largest island in the region.
Area: 9.251 km2
Time Zone: GMT+2
Political System: Presidential Democratic Republic
Languages: The official languages of the island are Greek and Turkish, whilst English is widely spoken.
EU Member: State 2004 Eurozone 2008
Cyprus is a small island with a long history and a rich culture that spans 11.000 years, making it one of the oldest civilisations in the Mediterranean – as evidenced by the many fascinating cultural sights, museums, monuments and galleries. Situated at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa – the island’s unique geographic position has played an important part in its turbulent past since antiquity. Its Prehistoric Age inhabitants were joined 3,500 years ago by the Mycenaean Greeks, who introduced and established their civilisation, thus permanently instilling the island’s Greek roots. Many other cultures followed thereafter, including Phoenicians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Romans, Franks, Venetians, Ottomans and British, who all left behind visible remnants of their passage, and have thus created a mosaic of different cultures and periods.
Blessed with the beauty of nature’s best palette, the scenery of Cyprus unfolds across glittering coasts, rolling mountains, fragrant forests and rugged headlands. From the warm shores of the mainland to the unspoiled and cool oasis of the Troodos mountain range, nature lovers, artists, photographers and explorers will all delight in meeting shy creatures, and discovering rare plants that peep out amidst waterfalls, coves, woodland, winding trails and secluded sandy beaches. As the island is on the migration path between Europe, Asia and Africa, Cyprus is a birdwatchers dream, with flocks of flamingos frequenting the salt lakes, and many other significant species passing through or nesting. And deep in the forests, the national animal – the Mouflon – roams freely, with catching a glimpse of this timid, wild sheep a real treat for locals and visitors alike. Exotic and rare forms of wildlife also give Cyprus a special touch. Green and Loggerhead turtles breed on the island’s sandy beaches in summer, while the Mediterranean Seal and dolphins have also been seen swimming in the warm, calm, crystal clear seas of the island.
The Capital: Lefkosia (Nicosia)
With its distinction as the only divided capital in the world, Lefkosia (Nicosia) and its surrounding region combines the heartbeat of the island’s commercial and businesses centre with an interesting past, and rural areas where escape is possible in naturally beautiful, green environs.
The capital itself is steeped in history and culture, with a charming old city surrounded by massive Venetian walls, and the island’s largest concentration of museums, art galleries and religious and historical monuments, that all tell wonderful stories of the island through the ages.
Dating back to the Bronze Age, Nicosia is perhaps the only area of Cyprus that has been continuously inhabited since the Chalcolithic Era (3000 B.C until present day), with its first inhabitants settling in the fertile Mesaoria Valley. Nicosia’s illustrious history and geographical uniqueness have made it a crossroads for some of history’s most important civilizations. Imprints left by greats such as the Ptolemies, Romans and the Byzantines, the Franks, Venetians, Ottomans and finally the British may be encountered in one’s travails through the Old Town area of Nicosia.
Cosmopolitan, glamorous and bustling, the capital of Nicosia is uniquely comprised of an ancient, walled city and a modern, fast-paced metropolis that is the epicentre of the island’s business and commercial activity.
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