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Tourism in Cyprus

Welcome to Cyprus, an island of legends that basks year-round in the light of the warm Mediterranean sun. A storied past 10,000 years long has been civilizations come and go and the likes of everyone form Alexander the Great to Cleopatra stake their claim here. According to the myths, Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty was born here out of the surf of the ocean’s waves, and since then made Cyprus as her territory on earth.

Cyprus is the largest island in the Mediterranean and standing as it does at the crossroads of Europe. Asia and Africa it has had a tumultuous history. The Mycenaeans Achaeans brought their civilization here, establishing the first Greek roots 3000 years ago. Many others passed through, including Phoenicians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Crusaders, Venetians, Ottomans, and the British. The apostles of Christ walked this land. The splendor of Byzantium founded by Constantine the Great at Constantinpole encompassed the island of Cyprus.

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Its 9,251 square kilometers (3,572 square miles) encompass citrus and olive groves, pine fostered mountains, and some of Europe’s cleanest beaches. Also the easternmost island in the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus is approximately 105 kilometers west of Syria, 75 kilometers south of Turkey and 380 kilometers north of Egypt. The nearest Greek point is the Greek island of Rhodes which is 380 kilometers to the west. The island has a mild, typically Mediterranean climate, with abundant sunshine even in winter and little rainfall. Prominent geographic features include the Troodos massif that occupies most of the southwestern part of the country. It is here that the capital city, Lefkosia (Nicosia), is located.

According to the latest statistics in 2003, the population of Cyprus is 818.200. The Greek Cypriots compose 79.1% of this figure.

In the villages, old customs and traditions are still kept alive. Young girls still engage in lace- making in the beautiful village of Lefkara just as their grandmothers did before them. Potters still create wondrous anthropomorphic shapes to decorate their earthenware vessels at picturesque Fioni and the sound of hand looms can still be hard in Fyti, home of attractive hand-women materials, whist, men in traditional baggy trousers, ‘vraka’, still congregate at the coffee shop for a game of backgammon. In Cyprus the 21st century rubs shoulders with a civilization 10000 years old. There are festivals whose origins stretch back into antiquity.

Wine Festival, one of the most significant festivals, is held in September, when wine flows free. The Mediaeval folk songs are still sung in Cyprus keeping alive the legends of Digenis, the unconquerable border guard of Byzantium. In the narrow streets of the walled city of Lefkosia the coppersmith works with the metal as did his ancestors 5000 years ago. In the shade of old houses with their overlooking balconies, the flavour of the past lingers among the old typical stone houses.

Today, Cyprus is a modern country that effortlessly marries European culture with ancient enchantment. Here you will discover a compact world of alluring beaches and fragrant mountain peaks, vineyards studded with olive trees and ancient ruins that stir the imagination, citrus groves and old stone villages where sweet wine flows as freely as conversations at the local cafι. A carefree place where a sense of timelessness is magnified by the kindness of the people.

Religion Today
Perhaps because Cyprus has seen so many empires and cultural influences ebb and flow over the centuries, the country enjoys an exceedingly high level of freedom of worship. While the majority of Cypriots and Greek Orthodox Christian (85%), other religious faiths are represented on the island as well, including Armenians, Maronites, Roman Catholics, Latins and Muslims.

Greek and Turkish are the main languages. English is widely spoken. French and German are also spoken within the tourism industry.

Cyprus for All Seasons
One of the benefits of being a Mediterranean island is plentiful sunshine throughout the year, and Cyprus is no exception. In fact, Cyprus epitomizes the ideal weather of the region with sunny days and fine temperatures almost every day. Cyprus has something to offer every month of the year.

Summer stretches from mid-May to mid-October and it is the ideal season for swimming, sunbathing and a whole range of water sports. At this time of year, explore the archaelogical site early in the morning or in late afternoon, avoiding the hottest part of the day. Troodos is ideal for hiking or simply relaxing during this time.

Toward the end of October evenings do tend to get cooler. December and January are the months of Mediterranean winter. The cultural calendar is also alive and well throughout the winter. The first orchids bloom in January in Cyprus, and by mid- February the countryside is already alive with fresh green meadows and almond trees in bloom. Early spring is a wonderful time to visit Cyprus.

Cyprus enjoys a rich vegetation and it has 1905 species of flowering plants.

Kopiaste! Loosely translated, it means “come, join us” and it conveys the welcoming spirit you will find in such abundance the hospitality in Cyprus. Cypriot food and cooking is mostly influenced by its situation in the east Mediterranean. Therefore, the food has eastern taste. “Mezze” is a sample of each food offered in the restaurants to the customer to choose his favorite dish.

General Information

· Cyprus is a member of the European Union since 1st May 2004.
· The importation, possession and use of narcotics and psychotropic substances are strictly prohibited by law.
· Vaccination: Not requires.
· Tap water is drinkable.
· The currency of the Republic is the Cyprus Pound (CCYP) which is divided into 100 cents. Notes are issued in L20, L10, L5 and L 1 denominations.
· Banks in Cyprus open for the public from 08:30 to 13:00. Automatic Exchange Machines and ATM Machines operate on a 24- hours basis. Certain banks in tourist areas are open during afternoon.
· The voltage on the island in 240. socket outlets are of flat 3-pin type
· All international brands of medication are available in well stocked pharmacies all over Cyprus.
· Telephones: Cyprus’ automatic telephone dialing system reaches over 200 countries. Telecards can be purchased from Post Offices, kiosks and souvenir shops.
· It is forbidden to remove antiquities from the bottom of the sea, or to take them out of Cyprus without a special export license.
· Visitors should respect ecclesiastic traditions and avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless garments in churches and monasteries.
· Short cruises to the Greek island, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria can be taken on one of the many comfortable cruise ships which offer full-board accommodation and entertainment at very reasonable prices.
· Tipping in restaurants, taxis etc. is optional but always welcome.
· A reasonably priced delicious meal popular with the locals in ‘souvlaki stin pitta’ – kebab in a special envelope-type bread.

Getting Around the Island
· Driving is on the left hand side of the road.
· All resorts are connected by modern dual-carriageway motorways.
· Trans-urban service-taxis are shared daytime taxis liking the main towns of Lefkosia(Nicosia), Lemesos (Limassol), Larnaka and Pafos. A very reasonably priced option for traveling around.
· Petrol stations in all coastal areas and major towns are equipped with automatic pumps, accepting bank notes and international credit cards, operation on a 24-hours basis.
· A number of experienced tourist companies organize efficiently –run day trips, excursions and tours, in modern air-conditioned coaches with multilingual guides.
· Yacht charter is available, with or without crew.

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