Cyprus is marking the 55th anniversary of its independence from British rule on October 1. Cyprus became independent from the British in 1960, after a 4-year war. The day is celebrated by festivals at the schools and a large military parade in the capital Nicosia, while offices and shops are closed.
The third-largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia, Cyprus lies off the southern coast of Turkey and the western shore of Syria. The highest peak is Mount Olympus at 6,406 ft (1,953 m).
By legend the birthplace of the ancient Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, Cyprus’s modern history has, in contrast, been dominated by enmity between its Greek and Turkish inhabitants.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a military coup on the island which was backed by the Athens government.
In 1974 the island was effectively partitioned with the northern third inhabited by Turkish Cypriots and the southern two-thirds by Greek Cypriots.
The UN Buffer Zone, commonly called the “Green Line”, dividing the two parts from Morphou through Nicosia to Famagusta, is patrolled by United Nations troops.
The prospect of EU enlargement concentrated minds in the search for a settlement. UN-sponsored negotiations continued throughout 2002 and a peace plan was tabled. Soon afterwards the EU invited Cyprus to become a member.
But hopes that the island could join united were dashed when leaders of the Turkish and Greek communities failed to agree to the UN plan by the March 2003 deadline.
A revised UN reunification plan was put to both communities in April 2004. Turkish Cypriots endorsed the plan but Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected it, and so the island remained divided as it joined the EU in May.
President Nicos Anastasiades has told the latest United Nations General Assembly at the end of September that a solution to the Cyprus problem rests with Turkey. Anastasiades said that during the new negotiating round progress has been achieved in a number of issues on almost all chapters of the Cyprus problem. However, he said that on other substantive issues there are significant differences that need to be resolved, without mentioning what are those issues, according to famagusta-gazette.com.
In 2012, Cyprus’ economy was badly hit by its extensive exposure to recession-hit economy of Greece, and the country was forced to seek emergency help from international lenders.
Russian investors were particularly affected by the collapse of the Cyprus economy, but, despite this, Russia continues to have significant financial interests in the island, according to BBC.
However, during the last decades, Cyprus has become a large services hub, hosting telecommunication activities, shipping, banking, finance tasks etc. and there is still an impressive interest from multinational companies from all around the globe.
Did you know that?
- Cyprus is known as the Island of Love? This island has a long history of love. It was thought to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, Antony gave it to Cleopatra as a gift, and Richard the Lionheart fell in love with a woman there, prompting him to put the Crusades on hold for a year while he stayed with her.
- Cyprus is one of the starting points of the Christianism spreading. In old books, Cyprus is also referred to as the Holly island, the land of Saints and Apostles. Due to this, Cyprus hosts of an archdiocese, one of the very few all around the world, giving the island some extra prestige.
- The country was once the wealthiest nation in the known world. That was during the Copper and Bronze Ages when the island’s rich natural copper resources were exported to other countries.
- Scientists have recently discovered that the world’s oldest perfumery was launched in Cyprus, suck on that of Paris.
- Even the oldest pet of the world, a cat was found here. Legend says that Santa Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, first brought cats to Cyprus to deal with the snakes since droughts and earthquakes were and still are the main natural hazards
- Cyprus is one of Europe’s most southerly ski resorts . Yes, Cyprus gets snow although the winter here is relatively short and most of the island sees only rain (and temperatures of about 15°C), visitors during the winter months can see snow on the Troodos Mountains.
- Cyprus has its own cheese, being the birthplace of halloumi cheese, a mixture of goat and sheep milk that is unique in that it relies on no acid (or acid-producing bacteria) for preparation. Try it fried, grilled, or served fresh.
- Some of the vineyards on Cyprus are considered to be the oldest in the world to continuously produce their wares. Whether this means their wine is more masterful is for you to decide, so tip a glass to your good health.