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About Cyprus

Tourist Information

Location


Cyprus, with an area of 9.251 km2 and coordinates at 35 N and 33 E, lies at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia at the crux of the busy shipping and air routes linking the three continents.




Climate


Cyprus has a pleasant Mediterranean climate, effectively enjoying year-round sunshine, with mild, wet winters (mean daily minimum 5°C and maximum 13°C) and hot, dry summers (mean daily minimum and maximum temperatures are 21°C and 36°C respectively).




Population


The population of the whole of Cyprus was estimated at 938.400 at the end of 2012. The population of the Government controlled area was 848.000 at the end of 2012 (Republic of Cyprus Statistical Service- Demographic Report 2012). The Greek Cypriot community accounted for 74,0% (694.700) of the population, the Turkish Cypriot community 9,8% (91.400) and foreign residents accounted for 16,2% (152.300) of the population. Nicosia, the capital, is situated in the heart of the island with a population of approximately 329.500. The second largest city is Limassol on the south coast with a population of approximately 236.600 and the island’s major port. Larnaca and Paphos are the third and fourth largest cities, each with a new airport, situated on the south east and south west coasts, respectively.




Government and Politics


Cyprus is an independent sovereign Republic with a presidential system of government. The Executive authority is vested in the President who is elected for a five year term by universal vote, and exercised by a Council of Ministers appointed by the President. The Legislative authority of the Republic is exercised by the House of Representatives. House Members are elected by universal vote every five years. The administration of Justice is exercised by the Judiciary, which is a separate and independent body. The current President of the Republic, H.E. Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, was re-elected in February 2018 for a second five-year term. The Government of Cyprus welcomes Foreign Direct Investment supporting the economic development priorities of the country.




Cyprus Landmarks, Unique Features and Attractions

Cyprus is a small island with a very rich history. Historically, its strategic position in the Mediterranean has made it a prize possession for all who rose to power in the Eastern Mediterranean. Today, people visit Cyprus mainly for its beaches and sunny weather. However, for travelers interested in more than just sand and sun, Cyprus has many archaeological sites, fine Byzantine churches, monasteries and museums to offer. It is also a wonderful place to go hiking with an incredible wealth of unique flora and fauna.





The Cities

1/2 Limassol

The old town of Limassol is the heart of the city with narrow streets radiating out from the old fishing harbour. The old city together with the adjacent newly developed marina allows visitors to enjoy pleasant walks with a wide variety of fine dining, bars and nightlife options to satisfy all types of visitors.

2/2 Nicosia

Nicosia is filled with historic architecture combined with newly designed restaurants and bars. Among the various sites to visit in the old town, the Famagusta Gate is the most impressive of the old Venetian Gates. It is one of the three entrances into old Lefkosia through the Venetian walls which have a perimeter of 4.5 km, with eleven heart-shaped bastions and completely encircle the old city. The eastern gate (Porta Giuliana), known nowadays as Famagusta Gate, has been restored and operates as the Nicosia Municipal Cultural Centre. It consists of a large vaulted passage and two side rooms. The internal entrance is very impressive, while the external one opens onto the moat that surrounds the walls.

Beaches and Nightlife

1/2 Ayia Napa: Nissi Beach

With its crystal clear waters and gently shelving white sand, Nissi Beach is not only gorgeous to behold but it is also a great place to relax, eat, drink or participate in various watersport activities. Within close proximity to the coast are a variety of bars and restaurants especially for the younger crowds.

2/2 Paphos: Akamas Peninsula

The Akamas peninsula covers about 230 km2 and is located on the western tip of Cyprus. It is an area of great natural beauty unaffected by development. The uniqueness of the area for Cyprus and for the whole of the Mediterranean is centered on its precious ecology. The diversity of flora and fauna living in this relatively small area is truly impressive. There are rare endemic plants that grow there. Out of a total of 128 endemic plant species of Cyprus, 39 are found in the Akamas peninsula. Additionally, foxes, snakes and other reptiles as well as many types of migratory birds live in Akamas or use it in their migration routes.

Archaeological Sites

1/4 Limassol: Ancient Kourion

Romantically situated across a coastal cliff with tumbling views of the countryside and Mediterranean below, Kourion is a magical place. The entire site is vast, but the most famous section is the theater and the House of Eustolios which holds a clutch of fine, well-preserved mosaics. The large Byzantine basilica area is wonderfully picturesque with its tumbled columns and scraps of mosaic floor.

2/4 Limassol: Theatre of Kourion

Kourion was an important city-kingdom in antiquity and stands as one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Cyprus. Its theatre, located on the southern end of the abrupt hill on which the city is built, is of great significance.

The theatre was constructed at the end of the 2nd century BC, but took its current dimensions during the 2nd century AD. Consisting of a semicircular orchestra that is surrounded by seats of the cavea (subterranean cells), it was enclosed to the south by the building of the scaenae frons (façade) that must have reached the height of the cavea, though today only the foundations remain. On either side of the stage were two vaulted parodoi (corridors) from where the audience entered the theatre. The theatre could seat up to 3,500 spectators.

The theatre has been transformed into an arena that was used for fights with wild animals, yet at the end of the 3rd century AD, the arena spectacles declined and the theatre reassumed its proper purpose. Today, it is the scene of many cultural activities and theatrical performances, especially during the summer season.

3/4 Paphos: Tombs of the Kings

The underground tombs, many of which date back to the 4th century BC are carved out of solid rock and are thought to have been the burial sites of Paphitic aristocrats and high officials up to the 3rd century AD. The name comes from the magnificence of the tombs; no kings were in fact buried here.

4/4 Paphos: House of Dionysus

The House of Dionysus is home to an incredible collection of mosaic floors that are feted for their excellent preservation and vibrant coloring. Part of the larger Paphos Archaeological Site with plenty of Graeco-Roman ruins the House of Dionysus is a wonderful example of the intricate artistry of the period. It’s named after the god Dionysus who crops up in many of the mosaics throughout the house which mostly depict scenes of Greek mythology.

Museums

1/2 Nicosia: Agios Lazaros Byzantine Museum

The Byzantine Museum at the church of Agios (Saint) Lazaros is housed in some of the cells of the hypostyle porch that still stand to its south. The museum’s exhibits include important religious icons, artefacts and relics, including Byzantine icons, gospels, crosses and other ecclesiastical treasures from the whole district of Larnaka (Larnaca).

The church itself is located in its own, picturesque square in the centre of town. It is one of the most remarkable examples of Byzantine architecture in Cyprus and lies over the tomb of the saint, who came to Cyprus after being resurrected by Jesus. He was ordained as Bishop of Kition by the Apostles Barnabas and Paul and lived in the town for 30 years.

Agios Lazaros is so revered that a procession is held in his honour eight days before Easter. During the procession, the icon of the saint is carried through the streets of Larnaka.

2/2 Nicosia: Cyprus Museum

The Cyprus Museum in Nicosia represents all of the island’s history. Extremely well-curated, the museum takes visitors on a journey from the Neolithic age right up to the Ottoman era using beautiful artifacts to show the sophisticated artistry of each period. The standout exhibits are the huge collection of terracotta votive statues that date from the 7th century BC.

Monasteries and Nature Trails

1/5 Troodos: Villages

The Troodos Mountains in the hill region of the southwest are packed with pretty villages full of stone-cut traditional houses and cobblestone alleys. They are also home to some of Cyprus’s most amazing churches and monasteries that hold vibrant frescoes and wall paintings that date from the medieval era. The Troodos churches are so important historically that nine of them have been given UNESCO World Heritage status including the Church of Archangelos Michail in the village of Pedoulas.

2/5 Larnaka: Agios Lazaros Church

The magnificent stone church of Agios Lazaros is one of the most remarkable examples of Byzantine architecture in Cyprus and lies over the tomb of the saint. Built by Byzantine Emperor Leo VI in the 9th century, the church was restored in the 17th century. Although the three domes and original bell tower of the church were destroyed in the first years during Ottoman rule, the gold-covered iconostasis has survived to today and is a superb example of baroque woodcarving.

Saint Lazarus (Agios Lazaros) came to Cyprus after being resurrected by Jesus. He was ordained as Bishop of Kition by the Apostles Barnabas and Paul and lived in the town for 30 years. His tomb can be seen under the sanctuary. The saint is so revered that a procession is held in his honour eight days before Easter. During the procession, the icon of Saint Lazarus (Agios Lazaros) is carried through the streets of Larnaka (Larnaca).

3/5 Larnaka: Agios Lazaros Church

The magnificent stone church of Agios Lazaros is one of the most remarkable examples of Byzantine architecture in Cyprus and lies over the tomb of the saint. Built by Byzantine Emperor Leo VI in the 9th century, the church was restored in the 17th century. Although the three domes and original bell tower of the church were destroyed in the first years during Ottoman rule, the gold-covered iconostasis has survived to today and is a superb example of baroque woodcarving.

Saint Lazarus (Agios Lazaros) came to Cyprus after being resurrected by Jesus. He was ordained as Bishop of Kition by the Apostles Barnabas and Paul and lived in the town for 30 years. His tomb can be seen under the sanctuary. The saint is so revered that a procession is held in his honour eight days before Easter. During the procession, the icon of Saint Lazarus (Agios Lazaros) is carried through the streets of Larnaka (Larnaca).

4/5 Larnaka: Salt Lake

Located southwest of Larnaka town and east of the villages of Meneou and Dromolaxia, Larnaka Salt Lake, known locally as ‘Alyki’, is the second largest salt-lake in Cyprus and measures 2.2 square kilometres. In 1997 it was declared a protected area under Cypriot Law for the Prote¬ction and Management of Nature and Wildlife and under the European Ha¬bitats Directive. It is a significant Ramsar and Natura 2000 site – one of the most significant biotopes in Europe - and one of the most important habitats in Europe for waterfowl.

During the winter, the lake fills with water and is home to migrating birds, including thousands of flamingos that stay between November and March, along with wild ducks and other water or shore fowl that find refuge here on their migratory journeys.

5/5 Protaras: Cape Gkreko National Forest Park

Located east of Agia Napa and southeast of Protaras, the beautiful and protected National Forest Park and conservation area of Cape Greco is a Natura 2000 site that unfolds across 385 hectares of stunning, unspoiled natural landscape. The park incorporates a network of the two kilometres Aphrodite Nature Trail, runs through the southeast coast of the Cape Greco promontory, and is part of the Aphrodite Cultural Route that commemorates the island’s link with the Ancient Greek Goddess. Rich in indigenous fauna and flora, approximately 400 different plant species grow in Cape Greco. The area is also highly popular for diving and boat trips to the many caves, where an underwater world awaits discovery.

Source: Cyprus Tourism Organisation’s Official Website at www.visitcyprus.com

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