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Cyprus Travel Guide


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Cyprus is an island country situated in the eastern Mediterranean east of Greece, west of Lebanon, Syria, and Israel, south of Turkey and north of Egypt.

Cyprus is the third largest Mediterranean island and one of the most popular tourist destinations, attracting over 2.4 million tourists per year. A former British colony, it became an independent republic in 1960 and a member of the Commonwealth in 1961. The Republic of Cyprus is one of the advanced economies in the region, and has been a member of the European Union since 1 May 2004. It adopted the euro on 1 January 2008.

In 1974, following years of intercommunal violence between ethnic Greeks and Turks and an attempted coup d'état by Greek Cypriot nationalists aimed at annexing the island to Greece and engineered by the military junta then in power in Athens, Turkey invaded and occupied one third of the island. This led to the displacement of thousands of Cypriots and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot political entity in the north. This event and its resulting political situation are matters of ongoing dispute.

Cyprus Destinations: Nicosia | Ayia Napa | Larnaca | Limassol | Paphos | Polis | Protaras


Tourism in Cyprus

Tourism occupies a dominant position in the economy of Cyprus.

In 2006 it was expected to contribute 10.7% of GDP.
in real terms it generated CYP£2,598.2 mn (US$5,445.0 mn) (annual-2006).
total employment was estimated at 113,000 jobs (29.7% of total employment = 1 in every 3.4 jobs).

Cyprus became a full member of the UNWTO when the organisation was created in 1975.

According to the World Economic Forum's 2007 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, Cyprus' tourism industry ranks 20th in the world in terms of overall competitiveness. In terms of Human, Cultural and Natural Resources Cyprus ranks 3rd in the world.

Much of the tourist industry relies on the clean beaches to attract foreign tourists. This reflects in the seasonal distribution of tourist arrivals with a disproportionate number arriving during the summer months. Recently Cyprus has provided incentives for the development of winter and all year round tourism such as in the form of nature, golf and activity holidays. Marinas and casinos are being considered to add to the tourist attractions of the island.


Cyprus World Heritage Sites

Choirokoitia (1998)
An archaeological site on the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea, dating from the Neolithic age. It has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1998. The site is known as one of the most important and best preserved prehistoric sites of the eastern Mediterranean. Much of its importance lies in the evidence of an organised functional society in the form of a collective settlement, with surrounding fortifications for communal protection.

The Neolithic aceramic period is represented by the settlement of Choirokoitia and about 20 other similar settlements, spread throughout Cyprus. The site was discovered in 1934 by Dr Porphyrios Dikaios, director of the Cyprus Department of Antiquities who carried out six excavations between 1934 and 1946. His initial findings were published in the Journal of Hellenic studies in 1934. Further excavations were then held in the early 70's but were interrupted by the Turkish invasion of the island. A French mission under the direction of Alain Le Brun resumed excavation of the site in 1977. It was occupied from the 7th until the 4th millennia BC.

The settlement of Khirokitia is situated on the slope of a hill in the valley of the Maroni River towards the southern coast of the island about 6 km from the sea.

Subsistence methods practiced by its Neolithic inhabitants included farming crops and herding cattle.

It is a closed village, cut off from the outside world, apart from by the river, by a strong wall of stones 2.5 m thick and 3 m at its highest preserved level. Access into the village was probably via several entry points through the wall.

The buildings within this wall consist of round structures huddled close together. The lower parts of these buildings are often of stone and attain massive proportions by constant additions of further skins of stones. Their external diameter varies between 2.3 m and 9.20 m while the internal diameter is only between 1.4 m and 4.80 m. A collapsed flat roof of one building found recently indicates that not all roofs were dome shaped as was originally believed.

The internal divisions of each hut were according to the purpose of its usage. Low walls, platforms designated work, rest or storage areas. They had hearths presumably used for cooking and heating, benches and windows and in many cases there is evidence of piers to support an upper floor. It is believed that the huts were like rooms several of which were grouped around an open courtyard and together formed the home.

The population of the village at any one time is thought not to have exceeded 300 to 600 inhabitants. The people were rather short - the men about 1.61 m on average and the women about 1.51 m. Infant mortality was very high and life expectancy was about 22 years. On average adult men reached 35 years of age and women 33. The dead were buried in crouched positions just under the floors of the houses. In some instances provision was made for offerings so presumably a form of ancestor cult existed inside households.

This, the earliest known culture in Cyprus, consisted of a well-organised, developed society mainly engaged in farming, hunting and herding. Farming was mainly of cereal crops. They also picked the fruit of trees growing wild in the surrounding area such as pistachio nuts, figs, olives and prunes. The four main species of animals whose remains were found on the site were deer, sheep, goats and pigs.

The village of Choirokoitia was suddenly abandoned for reasons unknown at around 6000 BC and it seems that the island remained uninhabited for about 1.500 years until the next recorded entity, the Sotira group.

Painted Churches in the Troodos Region (1985)
Troodos is the biggest mountain range of Cyprus, located in the center of the island. Troodos' highest peak is Mount Olympus at 1,952 metres.

Troodos mountain range stretches across most of the western side of Cyprus. There are many famous mountain resorts, Byzantine monasteries and churches on mountain peaks, and nestling in its valleys and picturesque mountain villages clinging to terraced hill slopes.

There are nine churches and one monastery in Troodos that are counted among UNESCO's World Heritage Sites and several other monasteries, of which the Kykkos monastery is the richest and most famous. The nine Byzantine churches are:

Stavros tou Ayiasmati
Panayia tou Araka
Timiou Stavrou at Pelendri
Ayios Nikolaos tis Stegis
Panayia Podithou
Assinou
Ayios loannis Lampadistis
Panayia tou Moutoula
Archangel Michael at Pedhoulas

The area has been known since ancient times for its copper mines, and in the Byzantine period it became a great centre of Byzantine art, as churches and monasteries were built in the mountains, away from the threatened coastline.

Paphos
Paphos is a coastal city in the southwest of Cyprus and the capital of Paphos District. In Antiquity two locations were called Paphos: Old Paphos and New Paphos. The currently inhabited city is New Paphos.

Paphos is the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, and the founding myth is interwoven with the goddess at every level. In Greco-Roman times Paphos was the island's capital, and it is famous for the remains of the Roman Governor's palace, where extensive, fine mosaics are a major tourist attraction. The apostle Paul of Tarsus visited the town during the first century. The town of Paphos is included in the official UNESCO list of cultural and natural treasures of the world's heritage.

In the founding myth, even the town's name is linked to the goddess, as the eponymous Paphos was the son of Pygmalion and his ivory cult image of Aphrodite, which was brought to life by the Goddess as "milk-white" Galatea.

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