Cyprus island is located in the Eastern Mediterranean. Although this island doesn’t have a large landmass (9,251 km² or 3,572 sq. mi), it is divided into four different areas. The European country of Cyprus, the unrecognized country of Northern Cyprus, a UN buffer zone between the two countries, and two UK Sovereign Base Areas.
In this post, we’ll talk about the history behind why there are two countries on Cyprus island. Plus the reasons why you need to visit Cyprus and Northern Cyprus for your next vacation.
But why does the Cyprus dispute exist?
History of Cyprus
Why was Cyprus colonized?
The Kingdom of Cyprus existed between 1192 and 1489. Italy took over the independent Cypriot government in the same year and ruled it until 1571 when Italians lost the island to the Ottoman Empire. Cyprus remained an Eyalat (State) of the Ottomans on and off until 1878, when the government secretly handed the control to Britons under some conditions, under the ‘Cyprus Convention’ deal.
how did Cyprus become a British protectorate?
In 1878, as a result of the Cyprus Convention, the United Kingdom received as a protectorate the island of Cyprus from the Ottoman Empire in exchange for United Kingdom’s military support to the Ottoman Empire should Russia attempt to take possession of territories of the Ottomans in Asia.
How did Cyprus become part of the British Empire?
Cyprus’s status as a ‘protectorate of the British Empire’ got changed to a ‘Crown Colony’ in 1914 when the Ottoman Empire started a war with the Triple Entente powers (Made up of France, Britain, and Russia). The island got annexed by the British Empire on 5 November 1914 and remained a British colony until 1960.
When did Cyprus gain independence?
On August 16, 1960, Cyprus gained its independence from the United Kingdom, after the long anti-British campaign by the Greek Cypriot ‘National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters’, a guerrilla group could finally make it real.
Why Couldn’t Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots agree on a united government?
Cyprus was to become an independent, non-aligned republic with a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice-president, both having the right of Veto. But Within a short period of time, the first disputes started to arise between the two communities. Issues of contention included taxation and the creation of separate municipalities. Because of the legislative veto system, this resulted in a lock-down in communal and state politics in many cases.
When did Cyprus get divided?
In July 1974, the President of Cyprus was overthrown by the 1974 Cypriot coup d’état carried out by Greece’s military.
When did Turkey invade Cyprus?
Turkey began the invasion of Cyprus on 20 July 1974, under Article 4 of the Guarantee Treaty of 1960 by Turkey (The Guarantee Treaty allowed Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, if attempts to get multilateral support failed, to unilaterally intervene to restore democracy in Cyprus in the event of a coup).
In a two-stage offensive, Turkish troops took control of 38% of the island which displaced about 200,000 Greek Cypriots, whilst at the same time, 60,000 Turkish Cypriots were transferred to these northern occupied areas by the United Nations and British SBA authorities after an agreed temporary population exchange by Turkish and Greek leaders.
When was the Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) established?
On November 15, 1983, eight years after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus officially declared independence as a sovereign state.
How many countries recognize Northern Cyprus?
Turkey is the only country in the world that recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Soon after declaring independence, Pakistan and Bangladesh recognized the TRNC but had to deny it because of the pressure from the U.S. government and United Nations that believed it was illegal.
Is Northern Cypriot Passport acceptable in other countries?
The passport can be used for travel to the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Pakistan, and Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Tanzania. However, the passport holders need to obtain a visa for all of the countries above, except for Turkey.
Northern Cypriot citizens can live and work freely in Turkey.
What to do in Cyprus and Northern Cyprus
Apart from history, this Mediterranean island has a lot to offer on both sides of the island.
Things to do in Cyprus
Being the sunniest country in Europe, Cyprus has an amazing climate year-round for beach lovers. Many Europeans choose Cyprus as their winter sun destination. Cyprus has fabulous beaches all around the country, with white sand and crystal Mediterranean water.
The best beaches in Cyprus
1- Coral Bay: What’s better than having a landscape of banana plantations and vineyards while relaxing on a gorgeous warm white sand? The beach has Blue Flag certification and shallow waters that guarantees that it’s a safe spot for swimming. And if that’s not enough, there are plenty of beach bars dotted along the seafront, and you can even try water skiing as well.
2- Nissi Beach: Even though Nissi Beach is only a few minutes away from the nightlife hotspot ‘Ayia Napa’, it feels like a different planet. The chilled-out sunbathers dot the pearly sand accompanied by the turquoise waters.
3- Konnos Bay Beach: it is located in the east of Protaras, at the edge of Cape Greco, a National Forest Park. So, don’t forget your camera or smartphone, as you would definitely get tempted to take some Instagram Photos from your Cyprus Vacation.
4- Limassol’s beach: lines up two kilometers of soft sand. Its calm waters make it a family-friendly spot – where your kids will have a playground to enjoy while you can take advantage of the cafes, bars, and restaurants nearby.
5- Lara beach, Lara Bay: This beautiful beach is located in the Akamas Peninsula, which is more peaceful than some of Cyprus’ busier beaches. The beach is a popular nesting spot for local Green and Loggerhead turtles.
Historic places in Cyprus
Cyprus has a rich history, dating back to 10,000 BC!
There are various historical sites and churches such as Tombs of the Kings, Nea Paphos, Kykkos Monastery, and Church of Saint Lazarus.
What would be better than seasoning your winter sun vacation with a little touch of history?
Amusement Parks In Cyprus
Ayia Napa Water park
The most famous water park in Cyprus, WaterWorld Themed Waterpark Ayia Napa is ready to make you some fun memories with your friends or family.
Parko Paliatso Luna Park
Parko Paliatso is a massive Luna Park that would make you (and your children) a great night full of fun, laughter, and good memories.
Things to do in Northern Cyprus
Similar to European Cyprus, its neighbor, Northern Cyprus has a lot of tourist places to visit and amenities to enjoy.
Beaches in Northern Cyprus
Northern Cyprus has no shortage of stunning beaches all over it. There are countless beach resorts in Northern Cyprus, and the best thing is that the beaches aren’t as busy as they are on the other side of the border.
Best Beaches in Northern Cyprus
Karpas Beach: Located at the northern-most tip of Cyprus about 15 km from the town of Rizokarpaso, Karpas Beach AKA ‘Nangomi Beach’ is said to be Cyrus island’s best beach. Although there is a tour operation to the area, we recommend you to hire a car to catch those breathtaking views along the way.
Karpas is known as the birthplace of ‘Aphrodite’ or ‘Venus’, the goddess of love and beauty in Greek mythology. Miles of golden beaches are perfect for a walk at sunset or sunrise with very little to distract from romance.
Glapsides Beach: It is busier than Karpas beach, but still a beautiful beach to hang out. It’s 5.5 km (3.4 miles) from Famagusta on the eastern side of the island and is a go-to place for locals and students. Its long and sandy beach claims shallow water up to 150m from the shore – perfect for a splash to cool off.
Since the local municipality runs Glapsides Beach, the beach is admission is free, you only pay a small fee for umbrellas and sunbeds. There’s also a bar, mini market, and showers and if you want to dance late into the night, you can do that too during summer weekends.
Acapulco Beach: this beach would give you the best of both worlds. You can either swim alone and enjoy having a part of the beach to yourself or join the crowd near the beach resorts and hotels. A few miles east of Kyrenia, you can visit the five-star Acapulco Hotel’s beach where you pay an entrance fee to sample a selection of facilities such as one of the largest outdoor swimming pools in Northern Cyprus, complete with water slides. You can also take part in beach volleyball, tennis, and basketball.
Resorts and Casinos
Northern Cyprus has been open to gambling and casinos since its establishment in 1974. There are a lot of five-star hotel resorts throughout the country that host hundreds of thousands of Europeans and Middle Easterners who would like to enjoy their holiday at a beach resort, along with having fun at the Casinos.
Turkish Cuisine in Northern Cyprus
Since 99% of residents in Northern Cyprus are of Turkish descendants, they adopted delicious Turkish cuisine as well. There are world-class restaurants that cook the best version of Adana Kebabs, Donair, and Lahmajun.
Unlike the European Cyprus that uses Euro as its currency, the Turkish Lira is the main currency in Northern Cyprus that is weak compared to Euro and US Dollar which makes Northern Cyprus at least three times more affordable than its sister, European Cyprus.
Crossing Cyprus to Northern Cyprus
Traveling From Europe To Turkey In A Blink
Unlike European Cyprus that is full of churches and European symbols, the Northern side of the island is as Turkish as it gets!
As soon as you cross the border from Cyprus to Northern Cyprus, the world around you changes dramatically. From the cars’ plates to the writing and people’s language, Cyprus and Northern Cyprus are completely in contrast to each other.
Tips For Crossing The Cyprus island’s border
1- Ask the Turkish officer to stamp your entrance on a piece of paper, instead of your passport. Because you’ll fall in trouble if you’re leaving from European Cyprus’s airport.
2- If you enter the Cyprus island from Northern Cyprus, you should exit from the same airport, unless you’re an EU zone citizen which enables you to only show an ID card when exiting from European Cyprus.