Cyprus is ideally positioned in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, at the crossroads of three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. Early inhabitants can be traced back to 6000 BC, and for generations, its strategic importance has been well recognised, with a succession of nations occupying the island and making it a stronghold to safeguard their supremacy in the region.
Today, Cyprus is a member-state of the European Union, and a Eurozone country, with a diverse and dynamic mix of tourism, agriculture, industry and commerce. The multicultural workforce is mobile, well-educated and enthusiastic, and infrastructure is modern, with leading-edge communications, excellent healthcare facilities and education to international university standards. A 2017 projection indicates that the Cyprus population will rise to about 1.19 million inhabitants at year end.
The capital of Cyprus is Lefkosia (Nicosia) with a population of about 310,000. It is situated roughly in the middle of the island and is the seat of government as well as being the main business centre. Lefkosia has the unwelcome distinction of being the only divided capital city in the world. Since the Turkish invasion of 1974 its northern part has been under occupation and is separated from the south by a United Nations patrolled buffer zone – although this can be crossed with little formality at certain strategic points.
The second biggest city on the island is the main commercial port of Lemesos (Limassol) in the south of the island, which is also popular with tourists and has a population of in excess of 135,000. The coastal town of Larnaka in the south-east has a population of about 72,000 and is the island´s second commercial port and a thriving tourist destination. To the west of the town is Larnaka´s international airport. Pafos in the south-west, with a population of around 36,000, has a fast developing tourist-based economy and is home to the island´s second international airport. In the Turkish occupied area, Ammochostos (Famagusta) in the eastern part of the island was the original hub of the pre-1974 tourist industry. Other main towns which are also under Turkish occupation are Morfou in the north-west and Keryneia on the north coast.
The history of Cyprus is one of the oldest recorded in the world. From the earliest times Cyprus´ historical significance far outweighed its small size. Its strategic position at the crossroads of three continents, as well as its considerable supplies of copper and timber combined to make it a highly desirable territorial acquisition.The first signs of civilization go back to the 9th millennium BC, while the discovery of copper on the island brought wealth and trade to the island. Around 1200 BC a process began that was to stamp the island with an identity that it still has today; the arrival of Mycenaean – Achaean Greeks as permanent settlers, who brought with them their language and culture.
Cyprus was subsequently conquered by various nations but managed to retain its Greek identity, language and culture intact. The Turkish Cypriots came much later. They were descendants of the Ottoman Turks who occupied the island for more than 300 years between the 16th and 19th century, and have contributed their own heritage to the country.Christianity was introduced to the island during the 1st century AD by St. Paul himself and St. Barnabas, founder of the Church of Cyprus.
Neolithic Period (8200-3900 BC)
Remains of the oldest known settlements in Cyprus date from this period. They can best be seen at Choirokoitia, just off the Nicosia to Limassol highway. At first, only stone vessels were used. Pottery appeared on a second phase after 5000 BC.
Chalcolithic Age (3900-2500 BC)
Transitional period between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. Most Chalcolithic settlements were found in western Cyprus, where a fertility cult developed. Copper was beginning to be discovered and exploited on a small scale.
Bronze Age (2500-1050 BC)
Copper was more extensively exploited bringing wealth to Cyprus. Trade developed with the Near East, Egypt and the Aegean, where Cyprus was known under the name of Alasia.
After 1400 BC Mycenaeans from Greece first came to the island as merchants. Around 1200 BC, mass waves of Achaean Greeks came to settle on the island spreading the Greek language, religion and customs. They gradually took control over Cyprus and established the first city-kingdoms of Pafos, Salamis, Kition and Kourion. The hellenisation of the island was then in progress.
Geometric Period (1050-750 BC)
Cyprus was then a Greek island with ten city-kingdoms. The cult of the Goddess Aphrodite flourished at her birthplace Cyprus.
Republic of Cyprus
According to the Zurich-London agreements, Cyprus became an independent republic on 16 August 1960. As an independent country it became a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement. According to the above treaty, Britain retained two sovereign bases (158.5 sq. km) on the island, at Dekeleia and Akrotiri-Episkopi.
The Zurich - London agreements comprised the Treaty of Establishment, the Treaty of Guarantee and the Treaty of Alliance. Under the Treaty of Guarantee, Britain, Greece and Turkey pledged to ensure the independence, territorial integrity of Cyprus as well as respect for its Constitution. The Treaty of Alliance between Cyprus, Greece and Turkey was a military alliance agreed for defence purposes. These agreements also became the basis for the 1960 Constitution.
The 1960 Constitution incorporated a system of entrenched minority rights unparalleled in any other country. The 18% Turkish Cypriot community was offered cultural and religious autonomy and a privileged position in the state institutions of Cyprus (Turkish Cypriot Vice President, three out of the ten Ministers of the Government and 15 out of 50 seats in the House of Representatives). The Turkish Cypriot leadership’s use of its extensive powers of veto gave rise to deadlock and inertia. In November 1963, when Cyprus´ first President Makarios put forward proposals for amendment of the Constitution in order to facilitate the smooth functioning of government, the Turkish side promptly rejected them, arguing that the Constitution could not be amended without the entire independence agreement being revoked.
The Turkish Cypriot ministers withdrew from the Council of Ministers and Turkish Cypriot civil servants ceased attending their offices. The ensuing constitutional deadlock gave rise to intercommunal clashes and Turkish threats to invade. Since then, and despite the fact that normality gradually returned to the island, the aim of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, acting on instructions from the Turkish Government, has been the partitioning of Cyprus and its annexation to Turkey.
From: Aspects of Cyprus
Limassol (Lemessos) is situated in the south of the island and it is Cyprus´ main industrial and maritime area and also the second biggest town of the country. Its population is about 135.000 and rises during holiday times because of the tourism. Most of the tourists only pass by on their way to the more historic sites like Akrotiri or the Troodos mountains, but there is actually a lot to see in Limassol besides a busy industrial centre. Places of interest include the Berengaria Castle, the place where Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria, Kolossi Castle, the ancient city of Curium and its still functioning theatre, Amathunta and many other archeological sites scattered around the city.
If it is night life you are looking for, check out Germasogeia, the tourist area of Limassol, where both locals and tourists meet in the vibrant clubs and bars. The old city centre though is the place to go to. A walk will lead the visitor to a vibrant community full of shop owners, crafts people, artists of all disciplines and businessmen.
Because the city is relatively untouched by the streams of tourism, it has been able to maintain the traditions of Cypriote life: meze restaurants, wine and beer cellars, places to sit outside and just watch people passing by. Nevertheless, traditional old boutiques and dark inns, where the Cypriots drink the famous Brandy sour drink are rapidly changing into modern shopping centres and restaurants. Limassol is known for its famous wine festivals held in August.
The district of Lemesos (Limassol) which covers the south part of Cyprus, borders with the district of Larnaca in the east, with the district of Paphos in the west, as well as with the capital Nicosia in the north. The stretch of land which is included in the boundaries of Lemesos Municipality is 34.870.000 sqyare meters or 34.87 square kilometers.The limited water resources of the countryside and the continuously increasing need for irrigation, industrial and touring aims, lead to the building of the dams in order to increase the water reserves.The bigger ones among the dams are the dams of Kourris which has a capacity of 115,000,000 m3, the Yermasoyia dam which has a capacity of 13,600,000 m3 and the dam of Polemidia with a capacity of 3.864,000 m3. The dynamic of the dams of the province is about 135,000,000 m3.
The dams are of great importance to Lemesos (Limassol). Sufficient agricultural areas are watered in the summer time when the rain is limited.
The climate of Lemesos (Limassol) is warm and dry in the summer and mild in the winter it is a marvelous Mediterranean climate. In the summer the temperature during daytime fluctuates between 22.00 Celsius degrees and 38.00 and in winter between -1,0 and 180 Celsius degrees, according to the altitude of the area. The temperature of the sea water, is about 15.500 Celsius degrees in winter and 24.500 in August and September. These temperatures allow swimming throughout the year.
The hilly and mountainous areas of the countryside of Lemesos (Limassol) are rich in vegetation. The main kinds are the Pinus Brutia, the Pinus Nigra and a kind of cypress tree known as «Juniperus oxycedrus» which grows at an altitude of about 1200 - 1500 meters. The plane trees and the aldez grow in the valleys of Troodos while a kind of oak tree named «latzia» and the «trimithia» grow on the slopes of the hills. The most frequent kinds are the wild roses. the thyme and the lentisk (bush).
Occupations of the inhabitants
The inhabitants of the rural area of Lemesos (Limassol) ore occupied with agriculture, stock breeding, fishing, tourism and industry - handicraft.
The main cultivations include citrus trees, other fruit trees such as cherry trees, pear trees, peach trees, plum trees, fig trees, apricot trees, pomegranate trees, avocado trees, kiwis and banana trees, vineyards, olive trees, almond trees, walnut trees, trees, vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, melons, water-melons, carrots, beetroots, cucumbers, pulses such as legumes, beans, broad beans, chickpeas, lentils, cereals such as wheat, barley, oats.
The great length (80 kilometers) of the coasts of the province of Lemesos (Limassol) has contributed to the development of fishery. Both in the town of Lemesos (Limassol) and in Avdimou village there are fishery refuge places. Quite a big number of the inhabitants of Lemesos (Limassol) are occupied with fishing.
The development of tourism in Lemesos (Limassol) began after 1974 when the Turks invaders occupied Famagusta and Kyrenia, the basic tourist areas of Cyprus. Lemesos (Limassol) has some very good beaches, rich in sand and suitable for sunbathing and swimming. The most important of these are Episkopi, Pissouri, Akrotiri, Amathus and the Lady’s Mile beach. A bathing beach with all the necessary facilities, provided by the «Cyprus Organization of Tourism» (COT), is operating in the town of Lemesos (Limassol), in «Dasoudi» area.
During the summer months there is a distinctive popularity for the hotels of the summer resorts. The most important of these resorts are Platres, Troodos, Prodromos, Agros Pera-Pedhi and omodos.
Lemesos (Limassol) is known for its wine factories. The most important ones are KEO, LOEL, SODAP and ETKO. The wines and cognacs (brandies) that are produced by the grapes that grow in the countryside, are of excellent quality. They have won several awards in international exhibitions. There is a considerable consumption of wine products in Cyprus by the locals and the foreign visitors. Big quantities are exported to Europe. The KEO factory also produces an excellent kind of beer.
The town of Lemesos (Limassol) is the biggest industrial center of the province. There are about 350 industrial units with 90 industry wares. These industries concern dressmaking, furniture, shoes, drinks, food, prints, metal industry, electric devices, plastic wares as well as many other different industries.
Lemesos (Limassol) is an important trade center of Cyprus. This is due to the presence of the British bases at Episkopi and Akrotiri, and to the displacement of the population in Lemesos (Limassol) after the Turkish invasion in 1974. The trade markets are gathered in the center of the town and in the tourist area along the coast that begins from the old harbor and ends in Amathus area. Most of the hotels, restaurants, confectioneries, discos and places of entertainment in general, are to be found in this area.
Lemesos (Limassol) has two ports. The old port and the new port. The new port has the greatest commercial and passenger flow of traffic and it is the biggest port in the free part of Cyprus. The old harbor has a breakwater 250 meters long and it is able to receive only three small ships. It is thus normally used by small fishing boats. The new harbor is 11 meters deep and has break-waters that are 1.300 meters long. This one is able to receive about 10 ships depending on their size. Exports of grapes, wines, carobs, citrus fruits and imports of cereals, vehicles, machines, textiles, agricultural medicines, fertilizers, iron etc. are exported and imported through these ports.
Cyprus enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with abundant sunshine all year round. Long dry summers and mild winters are separated by short autumn and spring seasons. Summer is a time of high temperatures with cloudless skies, but the sea breeze creates a pleasant atmosphere in the coastal areas. Winters are mild, with some rain and snow on Troodos Mountains.
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. Extremes of temperatures are rare, meaning Cyprus has something to offer every month of the year, whether it's swimming (as late as November) or enjoying cultural sites and festivals (all year long). While seasonal fluctuations are not drastic, however, they are different. Here's what to expect:
For just about Summer stretches from mid-May to mid-October and means high temperatures, cloudless skies and cooling breezes from the sea. It's the ideal season for swimming, sunbathing and a whole range of watersports from sailing to scuba diving. At this time of year, explore the archaeological sites early in the morning or in late afternoon, avoiding the hottest part of the day. It's always a good idea to bring along sun protection, such as sunscreen and a broad-brimmed hat. Even in the height of summer when it's 32C(90F) degrees at the beach (and warmer inland), temperatures are refreshingly cooler in the Troodos, making the mountains ideal for hiking or simply relaxing.
The days of September and October are still sunny and the water warm enough for comfortable swimming. Basically, it's still summer. In Lemesos, the first ten days of September bring the annual Wine Festival, a buoyant period not to be missed.
Toward the end of October evenings do tend to get cooler, however. In October and through November the leaves change color in the Troodos and vineyards take on gold and crimson hues against a backdrop of crystal clear sunlight. In Cyprus even mid-November can feel like summer, but by month's end medium-weight apparel for the late afternoons and evenings will enhance the traveller's experience. It is still possible to enjoy swimming, while inland excursions to villages and vineyards for wine tastings can be very enjoyable. Fall also brings with it the annual Kypria festival, with prestigious local and international musical and dramatic performances at venues throughout Cyprus.
December and January are the months of Mediterranean winter, bringing the possibility of rain, but still an average of six hours of bright sunshine a day. This is the time of year when smaller Mediterranean destinations shut down for the season, but not so Cyprus. The island is a major business centre and has many important heritage sites and museums, all at their least crowded in winter. The cultural calendar is also alive and well throughout the winter, with new events coming all the time. The summer resort of Agia Napa, for example, offers a 'Cultural Winter' with classical music concerts and modern and folkloric dance performances. Into early February there is occasional rain, and often snow in the Troodos - ideal for skiing!
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. March days can still be cool (daytime temperatures around 19C or 65F, 9C or 40F at night) but steadily moderate. Early spring is a wonderful time to visit to Cyprus, with pleasant daytime temperatures and many of the ancient ruins framed by a carpet of red anemones and other wildflowers.
In April and into the middle of May spring is in full force. This is an ideal time for nature hikes and off-road adventures in the pristine Akamas Peninsula. Cyprus has 1,950 species of flowering plants, 140 of which grow nowhere else but on the island, and in the Akamas alone, there are 700 plant species, of which 40 are endemic. From February to April, pink cyclamen sprouts up from rocky foothills and thickets and forms a riveting adornment to the Baths of Aphrodite. From March to April, the pink wavy-leaved monkey orchid (Orchis italica) grows in dense patches around Pafos. If in summer Cyprus is the place to bask in the sun, then spring is the time to savor the natural beauty of the island in bloom.