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All About The Beautiful Island Of Cyprus

Aug 17, 2007
Cyprus, once a British Colony, is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and is located south of Turkey. Cyprus has a geographically diverse terrain featuring beautiful beaches, as well as miles of unspoiled countryside and plenty of mountains dotted with tranquil villages.

Cyprus, official name Republic of Cyprus, received independence in 1960 from Britain and encompasses approximately 3,571 square miles or 9,250 square kilometers. The population of Cyprus is an estimated 772,000 people with Greek being the official language. However, the language spoken on Cyprus differs from the mainland Greece and varies in its pronunciation. Turkish is also spoken here and the main religion practiced is Greek Orthodox at 78% followed by 18% Muslim and 4% Christians, Maronite and Armenian Apostolic.

Nicosia is the capital city of Cyprus and also the largest in terms of population with roughly 206,000 residents. The monetary unit is the Cyprus pound, which consists of 100 cents and the new Turkish lira, which is 100 kurus.

The two main ethnic communities of Cyprus, the Greeks and Turks, began to split apart governmentally in 1963. This unrest became more distinct and apparent with the Turkish invasion of 1974 when their Cypriots were given de facto power of the northern part of the island. Then, in 1983, Turkey proclaimed an area called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The Greek Cypriots, who continue to control the only government that is recognized nationally, never acknowledged this.

In 1975 and again in 1985, the Turkish Cypriots enacted their own constitution. However, negotiations continue to take place intermittently for the creation of a new constitution and the establishment of a federal government that would improve relations between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

This historically rich island is filled with a culture reminiscent of ancient Europe and the Middle East with over 9,000 years of invasions and unrest. There are many breathtaking sights to be seen here, including crusader castles among the vineyards, as well as centuries old monasteries with intricate Roman mosaic floors overlooking sweet smelling citrus orchards.

One of the most popular attractions in all of Cyprus is the remains of the St. Hilarion castle that has an almost magical quality about it straight from a children's fairytale. This magnificent structure is blended with the cliff side so that it remains hidden from view until one is directly beneath it. The view from St. Hilarion is so fabulous that, on a clear day, you can see the Taurus Mountains in Turkey over 100 kilometers, or a little over six tenths of a mile away.

St. Hilarion boasts tunnels, hidden rooms, steep staircases and overgrown gardens with several paths to explore. Local legend says the castle once had 101 rooms, the last of which being a secret room that belonged to a mystical fairy queen. The actual documented history is less colorful and says the castle is named after a monk called Hilarion who fled persecution in the Holy Land.
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