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Cyprus: The Island of Aphrodite

Cyprus, the island of Aphrodite, is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of its most popular tourist destinations. According to legend Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love, ‘rose from the foam of sea’ off the coast of Cyprus. 

Cyprus is located in the Eastern Mediterranean south of Turkey and west of Syria and Lebanon and is known internationally for two very different reasons. First and foremost it is an extremely polpular holiday destimation, thanks to ots excellent warm climate, wonderfully hospitable people, first-rate hotel accommodation, delicious cuisine and its safe, friendly environment.

One of the first human activities is recorded on the island around the 10th millennium BC. Hirokitia, is one of the archaeological remains from this period and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, together with the Tombs of the Kings. Cyprus, because of its strategic location, has been occupied by several conquerors, including the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Lusignians, Venetians and Ottomans. The island also experienced long periods of Greek rule under the Ptolemies and the Byzantine. Alexander the Great took over the island from the Persians in 333 B.C. The Ottoman Empire started in 1570 and lasted for over three centuries. British administration begun in 1878 until the island was declared independent in 1960. The following year Cyprus became a member of the Commonwealth.

In 1974, Turkey invaded and occupied the northern part of the island. The invasion led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Cypriots to the south part of the island.

The Republic of Cyprus is comprised about 59% of the island's southern area. The Turkish-occupied area in the north recognized only by Turkey, covers about 36% of the island's area and calls itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The rest small portions of the island are covered by Akrotiri and Dhekelia and are allocated by treaty to the United Kingdom as sovereign military bases. Cyprus joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. The island is divided into six districts: Nicosia, Limassol, , Larnaca, Famagusta, Kyrenia, and Paphos.

There are two mountain ranges on the island, the Troodos Mountains and the smaller Kyrenia Range, and the central plain they encompass, the Mesaoria. The Troodos Mountains cover most of the southern and western portions of the island. The highest point of Troodos Mountains is Mount Olympus at 1,952 meters. The narrow Kyrenia Range reaches a maximum of 1,024 meters.

Wildlife can be seen in Troodos mountains, as well as Larnaca salt lake, Akrotiri salt lake and undoubtedly Akamas national park. Moufflon, which is a national symbol of Cyprus is protected and can be seen in Paphos forests towards the Troodos Mountain.

Cyprus has two official languages: Greek and Turkish. In addition to these languages and according to European Commission, 76% of the population of Cyprus speaks English, 12% speak French, and 5% speak German.

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