The eastern Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, which is south of Turkey and west of Syria, has a history that goes back to Ancient Greece, with waves of Greek settlers arriving there. No doubt, due to its proximate location to the Middle East, it went through periods of invasion by nearby Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, Romans, and Byzantine rule. During the 12th century, the Crusaders (led by Richard the Lionheart) took over the island, and later the Venetians, before it fell under Ottoman rule in 1571.
With Greece winning independence over the Ottoman Turks in 1832, Greek Cypriots attempted and failed to make Cyprus part of that country. It took the Russo-Turkish War to end Ottoman rule over Cyprus in 1878, when the United Kingdom took possession of it, and formally annexed it in 1914 (during the early days of World War I). With Cyprus becoming a crown colony in 1925, a local political movement called EOKA (which called for the island’s union with Greece) took shape. Instead, that movement resulted in the country gaining independence from the UK in 1960 (with a power-sharing deal that included Turkish minority participation in the island’s government). Nevertheless, simmering internal tensions resulted in full-fledged conflict between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, which caused the United Nations to step in and provide peacekeeping forces in 1964 (who remain there today).
Nowadays, the northern part of Cyprus is officially called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (which also includes control of the northern part of the island’s capital, Nicosia). The rest of the island (including the southern part of Nicosia) is controlled by the Greek Cypriot-run Republic of Cyprus. Given its Mediterranean location, tourism is a major part of Cyprus’ economy, accounting for 12% of the country’s GDP – with various European travelers (from Britons to Russians) consisting of the majority of visitors.
The island’s beautiful beaches and resorts, as well as archaeological sites – which date back to the Ancient Greek periods, are among the main attractions that Cyprus has to offer. Cyprus’ beaches are among the cleanest in the European Union, and the Cypriot government’s efforts to increase tourism have resulted in more visitors participating in various types of visits there – from “sun and fun” packages to sports tourism. Cyprus occasionally hosts several international sporting events including UEFA Cup qualifying matches, while overseas football squads hold their winter practice seasons on the island. Golf tourism is also expanding rapidly. Cyprus has four 18-hole international standard courses — with plans to award permits to bring the total number to 11, turning the island into a European golf destination of choice. In addition, there is also Limassol Marina, a project that is already encouraging higher-spending visitors and international property buyers. This Cypriot development includes exclusive residential units with individual mooring facilities, additional berths for up to 600 vessels along with shops and restaurants – all close to the centre of the cosmopolitan city of Limassol.