The island of Cyprus is one of Europe’s understated charms. Situated in the southern extremity of Europe, this island in the Mediterranean Sea has one of the warmest climates in Europe. Famed as the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite, Cyprus boasts a long and rich history, which can be seen among the ruins that are scattered across the island.
In many ways, Cyprus is a bridge between the East and the West. On one hand, there is the Middle East, with Syria and Lebanon to the east, Israel to the south, and Egypt directly south. On the other hand, mainland Europe is not far away, with Greece and Turkey in the north and northwest.
Cypriot cuisine is not too different from its neighbors, with a host of fresh produce. The island itself is the third largest in the Mediterranean and has a population of 1.1 million. With an average annual temperature of 75, the climate is highly desirable. The landscape is diverse, with golden beaches along the coast contrasted against green forest-clad mountains. Its picturesque beaches and mountains have allured many.
Every powerful empire has left its marks on the island of Cyprus. The island has remnants of the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Byzantines, Franks, and Ottomans. More recently, the history of Cyprus has been a turbulent one.
Since receiving independence from the British in 1960, the island has been the site of clashes between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, who both claim rights to the island. The violence has all but ceased, and it is a very safe country, but there is still tension between the two groups. Because the British once ruled the island, over 80% of the residents can speak English, making it a great place to study.
In 2004, the country became a member of the European Union and adopted the Euro as its currency. Although a relatively small nation, Cyprus is actually a very important business and financial center. This is partly because the country is seen as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East. With recent discoveries of natural gas deposits, the country certainly has a prosperous future.