Sunday, March 16, 2008

The island of Cyprus

The island of Cyprus is separated into two parts, a split that resulted from a Turkish invasion of the country forty years ago. This shouldn't be a popular holiday destination and yet it is. How has this come about?

Driving through the streets of the capital city, Nicosia, you soon find the fortifications that separate the Nicosia of Turkish Cypriots from that of the Greek Cypriots to the south. Like the island itself, the capital city is divided.

Looking at this description of Cyprus, you would think that it would be hard to see why this could possibly be a popular location for tourism.

Taking a drive further south, to the beaches that surround the popular resort of Limassol, it soon becomes clear that this is an island that has plenty to offer.

Despite the separation, the reality is that people on this island have lived in relative harmony for many years. It's been seen as a safe destination for visitors, although the northern part of the island is not officially recognized by the United Nations.

Most visitors head for the south, with its booming tourist infrastructure. The coastal regions are dominated by large hotels, with their associated bars and restaurants.

Many are seen as perfect for family holidays, while the resort of Ayia Napa has hit the news as one of the best party resorts in Europe.

It's clear that there is more to the island than just its political history. Indeed, heading inland, it's still possible to see that the traditional Cypriot way of life survives.

Despite the upheavals of the recent past, Cyprus remains a welcoming place for visitors. The local people are warm and friendly, as is the climate.