• Cyprus, with a land area of 9251 square kilometres, is the third largest island in the Mediterranean. Its nearest neighbours are Turkey (75km) and Syria (105km) respectively. The capital, once Nicosia, now Lefkosia and Lefkoşa, is over 900km from Athens and only 250km from Beirut. The island’s highest point, at 1952m, is Mount Olympos.
• The official population (of the whole island) stands at just under 900,000, of which the majority (around 70 per cent) are Greek Cypriot (and therefore Orthodox Christian), while Turkish Cypriots (and therefore Muslims) are in the minority (around 10 per cent). There’s also a significant expat community based on the island.
• The government of the Republic of Cyprus (and therefore de jure of the whole island) is a democracy which, since 2004, has been a member of the EU. North Cyprus, occupied by Turkey since 1974, has declared itself to be the “Turkish Republic of North Cyprus”, but is recognized internationally only by Turkey. Since 2003 the number of crossing points on the dividing (and UN-administered) Green Line has increased to seven, with two more in the pipeline. Attempts to reunite the island are ongoing, reinvigorated by a new negotiating process introduced in February 2014.
• Over 1 million Britons visit Cyprus each year (42 percent of total arrivals). The fastest growing group of visitors are Russians (over half a million in each of 2013, 2014 and 2015).
• Famous people of Cypriot origin include singers George Michael, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Peter Andre and Tulisa Contostavlos (N-Dubz), actress Angela Bowie (ex-wife of David), sportspersons Marco Baghdatis (tennis) and Muzzy Izzet (Premiership football), celebrity chef George Calombaris (Masterchef Australia), businessmen Stelios Haji-Ioannou (founder of easyJet) and Asil Nadir (of Polly Peck fame) and artist Tracey Emin.
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