10 Fun Facts about Cyprus that Will Surprise You!

cyprus from above

Cyprus is a gorgeous island on the east side of the Mediterranean Sea, about 90km South of Turkey and 100km west of Lebanon.

From a natural standpoint, the island of Cyprus is a natural marvel, overflowing with idyllic beaches, azure waters, and nature.

From a geopolitical angle instead, the island offers history-passioned travels way more than meets the eye!

In this article, we will go through 10 of the most curious fun facts about Cyprus, that will surely surprise you, and even more surely inspire you to visit this welcoming Mediterranean island and get to see it with your own very eyes 🙂

Let’s dive right in!

1. Cyprus is the largest Island in the Mediterranean,

after Sicily and Sardinia

train finland eu

With an area of 9.251 km2, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean after just the Italian islands of Sicily (25.711 km2) and Sardinia (24.090 km2).

Impressive as it sounds, the island of Cyprus is just a bit larger than Corsica (8.722km2) and Crete (8450km2), almost three times larger than the Spanish island of Mallorca, and about 18 times larger than Ibiza (571km2)!

 

2. Cyprus is not just one country,

but it’s divided into two Parts!

north and southern cyprus flags and map

Greece and Turkey are two countries that have as many things in common as differences: after all, during the past three millennia, they’ve been at war several times. 

After the Greeks controlled a large chunk of Turkey until the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, and the Ottoman empire dominated over Greece until the more recent Greek war of independence (1821), the feud between the two countries has never been truly cooling down completely.

The same rivalry between Greece and Turkey is what also brought Cyprus to be divided in 1974 (yeah, it’s not from a super-long time ago!): in that year, Turkish troops responded to a coup backed by Greece’s then-ruling junta by splitting off roughly one-third of the island as a zone for Turkish Cypriots.

Northern Cyprus declared then its independence in 1983, though to this day only Türkiye recognises the claim (for the UN NC is formally “occupied” by Turkey – and that’s why Northern Cyprus doesn’t get not even to have an Olympic team or a Fifa recognized football one.

As of today, in Northern Cyprus the official language is Turkish, while in the Southern is Greek. The locals respect people from the other side, but still they are not so keen to border cross as the political disputes between governments are still ongoing.

Extra fun fact: between Northern and Southern Cyprus has been established by the United Nationas a “buffer zone”, a demilitarized piece of land, patrolled by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), in an attempt to cool down the disputes between the parties.

3. The Flag of Southern Cyprus,

still depicts all of the Island

cyprus flag vs flag with real territories explained

On the 16th of August 1960, Cyprus declared its independence from the UK and became an autonomous country.

On that occasion, a new flag for the country was designed, which depicts the shape of the island in orange on a white background and above two olive branches, symbolizing the peace between the two communities living on the island (Greek and Turkish).

Sadly, as we’ve seen before, the peace between the two didn’t last long enough, and just two mere decades later, the two communities were separated into North and Southern Cyprus.

The curious thing though, is that the flag of the officially UN-recognized Republic of Cyprus (Southern Cyprus) maintains the original design from 1960, with the whole island in it (even though they do not control it completely today).

Perhaps, the design remains as a wish for a future reunion (although today doesn’t seem to be in sight).

4. Despite its Southern position and warm weather,

Cyprus has a Ski Resort which opens in Winter!

cyprus ski resort - on mountain troodos

That’s a major one: Cyprus is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea, a place famous for its incredible beaches, warm weather, and the most loved destination by all holiday-makers in Europe.

Everything you could expect to find here, but a Ski Resort…that’s just overly surprising!

What many people don’t know though, is that although Cyprus is a Mediterranean island, it has damn high mountains too: the Troodos mountains are a mountain chain that cuts roughly one-third of Cyprus and peaks at 1952m above the sea level.

Here, you can find a ski resort with four ski lifts and eight alpine skis which runs usually from January to April.

Extra curiosity: the climate of Cyprus is very peculiar, and you can find freezing temperatures on the Troodos mountains in March, while on the coast you might already enjoy temperatures of 30°C or more!

 

5. Cyprus enjoys around 320

sunny days every year!

cyprus sunny photo

And here we come to the next fun fact about Cyprus: after the snow…the sun!

Cyprus is one of the sunniest countries in Europe and normally enjoys between 300-320 sunny days every year. 

With subtropical hot summers, warm middle seasons, and mild winters with temperatures that range between 13-15°C, Cyprus climate is considered one of the healthiest in the world.

The rainfalls are mostly concentrated between the end of December and the beginning of March (the winter months).

6. The capital of Cyprus Nicosia,

is the Southern-most capital City of the EU

nicosia catedral - capital of cyprus

While Cyprus isn’t the southernmost piece of land of the EU (the primate here is detained by Greece on the island of Gavdos), Cyprus still holds (for just a few kilometers) the record for the southernmost capital city in Europe.

Nicosia is placed at a latitude of 35º10′N, which is just followed by la Valetta (Malta), 35º35′ (about 40km more North), Athens (Greece), 37º59′N and Lisbon (Portugal), 38º43′N).

Bonus Awesome Fun Fact: Nicosia is the capital city of both Northern Cyprus and Southern Cyprus! Unbelievable as it sounds, the city is placed right in the middle of the UN buffer zone, and it’s also divided into two parts: Northern Nicosia (capital of Northern Cyprus), and Southern Nicosia (capital of the Republic of Cyprus).

Within Nicosia, you can also find one of the most popular and used passages between the two parts of the island: the Ledra Street border crossing, a checking point protected by barbed wire that cuts in the middle of the busiest shopping street in Nicosia (yeah it’s crazy!).

Crossing borders as a tourist it’s pretty easy, you just need to show your documents and you’re free to cross whenever you feel like it.

If you’re planning to visit the whole of Cyprus, your best bet is to fly either to the Hermes Airport (Nicosia), or to the very convenient Larnaca Airport on the Southern coast (these are the two main airports of Cyprus).

From the airport, you can easily rent a car from a Larnaca Car Hire company and get going with your exploration of the two faces of Cyprus! (just remember, the island is pretty big, and you’ll need quite some time to see it all! 😉 ).

 

7. In Cyprus there are more Cats than People!

cats in cyprus - there are more cats than humans

When you walk around Cyprus, it’s impossible not to see any cats: they come out from everywhere!

You find them on the benches at the park, in front of the churches and mosques, strolling around the beach bars….everywhere!

As a cat-lover, I find it awesome! 😉

The last official estimation of the cat population in Cyprus was indeed over 1.5 million cats!

Considering that the population of Northern Cyprus hits roughly 326.000 people (2017) and the one of the Southern part is 660.000 (2011), it’s easy to put into perspective how many cats there are on the island: way more than people!!

 

8. In Cyprus there is a

Museum of Underwater Sculpture!

underwater museum in cyprus

In 2021, Cyprus saw the opening of a very unusual exposition, which is entirely located underwater at a depth between 8-10m under the sea level.

This is the Museum of Underwater Sculpture Ayia Napa (MUSAN), an underwater forest 200m from the coast of Cyprus, composed of 93 sculptures made by the award-winning sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor and open to adventurous scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts (but also to free divers!).

While it surely isn’t the most easy-to-visit place in Cyprus, if you’re looking for an entirely different experience, the MUSAN is a one-of-a-kind experience, unique in the world!

The artworks, in particular those that represent trees, are not just simple sculptures but eco-art masterpieces, designed with a neutral PH to attract marine life on a large scale and as such will develop organically.

These installations are placed at various depths from the sea floor and are laid out to resemble a path through a dense underwater forest.

Some of the tree forms float just beneath the surface so that the whole structure provides a complex environment for marine life at all levels.

The idea of the artist is that the installation will slowly grow with time, and that nature to replace and reshape the initial statues 🙂

Among the sculpted trees, children can be seen playing.

They are inserted to remind us of our need for the natural world as a place to explore, discover, and fire our imaginations.

Over the last 50 years, children have become more excluded from the wild places that once existed. The forest children, camera in hand as they play hide-and-seek in the woods, point their lenses at the human race.

They hope for a future in which the mystery and magic of nature will return. The need to re-wild our oceans is as pressing as the need to re-establish our connection to the natural world.

Really, cool! 🙂

9. According to Greek mythology,

the Goddess of Love Aphrodite was born in Cyprus!

aphrodite was born in cyprus - birth of aphrodite

Who hasn’t heard about Aphrodite? 🙂

She was the goddess of sexual love and beauty in Greek mythology and was known as “Venus” by the Romans. 

She has been represented by artists and sculptures in several cultures across the ages, and her name is still well known today!

What is not known by most though, is that according to the legends, she was born in Cyprus and more precisely on a curious geological formation of huge rocks called “Petra tou Romiou”, which you can find on the southwest coast of Pafos (Paphos) district.

Without knowing the history behind the place, it’s very easy to miss: after all, as of today, the place looks like just another gorgeous beach with a stone at its end.

If you’re driving the Southern coast though, be sure to check out on your map for “Aphrodite’s Rock” and “Aphrodite Viewpoint”, where you can get the best view of the goddess’ legendary birthplace 🙂

 

10. Cyprus is home to the

oldest manufactured wine in the world!

interrail pass for europe

Last but not least, let’s talk about…wine!

Yes, because in Cyprus there’s a region called “Commandaria” which produces what the Guinness World Records certifies as the oldest manufactured wine in the world still in production today.

This is the “Commandaria” wine, a sweet dessert wine, which origins trace as far back as 2000 BC.

The Commandaria wine also holds the record for the oldest “Appelation d’origine”.

As of today, it’s fun to admire the old marketing “flyers” depicting crusaders enjoying a bottle of Commandaria wine while wearing their armor. Last but not least, it’s also curious how the bottle mantained its shape across more than ten centuries!  

If you’re traveling to Cyprus, getting a glass of Commandaria is an experience you should absolutely not miss, better accompanied by one of the delicious typical Cyprus desserts 🙂

Conclusion

cyprus oranges

And here we are at the end of this article 🙂

In this post, we’ve seen 10 curiosities about Cyprus (and few more!): we learned about its geographical extension, the history behind why it’s split into two parts, we saw the un-updated flag of Cyprus, the wine, the cats, the capital, the weather, a ski resort and even an underwater museum!

For sure, Cyprus is a hidden gem in Europe, plenty of things to see and do, and well worth a visit!

I hope this article inspired you to insert it in your travel bucket list too ;D

Before going I would like to ask you:

  • Have you ever visited Cyprus before?
  • How was your experience? 🙂
  • Do you know any other fun facts you believe could make it in this list?

LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! (We always love receiving feedback and exchanging a chat 🙂

Last but not least, before going, I will leave you here some articles you might want to check out too:

As always, thank you for reading,

And see you in the next article! 😀

 

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