Cyprus is an island country. It is located off the seashores of Turkey and Syria and at the eastern region of the Mediterranean Sea. Cyprus is one of the three leading countries of European Union that spends most on education as a percentage of GDP i.e. 7% of GDP. The first two countries are Denmark and Sweden. One of the most famous carnival events of the world is Limassol Carnival Festival, which is celebrated every year in Cyprus. This festival is being celebrated on this island for the last one hundred years. On the final day of this 12-day event, nearly 50,000 people join in the celebration. It is held in Limassol which is Cyprus’ most heavily populated city. Cyprus is also famous for desserts like Turkish delight and Churchkhela. Now let’s discover more about this beautiful island of Mediterranean!
Date of Independence: 16 August, 1960
Capital city: Nicosia
First President: Makarios III
Official languages: Turkish and Greek
Highest Point: 1,952 metres (6,404 feet)
Traditional instrument of music: Lute
- Before humans got there, this island was home to Cyprus dwarf elephant. This elephant was species of today Asian elephant but it was extremely small in size, measuring 1 meter (40 inches) high. It was the only mammal on this island and became extinct in about 11,000 BC.
- Cyprus dwarf hippopotamus is another animal that became extinct with the arrival of humans. It was the largest animal on this island and became extinct between 9,000 to 11,000 years before. Its length was 121 cm and height 76 cm and there were no natural predators of Cyprus dwarf hippo in Cyprus.
- The water wells of this island are among one of the world’s oldest and their history traces back as far as 9,000 to 10,500 years before.
- Archaeologists have also excavated a cat from this island. This cat was about 8 months old and it dates back to 7500 BC.
- The history of arts on this island can be traced back as far as 10,000 years.
- The best preserved ancient site on this island is Khirokitia. This site dates back to New Stone Age (Neolithic) which began around 10,200 BC and ended about 4,500 to 2,000 BC. Khirokitia traces its history to 6800 BC and it is also UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
- The earliest evidence of humans on this island dates back to 10,000 BC. They were hunter-gatherers and they settled at the southern part of this island on a rock shelter called Aetokremnos. It is a Greek word which signifies ‘Cliff of the eagles’.
- The communities in the form of villages were started in about 8200 BC.
- The word ‘Cyprus’ was used for the very first time in 15th century BC.
- As trade with other regions increased over time, this island was given the Latin name ‘aes Cyprium’ which means ‘metal of Cyprus’. With time, this Latin phrase was squeezed to become Cuprum.
- In 395, the division of Roman Empire occurred resulting in Cyprus being part of East Roman.
- The constitution of this country was made on the basis of London and Zürich Agreements. These agreements were signed between Cypriot leaders and leaders from United Kingdom, Turkey and Greece.
- The highest point of Cyprus is Mount Olympus. It is also known as Chionistra. It is located on Troodos Mountains, the largest range of mountains in Cyprus.
- The largest dam of Cyprus is Kouris Dam. It was opened in 1988 after almost four years of construction. This dam gets water from Kryos, Limnatis and Kouris rivers.
- Nicosia is the largest city of this island country. Since 10th century, this city has continued to be the capital of this country.
Interesting Facts about Cyprus
- Cyprus ranks third among the largest islands of Mediterrranean Sea. The first two are Sardinia and Sicily of Italy.
- It is also ranked third among the most populated islands of Mediterranean.
- As for ownership of private vehicles, Cyprus ranks 29th in the world among countries that have highest percentage of ownership of cars.
- Russian is ranked third among the most widely written languages on this island. The first two are Greek and English.
- According to area, this country is ranked at the 81st position in the world.
- According to population, Cyprus ranks 51st position in the world.
- The busiest harbor of Cyprus is the Port of Limassol which hosted around one million passengers in the year 2000 alone.
- The cars drive on the left-hand side of the road in just four nations of the European Union. Cyprus is one of them.
- A Greek philosopher named Zeno of Citium, who founded Stoic school of philosophy, belonged to the southern city of Cyprus called Kition. The Latin name of this city is Citium but today it is known as Larnaca. Built in 13th century BC, it is the third largest city of Cyprus.
- Another Greek philosopher named Ioannis Kigalas was born in Nicosia at the time of Ottoman Empire. Later on, he traveled to Italy in the 17th century.
- The most popular and traditional cuisine of Cyprus is Halloumi (Hellim) cheese. This cheese was invented on this island and it is normally used as an appetizer.