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Fun Facts about Cyprus
- Cyprus is the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. She was thought to have been born out of the sea (“afros” in Greek means sea foam) near Aphrodite’s Beach. It is said she rose near a rock on this very beach!
- The country chose the mouflon, a subspecies of wild sheep, as its national symbol. In the 1930s, only about 15 mouflon remained in existence on the island, but conservation efforts have grown that number to thousands.
- The remains of the oldest known pet cat was found in Cyprus buried alongside its master. These remains are about 9,500 years old.
- An entire town in Cyprus, Paphos, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Flag of Cyprus
Once Cyprus gained its independence in 1960, there was a competition to make the new Cypriot flag. Most Cypriots come either from Greece or Turkey.
In an effort to unite the country, the rules of the competition stated that designers could not use the colors blue or red (the flag colors of Greece and Turkey). They, additionally, could not use a cross or a crescent (the symbols of Greece and Turkey).
The winner, an art teacher by the name Ismet Guney, chose a white banner with an orange outline of the island and 2 olive branches underneath.
The orange represents the copper in the country that brought much wealth to the nation. The olive branches represent unity and peace in the country, despite high tensions between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Geography of Cyprus
Cyprus is located in the Eastern Meditteranean off the coast of Turkey and Syria. It is the third largest island in the Meditteranean! The country is divided into 6 districts, and it also has a UN buffer zone that is 112 miles long.
Cyprus has a gorgeous landscape and boasts 300 days of sunshine. It also features the beautiful beaches, seasonal rivers, and the Troodos mountain range, which is home to Mount Olympus.
Cyprus has passed through many hands throughout the years. It was initially inhabited by Mycenaean Greeks, then passed to Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians Greeks, Egyptians, the Roman Empire, Arabs, French, Venetians, Ottomans, and finally, the British.
They were annexed from the British in 1914 and in 1960 gained their own independence. This is when the trouble begins.
Conflict between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots
In 1974, an attempt to unite Cyprus with mainland Greece resulted in a Greek military coup. Turkish officials began to suspect that a union between Greece and Cyprus was on its way.
In an attempt to protect the Turkish Cypriots, the Turks then invaded. The island has since been divided into the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (18% of the population) and the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus (77% of the population).
Each side of the country has its own leader, but the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognized only by Turkey.
The capital of the country, Nicosa, is separated by a buffer zone called the Green Line. The line had travel restrictions until 2003, but they have since been lifted, and many hundreds of thousand of people have crossed the line.
Food in Cyprus
The Cypriot dessert wine Commandaria is the world’s oldest wine. It supposedly has existed since the 13th century when knight crusaders named it.