The Republic of Cyprus is the only state on the island of the same name, which is recognized by the UN and the European Union. The Cypriot state occupies approximately 60% of the island's area, and the remaining territory is divided among themselves by the UN Green Line between the Turkish and Greek parts of the island, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the British territory, which has grown from a pair of military bases.
The tourist value of Cyprus lies not only in the beach holidays and the ocean, but also in the rich history of the island, its diverse culture and mountain landscapes. A key feature of the island is the system of borders between states and their medieval cities with unique abandoned buildings that can be accessed without prohibitions.
Cyprus Green Zone
The Cyprus Green Line is a territory that is a UN buffer zone between the Greek and Turkish parts of the island. In a legal sense, it is not a border, but a neutral area. There is a version that the division of the territory of Cyprus was facilitated by the Turks in 1974, when they invaded the island and violated the local established order. However, this has nothing to do with the real reason for the separation.
In Cyprus, the Greeks have lived since the time of the ancient Greek polis, and the Turks appeared on the island around the XVII century, when the Ottoman Empire conquered it. The Ottomans did not choose a certain part of the island for settlement, but settled throughout its territory. At that time, 18% of the population of Cyprus had become Turks, and their relations with the Greeks began to become strained. The confrontation intensified after the Second World War, when Cyprus was an English colony, and the Greeks began to fight for independence from the Crown.
The first part of the Green Line emerged in 1964 after Cyprus gained sovereignty. The line divided the territories of the Greeks and Turks in the capital of Cyprus , Nicosia. The line was created to prevent conflicts between Greek and Turkish townspeople under the auspices of the British. According to legend, the zone is called Green, because the British command on the map of Cyprus drew a dividing line with a green pencil. However, drawing a dividing line did not stop the escalating conflict, and the warring parties began to set global goals: the Greek part of the island sought to unite Cyprus with Greece, and the Turks wanted to gain full administrative control over their part of the island. In 1974, the Turkish government sent troops to Cyprus, which launched Operation Attila and actually divided the island into two parts.
Although some deny the fact of the participation of the Greek army in the conflict, there is plenty of evidence that there were interventionists from both countries participating in the confrontation in Cyprus. Armed clashes began, lasting about a month, during which Turkish troops managed to take control of a third of the territory of Cyprus.
Soon a UN peacekeeping operation was organized on the island. The organization's troops were stationed in the buffer zone and forced to stop firing. After peacekeeping activities, the conflict did not flare up, but in 1983 the Turkish part of the island announced the creation of an independent state - the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Despite the turbulent past, now Cyprus is safe and tourists can easily get to each of the four parts of the island. Everyone can find here something interesting and amazing.
If during the flight to the island you look at the British military bases of Dhekelia and Akrotiri, you can see colorful details of English life, for example, the famous telephone booths of red color. The English zone occupies less than 3% of the total territory of the island, and you can get to it without a visa and other additional documents. On the territory of Dhekelia there is a point where 3 Cypriot states almost converge! If you stand on the road from Famagusta, then being on the territory of great Britain, you can see the fence separating Turkish Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus.
Contrary to popular belief, the Green Zone is not an uninhabited part of the island. The demilitarized zone covers almost 4 per cent of the island's territory and is home to several settlements with almost 10,000 Cypriots. However, these settlements are closed to travelers, and it is impossible to get there.
How to cross the Green Zone?
The green zone among travelers is called "the most leaky border in the European Union", since legally this area cannot be called a state border. The Republic of Cyprus and the rest of the world do not recognize the TRNC and its borders, because it has claims to all the lands of the island. On the part of the Greek part of the island, there are no border points, and the Turks have full-fledged checkpoints and security points on the border. Turkish customs conducts a thorough inspection of each visitor and puts stamps on a separate document.
Before the accession of the Republic of Cyprus, it was almost impossible to cross the Green Zone, but after integration, both countries greatly simplified entry control.
To get from the southern part of the island to the northern, where the unrecognized TRNC is currently located, will not require much effort: a visa is not needed, the Greeks almost do not inspect passports, especially at the customs points of Nicosia. The only condition required by Cyprus for access to movement throughout the island is that the tourist must have a stamp confirming entry into the country. This stamp can be obtained at the airports of Paphos or Larnaca, as well as in the port of Limassol. At checkpoints, it is better not to report that the purpose of the visit is a trip to the TRNC - then entry into the country may be refused.
If a tourist entered Cyprus through one of the above facilities, he can leave the country through both the Greek and Turkish parts of the island. However, the second method should be chosen with caution: if a stamp of an unrecognized republic is found in the passport, the traveler may later be denied a Schengen visa, since he left the EU country illegally without receiving the stamp of the Republic of Cyprus.
When entering Cyprus through the Turkish border, you should not cross the official checkpoints of the Republic of Cyprus, although it is possible. If it occurs to Cypriot border guards to check a tourist's passport and he does not find a stamp on arrival in it, the traveler can be either deported or arrested for illegally crossing the border.
Where can a tourist go near the Green Line?
The list of interesting places in Cyprus is limited not only to beaches and bars. If desired, the traveler can go to the main attractions of the island:
- An abandoned area of the city of Famagusta;
- The abandoned Nicosia International Airport;
- A giant TRNC flag on a mountain;
- Nicosia Green Line.