Cruising around Cyprus


A former British colony, Cyprus became independent in 1960 following years of resistance to British rule. Tensions between the Greek Cypriot majority and Turkish Cypriot minority came to a head in December 1963, when violence broke out in the capital of Nicosia. Despite the deployment of UN peacekeepers in 1964, sporadic intercommunal violence continued forcing most Turkish Cypriots into enclaves throughout the island.

In 1974, a Greek Government-sponsored attempt to seize control of Cyprus was met by military intervention from Turkey, which soon controlled more than a third of the island. In 1983, the Turkish-held area declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," but it is recognized only by Turkey. The latest two-year round of UN-brokered talks - between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to reach an agreement to reunite the divided island - ended when the Greek Cypriots rejected the UN settlement plan in an April 2004 referendum.

The entire island entered the EU on 1 May 2004, although the EU acquis - the body of common rights and obligations - applies only to the areas under direct Republic of Cyprus control, and is suspended in the areas administered by Turkish Cypriots. At present, every Cypriot carrying a Cyprus passport has the status of a European citizen; however, EU laws do not apply to north Cyprus. Nicosia continues to oppose EU efforts to establish direct trade and economic links to north Cyprus as a way of encouraging the Turkish Cypriot community to continue to support reunification.

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Location: Middle East, island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey
Geographic coordinates: 35 00 N, 33 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 9,250 sq km (of which 3,355 sq km are in north Cyprus)
Land: 9,240 sq km
Water: 10 sq km


648 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


Temperate; Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool winters


Central plain with mountains to north and south; scattered but significant plains along southern coast

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
Highest point: Mount Olympus 1,951 m


The Republic of Cyprus has a market economy dominated by the service sector, which accounts for 76% of GDP. Tourism and financial services are the most important sectors; erratic growth rates over the past decade reflect the economy's reliance on tourism, which often fluctuates with political instability in the region and economic conditions in Western Europe. Nevertheless, the economy grew a healthy 3.7% per year in 2004 and 2005, well above the EU average.

Cyprus joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM2) in May 2005. The government has initiated an aggressive austerity program, which has cut the budget deficit to below 3% but continued fiscal discipline is necessary if Cyprus is to meet its goal of adopting the euro on 1 January 2008. As in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, water shortages are a perennial problem; a few desalination plants are now on line. After 10 years of drought, the country received substantial rainfall from 2001-03 alleviating immediate concerns. The Turkish Cypriot economy has roughly one-third of the per capita GDP of the south, and economic growth tends to be volatile, given north Cyprus's relative isolation, bloated public sector, reliance on the Turkish lira, and small market size.

The Turkish Cypriot economy grew 15.4% in 2004, fueled by growth in the construction and education sectors, as well as increased employment of Turkish Cypriots in the Republic of Cyprus. The Turkish Cypriots are heavily dependent on transfers from the Turkish Government. Under the 2003-06 economic protocol, Ankara plans to provide around $550 million to the "TRNC." Agriculture and services, together, employ more than half of the work force.


Airports: 16 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 13
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 3
Heliports: 10 (2005)
Roadways: total: 14,110 km (Republic of Cyprus: 11,760 km; north Cyprus: 2,350 km)

Merchant marine

Total: 877 ships (1000 GRT or over) 18,837,402 GRT/30,197,663 DWT
By type: bulk carrier 358, cargo 212, chemical tanker 40, container 136, liquefied gas 5, passenger 8, passenger/cargo 19, petroleum tanker 66, refrigerated cargo 19, roll on/roll off 9, vehicle carrier 5
Foreign-owned: 782 (Belgium 1, Canada 1, China 10, Croatia 2, Cuba 3, Egypt 1, Estonia 3, Germany 211, Greece 352, Greenland 1, Hong Kong 1, India 7, Iran 2, Israel 3, Japan 17, South Korea 1, Latvia 5, Netherlands 18, Norway 14, Philippines 2, Poland 19, Portugal 1, Russia 54, Singapore 2, Slovakia 1, Slovenia 4, Spain 5, Sweden 4, Switzerland 6, Syria 2, Ukraine 3, UAE 11, UK 8, US 6, Vietnam 1)
Registered in other countries: 67 (The Bahamas 13, Belize 2, Cambodia 15, Georgia 1, Liberia 6, Malta 5, Marshall Islands 7, Norway 2, Panama 8, Russia 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 3, Seychelles 1, Turkey 3) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Famagusta, Kyrenia, Larnaca, Limassol, Vasilikos


Hostilities in 1974 divided the island into two de facto autonomous entities, the internationally recognized Cypriot Government and a Turkish-Cypriot community (north Cyprus); the 1,000-strong UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has served in Cyprus since 1964 and maintains the buffer zone between north and south; March 2003 reunification talks failed, but Turkish-Cypriots later opened their borders to temporary visits by Greek Cypriots.

On 24 April 2004, the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities voted in simultaneous and parallel referenda on whether to approve the UN-brokered Annan Plan that would have ended the 30-year division of the island by establishing a new "United Cyprus Republic," a majority of Greek Cypriots voted "no"; on 1 May 2004, Cyprus entered the European Union still divided, with the EU's body of legislation and standards (acquis communitaire) suspended in the north. 

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Albania - Algeria - Bulgaria - Croatia - Cyprus - Egypt - France - Georgia - Gibraltar - Greece - Israel - Italy - Lebanon - Libya - Malta - Monaco - Morocco - Romania - Serbia and Montenegro - Slovenia - Spain - Syria - Tunisia - Turkey - Ukraine

Further Reading

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