Year of EU entry: 2004 / Capital city: Nicosia / Population: 0.8 million
Cyprus is the largest island in the eastern Mediterranean, and is situated south of Turkey. Cyprus has long been a crossing point between Europe, Asia and Africa and still has many traces of successive civilisations – Roman theatres and villas, Byzantine churches and monasteries, Crusader castles and pre-historic habitats.
The island’s main economic activities are tourism, clothing and craft exports and merchant shipping. Traditional crafts include embroidery, pottery and copper-work.
The Republic of Cyprus gained its independence from Britain in 1960. In 1963, inter-communal violence between Turkish and Greek Cypriots broke out. Since 1974 the island is de facto divided after a coup d'état supported by the military junta in Greece against the Cypriot President Makarios and the subsequent intervention of the Turkish army. Notwithstanding numerous efforts to reunify the country it remains divided to this day.
The local dishes are the traditional “meze” which is served as a whole meal, the halloumi cheese and the “zivania” schnapps. Cyprus is well known as the island of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, who, according to legend, was born there.