Cyprus became a full member of the European Union on May 1, 2004 and in 2008 joined the European Monetary Union. With its interesting and colourful history, its excellent culture, and its commitment to the values of democracy, freedom and justice the EU accession opened a new era of great prospects and responsibilities for Cyprus.
Cyprus enjoys a very low crime rate and is one of the safest countries in Europe. As per the statistics of Interpol, the crime rate of Cyprus is only 6 % of the crime rate of the United Kingdom, only 8 % of the crime rate of Germany, and only 30 % of the crime rate of Spain.
Various public and private universities, mainly with lessons in English, offer a wide range of courses and graduations.
On the level of junior and secondary education, schools for Russian, Armenian, Arab, French and English speaking pupils are serving the respective communities.
Cyprus is rightfully proud of its long history of wine production of at least 5.500 years, as proven by findings of pottery fragments in 1932 and 1935, bearing traces of tartaric acid, a component of wine. Wine was being traded at least as early as 2300 BC, the date of a shipwreck (similar to the Kyrenia ship) carrying over 2,500 amphorae, discovered in 1999. Its origin and destination are unknown, but must have been along the trade route between Greece and Egypt.The first vine planted in Madeira was from cuttings of vineyards in Cyprus, brought by Genoese maritime traders. The most famous wine of Cyprus is the Commandaria, a sweet dessert wine, somehow similar to Sherry Cream from Jerez, South Spain. During the period of the Lusignans, Commandaria wine won the Battle of the Wines, the first recorded wine tasting competition in the world, which was staged by the French king Philip Augustus in the 13th century. The event was recorded in a poem by Henry d'Andeli in 1224. Commandaria is today produced in various quality levels, including fine Commandaria aged more than 30 years. We highly recommend to try wines which are produced from local grape varieties such as very refreshing white Xinisteri or the famous red Maratheftiko, which does not need to avoid comparison with excellent Bordeaux wines and which was the initial grape for the production of Madeira wines.
The Cyprus cuisine offers some unique and interesting meet products like “lountza” (fillet of pork matured in a brine of red wine and spices for about two weeks, and then smoked in natural smoke), “hiromeri” (a traditional cut produced only in Cyprus by a process that takes months to complete, it is smoked leg of pork, matured in wine and has an extended shelf life, it slightly reminds Parma ham; a very tasty delicacy!), “loukanika” (a pork sausage matured in red wine and spices, and then smoked), “pastourma” (a smoked beef sausage with garlic, coriander and often a hint of cinnamon).
In addition, seafood is also popular in a typical Cyprus meal and it includes sea bass, octopus, squid, red mullet etc. Cucumber and tomato are used widely in salads. Common vegetable preparations include potatoes in olive oil and parsley, pickled cauliflower and beets. Other traditional delicacies of the island are charcoal-grilled lamb, souvlaki (pork and chicken cooked over charcoal), and sheftalia. Pourgouri is the traditional rice of Cyprus and is used to make the Cypriot delicacy koupes.
Fresh vegetables and fruits are common ingredients in Cypriot cuisine including green beans, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes etc. as well as pears, nectarines, apples, mandarins, figs, grapes, oranges, cherry, strawberries, watermelon, melon etc.
Whether you try a small tavern in Troodos village, a simple fish restaurant somewhere along the coast, or an authentic restaurant in one of the cities, you will surely discover new tastes that charm your palate and that you will not easily forget!
With its history of more than 12.000 years since the first (so far known) settlement, Cyprus is proud of its rich culture and diversification of religions.
Almost all ancient and medieval cultures of the greater area played their roles and left their traces. Just to name the main ones that stayed in Cyprus for longer and had its influence on the people of Cyprus and their culture: Mycenaean Greeks, people from Ugarit, the Hittites, Achaean Greeks, Dorian Greeks, the Phoenicians, Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Maronites, Lusignans, the Genoese, Venetians, Ottomans, British rule, and finally the independence as the Republic of Cyprus in 1960.
Such a colourful, but often painful history was the melting pot of what Cyprus is today. Although dominated by the Greek culture, Cyprus is much more diversified than Greece – and thus much more interesting, and charms both residents and visitors alike.
Cyprus was the first place were Christianity spread from the Holy Land, today’s Israel. While the dominating religion today is the Cyprus Orthodox Christianity, Roman Catholics, Maronite Christians, the Armenian Church, Protestants and Anglicans, Muslims, Jews and even a Buddhist temple can be found in Cyprus!