Lush beaches, fertile citrus groves and rich monuments give a gorgeous contrast to the stark political situation in Cyprus. The island nation owns the dubious distinction of having the only divided capital city in the world.
A “green line” separates Nicosia’s northern half, occupied by Turkish Cypriots, from the southern half, inhabited by Greek Cypriots. With two distinct governments, the city also has two different time zones.Turkey doesn’t recognize daylight savings time.
The Turkish invasion of 1974, which split the capital city, also left Cyprus divided strictly along religious lines; Sunni Muslims live in the northern portion and Greek Orthodox Christians live in the south.
“After the invasion, in mixed marriages, someone had to convert or one spouse had to move,” our guide told us as we made our way through southern Cyprus.
The United Nations condemns the Turkish occupation of Cyprus. Meanwhile, on either side of the green line, life on that beautiful island goes on.
According to legend, Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, rose from the sea at Cyprus and it’s easy to see why. Citrus orchards boast trees heavy with lemons, oranges and grapefruits. Perfectly preserved artwork dates back 10,000 years, and, all around, the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean provide refreshment, protection, and sustenance.
The Turkish occupation severely affected Cyprus’ main revenue stream, tourism. But, we enjoyed our time there. Cypriots are as warm and hospitable as their fascinating island.