Focus on North Cyprus

North Cyprus

The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) was formed on 15th November 1983. It is a parliamentary democracy under the current Presidency of Mehmet Ali Talat.

It covers an area of 3,355 sq km and has a population of just over 256,000, predominantly Turkish-speaking though English is widely used in the main cities and resorts. The currency is Turkish Lira.

Because of the commercial importance of its geographical situation in the Mediterranean, the island of Cyprus has, throughout history, been subject to colonisation. It was occupied consecutively by Egyptians, Hittites, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Persians, Romanians, Byzantines, Lusignians, Venetians and, finally in 1571, Turks.

In 1878 the island was rented to Britain and in 1923, as part of the Peace Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey accepted the annexation of the island to Britain who, 1925, pronounced it a Crown Colony.

As a result of differences between the Greek and the Turkish, a Republic of Cyprus was created in August 1960; Britain, Greece and Turkey were guarantors of its independence.

In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup attempted to annex the island to Greece triggered an invasion by Turkey and the Turkish Government despatched a military force to the Island.

However, the subsequent conflicts between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots resulted in a military stalemate, and in November 1983 the division of the island was formalised by the creation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Attempts to reconcile differences and reunite the island as a federation of two states have been made ever since – the latest initiative being the UN Annan Plan for reunification.

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Living in Northern Cyprus

 The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus occupies an autonomous territory in the north of the island of Cyprus. Situated in the far eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, it is the third largest island in that sea, after Sicily and Sardinia.

It is positioned at the crossroads between three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. It is about 75 km south of Turkey, 105 km west of Syria and 380 km north of Egypt. Although geographically closer to the Middle East, it is, however, politically and culturally aligned with Europe.

North Cyprus has many attractions, to visitors and residents alike. The capital, Nicosia, has an old town centre similar to that of Famagusta, an ancient city whose centre is surrounded by a 5.5 km long city wall which is still intact.

To the northeast the mythical Five Finger Mountains guard the city. This rocky mountain rises 1,050 m above sea level and harbours the legend of the Byzantine hero Digenis, who defeated the invading Arabs with supernatural strength.

One of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean lies on the Rizokarpaso (Karpaz) peninsula on the easternmost tip of the island and is a nesting ground for endangered loggerhead and green turtles.


The Troodos massif lies in the central and western part of the island of Cyprus (its principal range stretches from Pomos Point to Larnaca Bay). It is a mountain range whose surface layer consists mostly of basaltic lava rock, created from the ancient oceanic bark, which started rising from the sea 10 million years ago. Its maximum elevation point Olympus at 1,953 m (6,407 ft).

The island's second mountain range is called the Kyrenia Mountains, a 160-km-long narrow chain running along the northeast cost of Cyprus and represents a limestone formation. Its maximum elevation point is Mount Selvelli at 1,023 m (3,357ft).

The Pentadactylos Mountains comprise the western half of the Kyrenia Mountain range. The name Pentadactylos is also sometimes used synonymously with Kyrenia to refer to the entire range. The Greek name, Pentadactylos, and the Turkish name, Besparmak, mean "five fingers", which derives from a mountain near the north coastal city of Kyrenia that has five finger-like projections.

The central part of the island of Cyprus is occupied by the Mesaoria plain which is home to the capital Nicosia. It is embraced by the Kyrenia and Pentadactylos mountains to the north and the Troodos mountain range to the south and west. A few significant plains stretch along the southern coast of the island of Cyprus.

The Karpass Peninsula (Karpasia), a long, finger- like peninsula, is a distinguishing geographical feature of the island. Its farthest extent is Cape Apostolos Andreas, and its major population centre is the town of Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpaso).


The climate of the island is of an extreme Mediterranean type with very hot dry summers and relatively cold winters. Most of the rainfall is concentrated between December and January.

The climate of the coastal parts is less extreme than farther inland. The sea temperature itself never falls below 16 deg C. (January and February); in Aug it can rise to 28 deg C.

Spring and autumn are short, typified by changeable weather, with occasional heavy storm battering the coast in spring and a westerly wind, called 'meltem', carrying the influence of Atlantic depressions to this far eastern end of the Mediterranean.

From mid-May to mid-September the sun shines on a daily average of around 11 hours. Temperatures can reach 40 deg C. The skies are cloudless with a low humidity, 40 -60%, so the high temperatures are easier to bear. The hot dry, dust-laden 'sirocco' wind blowing from Africa also finds its way to the island.

Short-lived stormy conditions resulting from fairly frequent small depressions prevail throughout the winter, with 60% of rain falling between December and February. Frost and snow are unknown in Northern Cyprus, although night temperatures can fall to low levels in winter.

Most of the rivers are simply winter torrents, flowing after heavy rain. The rivers running out of the Northern and Southern Ranges rarely flow the year round.

During the wet winter months Cyprus is a green island. However, by the time June arrives the landscape at the lower levels assumes the brown parched aspect which characterises its summer face. The forests and the vineyards in the mountains, plus the strips of irrigated vegetation in the valleys, remain green.

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 The economy of North Cyprus is dominated by the services sector including the public sector, trade, tourism and education, with smaller agriculture and light manufacturing sectors. The economy operates on a free-market basis.

Despite the constraints imposed by its lack of international recognition, the TRNC economy turned in an impressive performance in the last few years. The GDP growth rates of the TRNC economy in 2001-2005 have been 5.4%, 6.9%, 11.4%, 15.4% and 10.6%.This growth has been buoyed by the relative stability of the Turkish Lira and a boom in the education and construction sectors.

Studies by the World Bank show that the per capita GDP in TRNC grew to 76% of the per capita GDP in the Republic of Cyprus in PPP-adjusted terms in 2004. (USD22,300 for the Republic of Cyprus and USD 16,900 for the TRNC).

Although the TRNC economy has developed in recent years, it is still dependent on monetary transfers from the Turkish government. Under the 2003-06 economic protocol, Ankara plans to provide around $550 million to the TRNC.

Other Useful Information

  • Travelling – In addition to the country's national carrier, Cyprus Turkish Airlines, three other airlines operate regular services to and from the TRNC. The TRNC has two modern and well-equipped airports meeting world standards.
  • There are daily scheduled direct flights to and from Turkey and London by the airlines operating in the TRNC. There are also connecting flights to major capitals of the world via Turkish Airlines. Chartered flights from major European capitals to TRNC are carried out during summer time. It is important that all flight tickets are confirmed two days before departure.
  • Three ferryboat companies operate regular services between the two main ports in the North Cyprus, Famagusta and Kyrenia, and to the ports in the southern coast of Turkey. Kyrenia port is mainly used for summer traffic. 
  • There are regular passenger boats and car ferry services between Girne and Tasucu and between Famagusta and Mersin. It takes approximately four hours between Girne and Tasucu and nine hours between Famagusta and Mersin. 
  • The tap water in North Cyprus is perfectly safe for drinking. The power supply is 240v, 50 cycles. Turkish Lira is the legal tender but all major currencies can easily be exchanged at banks, exchange bureaux or even at restaurants. All major credit cards are accepted.
  • Local and international telephone, telegraph and telex services are automatic and very efficient. There are telephone boxes in the major towns which use tokens and telephone cards obtained from the telecommunications office and at nearby shops.
  • Traffic in the TRNC drives on the left. Any valid national or international driving licence is accepted. Traffic signs are international. The condition of roads is reasonably good and motor vehicles entering the TRNC must have valid insurance certificates.
  • Personal clothing and personal belongings, intended for the visitor's own use, are not liable to Customs Duty. Each adult visitor is allowed to take in 200 cigarettes or their equivalent in cigars or tobacco, together with one bottle of spirits, a bottle of wine and a reasonable quantity of perfumery.
  • Hotels in North Cyprus offer a wide variety of accommodation ranging from five-star hotels to one-star. A variety of bungalows, hotel-apartments, holiday villages, motel-camping, furnished holiday flats and villas are also available.
  • Bathing is safe anywhere around the coasts (no tides). Beach establishments in the high season, between May and October, are equipped with bars, restaurants, changing cabins, showers, umbrellas and other facilities. On some beaches, facilities exist for the hire of self-drive speedboats and son other sea sports.