Surrounded by the bright blue waters of the Mediterranean, Cyprus offers a unique experience of sun-soaked island living. The country has many cultural influences, having been part of the Roman Empire, a British colony and, most recently, being divided between the North and South following the Turkish invasion.
Tradition runs strong through the island’s sun-kissed villages, but Cyprus is open and welcoming to expats – even more so if they make an effort to adapt. Indeed, how expats approach Cypriot culture and whether they want to be part of its local communities will have a significant effect on how they are received by locals.
Expats accustomed to smooth and efficient administration may find the Cypriot system frustrating. Most systems and processes are not executed with the greatest of haste, especially when dealing with government. Infrastructure in Cyprus has developed considerably over the past decade or two, but expats should remember that it still operates at a laid-back pace.
When it comes to eating and entertainment, however, Cypriots are as passionate as they come. The cuisine caters for different tastes and is often described as a fusion of cultural flavours. Traditional food is strongly and unsurprisingly linked to that of Greece and Turkey, consisting of slow roasts, stews, kebabs and assorted appetisers commonly known as mezze. Whether dining out or in, the authentic quality and homemade feel add heart and warmth to the ritual of daily eating.
While the Cypriot dialect of Greek is still the most widely spoken language, English is spoken and understood by many locals, particularly in the younger generations. English is also prevalent on signage, making both communicating and getting around Cyprus manageable for non-Greek visitors and residents.
Expats old and young will find most of their wants and needs met, being able to experience hot summers on the beautiful beaches, drives through the mountains and winding forests, or visiting the island’s various monuments and ancient monasteries.
From its unique and quaint villages to the orchards and vineyards that stretch boundlessly over its hilltops, to ancient architecture which inspires a sense of a mystical past, Cyprus is a tiny treasure in vast waters. The Mediterranean island is an option well worth considering for those looking for somewhere to retire or start a new chapter.
Population: 1.2 million
Capital city: Nicosia (also the largest city)
Other major cities: Limassol, Larnaca
Neighbouring countries: Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus shares land borders with Greece to the northwest, Turkey to the north, Syria and Lebanon to the east, Israel to the southeast and Egypt to the south.
Geography: Cyprus is an island nation located 47 miles (75 km) south of Turkey. The island is dominated by two mountain ranges: the sprawling Troodos Mountains and the comparatively smaller Kyrenia Mountains. A central plain known as the Mesaoria lies between them.
Political system: Unitary presidential constitutional republic
Major religions: Orthodox Christianity
Main languages: Greek and Turkish are the island's official languages, but English is widely spoken
Money: Cyprus uses the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. Expats can open a bank account in Cyprus, but require proof of identification (passports are acceptable) and proof of residence. ATMs are widely available.
Tipping: A service charge of 10 percent is sometimes added to bills, but no additional tip is necessary
Time: GMT+2 (GMT+3 from March to October)
Electricity: 240V, 50Hz. Plugs with three flat blades, as used in the UK, are standard.
Internet domain: .cy
International dialling code: +357
Emergency contacts: 112 (European); 199 (local)
Transport and driving: Traffic in Cyprus drives on the left-hand side. There is no railway system, so almost all transport on the island makes use of its road network. Public transport in Cyprus almost exclusively consists of buses.