Capital | Nicosia
Population | 1,102,677 (July 2010 est)
Area | 9250 SQ KM
Official Language | Greek, Turkish
Holidays | Cyprus Independence Day 1 October
Currency | Euro
Time Zone | UTC+2
Best Time to Visit | April to May and September to October to avoid the heat and crowds
Connecting with the Culture | Visiting the Byzantine frescoed churches of the Troodos Mountains; Cycling through the almost-deserted Karpas Peninsula; Wandering around the castles of Kyrenia (Girne) Range; Skin diving at Cape Greco and swimming at deserted beaches; Hiking Mt. Olympus trails in the Troodos Mountains.
Read | Journey into Cyprus by Colin Thubron, a classic Cyprus travelogue
Listen | to Pelagia Kyriakou’s Paralimnitika recordings, a superb collection of Cypriot demotic songs from the beginning of the 19th century and sung in the original Cypriot dialect.
Watch | The Wing of the Fly, directed by Hristos Siopahas, or The Slaughter of the Cock, directed by Andreas Pantazis – both deal with the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
Eat | kleftiko (oven-baked lamb) or mezedas (dips, salads and other appetizers)
Drink | raki (Turkish) or zivania (Greek), the local firewater made from distilling the leftovers of grape crushings.
In a Word | Yasas (hello) for Greek Cypriots, merhaba (hello) for Turkish Cypriots
Characteristics | Strong, thick coffee; Turkish and British military camps; British pubs at Agia Napa; the Green Line; citrus orchards
Surprises | Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria at Lemesos Castle in the 12th century; there was once a rail system in Cyprus that ran the length of the island