What makes Cyprus a unique country to travel to?
Cyprus is an island nation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided between a government-controlled area, comprising the southern two-thirds of the island, and a northern third administered by Turkish Cypriots. The United States does not recognize the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” nor does any country other than Turkey. Facilities for tourism in Cyprus are highly developed. Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004.
Although the crime rate in Cyprus is low, visitors in any urban areas should take the normal precautions they would take in any large city. Be alert and always vigilant of your surroundings and of your personal belongings. Criminals often target persons who are distracted, alone in an isolated area, or impaired. There has been a reported increase in the rate of home break-ins, particularly in Nicosia. Although most home break-ins take place overnight, this type of crime can take place at any time of day or night, as perpetrators seek targets of opportunity whenever available. As in any major metropolitan area, all travelers and residents should exercise care by locking all doors and windows to their homes, offices, and cars, and not leaving any valuables unattended or out in public view.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are these items illegal to bring back into the United States, by purchasing them you may also be breaking local law.
Avoid so-called “cabarets” or topless bars, as they reportedly employ women brought to Cyprus for sexual exploitation. These establishments can also present foreign patrons with grossly inflated bar tabs, and customers who refuse to pay may be threatened.
While you are traveling in Cyprus, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own, and criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States; for instance, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods while traveling overseas. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Cyprus, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
If you are arrested in Cyprus, authorities of Cyprus are required to notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should ask the police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy of your arrest. You also have the option to request communications from you be forwarded to the U.S. Embassy.
The official languages are Greek and Turkish. In social exchanges, an informal Cypriot dialect is used.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Medical care is available both at government hospitals and private clinics. Emergency rooms offer adequate care to stabilize patients, most of who are then transferred to private hospitals. Many of the private-sector doctors have been trained in the United Kingdom or the United States. While fees are generally lower than those in the United States, medical supplies are often more expensive. Paramedics do not staff ambulances. The standard of medical care in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots is improving, but still falls below that found in the government-controlled area. The World Health Organization considers Cyprus to be one of the healthiest areas of the Mediterranean. Water supplies are potable, and the refuse collection/sewage disposal system is adequate. Communicable diseases such as typhoid are rare. Respiratory ailments and allergies are sometimes exacerbated by the dry and dusty climate.
Safety and Security
o not, under any circumstances, attempt to enter the U.N. buffer zone at any place other than a designated crossing point. This area is mined and militarized. Never photograph military installations or anything that could be perceived as being of security interest (especially in the areas not under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus). Pay particular attention to areas marked with “no photography” signs. Police on both sides strictly enforce these restrictions.
The Embassy has received reports of instances of discrimination and sexual harassment against U.S. citizens of Eastern European or non-European descent, particularly against U.S. citizens of Asian descent.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Cyprus, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Driving conventions and practices in Cyprus differ from those you may be used to in the United States. Speeding, tailgating, overtaking, and the running of caution lights are commonplace and major causes of accidents. Emergency assistance is available in the Republic of Cyprus by calling 112 or 199. Emergency assistance is available in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots by calling 155.
There are few public buses and no rail lines in Cyprus. Taxis are widely available. Traffic moves on the left side of the road, British style, and modern motorways link the major cities. Secondary roads, especially in mountainous areas, tend to be narrow and winding, and not as well maintained as major highways. Traffic laws, signs, and speed limits are consistent with the standards used throughout Europe. Traffic circles (roundabouts) are often utilized at major intersections.
The use of seat belts (in front seats) and child car seats is required. Motorcyclists are required to wear helmets and the use of cellular phones while driving is prohibited unless used with some form of hands-free kit. Liability insurance is mandatory.
Road safety conditions in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots are similar to conditions in the south, except that the road network is less developed. Insurance purchased in the government-controlled area is not valid in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, but insurance for that area may be purchased near the U.N. buffer zone checkpoints.