Is Cyprus Safe? Here's What Travelers Need to Know

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Cyprus is a divided country with a long history of bitter conflict. Here's what you need to know about staying safe on your trip to Cyprus.

Ayia Napa is a Mediterranean resort town on the southeast coast of Cyprus Photo © LSD for Society on Unsplash

The island of Cyprus is known as a jewel of the Mediterranean, but it is also plagued by a history of bitter conflict between Turkey and Greece. Both these countries have sought to lay claim to the island, and with no clear result. Now, Cyprus remains a divided country, with portions of the region dedicated to both the Turks and the Greeks.

Crime in Cyprus

Crime against visitors is not common in Cyprus, but the usual common sense rules apply around keeping your belongings safe in your hotel room and when out in restaurants and bars. Look out for the risk of drink spiking by buying your own drinks, and staying with friends when on nights out.

Cyprus has a zero tolerance to drug possession and use, and being caught using or in possession will result in a heavy fine or prison term.

LGBTQ+ safety in Cyprus

Homosexuality has been legal in Cyprus since 2016 and civil partnerships can take place. However, away from the main cities LGBTQ+ people are not widely accepted.

A quick traveler's guide to the history of Cyprus

Cyprus's long stretching conflict began in 1571 when it was conquered by the Ottoman empire, which resulted in three centuries of Turkish rule.

Later, in the early 19th century, ethnic Greeks sought to bring an end to the rule, and unite Cyprus with Greece – as it was the site of early Phoenician and Greek colonies.

In 1878, the British Empire took control of Cyprus in order to prevent Ottoman positions falling under control from Russia – and an agreement was reached which allowed the Ottoman Empire to retain ownership. The Greeks welcomed the British involvement as it could see a chance to argue for Greek union, or Enosis.

When the Ottoman empire entered World War I, Britain then determined the island to be a colony of the British Empire. Britain offered Cyprus to Greece on the proviso that Greece join the war, an offer that was declined by the Greek King, Constantine I.

Under the rule of the empire, Cyprus escaped conflict in the Greco Turk war, but saw the continued push by Greek Cypriots to form Enosis. In 1931, an open revolution resulted, which saw 2000 convicted of crimes, and a harsh impositions enforced by the British.

Political parties were banned, some citizens were exiled, and elections were suspend – it was also forbidden to fly Greek or Turkish flags in the country.

Greek Cypriots were enraged after WWII, when Enosis looked unlikely to result. The main political voice for Greek Cypriots was the Cypriot Orthodox church, which led the struggle.

Later, using the Turkish Resistance Organisation as muscle, Turkey called for a division of Cyprus into Greek and Turkish sections – rejecting the idea of a Greek union.

Several resistance organisations surfaced, and the country was soon on the brink of civil war. In December 1958, representatives of Greece and Turkey had open discussion on the status of Cyprus, and three treaties were formed, Establishment, Guarantee and Alliance. A Greek Cypriot president, Makarious III and a Turkish Cypriot vice-president, Dr Fazil Küçük were installed – but this union failed miserably.

Peace keeping efforts were attempted in the years that followed, but due to equal power of veto, both nations kept arriving at loggerheads.

As a result, inter communal fighting resulted which left scores dead.

In 1974, a coup disposed of Makarious, and Turkey ordered an invasion on the north of Cyprus – in the action thousands of Cypriots, Greek and Turkish, lost their lives. The Turkish occupation lead to hundreds of thousands of displaced Greek Cypriots. Turkish Cypriots trapped in the south were invited by the UN to settle in the North.

Cyprus today

Now, Cyprus exists in a polarised state. In the North, mainly Turkish Cypriots reside, in the south, mainly Greek. Dividing the two is a dedicated UN buffer zone – and it remains an intractable political problem. However, borders have recently been opened allowing movement between the two sides.

So what does this political conflict mean for you? Well, it depends on where you go. There are still tensions in the area, but they are long running and deep seeded. The country is in a stalemate, and in a sense there is an air of resignation that things won't be resolved for a long time.

The Republic of Cyprus is a full member of the EU, but the country is divided by the Green Line separating the so-called ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ from the rest of the island. The ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ is not recognized by the British government.

Logistics of traveling in and around Cyprus

There are a few complications as to the logistics of where you are allowed to enter into and out of Cyprus. As a general rule, however, to travel to the island you must enter via one of the legal entry points. And if you enter the north part, you may have trouble getting to the south, and vice versa. Plan your trip with this in mind.

But despite the conflict that has plagued the region, and has left it in a state of political uncertainty, Cyprus is considered a very safe area to visit, with very little violent crime.

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  • R Yianni said

    The Turkish army should leave Cyprus. The Turkish mainlanders have a different mindset to that of Turkish Cypriots.


  • A Dogan said

    There aren't such people as ''Cypriots''. There are Greeks and Turks on that island. This difference was made clear with the bloody christmas.


  • Chrys said

    In my opinion and with that in mind Dogan, there should be a Great Big Wall Built as a symbol to the resolution that both sides are wanting so badly. Uniting North Cyprus to Turkey And the South To Greece
    This is a certain resolution


  • Rich said

    It's perfectly safe - as long as being gang raped doesn't count as a crime - which apparently, according to the Cyprus legal system, it isn't.
    Anyone who goes there after they demonstrated their utter contempt for tourists, quite frankly deserves whatever happens to them.
    Government sponsored gang rape is not acceptable.


  • Robin Keating said



  • Anne Ashley said

    How did british air force bases Akrotiri and Dehklia come about.


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