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Safety Travel Safety: Europe: Cyprus

Cyprus: Republic of Cyprus
Capital: Nicosia
Population: 767,314
Currency: Greek Cypriot area: Cypriot pound (CYP); Turkish Cypriot area: Turkish lira (TRL)
Languages: Greek, Turkish, English
Religions: Greek Orthodox 78%, Muslim 18%, Maronite, Armenian Apostolic, and other 4%
Borders: 0 km

Cyprus is a developed Mediterranean island nation divided de facto into two areas. The government of the Republic of Cyprus is the internationally recognized authority on the island but, in practice, its control extends only to the Greek Cypriot southern part of the island. The northern area operates under an autonomous Turkish-Cypriot administration. In 1983, this administration declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," which is only recognized by Turkey. Facilities for tourism in the Republic of Cyprus are highly developed. Most facilities in north Cyprus, while adequate, tend to be smaller and less modern. English is widely spoken in the government-controlled areas, less so in the north. The Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004.

While civil disorder is uncommon in Cyprus, demonstrations sometimes occur, and there have been occasional violent incidents along the "green line" dividing the two sides of the island. In previous years, terrorist groups from the Middle East have used Cyprus as a base for carrying out acts of terrorism against third country targets.

Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest (especially in north Cyprus) may cause problems with authorities.

Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to cross the U.N. buffer zone without permission. This area is heavily mined and militarized.

Cyprus has very low rates of both violent and street crime. Visitors should follow normal precautions taken in U.S. cities.

Americans frequenting Cypriot bars should be wary of greatly inflated bar tabs, especially in so-called "cabarets."

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Cyprus' laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Cyprus are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. The legal system in Cyprus is based on English common law and is similar to that of the United States in many respects.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.

Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

Medical care is available at both government hospitals and private clinics. Emergency Rooms offer adequate care to stabilize patients, most of whom 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. Additionally, most ambulances are staffed by emergency room doctors and nurses - not by paramedics.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Cyprus is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety Of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Condition/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Condition/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair

There are few public buses and no rail lines. Taxis are widely available, but they often do not have operating seat belts. 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 they are 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 compulsory, though widely ignored. Motorcyclists are required to wear helmets, and the use of cellular phones while driving is prohibited. Motorway speed limits are set at 100 kph (62 mph). Liability insurance is mandatory.

Enforcement of traffic laws and regulations is inconsistent, at best, and the government is looking at ways to improve road safety. In recent years Cyprus has ranked among the top three countries in Europe, on a per capita basis, in regard to traffic fatalities. Speeding, tailgating, overtaking, and the running of caution lights are commonplace and major causes of accidents. Emergency assistance is available by calling 199.

The information above applies only to those areas under the control of the Republic of Cyprus. Road safety conditions in north Cyprus (the Turkish-Cypriot administered areas) are similar to conditions in the south, except that the road network is less developed. Insurance purchased in the Republic of Cyprus is not valid in the Turkish-Cypriot administered areas, but it may be purchased near the U.N. "Buffer Zone" checkpoint. Emergency assistance is available by calling 155.

For specific information concerning Cyprus driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Cyprus national tourist organization offices in New York via the Internet at

As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Cyprus by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Cyprus' Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at 1-800-322-7873 or visit the FAA�s Internet website at

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at (618) 229-4801.

There are restrictions on the photographing of military installations in both south and north Cyprus. English-language signs are generally posted in sensitive areas advising of the restrictions. However, visitors should refrain from photographing military installations and/or personnel regardless of whether warning signs are posted, and if confronted by local authorities, they should comply with all reasonable requests regarding the use of photographic equipment.

Please also refer to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

July 19, 2004

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