In 1974, Turkey invaded the northern part of the island of Cyprus and have controlled about 40% of the territory ever since. They’ve named it the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, but in truth it’s just an exclave of Turkey now. After all, they officially use the Turkish language and the Turkish Lira, and have an enormous Turkish military presence. They’ve also painted a massive FU, in the form of a giant Turkish flag, on a mountain facing south so the Greek side have a constant reminder of exactly who controls the north of the island.
Click here to read about my visit to Greek Cyprus.
There’s a thin demilitarised zone inbetween the Greek and Turkish sides, monitored by United Nations peacekeepers, that actually splits the capital city in two, so each nation now controls about half of Nicosia. For a long time the only way to visit the north of Cyprus was to go via Istanbul, because Turkey is the only country that recognises the de facto state of the Northern Republic of Cyprus. However, things have changed and since 2003 the rules have been relaxing. It’s now possible to quite painlessly cross over at the Green Line (if you’re a European citizen) at specific approved crossing points. So I took a day trip…