For Educators

WIGW Cyprus

Fascinating Facts about Cyprus

Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. A crossing point between three continents, the country retains traces of many ancient civilizations, including the Roman Empire, Persia, Ancient Egypt, and Greece.

People who live in Cyprus are called Cypriots. A border called the “Green Line” divides the island. Turkish Cypriots live north of the Green Line; Greek Cypriots live in the south. The Green Line runs through the island’s capital, Nicosia (Greek) or Lefkosia (Turkish).

A world championship rally car race held in the capital helps to unite the country. Cyprus Rally drivers race on dirt and gravel roads as they zip through a section of the Green Line and speed through both Turkish and Greek land.

The Cypriot mouflon also travels freely through the island’s terrain. The largest wild animal here, the mouflon is a species of wild goat that has become a symbol for Cyprus. Its large curled horns can be found on ancient pottery as well as current stamps, coins, and company logos.

Other animals found on Cyprus include whip snakes, loggerhead turtles, monk seals, and many birds – warblers, wheatears, and a single black flamingo. The black flamingo was discovered in 2015, and scientists believe it has a genetic condition that causes its feathers to darken more than its pink relatives.

An important part of Cypriot meals is meze, which means “taste” or “snack.” Like an appetizer, meze is small plate of food meant to be shared before a meal. With some flavor variations, these meze are common here: halloumi (cheese often grilled); tzatziki or cacik (yogurt dip); koupepia (stuffed grape leaves); koubes or kibbeh (meat stuffed in bulgur wheat).

Many Turkish Cypriots are Muslim, and most Greek Cypriots are Christians and members of the Greek Orthodox Church. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christ’s baptism on Epiphany with a procession to the harbor. There, a bishop dramatically throws a large cross into the sea and blesses the water while kids dive in to retrieve the cross.

Learn the Language

Turkish and Greek are spoken in Cyprus. Try these Turkish and Greek phrases. (The Greek language uses a different alphabet than the one we use in the U.S. The Greek phrases here are written as they sound in our alphabet.)

Hello! How are you?

Turkish: Merhaba! Nasılsınız?

Greek: Geiá sou! Pós eísai?

I live in Cyrpus.
Turkish: Kıbrıs’ta yaşıyorum

Greek: Zo stin Kýpro

 Let’s go swimming.
Turkish: Hadi yüzmeye gidelim.

Greek: Páme gia kolýmpi.
Do you like to eat meze? Turkish: Meze yemeyi sever misin?

Greek: Sas arései na tróte meze?



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