Cyprus' Greek side boasts more visitor sites

PAPHOS, Cyprus -- The government of the Republic of Cyprus is the internationally recognized authority on the island but, in practice, it controls 63% of it -- the Greek Cypriot, southern part of the island, according to the U.S. State Department.

The northern 37% of the island operates under an autonomous Turkish Cypriot administrative zone supported by Turkish troops. In 1983, this section declared itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey.

Facilities for tourism in the southern sector are highly developed. Those in the northern Turkish-controlled zone, although adequate, tend to be smaller and less modern, according to the State Department.

Since 1974, the Cypriot government has designated Larnaca and Paphos airports and the seaports of Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos as the only legal points of entry into and exit from Cyprus. All are in the southern part of the island.

Entry or exit via any other airport or seaport is not authorized by the Cypriot government. It is possible for visitors to arrive at nondesignated airports and seaports in the northern sector, but they should not expect to cross the U.N.-patrolled "green line" to the government-controlled areas in the south.

Such travel is not permitted by the government of Cyprus, even for transit purposes.

Visitors arriving through designated ports of entry in the south might be able to cross into the north for day trips and return by 5 p.m., according to the Cyprus Tourism Organization.

No hostilities with Turkey have occurred since 1974, when Turkey invaded Cyprus, according to the tourism organization. Negotiations have been held sporadically since that time to resolve Turkish Cypriot/Greek Cypriot issues, but no tangible results have yet been achieved.

Tourism, particularly among Europeans, has thrived in Cyprus, which boasts a low crime rate -- exemplified by islanders' habit of parking their cars, unlocked, with keys in the ignition, tourism officials said.

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