Cyprus at a Glance
Living in Cyprus
Culture and Heritage
Expats in Cyprus will get to know a culture which is as old as it is fascinating – no wonder, seeing how the islands has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The earliest human activity on Cyprus dates back a mind-boggling 12 millennia. The strategic importance of the island for major cultures in the Mediterranean and adjacent regions has led to its occupation and colonization by a large number of ancient civilizations, all of which have left indelible marks.
While the Ottoman Turks and the British have had the most recent impact on shaping life in Cyprus, the most obvious and strongest influence on the people living in Cyprus today has been that of the Greeks. At least as far as the Republic of Cyprus – the subject of this guide – is concerned, the Greek settlement, which began about 4,000 years ago, has most profoundly shaped local language and culture.
However, you should not expect living in Cyprus to be just like living in Greece. Not only are there definite cultural differences and peculiarities which are typically Cypriot, ranging from music to dishes such as the world-renowned Halloumi cheese; Cyprus is also a sovereign nation and not simply a part of the Greek mainland.
Today, the majority of people in Cyprus are young, educated, and often fluent in more than two languages - commonly English and Russian, French, or German, as many Cypriots pursued their higher education abroad. However, it would be both unwise and detrimental to the experience of expat living in Cyprus to have no previous knowledge of Greek.
Familiarizing yourself with at least a few common phrases and the Greek alphabet will not only be a strong signal that you are ready for living in Cyprus, rather than just being a temporary ‘visitor’ of sorts, it will also be very well received by those around you. Needless to say that knowing the local language always helps when dealing with administrative issues.
As far as the business aspect of your new life abroad is concerned, you might be able to work with your Cypriot colleagues without any knowledge of Greek and not encounter too many obstacles. Again, this is due to the widespread bilingualism on the island. However, we strongly advise you to take a few classes in Greek before embarking on your overseas adventure.
Quality of Life
Until recently, the island boasted one of the highest per capita GDP in the European Union. This often came as a surprise to expats interested in living in Cyprus. After all, we are talking about a small island nation on the southeastern edge of Europe. Having been an important strategic outpost and trade center for millennia, Cyprus made the best of its location – despite the unfortunate, ongoing territorial dispute with Turkey that has left the country divided.
Unfortunately, the ongoing financial and economic crisis has hit the country pretty hard. The GDP is shrinking, and unemployment is on the increase. Nonetheless, the quality of life in Cyprus is, of course, not only determined by the figures on your paycheck. In Cyprus, you may still get to enjoy a welcoming, warmhearted culture, advanced infrastructure in most respects, and a very safe environment – the nation has a fairly low crime rate.