I was recently asked to visit the Mediterranean island of Cyprus on an assignment. My initial reaction was to wonder whether Cyprus was a safe place to visit, given that I had some recollection of recent problems in the area.
Indeed, when I looked into the situation more closely, I realized that Cyprus is an island that is effectively split in two. While the southern part of the island is ruled by a Cypriot government, being favored by Greece, part of the north of the island is currently ‘occupied’.
The northern part of the island has a Turkish Cypriot government, following an invasion that took place in the 1970s. It’s clearly a place that has had some problems.
Being a pawn in a game between Turkey and Cyprus did not appear to be the safest place to be in the world and it had not escaped my notice that Cyprus is very much part of the Middle East in terms of its geographical location (at the eastern end of the Med).
I decided to take some official advice on the safety of traveling to the island and consulted the Foreign Office – I’d recommend consulting the Foreign Office, either directly or via their website, if you are ever unsure about the safety issues involved in traveling to any part of the world.
The advice is updated regularly and the first thing that I spotted is that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not officially recognized by Great Britain. The Republic of Cyprus, on the other hand, is a full member of the European Union.
In terms of safety, the main concerns outlined appeared to be that of terrorist attack (a threat shared with much of the rest of Europe) and the dangers caused by high temperatures.
It was also noted that Cyprus, like anywhere else in Europe, does have its fair share of crime, although not to a greater extent than elsewhere on the continent.
One item that certainly proved true once I got to the island was that Cypriots aren’t the best of drivers – take care on the roads.
All in all, Cyprus is a relatively safe place to travel to. Take the usual precautions that you would do when traveling and it seems that the Foreign Office advice is that you should be fine.