I was recently invited to visit the Mediterranean island of Cyprus on a mission. My first reaction was to wonder if Cyprus was a safe place to visit, given that I remembered the recent problems in the area.
Indeed, when I examined the situation more closely, I realized that Cyprus is an island which is effectively divided in two. While the southern part of the island is ruled by a Cypriot government, favored by Greece, a northern part 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 is clearly a place that has had some problems.
Being a pawn in a match between Turkey and Cyprus didn’t seem like the safest place in the world and it didn’t escape me that Cyprus is truly part of the Middle East in terms of its geographical location (in the east end of the Mediterranean).
I decided to take official advice on safe travel to the island and consulted the Department of Foreign Affairs – I recommend that you consult the Department of Foreign Affairs, either directly or through their website, if you are never be sure about the safety issues associated with traveling to any part of the world.
The advice is updated regularly and the first thing I spotted is that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not officially recognized by Britain. The Republic of Cyprus, on the other hand, is a full member of the European Union.
In terms of security, the main concerns raised seem to be those of terrorist attacks (a threat shared by much of the rest of Europe) and the dangers caused by high temperatures.
It was also noted that Cyprus, like everywhere else in Europe, had its fair share of crime, but not to a greater extent than elsewhere on the continent.
One thing that certainly turned out to be true once I got to the island is that Cypriots are not the best drivers – be careful on the roads.
Overall, Cyprus is a relatively safe place to travel. Take the usual precautions you would do when traveling and it looks like the advice from the Foreign Office is that all is well.