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 island 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. There are definite cultural differences and peculiarities which are typically Cypriot, ranging from music to food. The Cypriot cuisine includes exquisite wines and the world-renowned Halloumi cheese.
Cyprus is a sovereign nation and a member state of the European Union. The island as well as the capital city of Nicosia is divided into two parts: the Northern part which is occupied by the Turks and a Greek south. Yet the Republic of Cyprus is internationally recognized, with the exception of Turkey, as one single independent state.
Today, the majority of people in Cyprus are young, educated, and often fluent in more than two languages. English is spoken by almost everyone in Cyprus while other languages such as Russian, French, or German are also prevalent. However, it would be both unwise and detrimental to the experience of expats 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 as an expat, 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. The two official languages in Cyprus are Greek and Turkish, used predominantly in each respective part.
As far as the business aspect of your new expat life abroad is concerned, you might be able to work with your Cypriot colleagues without any knowledge of the Greek language 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 of living in Cyprus.
Quality of Life
Looking at the GDP per capita in Cyprus, the island is currently in the middle range among other European countries. The capital, Nicosia, is the center of financial and business activity on the island and a hotspot for expats living in Cyprus. The island has suffered from the financial and economic crisis of previous years and reported high unemployment rates. The country is currently finding its way back to steady economic growth. Having been an important strategic outpost and trade center for millennia, Cyprus made the best of its location — despite the ongoing territorial dispute with Turkey that has left the country divided.
Nonetheless, the quality of life in Cyprus is, of course, not only determined by the figures on your paycheck. In Cyprus, you get to enjoy a welcoming, warmhearted culture, the Mediterranean climate, unique scenery, advanced infrastructure in most respects, and a safe environment, as the nation has a fairly low crime rate.