Local People and Lives
The local people of North Cyprus are known for their hospitality; the sort of people who will invite you to dinner at their house and happily sit and talk to you for hours after meeting you for only a few minutes. The sort of locals who will go out of their way to accommodate for you and your family, and do everything within their power to please their guests, including serving seemingly never ending plates of food! They are naturally laid back and casual people, with a somewhat strict and old fashioned set of ideals on public behaviour (no passionate kissing or prolonged hugging). The locals are proud and generous people and it’s partly because of them that North Cyprus has the charming environment that it does.
Agriculture in North Cyprus
Agriculture has always been an important part of North Cyprus, despite its gradual decline in overall importance to the economy in recent years. The agricultural industry is still a major source of employment in North Cyprus and Guzelyurt and also creates a large amount of exported raw material, as well as fruit and vegetables. However, despite an abundance of fruit and root vegetables, the heat and dry nature of the climate makes it difficult to sustainably grow other food items and a large amount of subsidies have been paid to ease the losses that have come about.
The following are commonly produced fruit and vegetables in North Cyprus. Pomegranates Legend has it that pomegranates were bought to Cyprus by the goddess Aphrodite and although previously a major part of general life, the fruit are largely left to hang on their bushes now.
For those who might not know is a small pinkish red fruit roughly the size of a tennis ball that contains hundreds of seeds that are contained by juicy translucent flesh. Fantastic on desserts or even just on their own, Pomegranates are particularly populous in Iskele in the Karpaz region, near Famagusta.
Lefke in the Guzelyurt region is blessed with mineral rich irrigation from water collected from the mountainous regions. This allows a fantastic range of fruit, vegetables and nuts to be grown in and around Lefke and this is one of the reasons that the best dates in all of Cyprus are grown here. Dates are a very popular fruit around the world, being sold both fresh and dried and also being used to make juices and yoghurts. Dates are also mentioned in the bible dozens of times, which shows just how popular and ancient the fruit gathering and consuming is.
Citrus (Lemon, lime, orange etc)
Citrus trees define some parts of North Cyprus; releasing a sweet and fresh smell into the air when they are ripening and creating some of the best flavours in every food. Lemons, limes and oranges are used in almost every form from flavouring drinks and desserts to main meals, starters and even being eaten as a snack on their own (although that might only apply to oranges!) Citrus fruit is particularly popular in Cypriot drinks, providing the source of flavours in Limonata as well as creating one of the most important ingredients in Brandy sours, the most popular alcoholic drink in the country.
As one of the largest and most important exports and ingredients in Cyprus, especially the North, potatoes are widely grown and sold, and used in a large range of dishes. From a side dish with Kofte Kebabs to a meal in its own right, Potatoes form a staple of Cypriot dishes just like they do in British food.
Banking in North Cyprus
Throughout most of Northern Cyprus all travellers will be able to find a bank. Therefore, especially in the larger cities, it’s fairly easy to be able to withdraw money when you need it. There are a range of international banks available such as HSBC, as well as Cypriot banks like the central bank of TRNC. For those looking to stay in North Cyprus in the long term, most ex-pats choose to stick with banks that exist back at home, for the familiarity and trust they have previously built, but there are banks based in North Cyprus that can be just as trustworthy. However if you’re looking for a place to exchange spending money, the banks might not be the best place for it.
Often Cypriot banks will only exchange money for their customers, and because of limited opening hours it’s generally easier to go to a specific currency exchange shop or at your hotel. But if you just want to withdraw cash, there are a large range of ATM’s dotted around the larger cities and towns. And as for credit cards, VISA and Mastercards are generally accepted in shops and restaurants, but it’s not worth relying on them completely as there will always be places that don’t – or maybe even a tourist attraction that requires a fee. More often than not you will need to keep some cash for some small thing or other, so we’d advise you always carry at least some hard money around and not rely purely on plastic.
The economy of Northern Cyprus is heavily reliant on the tourism industry, with a large percentage of trade and many jobs enforced by the popularity of North Cyprus as a holiday destination. Agriculture is also an important source of finance, with fruit and root vegetables forming a large percentage of the Cypriot crop. Job prospects are also based largely in either the tourism or construction sectors due to the large number of ex-pat houses that have been built in recent years. Another popular industry is education due to the increasing number of schools throughout North Cyprus.
In recent years, the border crossing has become much easier between the north and south so that it is easy for many Turkish Cypriots from the north to find work in the higher paying south. Overall the economy of the North has been greatly boosted in recent decades, with the average wage increasing and trade with Turkey, their primary source of imported goods as well as financial and military support, remaining steady.
North Cyprus Life style
The pace of life in North Cyprus is famously laid back and relaxed, from the men who sip their coffee whilst passionately playing backgammon to the smiling children who play outside their houses and the old fashioned hospitality of each and every household, Cyprus is a classic Mediterranean gem. It’s easy to spend hours wandering through ancient streets and stumbling across relics, old churches, mosques and silver shops, or bazaars full of carpets and Turkish delight. Sip on limonata (which is lemonade to you and I) whilst enjoying the freshest seafood salad or drive around abandoned villages from thousands of years ago and truly understand what it is to experience life in North Cyprus.
Official Currency of North Cyprus
The official currency of North Cyprus is the Turkish Lira. The exchange rate for this is currently around 1 Turkish Lira to 0.26 pounds and 1 Turkish Lira to 0.35 Euro. 1 Pound equates to 3.83 Turkish Lira and 1 Euro to 2.82 Turkish Lira. The euro can be accepted with certain businesses, but generally speaking the common usage of the lira allows guests to North Cyprus a far more affordable holiday. Major credit cards are also accepted in many establishments, though be aware that these do sometimes have high interest rates. Need more information?
Olive Leaf Burning Known as Tutsu, the burning of olive leaves is a symbolic act for warding off the evil eye and to protect from harm, and is traditionally carried out during celebrations. A family member gather leaves into a metal pot and then burn them, wafting the smoke around people for protection. Another reason people burn olive leaves is in an attempt to view the future; it is believed that Cypriots throw leaves onto hot ashes and depending on how the leaf curls you are able to tell whether or not your dreams will come true.
Past Times in North Cyprus
For those living in North Cyprus there is a wide range of activities and societies as well as clubs and businesses to get involved in, especially as a British expat. There are British run newspapers to keep people informed of matters back home, as well as to help anyone not fluent in Turkish understand local issues. If you’re a writer, or maybe just like to get involved in your local community, the newspapers are great as many of them accept contributions from locals, although you shouldn’t expect payment as it’s largely volunteer work. But for those looking for something more active, how about joining a club?
Backgammon and card games like Bridge are the most popular, but there are other board-game groups that play regularly throughout the country. Look on Expat forums and websites for more detailed information, but as for making new friends, it’s the perfect opportunity. Or maybe you’d rather join a society and helps the nature that calls North Cyprus home. There are lots of groups who actively work at caring for the birds and turtles who live on the island and it’s a perfect way to look after the world around you whilst learning about the animals who inhabit the Northern regions. Finally, if you’re after something more exhilarating, hiking and cycling tracks are available which are also suitable for horseback riding, and with all the paragliding, sailing and scuba diving how could you possibly become bored? North Cyprus is full of opportunities and excitement for everyone, whether you’re there for a week or ten years.
Tourism in North Cyprus
Tourism has for a long time now been a primary source of income and work for North Cyprus with Kyrenia being the capital of tourist flow, as people from all over the world wish to take advantage of the untouched and undeveloped bliss that the regions have to offer. The tourism industry employs tens of thousands of people who work in hotels, restaurants and bars that the tourists visit and also gives the locals a chance to create traditional hand made goods to sell on, giving small crafters and businesses the chance to flourish.
Despite numbers that are still dwarfed by those of tourists visiting South Cyprus, there is a steady stream of people who visit the North every year, with the numbers gradually increasing each year. As more and more people visit North Cyprus and find themselves telling their friends about this amazing part of the world, numbers of international tourists are most certainly on the up. Overall North Cyprus benefits greatly from the interest and visits in their cities and towns due to the increased number of jobs as well as the larger amount of money being put into the economy.