The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus or for short North Cyprus is a De Facto state, recognized only by Turkey and in conflict with the southern part which is the Republic of Cyprus.
While visiting North Cyprus, you mostly hear from its citizens about the political conflicts between the South and the North accusing the Greeks to be the invaders.
You might also hear about the war, the loss of their homes on the other side, the European Court of Justice, the non-recognition by the UN; and it is still considered an illegal territory; the non-equal rights with Greeks etc.
To have your own political, historical and economical point of you, I strongly advise you to read “The Political and Economic History of North Cyprus: A Discordant Polity” by T.Ekinci where he provides critical and argumentative facts about the issue.
If you didn’t visit Cyprus yet and have no information except for some travel blogs promoting the area, I would like to share with you my experience so that you are prepared for any unfortunate events during your travel. I visited all big cities in Cyprus – Nicosia (Lefkosa), Kyrenia (Girne), Famagusta (Gazimagusa) and Guzelyurt (Morpho).
Here is a summary including the top four things you probably don’t know about The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
1. WHERE YOU COME FROM MATTERS
This works in both ways, you might have heard that if you visit North Cyprus through Ercan Airport, you cannot cross back to the South because it is considered an illegal crossing through an illegal and occupied territory. However, if your first visit to the island was to North Cyprus or you have a stamp on your passport, the south can choose to deny your entry. Try to be careful of the travel agencies promotions mentioning Cyprus instead of North Cyprus or TRNC, especially if you need a Schengen or specific visa to enter South Cyprus.
Now let’s talk about the other way, which is “where you come from?” I am not going to generalize but it definitely matters. You can notice it everywhere, in the supermarket, in taxi, in cafés, work, universities, etc. Suddenly the treatment changes, tone of voice, and you might run into the worst types of discrimination (luckily not the physical aggressive or violent type) but noticeable in your daily interactions.
2. THE AREA’S POOR INFRASTRUCTURE
Except for the highway, most of the roads have bumps all over and the only way they fix it is by applying patches, for that you probably need to be careful while driving.
Transportation is not an aspect where they excel at, you can only find buses or Taxis:
-Buses can transport you from one big town to another and probably on the roads with less traffic. You can’t find a bus station unless you walk for kilometers, however thankfully students can find buses near their universities.
-Taxis are the worst, but usually your only option. You might find taxi’s contacts everywhere, contact them on WhatsApp and wait for as long as the driver wants you to wait. I forgot how many times I had to change the driver because for me 5 minutes is definitely not 35 minutes 🙂
The water pipes for residential buildings are aged and outdated that it carries debris like small stones and dirt, visible when you open the tap. It is advisable to install a filter on the water faucets. Another option is to buy water from the water transportation trucks since the water is pumped directly from reservoirs outside the city and transported by big water trucks to residential areas.
3. TOURISM IS DEFINITELY NOT AS IT SEEMS
When promoting tourism, you will find pictures of clear and sandy beaches, luxurious hotels, monuments and historic locations. In reality those beaches are polluted, whether you go to Alsancak, Lapta, Girne, Famagusta… I tried to find the perfect location but all the recommendations turn out to be false, you will find black traces of oil, herbs and not clear water in all of these locations.
Entertainment is definitely limited; you have night clubs in Girne that work only in the Summer; and highly priced when found.
Parks are everywhere, in every neighborhood you will find even a small park where kids can play.
You can try shopping or just browsing in many corners but still the most popular street for that is “Dereboyu”.
When mentioning hotels; you might find luxurious, well-equipped, and with high quality standards; mostly built by foreign investors, more specifically British. However, the prices are very high for most hotels.
Never expect something good out of a service (market, taxi, hairdresser, banks, shops, restaurant…) in North Cyprus because you might end up being disappointed both in attitude and service. By the end of the article I will mention some of my recommendations after long search and multiple frustrations.
My only favorite place on the whole island; probably it would be the same for you; the old city near the crossing borders. It is called the City Center or Arasta. Just beautiful architecture, people tend to be nicer and have good communication skills in English. Calm and enchanting, but still attracts the younger generations mostly. Usually the people that frequent that place are between 15 and 35 years old, no families and kids.
4. ALL ABOUT PEOPLE
In most cases, you would find yourself lucky to find someone who speaks English, especially in Nicosia where there isn’t so many tourists. Still, it is not an excuse since you can find a lot of international students in most areas. Sometimes, natives might get frustrated at you the instance you speak in English, this is something that I was never able to understand.
There is a difference between Turkish Cypriot and Turks. The Turkish Cypriots have the same rights as Greek Cypriots or let’s say more privileged than those coming from Turkey. I don’t have an idea of the quality or type of people coming from Turkey to settle in North Cyprus but plenty of Turkish Cypriots do complain about them. I can’t also tell you the difference between a Turkish Cypriot or Turkish but all I know is that both speak Turkish.
When categorizing foreigners in North Cyprus, the majority are workers coming from Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia, and Syria. Most of the students are coming from African and Arabian Countries (exp: Kenya, Senegal, Jordan, Iran, Libya, Syria). Finally, employees have different nationalities (mostly from Russia, Ukraine, UK, EU…)
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a separate territory from Turkey but still depends on and belongs to turkey. It is also separate from the Republic of Cyprus but still dependent on it economically…
I hope you found some interesting information about North Cyprus and especially if you are planning to visit it.
Near East Bank (for transferring or receiving money)/ The Beauty Side (Beauty center from head to toe)/
Önder (Supermarket in Lefkosa)/ ŞAH (Supermarket in çatalkoy)/ HOI POLLOI (pub in Arasta)/ El Sabor (restaurant in Arasta)/ Cafe N°3 (coffee shop, restaurant and bar)