Middle East Cyprus: An unlikely concoction? (educational photo essay)

May 15, 2012

Beyond, Photos

Middle East Cyprus, food platters

Today we expose an unlikely concoction: Middle East Cyprus. Wait, isn’t it an European island?! Decorating hundreds of Mediterranean travel brochures worldwide, Cyprus’ location and culture are commonly misunderstood. Granted, it is located in the Mediterranean Sea–but so are the coasts of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Turkey! Indeed, Middle East Cyprus is real and today we explore a few reasons why.

Middle East Cyprus: Location

According to the United Nations, Middle East Cyprus is real, at least in terms of location. For reports and statistics, Cyprus is grouped with 16 other nations, including also-geographically-controversial Turkey, as part of the Middle East:

Middle East Cyprus map

Middle East Cyprus? Find it on this map! (Wiki Commons)

But what is the Middle East anyway?!

Additionally, according to World Atlas, the Middle East is “where Africa, Asia and Europe meet.” What’s more is that the following sentence describes these countries as “all part of Asia, but for clarity reasons, we geographically show them here as a separate landmass.” This is a now-common division worldwide. Thus, since Cyprus sits south of Turkey and quite close to Syria, it is more than fair to conclude that, geographically, Cyprus is part of the Middle East and not Europe.

Culture and politics of Cyprus: In brief

In terms of politics, Cyprus is deemed European. It joined the EU on May 1st, 2004 and its currency has been the EURO since 2008. But here comes the interesting fact: 36% of the island, the Turkish north, is the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (with Turkey’s support and sole recognition, of course). But then again…

Turks are not Arabs. But Turkey is part of the Middle East as well, isn’t it?
It also wants to join the EU…

I know, you probably have a headache by now! So what’s the verdict!?

Middle East Cyprus, Greek Cyprus

Greek establishment (left) and Arab establishment (right, in Arabic). Photo by SpirosK, Flickr

Cyprus is a Middle Eastern concoction after all

Like with everything Middle Eastern, there are only gray lines to be found when it comes to Cyprus. It is geographically Middle Eastern, politically more European, and culturally a mixture of (you fill in the blank).

After all, Cyprus is a great example of what the region of the Middle East is: A concoction of misunderstandings and nuances that only the locals and ones delving into the culture can somewhat figure out. Anyone else? Just come for a visit and enjoy its beauty for what it is!

Middle East Cyprus, Salamis ruins

Ancient Salamis, Cyprus (Michel Coumans, Flickr)

Middle East Cyprus, Famagusta beach

Famagusta beach (Dr Phil, Flickr)

Middle East Cyprus, food platters

Cyprus food samplers (bastomas, Flickr)

Middle East Cyprus or European Cyprus: What’s your take?

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2 Responses to “Middle East Cyprus: An unlikely concoction? (educational photo essay)”

  1. Shell Says:


    A great article and lots of food for thought there…

    I’ve re-blogged it to my WordPress blog site Cyprus Life – in pictures.



    • Maria Laborde Says:

      Thank you Shell! It’s humbling when a local appreciates an article written about their country by a foreigner :) Thanks again!


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