Cyprus // Travel essentials //

Place names in Cyprus


Although Cyprus’s history of successive occupations by foreign powers and complicated recent political history gives the island a variety of interest and depth of cultural identity, one of the less useful results has been a total confusion as to place names. Lusignans, Venetians, Ottomans and British all modified the original Greek names as well as imposing their own, while in the north, the 1974 Turkish occupation was followed by the wholesale replacement of Greek place names by Turkish ones. As a result, if you are visiting the north from the south, you really do need maps which show the post-1974 place names. For this practical reason, in this guide the post-1974 names are used – it does not imply any endorsement of the Turkish occupation or of the new names. Furthermore, the original names are widely used by Turkish Cypriots themselves in the north, and in these cases the original name will be included in brackets when first used, and when referring to pre-1974 events.

As if this isn’t complicated enough, in 1994 the south introduced its own changes, with the replacement of place names considered to have been imposed by imperialist rulers with names deemed to have a purer, more Greek ancestry. In some cases completely new names were introduced (“Lefkosia” for Nicosia,“Lemesos” for Limassol), or spellings were modified (“Larnaca” becoming Larnaka, “Paphos” becoming Pafos). These changes were not without controversy, and many Greek Cypriots in the south persist in using the old names – they even continue to be widely used on road signs. In this guide, the new names (as they appear on official CTO maps) are used, but with the old name in brackets on first use, or when referring to historical events.

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