Nicosia is the capital and seat of government of the Republic of Cyprus, and as such is the farthest southeast of all EU member states’ capitals. It has been continuously inhabited for over 4,500 years and has been the capital of Cyprus since the 10th century. Nicosia was divided into the southern Greek Cypriot and the northern Turkish Cypriot parts in 1963, following the intercommunal violence that broke out in the city. Today, the northern part of the city is the capital of Northern Cyprus, a de facto state that is considered to be occupied Cypriot territory by the international community.

Apart from its legislative and administrative functions, Nicosia has established itself as the island’s financial capital and its main international business centre. In 2012, Nicosia was the 5th richest city in the world in relative purchasing power.


The population of Nicosia in 2016 is around 398,000.


The official languages of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish. Greek is spoken predominately in the south and Turkish is spoken predominantly in the north. English is very widely spoken in south by locals of all ages – partially because of previous British rule and partially due to the tourism industry.


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It is the capital of the country, the largest in population, but the only one located far from the coast, thus is not favorable by tourists. Some offshore companies are situated in the capital but not as many as in Limassol. It is located near the centre of the Mesaoria plain, on the banks of the River Pedieos.


Nicosia has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh) due to its low annual precipitation totals. The city experiences long, hot and dry summers, with most of the rainfall occurring in winter.


Nicosia was first inhabited over 5000 years ago. It was first known as Ledra during the Hellenistic period, but later the name was changed to Lefkothea under the Ptolemists. Till the Middle Ages  the city was only known by the Greek name of Lefkosia; when Cyprus came under Latin rule it was renamed Nicosia but the Greek population continued calling it Lefkosia. As a result of Arab raids on the island after the 8th Cebtury, many people abandoned the coastal areas to seek refuge inland; it was during this period that Lefkosia (Nicosia) became capital of Cyprus. The Patron Saint of the city is Saint Tryfilios, the first Bishop of the island. Along with the rest of the island, Nicosia continued to pass through different hands.

The Knights, the Lusignans, including Cyprus’s last queen, Katerina Kornaro, developed the culture and architecture of the city, while the Venetians fortified it by building new walls. Nicosia was then taken over by the Ottoman Turks in 1570 and its development languished. The Turks called it by its Greek name of Lefkosia and over the years this developed into its current Turkish pronunciation of Lefkos(h)a.  In 1878 the administration of the island was taken over by the British and the capital flourished and developed its European character; churches were built and first public schools were founded. Government buildings and court houses were built as well as new roads and the city expanded outside the walls. Now Nicosia became the commercial centre of the country and the zone around Ledra Street was the busiest.

In August 1959 Cyprus was declared an independent Republic. In 1964  the city was divided when Turksih Cypriots barricaded themselves into their neighbourhoods after a brief intercommunal conflict.  This division line was called the ‘green line’. In July 1974, a coup by extremist Greek officers with close links to Greece conducted a coup against the government which was at the time presided by Archbishop Makarios.  They set up a puppet regime and Makarios fled the island aided by the British who maintain two bases oon Cyprus.  Turkey used this situation as a pretext to invade the island, using a clause in the tratey of estabslihment of the Republic of Cyprus, allowing the guarantor powers (Greece, Turkey, UK) to intervene to restore the status quo if the constitution was under threat.  Not only did Turkey not restore the status quo ante, it created a total division of the island, occupying 38% of its territory and forcing the vast majority of the population from the occupied territory to move south; since then Nicosia is de facto divided into two parts.

For many years Greeks were not allowed to cross over to the north but in recent years the Turkish authorities are permitting this. 


Nicosia is the financial and business heart of Cyprus. The city hosts the headquarters of all Cypriot banks namely the former Cyprus Popular Bank (also known as Laiki Bank), Bank of Cyprus, the Hellenic Bank. Further, the Central Bank of Cyprus is located in the Acropolis area of the Cypriot capital. A number of international businesses base their Cypriot headquarters in Nicosia, such as the big four audit firms PWC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young. International technology companies such as NCR and TSYS have their regional headquarters in Nicosia. The city is also home to local financial newspapers such as the Financial Mirror and Stockwatch. Cyprus Airways had its head offices in the entrance of Makariou Avenue. According to a recent UBS survey in August 2011, Nicosia is the wealthiest per capita city of the Eastern Mediterranean and the tenth richest city in the world by purchasing power in 2011.


Nicosia has a large student community as it is the seat of eight universities, the University of Cyprus (UCY), the University of Nicosia, the European University Cyprus, the Open University of Cyprus, Frederick University, Near East University, the University of Mediterranean Karpasia and Cyprus International University.

Politics and administration

Governance of the metropolitan area

Greater Nicosia is administered by several municipalities. In the centre is the city municipality of Nicosia itself (see below). Other municipalities are Strovolos, Lakatamia, Latsia, Aglandjia, Engomi, Agios Dhometios and the newly formed (as of 2011) Yeri & Tseri.

The population of the conurbation is 300,000 (2011 census, plus Turkish Cypriot administered census of 2006) of which 100,000 live within the Nicosia municipal area. Because Nicosia municipality has separate communal municipal administrations, the population of Strovolos (67,904 (2011 Census)) is actually the largest of all the local authorities in Greater Nicosia.

Within Nicosia municipality, most of the population resides in the more recently annexed outlying areas of Kaimakli, Pallouriotissa, Omorfita and Ayii Omoloyites.

There is no metropolitan authority as such for Greater Nicosia and various roles, responsibilities and functions for the wider area are undertaken by the Nicosia District administration, bodies such as the Nicosia Water Board and, to some extent, Nicosia municipality.

The Nicosia Water Board supplies water to the following municipalities: Nicosia, Strovolos, Aglandjia, Engomi, Ay. Dometios, Latsia, Geri and Tseri. The board consists of three persons nominated by the Council of each municipality, plus three members appointed by the government, who are usually the District Officer of Nicosia District, who chairs the Board, the Accountant General and the Director of the Water Department. The board also supply Anthoupolis and Ergates, for whom the government provide representatives. Thus the board is in the majority controlled by the municipalities of Greater Nicosia in providing this vital local government service.

The Nicosia Sewerage Board, is likewise majority controlled by the municipalities of Greater Nicosia. It is chaired ex officio by the Mayor of Nicosia and consists of members chosen by the municipalities of Nicosia (6 members), Strovolos (5 members), Aglandjia (2 members), Lakatamia (2 members), Ay. Dometios (2 members), Engomi (2 members), Latsia (1 member). The sewage treatment plant is at Mia Milia. The Nicosia Sewerage System serves a population of approximately 140,000 and an area of 20 km2 (8 sq mi). Approximately 30% of the influent is contributed by the Turkish Cypriot Side.

Public transport is not controlled by the local authorities, but comes under the Nicosia District administration, which is an arm of the Ministry of the Interior. Transport services (primarily bus and taxi) are provided by an agency of the Nicosia District (OSEL) or private companies.


Nicosia is linked with other major cities in Cyprus via a modern motorway network. The A1 connects Nicosia with Limassol in the south with the A6 going from Limassol onto Paphos. The A2 links Nicosia with the south eastern city of Larnaca with the A3 going from Larnaca to Ayia Napa. The A9 connects Nicosia to the west Nicosia district villages and the Troodos mountains. The capital is also linked to the 2 international airports: Larnaca International Airport and Paphos International Airport.

Public transport within the city is currently served by a new and reliable bus service. Bus services in Nicosia are run by OSEL. In the northern part, the company of LETTAŞ provides this service. Many taxi companies operate in Nicosia. Fares are regulated by law and taxi drivers are obliged to use a taximeter.

In 2010, as part of the Nicosia Integrated Mobility Plan, a pre-feasibility study for a proposed tram network has taken place and sponsored by the Ministry of Communications and Works. The study compared two scenarios, with and without the operation of a tramway in terms of emitted polluting loads.

In 2011, the Nicosia Municipality introduced the Bike in Action scheme, a bicycle sharing system which covers the Greater Nicosia area. The scheme is run by the Inter-Municipal Bicycle Company of Nicosia (DEPL).

There is currently no train network in Cyprus however plans for the creation of an intercity railway are currently under way. The first railway line on the island was the Cyprus Government Railway which operated from 1905 to 1951. It was closed down due to financial reasons.


Football is the most popular sport in Cyprus, and Nicosia is home of three major teams of the island; APOEL, Omonia and Olympiakos. APOEL dominates Omonia in Cypriot football. There are also many other football clubs in Nicosia and the suburbs. Nicosia is also home to Ararat FC, the island’s only Armenian FC.

Nicosia is also the home for many clubs for basketball, handball and other sports. APOEL and Omonia have basketball and volleyball sections and Keravnos is one of the major basketball teams of the island. The Gymnastic Club Pancypria (GSP), the owner of the Neo GSP Stadium, is one of the major athletics clubs of the island. Also, all teams in the Futsal First Division are from Nicosia. In Addition, European University and SPE Strovolou are the two best handball teams in Cyprus and they are both located in Nicosia.

Nicosia has some of the biggest venues in the island; The Neo GSP Stadium, with capacity of 23,400, is the home for the national team, APOEL, Olympiakos and Omonia. The other big football stadium in Nicosia is Makario Stadium with capacity of 16,000. The Eleftheria Indoor Hall is the biggest basketball stadium in Cyprus, with capacity of 6,500 seats and is the home for the national team, APOEL and Omonia. The Lefkotheo indoor arena is the volleyball stadium for APOEL and Omonia.

Nicosia hosted the 2000 ISSF World Cup Final shooting events for the shotgun. Also the city hosted two basketball events; the European Saporta Cup in 1997 and the 2005 FIBA Europe All Star Game in the Eleftheria Indoor Hall. Another event which was hosted in Nicosia were the Games of the Small States of Europe in 1989 and 2009.

Activities in Nicosia

panagia-asinou-church Panagia Asinou Church a-g-leventis-gallery A. G. Leventis Gallery buyuk-han  Buyuk Han
cyprus-museum Cyprus Museum selimiye-mosqueSelimiye Mosque  pivo-microbreweryPivo Microbrewery 

Accommodation in Nicosia

booking nicosia-activities Direct Rooms hilton-park-nicosia Hilton Park Nicosia 


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