Akrotiri and Dhekelia

Travel Guide Overseas Territories Overseas Territories Akrotiri and Dhekelia

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Introduction

Akrotiri and Dhekelia, officially the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, is a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus. The Areas, which include bases and other land, were retained by the British, under the 1960 treaty of independence, agreed and signed by the United Kingdom, Greece, Turkey and representatives from the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, which granted independence to the Crown colony of Cyprus. This has an important role as a station for Signals Intelligence and provides a vital strategic part of the United Kingdom communications gathering and monitoring network in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The territory comprises two Areas. One is Akrotiri, or the "Western Sovereign Base Area" (or WSBA), which includes two main bases at RAF Akrotiri and Episkopi Cantonment, plus all of Akrotiri Village's district (including Limassol Salt Lake) and parts of eleven other village districts. The other Area is Dhekelia, or the "Eastern Sovereign Base Area" (or ESBA), which includes a base at Ayios Nikolaos plus parts of twelve village districts.

The Sovereign Base Areas were created in 1960 by the London and Zurich Agreements, when Cyprus achieved independence from the British Empire. The United Kingdom desired to retain sovereignty over these areas, as this guaranteed the use of UK military bases on Cyprus, including RAF Akrotiri, and a garrison of the British Army. The importance of the bases to the British is based on the strategic location of the island, at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, close to the Suez Canal and the Middle East; the ability to use the RAF base as staging post for military aircraft; and for training.

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Geography

Akrotiri and Dhekelia cover 3% of the land area of Cyprus, a total of 254 km2 (split 123 km2 (48.5%) at Akrotiri and 131 km2 (51.5%) at Dhekelia). 60% of the land is privately owned as freeholds by Cypriot citizens; the other 40% is controlled by the Ministry of Defence as Crown lease hold land. In January 2014, an agreement between the Cypriot government and the UK one was signed, ensuring that residents and property owners in the British Bases will enjoy equal rights for the development of property. In addition to Akrotiri and Dhekelia, the Treaty of Establishment also provided for the continued use by the British Ministry of Defence and the British Armed Forces of certain facilities within the Republic of Cyprus, known as Retained Sites.

Akrotiri is located in the south of the island, near the city of Limassol. Dhekelia is in the southeast, near Larnaca. Both of these areas include military bases, as well as farmland and some residential land. Akrotiri is surrounded by territory controlled by the Republic of Cyprus, but Dhekelia also borders on the United Nations (UN) buffer zone and the area controlled by the Turkish forces.

Ayia Napa lies to the east of Dhekelia. The villages of Xylotymbou and Ormidhia, also in the Republic of Cyprus, are enclaves surrounded by Dhekelia. The Dhekelia Power Station, divided by a British road into two parts, also belongs to Cyprus. The northern part is an enclave, like the two villages, whereas the southern part is located by the sea, and therefore not an enclave, though it has no territorial waters of its own.

Territorial waters of 3 nautical miles are claimed, and the right according to the laws of the United Nations to extend the claim of up to 12 nautical miles is reserved.

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Getting There

By Plane

There is no public airport within the areas, but the RAF Akrotiri airbase is located there, which has a runway suitable for long distance flights, but not used for public flights.

By Car

Cypriot motorways pass through both areas.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 19:29 on Aug 19, 19 by NancyBradley. 3 articles link to this page.

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