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A-k-r-o-t-i-r-i  and D-h-e-k-e-l-i-a is a British overseas territory.

It is a place most of us have never heard of. It is located in Cyprus

It is however a special territory. Why, because it’s a sort of a self-governing military base.

This is how it happened. The Ottoman Empire Joined the Central Powers in World War – I,

Britain hurried to take control of Cyprus as it was an important strategic island. Local Cypriots sided with Britain in return for a promise that following the war they would be allowed to unify with Greece , a promise Britain failed to deliver because of this, the ant – british sentiment grew and Cyprus achieved its independence. But, with the compromise Britain was allowed to keep two military bases on their own sovereign land. This allowed them to maintain a military presence in the eastern Mediterranean and retain control over the Suez Canal while also defusing the struggle with the locals thus both Akrotiri and Dhekelia were partitioned off and remain under British Control even after Cyprus became independent.

As we discussed, Akrotiri and Dhekelia are essentially military bases with no real civil governments the territory is composed of the two base areas one in Akrotiri or the western sovereign base area and one in Dhekelia cantonment or the eastern sovereign base area.

Akrotiri contains two main military bases but also all of the Akrotiri village districts plus parts of eleven other village districts Dhekelia includes one main military base and parts of 12 village districts what this means is that despite being military bases, both areas do contain civilian areas as well.

Around 7700 Cypriots live in the territory along with 3600 military personnel and 4,400 auxiliary personnel bringing the total population to 15700 people.

During the troublesome 17th Akrotiri and Dhekelia became well need refugee camps it was in 1794 that a military coup in Cyprus was attempted in order to achieve enosis the long deaming the union with Greece as a reaction to this, Turkey invaded the north of the island which had a significant Turkish minority, this intervention led to the creation of the internationally unrecognized Turkish Republic of Nothern Cyprus.

The invading Turkish Soldiers did not touch the Military bases in order to avoid the war with United Kingdom.

So Akrotiri and Dhekelia served as a safe heaven for the Cypriots fleeing from the Turkish forces they were allowed to travel through the territories and were given humanitarian aid.

Villagers from ACMA’s even setup a new village within Dhekelia after abandoning their old location.

Turkish refugees were also given help, but they were flown out to Nothern Cyprus a year later

As you can imagine there are a lot of people in Cyprus who don’t agree with the presence of foreign bases on their Island let alone with the ownership status of these lands on the other hand the United Kingdom has shown no intention of seeding the base areas as they still serve a strategic role so the bases remain a subject of dispute between the two countries and it’s being exploited in local politics with the bases being labeled as an unfair colonial remnant during the Syrian Civil war there was also speculation that a British intervention in the conflict might lead to the bombing of the bases with long-range missiles that could potentially carry chemical weapons.

This never happened, but even so the displacement of the locals remains.

This weird British territory does have a capital at Epis kopi cantonment.

Episkopi is also the current command center of British Forces Cyprus

Part of Episkopi lies within Cyprus and is a civilian village not related to the base areas as you might expect not much can be said about this capital as it’s basically and not an actual city.

When the base areas were retained by Britain in 1916, their military purposes were underlined.

This was not going to be a colony; it was never planned as such the stated philosophy of their administration provided that the British Government would not develop the territories for other than military purposes.

No colonies were to be setup and no customs post or other frontier barriers were to be built. No civilian and commercial or industrial enterprises were to be established except those needed by the military complex. No commercial or civilian airports or seaports are allowed to be built here.

There were no expropriations of private property except for military purposes and even then only on payment of fair compensation.

Furthermore, the ancient monuments and antiquities that lie within the base areas are the property of an administered by the Republic of Cyprus.

When the areas were being established the boundaries were deliberately drawn to avoid centers of population nevertheless there are people living here.

However, it’s hard to paint a picture of what life is like in this territory as there are no economic statistics for Akrotiri and Dhekelia.

It must be said though that is the only British territory that officially uses the Euro as its currency.

Travelling into the base areas is easy as there is normally no passport check at the border.

There are also four primary and two secondary schools for the children of the personnel and other employees.

The areas also have their own legal system distinct from the UK and Cyprus.

There is even a local police Fire and Rescue and an ambulance service so the local population has pretty much all the services that are normally provided by any functioning state and there you have it.


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