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Nicosia, known locally as Lefkosia or Lefkosha, is the capital and largest city of Cyprus. Located on the Pedieos (Kanlidere) river and situated almost in the centre of the island, it is the seat of government as well as the main business centre. Nicosia is the center and capital of the (Nicosia District). Despite the recent symbolic gestures shown by both communities in removing small sections of the dividing wall, it still remains the only divided capital city in the world, with the northern (Turkish) and southern (Greek) portions divided by the "Green Line", a demilitarized zone maintained by the United Nations, although unlike Cold War East and West Berlin, few use the terms "North Nicosia" and "South Nicosia". After already being segregated to some degree from 1964, the 1974 Turkish invasion cut the capital in half. The Turkish Cypriots claim the northern half of Nicosia as the capital of an internationally unrecognized (except for Turkey) state known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The population of the part of the city under the control of the Republic of Cyprus is 270,000 (end of 2004), while a further 84,893 live in the Turkish zone. Nicosia is a modern, dynamic capital with lots of shops, two modern shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment. The city is a trade center and manufactures textiles, leather, pottery, plastic, and other products. Copper mines are nearby. Nicosia is the seat of the University of Cyprus (UCY) and of another four universities, one public and three private. Nicosia lies roughly at the center of the island, with a rich history that can be traced back to the Bronze Age.
It only became capital of the island in the 11th century AD. The Lousignians turned it into a magnificent city with a Royal Palace and over fifty churches. Today, it blends its historic past brilliantly with the bustle of a modern city. The heart of the city, enclosed by 16th century Venetian walls, is dotted with museums, ancient churches and medieval buildings preserving the nostalgic atmosphere of years past. Yet this old heart is split in two, leaving Nicosia the only capital city in the world to remain divided by force. Nicosia International Airport has not been used since 1974 as it lies within the U.N. Buffer Zone separating the two parts of Nicosia.
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