The buffer zone exists to prevent renewed hostilities between the opposing forces in the Cyprus conflict. Some areas are totally "out of bounds" as thousands of landmines still lie dormant between the de facto ceasefire lines. In the first seven years of the clearance project over 27,000 land mines were removed from the buffer zone, 81 minefields were declared mine free and almost 11 km² of land has been returned to its original use.
Unfortunately, since 2011 the mine clearing project has been suspended.
A variety of signs indicating the Buffer Zone and the dangers that lie within
Access to other parts is less strictly controlled but prior approval is required from the UN before any activity takes place.
A permit scheme, for both the Greek and Turkish sides, exists for construction, farming, work and access.
It is quite posible to see fields close to each other being tended by Turkish and Greek Cypriot farmers.
A map showing the distribution of responsibilities for the three sectors of Cyprus as of 2007 (click for a larger version in a new window)
The maps on the following pages show the route of the Buffer Zone across the island divided into seven parts. Each part is accompanied by images which give a flavour of the geography, the UN presence and the way of life in and around the Buffer Zone.
You can click on each map to load a larger version which will open in a new window.