A visit to the Republic of Cyprus earlier this year delivered sun, sea and snow, as expected, but also came up with a surprise. (Article contributed by Derek Pollard)
Four countries, now members of the EU,Â were or are users of the Imperial system of measures. Readers of MetricViews are familiar with the UKâ??s two-system mess. The situation in Ireland has been the subject of several comments on the blog, as a result of the metric changeover of the road signs in the Republic of IrelandÂ in 2005. So that leaves Malta and the Republic of Cyprus (RoC).
MetricViews would welcome information on the situation in Malta. I can, however, report, following a brief visit, on the current position on the metric changeover in the RoC.
Cyprus was administered by Britain from 1878 onwards, became a Crown Colony in 1923 and gained independence in 1960. The Republic of Cyprus joined the EU in 2004.
There is evidence of the period of British administrationÂ everywhere in the RoC. The cars drive on the left and have British style number plates using the Latin alphabet, the system of land registration is said to be the best in the Mediterranean, and even the electrical plugs are our familiar square pin 13A. But of the imperial system of measures, I found absolutely no trace, on the roads, in shops, in publications, or elsewhere.
The absence of old road signs was particularly surprising. I fully expected on back roads to find some rusty relics of the imperial era. If they ever existed, they had all disappeared.
Australia is said to be the most SI country in the world. Yet, during a visit in 2006, I found many reminders of the time before the metric changeover, not only on private property but also in the public domain. So how hasÂ the RoCÂ achieved a clean sweep?
New-found prosperity may be part of the answer.Â The RoCÂ has now the fourth highest income per head of all EU countries, and much of the infrastructure is recent. But I suggest that Cyprus shows that the success of the metric changeover is not down to money (the UK is up there withÂ the RoCÂ when it comes to prosperity) or to EU membership, but to popular attitudes and to the competence and determination of governments.
Do readers agree?