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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
EU stamp 'swaps' Crete for Cyprus
New Irish stamp
Cyprus - in yellow, at bottom right - appears to have replaced Crete
The Irish are puzzling over a postage stamp which shows Cyprus as an island off the Greek coast - in a spot normally occupied by Crete, and even bearing a strong resemblance to the shape of Crete.

The stamp was produced to mark the entry into the European Union of 10 new states, including the Greek-speaking part of Cyprus.

The stamp's makers say there was no mistake, and artistic licence was used.

Cyprus lies just south of Turkey, barely 200km from the Asian mainland, but some 700km east of Crete.

A spokeswoman for An Post told BBC News Online the new stamp was not intended to highlight Crete's place in the EU.

Anna McHugh said the position of Cyprus on the stamp was the result of an attempt to fit the entire new EU map onto a postage stamp.

"The usual cartography solution which involves putting a country into a 'box' and superimposing on to the bottom of the image wouldn't work on something so small as a stamp," she said.

More than 300,000 copies of the 65 cent stamp have been printed.

The company stressed that the stamps will not be for sale in Crete or Cyprus, only in Ireland.

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