Cyprus, Gr. Kypros, Turk. Kıbrıs, officially Republic of Cyprus, republic (2005 est. pop. 780,000), 3,578 sq mi (9,267 sq km), an island in the E Mediterranean Sea, c.40 mi (60 km) S of Turkey and c.60 mi (100 km) W of Syria. The capital and largest city is Nicosia. In addition to the capital, other important cities are Famagusta, Larnaca, and Limassol. The island is divided into a northern, Turkish Cypriot sector and a southern, Greek Cypriot sector. A thin buffer zone occupied by the United Nations Forces in Cyprus separates the two sectors. In addition, Great Britain retains sovereignty over two military bases, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, located on the SW and SE coasts respectively.

Land and People

Two mountain ranges traverse the island from east to west; the highest point is Mt. Olympus (6,406 ft/1,953 m), in the southwest. Between the ranges lies a wide plain, the chief agricultural region. Over three quarters of the population is Greek, generally residing in the southern sector of the country, and belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church. Less than 20% of the people are Turkish Muslims, mainly living in the northern region. Religious minorities include the Maronites and Armenian Orthodox. In addition to Greek and Turkish, English is also widely spoken.


Agricultural products include citrus, vegetables, cereal grains, potatoes, olives, and cotton; in addition, the Greek sector grows deciduous fruits and wine grapes, and the Turkish side, where agriculture is more important, grows tobacco and table grapes. Poultry, hogs, sheep, goats, and some cattle are raised. Fishing is an important industry in the Turkish sector, and the Greek side has a strong manufacturing economy that produces building materials, textiles, chemicals, and metal, wood, paper, stone, and clay products. There is also food and beverage processing, ship repair, and petroleum refining. Mineral resources include copper, pyrites, asbestos, gypsum, and salt. Tourism is important for both areas but has been affected by political instability; financial services are also important in the Greek sector. The Greek sector is considerably more prosperous than the Turkish side, which is heavily dependent on aid from Turkey. Exports include citrus, potatoes, pharmaceuticals, clothing, and cigarettes from the Greek side and citrus, dairy products, potatoes, and textiles from the Turkish side. Both sides import consumer goods, fuel, machinery, transportation equipment, and foodstuffs. The main trading partners are Greece, Great Britain, France, and Germany.


Cyprus is governed under the constitution of 1960. The president of Cyprus, who is both the head of state and the head of government, is popularly elected for a five-year term. The unicameral House of Representatives has 80 seats; 56 are assigned to Greek Cypriots and 24 to Turkish Cypriots, but only the Greek seats are filled. Members are elected by popular vote to five-year terms. Administratively, Cyprus is divided into six districts.

The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is governed under a constitution adopted in 1985, but the TRNC is recognized only by Turkey. The TRNC has its own elected president, prime minister, and cabinet. The TRNC's unicameral Assembly of the Republic has 50 members, who are elected by popular vote to five-year terms.


Excavations have proved the existence of a Neolithic culture on Cyprus in the period from 6000 B.C. to 3000 B.C. Contact with the Middle East and, after 1500 B.C., with Greece greatly influenced Cypriot civilization. Phoenicians settled on the island c.800 B.C. Cyprus subsequently fell under Assyrian, Egyptian, and Persian rule. Alexander the Great conquered it in 333 B.C., after which the island again became an Egyptian dependency until its annexation by Rome in 58 B.C. Ancient Cyprus was a center of the cult of Aphrodite.

After A.D. 395, Cyprus was ruled by the Byzantines until 1191, when Richard I of England conquered it. In 1192, Richard bestowed the island on Guy of Lusignan. In 1489, Cyprus was annexed by Venice. The Turks conquered it in 1571. At the Congress of Berlin (1878) the Ottoman Empire placed Cyprus under British administration, and in 1914, Britain annexed it outright.

Under British rule the movement among the Greek Cypriot population for union (enosis) with Greece was a constant source of tension. In 1955 a Greek Cypriot organization (EOKA), led by Col. George Grivas, launched a campaign of widespread terrorism. Tension and terror mounted, especially after British authorities deported (1956) Makarios III, the spokesman for the Greek Cypriot nationalists. The conflict was aggravated by Turkish support of Turkish Cypriot demands for partition of the island. Negotiations (1955) among Britain, Greece, and Turkey on the status of Cyprus broke down completely. Finally in 1959, a settlement was reached, providing for Cypriot independence in 1960 and for the terms of the constitution. Treaties precluded both enosis and partition. Makarios was elected president in 1959 and reelected in 1968 and 1973.

In 1961, Cyprus joined the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations. Large-scale fighting between Greek and Turkish Cypriots erupted several times in the 1960s, and a UN peacekeeping force was sent in 1965. In Mar., 1970, there was an attempt on Makarios's life by radical Greek Cypriots. The government was also fearful of a possible coup led by Grivas, who favored enosis. Turkish Cypriots demanded official recognition of their organization (which exercised de facto political control in the 30 Turkish enclaves) and the stationing of Turkish troops on the island to offset the influence of the Cypriot national guard, which was dominated by officers from Greece. Greek Cypriots interpreted the proposal as amounting to partition. Acts of violence against the government increased and were met in 1973 by an effort to suppress the guerrillas by the national police force (which had been created by Makarios to counter the national guard). Grivas died in Jan., 1974, and although EOKA was split between hard-liners and moderates, it continued to be dominated by Greek officers.

On July 15, 1974, following a large-scale national police assault on EOKA, the Makarios government was overthrown by the national guard. Nikos Sampson, a Greek Cypriot newspaper publisher, acceded to the presidency and Makarios fled the country. Both Greece and Turkey mobilized their armed forces. Citing its obligation to protect the Turkish Cypriot community, Turkey invaded (July 20) N Cyprus, occupied over 30% of the island, and displaced about 200,000 Greek Cypriots. The invasion precipitated the fall of the military regime in Athens and also resulted in the resignation of Sampson. He was replaced by Glafkos Clerides, the conservative Greek Cypriot president of the house of representatives.

A UN-sponsored cease-fire was arranged on July 22, and Turkey was permitted to retain military forces in the areas it had captured. Makarios was returned to office in Dec., 1974. In 1975 the island was partitioned into Greek and Turkish territories separated by a UN-occupied buffer zone. Makarios remained president until his death in 1977 and was succeeded by Spyros Kyprianou (1977-88). In 1983, Turkish Cypriots declared themselves independent from the Cypriot state; the resulting Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, with Rauf Denktash as president, was recognized only by Turkey. Negotiations to end the division of the country continued intermittently and inconclusively in the subsequent decades.

George Vassiliou, a leftist, defeated Clerides in the presidential elections of 1988, but Clerides was elected president in 1993 and again in 1998. By the late 1990s it was estimated that over half the population of Turkish Cyprus consisted of recent settlers from Turkey. In 1998, Cyprus began membership talks with the European Union (EU), a move that was bitterly opposed by Turkish Cypriots, and Turkey insisted on a political settlement for the island prior to its joining the EU. Denktash was elected to his fourth term as president in 2000, but Clerides lost his bid for a third consecutive term in 2003, losing to Tassos Papadopoulos of the Democratic party.

In Apr., 2003, long-standing Turkish Cypriot restrictions on cross-border travel were eased, and the Greek south ended a ban on trade with the north. Later the same year, parliamentary elections in the north resulted in gains for opposition parties favoring reunification, but both sides won an equal number of seats. The United Nations sponsored renewed negotiations to reunify the island, and an accord establishing a federation was reached in 2004, but failed to win approval in a referendum in April. Although Turkish Cypriot voters approved the accord, the Greek population rejected it. Turkish approval of the accord, however, did result in many nations, including S Cyprus, ending or reducing the economic embargo the north had been under since the Turkish invasion.

Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, but the north was excluded due to the failure of the referendum in the south. The Turkish Cypriot government subsequently fell, but elections (Feb., 2005) returned the government to power. In April, Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat was elected to succeed Denktash as Turkish Cypriot president. The 2006 parliamentary elections in the Greek areas generally resulted in increased support for the Democratic and other parties that had opposed the 2004 accord. In Feb., 2008, Demetris Christofias, the AKEL (Communist) party candidate, was elected president of Cyprus after a runoff; Papadopoulos was eliminated in the first round. Subsequently, Greek and Turkish Cypriots agreed to restart reunification talks, which began in Sept., 2008. The Turkish Cypriot legislative elections in Apr., 2009, were a victory for the hard-line nationalists, who benefited from popular dissatisfaction with the slow progress of the talks.


See G. F. Hill, History of Cyprus (4 vol., 1940-52); V. Karageorghis, Ancient Cyprus (1982); J. S. Joseph, Cyprus: Ethnic Conflict and International Concern (1985); I. Robertson, Cyprus (1987).

Cyprus (Κύπρος, transliterated: Kýpros, ; Kıbrıs), officially the Republic of Cyprus (Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία, Kypriakī́ Dīmokratía, ; Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti), is a Eurasian island country situated in the eastern Mediterranean south of Turkey, west of the Lebanon, Syria, and Israel, north of Egypt, and east of Greece.

Cyprus is the third largest Mediterranean island and one of the most popular tourist destinations, attracting over 2.4 million tourists per year. A former British colony, it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960 and became a Commonwealth republic in 1961. The Republic of Cyprus is a developed country and has been a member of the European Union since 1 May 2004. It adopted the euro on 1 January 2008.

In 1974, following years of intercommunal violence between ethnic Greeks and Turks and an attempted coup d'état by Greek Cypriot nationalists aimed at annexing the island to Greece and engineered by the military junta then in power in Athens, Turkey invaded and occupied one third of the island. This led to the displacement of thousands of Cypriots and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot political entity in the north. This event and its resulting political situation is a matter of ongoing dispute.

The Republic of Cyprus, the internationally recognized state, claims sovereignty over the entire island of Cyprus and its surrounding waters, with appendix O of the Treaty of Establishment of the Republic providing for 3% of its territory to be used by the United Kingdom as sovereign military bases. The island is de facto partitioned into four main parts:


The name Cyprus has a somewhat uncertain etymology. One suggestion is that it comes from the Greek word for the Mediterranean cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens), κυπάρισσος (kypárissos), or even from the Greek name of the henna plant (Lawsonia alba), κύπρος (kýpros). Another school suggests that it stems from the Eteocypriot word for copper. Georges Dossin, for example, suggests that it has roots in the Sumerian word for copper (zubar) or for bronze (kubar), from the large deposits of copper ore found on the island. Through overseas trade the island has given its name to the Classical Latin word for the metal through the phrase aes Cyprium, "metal of Cyprus", later shortened to Cuprum. Cyprus is also called "the island of Aphrodite", since in Greek mythology, the goddess Aphrodite, of beauty and love, was born in Cyprus.



Cyprus is the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite, Adonis and home to King Cinyras, Teucer and Pygmalion. The earliest confirmed site of human activity is Aetokremnos, situated on the south coast, indicating that hunter-gatherers were active on the island from around 10,000 BC, with settled, village communities dating from 8200 BC. Important remains from this early-Neolithic period can be found at Shillourokambos, Kastros, and Khirokitia, where decorated pottery and figurines of stone quite distinct from the cultures of the surrounding mainland survive. The Mycenaean Greeks first reached Cyprus around 1600 BC, with settlements dating from this period scattered all over the island. Another wave of Greek settlement is believed to have taken place in the period 1100-1050 BC, with the island's predominantly Greek character dating from this period. Several Phoenician colonies were founded in the 8th century BC, like Kart-Hadasht ('New Town'), near present day Larnaca and Salamis

Cyprus was conquered by Assyria in 709 BC, before a brief spell under Egyptian rule and eventually Persian rule in 545 BC. Cypriots, led by Onesilos, joined their fellow-Greeks in the Ionian cities during the unsuccessful Ionian Revolt in 499 BC against the Achaemenid Empire. The island was brought under permanent Greek rule by Alexander the Great and the Ptolemies of Egypt following his death. Full Hellenization took place during the Ptolemaic period, which ended when Cyprus was annexed by Roman Republic in 58 BC. Cyprus was one of the first stops in apostle Paul's missionary journey. In 395 AD it became part of the Byzantine Empire, which lost it temporarily to the Arabs in 643 AD before reclaiming it in 966 AD.

Richard I of England captured the island in 1191 during the Third Crusade, using it as a major supply base that was relatively safe from the Saracens. A year later Guy of Lusignan purchased the island from the Templars to compensate the loss of his kingdom.

The Republic of Venice seized control of the island in 1489 after the abdication of Queen Caterina Cornaro, the widow of James II, the last Lusignan king of Cyprus. Using it as an important commercial hub, Venetians soon fortified Nicosia, the capital and most important city, with its famous Venetian Walls. Throughout Venetian rule, the Ottoman Empire frequently raided Cyprus. In 1539 the Ottomans destroyed Limassol. Fearing the worst, the Venetians fortified Famagusta, Nicosia, and Kyrenia.

In 1570, a full scale conquest under Piyale Pasha with 60,000 troops brought the island under Ottoman control, despite stiff resistance by the inhabitants of Nicosia and Famagusta. The Ottomans applied the millet system and allowed religious authorities to govern their own non-Muslim minorities, but at the same time invested the Orthodox Church as a mediator between Christian Cypriots and the authorities granting it not only religious but political and economic powers. Heavy taxation led to rebellions - between 1572 and 1668, around twenty-eight bloody uprisings took place - forcing the Sultan to intervene. The first large-scale census of the Ottoman Empire in 1831, counting only men, showed 14,983 Muslims and 29,190 Christians. By 1872, the population of the island had risen to 144,000 comprising 44,000 Muslims and 100,000 Christians.

Administration (but not sovereignty) of the island was ceded to the British Empire in 1878, in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878). The island would serve Britain as a key military base in its its colonial routes. By 1906, when the Famagusta harbour was completed, Cyprus was a strategic naval outpost overlooking the Suez Canal, the crucial main route to India, then Britain's most important colony. Following World War 1 and the Ottoman alliance with the Central powers, the United Kingdom annexed the island. In 1923, under the Treaty of Lausanne, the nascent Turkish republic relinquished any claim to Cyprus, and in 1925 it was declared a British Crown Colony. Many Greek Cypriots fought in the British Army during both world wars, under the impression that Cyprus would eventually be united with Greece.

In January 1950 the Orthodox Church organized a referendum boycotted by the Turkish Cypriot community with over 90% voting in favour of "enosis" (union with Greece). Restricted autonomy under a constitution was proposed by the British administration but eventually rejected. In 1955 the EOKA organisation was founded, seeking independence and union with Greece through armed struggle. At the same time the TMT, calling for Taksim, was established by the Turkish Cypriots as a counterweight. Turmoil on the island was met with force by the British who started openly favouring Turks in police and administration as part of a divide-and-conquer policy.

In 1960 Cyprus attained independence after an agreement in Zürich and London between the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey. Britain retained two Sovereign Base Areas in Akrotiri and Dhekelia while government posts and public offices were allocated by ethnic quotas giving the minority Turks a permanent veto, 30% in parliament and administration, and granting the 3 mother-states guarantor rights.

In 1963 inter-communal violence broke out, partially sponsored by both "motherlands - with Turkish Cypriots in some areas withdrawing into enclaves and Greek Cypriot leader Archbishop Makarios III calling for constitutional changes as a means to ease tensions. The United Nations was involved, and the United Nations forces in Cyprus (UNICYP) deployed at flashpoints.

The Greek military government in power in Greece in the early 1970s became dissatisfied with the policy of Makarios in Cyprus, and the lack of progress towards enosis. Partly for this reason, and partly as a distraction from domestic opposition, in 1974 the junta organised a coup on 13 July. Nikos Sampson was declared president and declared union with Greece. The Turkish government protested, and unsuccessfully sought British intervention. Seven days later, Turkey invaded Cyprus, claiming a right under the Zurich and London agreements to intervene in order to restore constitutional order. The Greeks announced the formation of a new EOKA paramilitary group to resist the invaders, but this proved counter-productive, hastening the expulsions of Greeks from Turkish-held areas. Heavily outnumbered, the Greek forces were unable to resist the Turkish onslaught. The Ayia Napa area was only saved from occupation because it lay behind the British Sovereign Base area, which the Turks were anxious not to invade. International pressure led to a ceasefire. The result was that 37% of the land fell within the Turkish occupation zone. 170,000 Greek Cypriots were evicted from their homes in the north, with 50,000 Turkish Cypriots following the opposite path.

In 1983 Turkish Cypriots unilaterally proclaimed independence, which was only recognized by Turkey.

As of today, there are 1,534 Greek Cypriots and 502 Turkish Cypriots missing as a result of the invasion. The events of the summer of 1974 dominate the politics on the island, as well as Greco-Turkish relations. Around 100,000 settlers from Turkey are believed to be living in the north in violation of the Geneva Convention and various UN resolutions. Following the invasion and the capture of its northern territory by Turkish troops, the Republic of Cyprus announced that all of its ports of entry in the north are closed, as they are not under its effective control. Turkey refers to this event as an "embargo".

Since de facto but not de jure partition of the Republic, the north and south have followed separate paths. The Republic of Cyprus is a constitutional democracy that has reached great levels of prosperity, with a booming economy and good infrastructure. It is part of the UN, the European Union and several other organisations by whom it is recognized as the sole legitimate government of the whole island. The area of the Republic of Cyprus not under its effective control, the north, is over-dependent on help from Turkey. The last major effort to settle the Cyprus dispute, was the Annan Plan. On 10 March 2003, this most recent phase of talks collapsed in The Hague, Netherlands, when 30 year strong Turkish Cypriot leader Denktaş told the Secretary-General he would not put the Annan Plan to referendum. "The plan was unacceptable for us. This was not a plan we would ask our people to vote for," Mr Denktaş said. The UN plan had undergone several revisions in an attempt to win support. It was the Turkish Cypriot side which refused to even talk further, and which was blamed for the failure of the peace process. Later in its 5th revision the plan gained the support of the Turkish Cypriots but lost support of the Greek Cypriots.

In July 2006 the island served as a safe haven for people fleeing Lebanon due to the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

In March 2008, the Republic of Cyprus demolished a wall that for decades had stood at the boundary between the Greek Cypriot controlled side and the UN buffer zone. The wall had cut across Ledra Street in the heart of Nicosia and was seen as a strong symbol of the island's 32-year division. On 3 April 2008, Ledra Street was reopened in the presence of Greek and Turkish Cypriot officials.


Cyprus is a Presidential republic. The head of state and the government is the President, who is elected by the universal suffrage for a five-year term. Executive power is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the House of Representatives. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

The 1960 Constitution provided for a presidential system of government with independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as a complex system of checks and balances, including a weighted power-sharing ratio designed to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots. The executive, was headed by a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice president elected by their respective communities for five-year terms and each possessing a right of veto over certain types of legislation and executive decisions. Legislative power rested on the House of Representatives, also elected on the basis of separate voters' rolls. Since 1964, following clashes between the two communities, the Turkish Cypriot seats in the House remain vacant.

After an invasion of the island by Turkey in 1974, Cyprus was divided, de facto, into the Greek Cypriot controlled southern two-thirds of the island and the Turkish-occupied northern third. The Turkish Cypriots subsequently declared independence in 1983 as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus but have not been recognised by any country in the world, except Turkey. In 1985, the TRNC adopted a constitution and held its first elections. All foreign governments (except Turkey), as well as the United Nations, recognise the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island of Cyprus.

The House of Representatives currently has 59 members elected for a five year term, 56 members by proportional representation and 3 observer members representing the Maronite, Latin and Armenian minorities. 24 seats are allocated to the Turkish community but remain vacant since 1964. The political environment is dominated by the communist AKEL, the liberal conservative Democratic Rally, the centrist Democratic Party, the social-democratic EDEK and the centrist EURO.KO.

On 17 February 2008, Dimitris Christofias of the AKEL was elected President of Cyprus, thus marking his party's first electoral victory without being part of a wider coalition, making Cyprus one of only two countries in the world to have a democratically elected communist government (the other being Moldova) and the only European Union member state currently under communist leadership. Christofias took over government from Tassos Papadopoulos of Democratic Party, who had been in office since February 2003.


The Republic of Cyprus is divided into six districts: Nicosia, Famagusta, Kyrenia, Larnaca, Limassol and Paphos.

Map of Cyprus Districts Greek name Turkish name
Image:Cyprus districts named.png|370px| rect 206 189 282 230 Nicosia rect 284 248 354 275 Larnaca rect 139 280 221 307 Limassol rect 32 238 97 272 Paphos rect 179 337 275 360 Akrotiri rect 211 118 289 144 Kyrenia rect 341 158 427 185 Famagusta rect 373 217 429 274 Dhekelia Famagusta    Αμμόχωστος (Ammochostos)    Gazimağusa   
Kyrenia Κερύvεια (Keryneia) 'Girne'
Larnaca Λάρνακα (Larnaka) Larnaka/İskele
Limassol Λεμεσός (Lemesos) Limasol/Leymosun
Nicosia Λευκωσία (Lefkosia) Lefkoşa
Paphos Πάφος (Pafos) Baf

Exclaves and enclaves

Cyprus has four exclaves, all in territory that belongs to the British Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia. The first two are the villages of Ormidhia and Xylotymvou. Additionally there is the Dhekelia Power Station, which is divided by a British road into two parts. The northern part is an enclave, like the two villages, whereas the southern part is located by the sea and therefore not an enclave, although it has no territorial waters of its own.

The UN buffer zone separating the territory controlled by the Turkish Cypriot administration from the rest of Cyprus runs up against Dhekelia and picks up again from its east side, off Ayios Nikolaos (connected to the rest of Dhekelia by a thin land corridor). In that sense, the buffer zone turns the southeast corner of the island, the Paralimni area, into a de facto, though not de jure, exclave.

Human rights

The constant focus on the division of the island can sometimes mask other human rights issues. Prostitution is rife in both the government-controlled and the Turkish-occupied regions, and the island as a whole has been criticised for its role in the sex trade as one of the main routes of human trafficking from Eastern Europe. The regime in the North has been the focus of occasional freedom of speech criticisms regarding heavy-handed treatment of newspaper editors. Domestic violence legislation in the Republic remains largely unimplemented, and it has not yet been passed into law in the North. Reports on the mistreatment of domestic staff, mostly immigrant workers from developing countries, are sometimes reported in the Greek Cypriot press.


The Cypriot National Guard is the main military institution of the Republic of Cyprus. It is a combined arms force, with land, air and naval elements.

The land forces of the Cypriot National Guard comprise the following units:

  • First Infantry Division (Ιη Μεραρχία ΠΖ)
  • Second Infantry Division (ΙΙα Μεραρχία ΠΖ)
  • Fourth Infantry Brigade (ΙVη Ταξιαρχία ΠΖ)
  • Twentieth Armored Brigade (ΧΧη ΤΘ Ταξιαρχία)
  • Third Support Brigade (ΙΙΙη Ταξιαρχία ΥΠ)
  • Eighth Support Brigade (VIIIη Ταξιαρχία ΥΠ)

The air force includes the 449th Helicopter Gunship Squadron (449 ΜΑΕ) - operating SA-342L and Bell 206 and the 450th Helicopter Gunship Squadron (450 ME/P) - operating Mi-35P, BN-2B and PC-9. Current Senior officers include Supreme Commander, Cypriot National Guard: Lt. Gen. Konstantinos Bisbikas, Deputy Commander, Cypriot National Guard: Lt. Gen. Savvas Argyrou and Chief of Staff, Cypriot National Guard: Maj. Gen. Gregory Stamoulis.


The Cypriot economy is prosperous and has diversified in recent years. According to the latest IMF estimates, its per capita GDP (adjusted for purchasing power) is, at $46,865, the third highest in the European Union, after that of Luxembourg and Malta. Cyprus has been sought as a base for several offshore businesses for its highly developed infrastructure. Economic policy of the Cyprus government has focused on meeting the criteria for admission to the European Union. Adoption of the euro as a national currency is required of all new countries joining the European Union, and the Cypriot government adopted the currency on 1 January 2008.

Oil has recently been discovered in the seabed between Cyprus and Egypt, and talks are underway between Lebanon and Egypt to reach an agreement regarding the exploration of these resources. The seabed separating Lebanon and Cyprus is believed to hold significant quantities of crude oil and natural gas.

The economy of the Turkish-occupied area is dominated by the services sector, including the public sector, trade, tourism and education, with smaller agriculture and light manufacturing sectors. The economy operates on a free-market basis, although it continues to be handicapped by the political isolation of Turkish Cypriots, the lack of private and governmental investment, high freight costs, and shortages of skilled labor. Despite these constraints, the economy turned in an impressive performance in 2003 and 2004, with growth rates of 9.6% and 11.4%. The average income in the area is $5,000 per capita, and the Turkish government has pledged to increase this to $12,000 through investment and aid. Growth has been buoyed by the relative stability of the Turkish new lira and by a boom in the education and construction sectors.


According to the last census carried out by the Republic in 1960, Greek Cypriots comprise 77% of the island's population, Turkish Cypriots 18%, while the remaining 5% are of other ethnicities. However, after the Turkish invasion of 1974, the demography of the island changed considerably due to the economic prosperity in the areas of Cyprus still under the control of the Republic of Cyprus in contrast to the international isolation and economic downturn experienced the areas under the control of Turkish troops. In the latest census in 2006, the percentage of Greek Cypriots remained steadily at 76% (660,000) while the population of Turkish Cypriots dropped to 10% (89,000) as many emigrated to western countries. The main reason of the mass migration was due to the intercommunal violence until 1974 and the economic downturn of Northern Cyprus due to the economic isolation. In addition about 150,000 Turks from Anatolia were transferred or decided to settle in the north changing the actual demographic structure of the island. Northern Cyprus now claims 265,100 inhabitants, closer to 30% of the population of the island. The TRNC has granted citizenship to these immigrants: however, as the TRNC is not recognised by the Republic or the international community (with the exception of Turkey), its power to create new citizens is not recognised and the newcomers retain Turkish passports. The result of this situation is that percentage population estimates vary widely.

Furthermore Cyprus has also seen a large influx of guest workers from countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka, as well as major increases in the numbers of permanent Russian, British or other EU residents. Since the country joined the European Union, a significant Polish population has also sprung up, joining sizeable communities from Russia and Ukraine (mostly Pontic Greeks, immigrating after the fall of the Eastern Bloc), Bulgaria, Romania, and Eastern European states. By 2006, about 120,000 immigrants settled in Cyprus, the three largest groups being 37,000 Greeks, 26,000 Britons, and 10,000 Russians. The island is also home to a significant Armenian minority which numbers around 2,000 individuals as well as a large refugee population consisting of people mainly from Serbia, Palestine, and Lebanon. There is also a Kurdish minority present in Cyprus.

There is also a significant and thriving Cypriot Diaspora in other countries, within the United States, the United Kingdom, Greece, and Australia hosting the majority of migrants who fled the Turkish invasion in 1974. Specifically in the United Kingdom it is estimated that there are 150,000 Cypriots.


Most Greek Cypriots are members of the Greek Orthodox Church, whereas most Turkish Cypriots are Muslim. According to Eurobarometer 2005, Cyprus is one of the most religious countries in the European Union, along with Malta, Romania, Greece and Poland. In addition to the Orthodox Christian and Muslim communities, there are also small Bahá'í, Jewish, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Maronite (Eastern Rites Catholic) and Armenian Apostolic communities in Cyprus.


For a complete list see List of colleges and universities in Cyprus
Cyprus has a highly developed system of primary and secondary education offering both public and private education. The high quality of instruction can be attributed to a large extent to the above-average competence of the teachers but also to the fact that nearly 7% of the GDP is spent on education which makes Cyprus one of the top three spenders of education in the EU along with Denmark and Sweden. State schools are generally seen as equivalent in quality of education to private-sector institutions. However, the value of a state high-school diploma is limited by the fact that the grades obtained account for only around 25% of the final grade for each topic, with the remaining 75% assigned by the teacher during the semester, in a minimally transparent way. Greek (List of universities in Greece) and Cypriot universities ignore high school grades almost entirely for admissions purposes. While a high-school diploma is mandatory for university attendance, admissions are decided almost exclusively on the basis of scores at centrally administered university entrance examinations that all university candidates are required to take. The majority of Cypriots receive their higher education at Greek, British, Turkish, other European and North American universities. It is noteworthy that Cyprus currently has the highest percentage of citizens of working age who have higher-level education in the EU at 30% which is ahead of Finland's 29.5%. Private colleges and state-supported universities have been developed.

Students from overseas are also increasing.



Notable artists include Rhea Bailey, Mihail Kkasialos, Theodoulos Gregoriou, Helene Black, George Skoteinos,Kalopedis family, Nicos Nicolaides, Stass Paraskos, Arestís Stasí, Telemachos Kanthos, Adamantios Diamantis and Konstantia Sofokleous.


The traditional folk music of Cyprus has many common elements with Greek mainland and island folk music, including dances like the sousta, syrtos, zeibekikos, tatsia, and the kartsilamas. The instruments commonly associated with Cyprus folk music are the violin ["fkiolin"], the lute ["laouto"], the accordion, and the Cyprus flute "pithkiavlin". There is also a form of musical poetry known as "chattista", which is often performed at traditional feasts and celebrations. Composers associated with traditional music in Cyprus include Evagoras Karageorgis, Marios Tokas, Solon Michaelides, Savvas Salides. Pop music in Cyprus is generally influenced by the Greek pop music "Laïka" scene, with several artists such as Anna Vissi and Evridiki earning widespread popularity. Cypriot rock and "entechno" rock music is often associated with artists such as Michalis Hatzigiannis and Alkinoos Ioannidis. Metal also has a following in Cyprus, represented by bands such as Winter's Verge, Blynd and Armageddon Rev. 16:16.


Literary production of the antiquity includes the Cypria, an epic poem probably composed in the later seventh century BC and attributed to Stasinus. The Cypria is one of the very first specimens of Greek and European poetry. The Cypriot Zeno of Citium was the founder of the Stoic philosophy. Epic poetry, notably the "acritic songs", flourished during Middle Ages. Two chronicles, one written by Leontios Machairas and the other by Voustronios, refer to the period under French domination (15th century). Poèmes d'amour written in medieval Greek Cypriot date back from 16th century. Some of them are actual translations of poems written by Petrarch, Bembo, Ariosto and G. Sannazzaro. Modern literary figures from Cyprus include the poet and writer Kostas Montis, poet Kyriakos Charalambides, poet Michalis Pasardis, writer Nicos Nicolaides, Stylianos Atteshlis, Altheides and also Demetris Th. Gotsis. Dimitris Lipertis and Vasilis Michaelides are folk poets who wrote poems mainly in the Cypriot-Greek dialect. Lawrence Durrell lived on Cyprus for a time, and wrote the book Bitter Lemons concerning his time there, which book in 1957 won the second Duff Cooper Prize. The majority of the play Othello by William Shakespeare is set on the island of Cyprus. Cyprus also figures in religious literature, most notably in Acts of the Apostles, according to which the Apostles Barnabas and Paul preached on the island.


Halloumi, (a cheese made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk) originates from Cyprus, and is commonly served sliced and grilled as an appetizer. Seafood dishes of Cyprus include calamari (squid), octopus in red wine, (red mullet), and sea bass. Cucumber and tomato are used widely in Cypriot cuisine. Other common vegetable preparations include potatoes in olive oil and parsley, pickled cauliflower and beets, kolokasi (taro) and asparagus. Meat dishes marinated in dried coriander seeds and wine, and eventually dried and smoked, such as lounza, charcoal-grilled lamb, pork and chicken (souvla), sheftalia (minced meat wrapped in mesentery), as well as cracked wheat (pourgouri) are some of the traditional delicacies of the island.


Governing bodies of sport in Cyprus include the Cyprus Automobile Association, Cyprus Badminton Federation, Cyprus Basketball Federation, Cyprus Cricket Association, Cyprus Football Association, Cyprus Rugby Federation and the Cyprus Volleyball Federation. Marcos Baghdatis is one of the most successful tennis players in international stage. He reached the Wimbledon semi-final in 2006. Also Kyriakos Ioannou a Cypriot high jumper born in Limassol achieved a jump of 2.35 m at the 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics held in Osaka, Japan, in 2007 winning the bronze medal

The island has a keen football culture. Notable football teams include AC Omonia, APOEL, Anorthosis Famagusta FC, Apollon Limassol, AEK Larnaca and AEL Limassol. Stadiums or sports venues in Cyprus include the GSP Stadium (the largest and home venue of the Cypriot national football team), Makario Stadium, Neo GSZ Stadium, Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium and Tsirion Stadium. The Cyprus Rally is also on the World Rally Championship sporting agenda.


Cyprus: Newspapers include the Phileleftheros, Politis (Cyprus), Simerini, Cyprus Mail, the Cyprus Observer, Famagusta Gazette, Cyprus Today, Cyprus Weekly, Financial Mirror, Haravgi and Makhi. TV channels include ANT1 Cyprus, Alfa TV, CNC Plus TV, Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, Lumiere TV, Middle East Television, Mega Channel Cyprus and Sigma TV.

In the north:

TV: BRT 1, BRT 2, Kibris Genc TV, Avrasya Tv + all of mainland Turkey's TV channels are available by analog and satellite. Newspapers: Kibris Gazetesi, Cyprus Daily,



Since the last railway was dismantled in 1950, the remaining modes of transport are by road, sea, and air. Of the of roads in the Greek Cypriot area as of 1998, were paved, and were unpaved. As of 1996 the Turkish Cypriot area had a similar ratio of paved to unpaved, with approximately of paved road and unpaved. Cyprus is one of only four EU nations in which vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road, a remnant of British colonization.


Number of licensed vehicles
Vehicle Category 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Private vehicles 270,348 277,554 291,645 324,212 344,953
Taxis 1,641 1,559 1,696 1,770 1,845
Rental cars 8,080 8,509 9,160 9,652 8,336
Buses 3,003 2,997 3,275 3,199 3,217
Light trucks (lighter than 40 tonnes) 107,060 106,610 107,527 105,017 105,327
Heavy trucks (over 40 tonnes) 10,882 11,182 12,119 12,808 13,028
Motorcycles (2 wheels) 12,956 14,983 16,009 16,802 16,836
Motorcycles (3 wheels) 42 41 43 55 558
Scooters 28,987 25,252 25,464 24,539 22,987
TOTAL 442,999 448,687 466,938 498,054 517,087

In 1999, Cyprus had six heliports and two international airports: Larnaca International Airport and Paphos International Airport. Nicosia International Airport has been closed since 1974.

Public transport in Cyprus is limited to privately run bus services (except in Nicosia), taxis, and 'shared' taxi services (referred to locally as service taxis). Per capita private car ownership is the 5th highest in the world. In 2006 extensive plans were announced to improve and expand bus services and restructure public transport throughout Cyprus, with the financial backing of the European Union Development Bank. The main harbours of the island are Limassol harbour and Larnaca harbour, which service cargo, passenger, and cruise ships.

Health care

Urban hospitals include:


Cyta, the state-owned telecommunications company, manages most Telecommunications and Internet connections on the island. However, following the recent liberalization of the sector, a few private telecommunications companies have emerged including MTN, Cablenet, TelePassport, OTEnet Telecom and PrimeTel.

International membership


International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
State of World Liberty Project State of World Liberty Index 9 out of 159
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 2006
Human Development Index 2004
Human Development Index 2000
29 out of 177
29 out of 177
29 out of 177
The Economist Worldwide Quality-of-life Index, 2005 23 out of 111
University of Leicester Satisfaction with Life Index 49 out of 178
Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom 20 out of 157
Reporters Without Borders Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006
Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2005
30 out of 168
25(tied) out of 168
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2006
Corruption Perceptions Index 2005
Corruption Perceptions Index 2004
37 out of 163
37 out of 158
36 out of 145
World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 46 out of 125
International Monetary Fund GDP per capita 31 out of 180
Yale University/Columbia University Environmental Sustainability Index 2005 not ranked
Nationmaster Labor strikes not ranked
A.T. Kearney / Foreign Policy Globalization Index 2006
Globalization Index 2005
Globalization Index 2004

not ranked

See also


Further reading

External links


General information

Official publications

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