Name of State
Kypriaki Demokratia (Greek), Kibris Cumhuriyeti (Turkish) (Republic of Cyprus)
1st October 1960
The Cyprus Flag
The Cyprus flag was defined in 1960 after independence.
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, after Sicily and Sardinia, with an area of 9,251 sq. kilometers, of which 1,733 are forested. It has a maximum length of 240 kms from east to west and a maximum width of 100 kms from north to south.
It is situated at the north-eastern end of the East Mediterranean basin at a distance of 380 kms north of Egypt, 105 kms west of Syria and 75kms south of Turkey. The Greek mainland is some 800 kms to the west. The nearest Greek islands are Rhodes and Carpathos, 380 kms to the west. The latitude of Cyprus is 34 33’ - 35 34’ north and its longitude 32 16’ - 34 37’ east.
Cyprus has an intense Mediterranean climate with the typical seasonal rhythm strongly marked in respect of temperature, rainfall and weather generally. Hot, dry summers from mid-May to mid-September and rainy, rather changeable winters from November to mid-March are separated by short autumn and spring seasons.
In summer the island is mainly under the influence of a shallow trough of low pressure extending from the great continental depression centred over southwest Asia. It is a season of high temperatures with almost cloudless skies.
In winter Cyprus is near the track of fairly frequent small depressions which cross the Mediterranean Sea from west to east between the continental anticyclone of Eurasia and the generally low pressure belt of North Africa. These depressions give periods of disturbed weather usually lasting for a day or so and produce most of the annual precipitation, the average rainfall from December to February being about 60% of the average annual total precipitation for the island as a whole, which is 500 mm.
Flora and Fauna
Seventeen per cent of the island is covered by woodland. The natural vegetation includes forests of evergreen and deciduous trees, shrubs and flowers. The flora comprises about 1,800 indigenous species, sub–species and varieties. About 140 or 7% of these are endemics.
There are also 365 species of birds but only 115 bred on the island. Two species and five sub–species have been classed as endemic.
Among the animals, the moufflon is the most noteworthy since it is found only in Cyprus.
Towns and Population
The population of Cyprus is 793.100 of whom 80,7% are Greek Cypriots (including Armenians, Maronites and Latins), 87,600 (11,0%) are Turkish Cypriots and 66,000 (8,3%) foreigners residing in Cyprus. The density of the population is 86 persons / sq km.
The population does not include over 115.000 Turkish settlers illegally residing in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus.
The figure of the Greek Cypriot population includes about 9.000 Maronites, Armenians and Latins who, under the 1960 Constitution were asked to choose between the two communities and opted to join the Greek Cypriot community.
The language of the Greek Cypriot community is Greek and the community adheres to the Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus. The language of the Turkish Cypriot community is Turkish and the community adheres to Islam. The religious groups of Armenians, Maronites and Latins, in accordance with 1960 constitution, opted to belong to the Greek Cypriot community.
The capital of the island is Nicosia with a population of 206.200 (end of 2001) in the sector controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus. It is situated roughly in the centre of the island and is the seat of government as well as the main business centre. The 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of 36 % of the island's territory literally cut the capital in half. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nicosia remains the only militarily divided capital in Europe.
The second largest town is Limassol in the south, which has around 161.200 (end of 2001) inhabitants. It is Cyprus' main commercial port and an important tourist resort. Larnaca, in the south-east of the island, has a population of 72.000 (end of 2001) and is the island's second commercial port and an important tourist resort. Paphos in the south-west with a population of about 47.300 (end of 2001) is a fast developing tourist resort, home to the island's second International Airport and an attractive fishing harbour.
In the Turkish occupied area, the town of Ammochostos (Famagusta), the hub of the pre-1974 tourist industry, is now a ghost town, deserted since 1974 when its inhabitants fled from advancing Turkish troops. The towns of Keryneia (Kyrenia), another important tourist resort on the north coast, and Morphou, situated in the important agricultural area of western Messaoria, are now inhabited almost exclusively by Turkish Cypriots and Turkish settlers as the Greek Cypriots were forced in 1974 to abandon their homes and properties and move to the south under the threat of guns and armament of the Turkish occupation army (for information on the Cyprus Question please visit the specialized section of this site).
To visit the Website of the Union of Municipalities click here.
Cyprus is a Republic with a presidential system of government. Under the 1960 Constitution, executive power is vested in the President of the Republic, elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term of office. The President exercises executive power through the Council of Ministers and the Government Spokesman appointed by him. Each Minister is the head of his Ministry and exercises executive power of all subjects within that Ministry's domain. (more information can be found on the Government's homepage).
Independent Officers and Bodies
A number of officers and bodies are independent and do not come under the jurisdiction of any Ministry. The independent officers of the Republic under the Constitution are the Attorney–General and the Auditor–General, who head the Law Office and the Audit Office respectively, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus. The Ombudsman is also an independent officer of the Republic whose position, however, was created much later, in 1991. The bodies with independent functions include the Public Service Commission, the Educational Service Commission and the Planning Bureau.
The Central Bank of Cyprus
The Central Bank was established in 1963. It is responsible for formulating and implementing monetary and credit policy. It also administers the foreign exchange reserves of the Republic, supervises banks and acts as banker and financial agent of the Government.
The freedom of religion is safeguarded in the Cyprus constitution. Article 18 states that “every person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” and that “all religions are equal before the law”. Furthermore Article 28 says that no one shall be discriminated against because of his religion.
The majority of the population of Cyprus (84,1%) is Greek Cypriot and Christian Orthodox. Turkish Cypriots, who make up 11,7% of the population, are Sunnite Moslems. Armenians, Maronites and Latins make up 1% of the population, while 3,2% are foreign nationals.
Throughout the post-Independence period, Cyprus has had a record of successful economic performance, reflected in rapid growth, full employment conditions and external and internal stability. The underdeveloped economy, inherited from Colonial Rule in 1960, has been transformed into a modern economy, with dynamic services, industrial and agricultural sectors and advanced physical and social infrastructure.
Cyprus is classified among the high-income countries, with a per capita income of CY£9,477 in 2004 (approx. US$20.000). The performance of its economy compares favourably with that of most EU countries. Cyprus holds 16th place worldwide in terms of per capita income. The average annual rate of growth in the past five years was about 3,8%, while inflation stood at 2,9% and unemployment at 3,4% over that period.
These achievements appear all the more striking, bearing in mind the severe economic and social dislocation created by the Turkish invasion of 1974 and the continuing occupation of the northern part of the island by Turkey. The Turkish invasion inflicted a serious blow to the Cyprus economy and in particular to agriculture, tourism, mining and quarrying: 70 percent of the island’s rich producing resources were lost, the tourist industry lost 65 percent of its hotels and tourist accommodation, the industrial sector lost 46 percent, and mining and quarrying lost 56 percent of production. The loss of the Port of Famagusta, which handled 83 percent of the general cargo, and the closure of the Nicosia International Airport, in the buffer zone, were additional blows.
The success of Cyprus in the economic sphere is attributed, inter alia, to the adoption of a market oriented economic system, the pursuance of sound macroeconomic policies by the government as well as the existence of a dynamic and flexible entrepreneurship and a highly educated labour force. Moreover, the economy benefited from the close cooperation between the public sector and the social partners.
During the last decade, Cyprus has intensified its relations with the European Union, its largest trading partner. On May 1st 2004, Cyprus became a full member of the EU. The economic benefits of EU accession to Cyprus, as a whole, are quite substantial. Cyprus goods and services will have access to a huge single market consisting of some of the most advanced countries in Europe. Cyprus’ participation in the Union’s internal market, an area where free movement of goods, services, persons and goods is ensured, will lead in the long term to a more efficient allocation of factors of production towards activities in which Cyprus possesses comparative advantages. This will have positive repercussions on growth and employment.
(For more detailed information on the economy you may visit the homepage of the Ministry of Finance).
Health and Social Welfare
Free medical care in government hospitals and health centers is available for low–income families, civil servants and refugees. There are also private clinics and a large number of practices offering a wide range of medical services. The ratio of persons per doctor was 381:1 in 2001.
A comprehensive social insurance scheme covers every working person and their dependants. Benefits and pensions from the scheme cover unemployment, illness, maternity, widows, injury at work, old age and death.
There is also a broad range of welfare services provided by the Government, including children's day care centres, old people's homes, facilities for the disabled, free housing for refugees, rent subsidies for low income families and financial assistance to community organizations.
Education is compulsory up to the age of 15. Primary and secondary education is free. Cyprus has one university and 30 colleges and institutions of further education.
Cyprus ranks high in terms of third level education with 63% of secondary school leavers in 2001 continuing their studies. More than half the students study abroad, mainly in Greece (55%), the UK (22%) and the USA (13%). In 2000/01 55% of students studying abroad and 58% enrolled on third level education courses in Cyprus were women.
Freedom of expression and media pluralism are safeguarded by the Constitution and the relevant press and radio and television station laws.
Currently there are:
- 7 dailies and a large number of weeklies and periodicals in circulation
- 7 island–wide and 6 local TV channels
- 10 island–wide and 38 local radio stations
- 1 news agency (Cyprus News Agency – CNA)
British Sovereign Base Areas
There are British military bases at Akrotiri/Episkopi and Dhekelia covering 3 % of the country's territory.
The bases were retained by Britain under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment between Britain, Greece, Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus.
Cyprus is a member of many international organizations including:
- The United Nations (UN) (1960) and its specialized agencies
- Council of Europe (CoE) (1961)
- The Commonwealth (1961)
- Organization for Security and Co–operation in Europe (OSCE) (1975)
- Non–Aligned Movement (NAM) (1960)
- World Trade Organization (WTO) (1955)
- European Union (2004)
Vital Statistics (2002)
- Birth rate 11.1 per thousand
- Death rate 7.3 per thousand
- Growth rate 1.2%
- Life expectancy (males) 76.1 (2001)
- Life expectancy (females) 81.0 (2001)
According to archaeological evidence, Cyprus' history goes back 11,000 years to the 9th millennium BC (early Neolithic Period or Stone Age).
The island acquired its Greek character after it was colonized by the Mycenaean and Achaean Greeks between the 13th and 11th century BC. It subsequently came under Assyrian, Egyptian and Persian domination (8th – 4th century BC). It became part of the Roman Empire between 30 BC and 330 AD.
However, it retained its Greek identity and, as part of the Hellenistic state of the Ptolemies (310–30 BC) and of the Greek–speaking world of Byzantium (330 AD–1191), its ethnic heritage was reinforced. The Greek language and culture also prevailed throughout the centuries that followed even though Cyprus came under the rule of successive colonial powers, including the Franks (Lusignans) (1192–1489), the Venetians (1489–1571), the Ottomans (1571–1878) and the British (1878–1960).
The Greek Cypriots mounted a liberation struggle against British rule from 1955 to 1959 and in 1960 Cyprus gained its independence. Greece, Turkey and Britain were to stand as guarantors of the country's independence under the Zurich–London agreements and Britain would have two sovereign base areas.
According to the 1960 Constitution, power would be shared between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots on a 7:3 ratio, while the Turkish Cypriots, who comprised 18% of the population of the island, were also granted veto rights.
Relations between the two communities had for centuries been peaceful and amicable. But a conflict of aims after independence led to brief intercommunal clashes in 1963, 1964 and 1967 and the withdrawal in December 1963 of the Turkish Cypriots from the administration and legislature.