|Cyprus, the island of Aphrodite, is the meeting place of three continents and the world's ancient cultures. Owing it to its strategic position, was throughout its history colonized by some of the most influential colonial powers in the Eastern Mediterranean.|
The Cypriots, Greeks and Turks alike, had for centuries co-existed peacefully in mixed villages, towns and places of work.
Cyprus 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.
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).
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).