Republic of Cyprus
High Commission of the Republic of Cyprus in Pretoria

About Cyprus



Location:Island in the Eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus lies at a latitude of 34˚33˚ - 35˚34˚ North and longitude 32˚16˚ - 34˚37˚ East.
Government:Presidential system
President: Nicos Anastasiades
Independence Day:1st October
The flag:
Capital: Nicosia
Population:885.600 (Dec. 2008)
Area:9.251 sq. km
Official Languages:Greek and Turkish
Natural Resources:Copper, pyrites, asbestos, gypsum, timber, salt, marble, clay earth pigment
Economy:Services oriented market economy (80% of GDP)
Sectors:Services (tourism, financial services, real estate, telecommunications), Industry (cement and gypsum production, textiles, light chemicals, metal products, wood, paper, stone and clay products), Agriculture and Fisheries (citrus, vegetables, barley, grapes, olives)
Per Capita GDP:€ 21.264 (2011)
Unemployment Rate:11% (2012)
Exports:€963.213.854 (2009)
Main Export Partners:Germany 16%, Greece 12,6%, United Kingdom 8,8%, Italy 3,5% (2009)
Imports:€5.654.446.522 (2009)
Main Import Partners:European Union 72%, Asia 11%, Middle East 9%, Other European countries 3% (2009)
Time Zone:GMT+ 2
International Dialing Code:00357

Cyprus at a glance


Area and Population

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean with an area of 9.251 sq. kilometers. 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 380 kms north of Egypt, 105 kms west of Syria and 75 kms south of Turkey. The Greek mainland is some 800 kms to the west and the nearest Greek island is Kastellorizo, 278 kms to the west.
In December 2012, the population of Cyprus was estimated at 952.100 of whom 681.000 belong to the Greek Cypriot community (71,5%), 90.100 (9,5%) to the Turkish Cypriot community and 181.000 (19,0%) are foreigners residing in Cyprus.

Prior to the Turkish invasion of 1974 the two communities lived together in all the six administrative districts.

The capital of the island is Nicosia with a population of 336.00 in the sector controlled by the Cyprus government. It is the only divided capital in Europe. It is situated roughly in the center of the island and is the seat of government as well as the main business center.

The second largest town is Limassol on the south coast, with a population of around 241.300. After 1974 it has become the island’s chief port, an industrial center and an important tourist resort.

Larnaca, in the south-coast of the island, has a population of 146.300 and is the country's second commercial port and an important tourist resort. To the north of the town one can find the country's oil refinery while to the south, the Larnaca International Airport.

Finally, Paphos, on the south-west coast, with a population of around 90.800, is a fast-developing tourist resort, home to the island’s second international airport and an attractive fishing harbor.

The towns of Famagusta, Kyrenia and Morphou have been under Turkish occupation since the Turkish invasion of 1974. The original Greek Cypriot inhabitants have been forced to flee as refugees to the government-controlled area, while the Turkish authorities have imported thousands of settlers from Anatolia.

Land and Crops

The coastline is indented and rocky in the north with long, sandy beaches in numerous coves in the south. The northern coastal plain, covered with olive and carob trees, is backed by a steep, narrow mountain range of limestone, the Northern or Pentadactylos Range, rising to a height of 1.024 meters.

In the south-west the extensive mountain massif of Troodos, covered with pine, dwarf oak, cypress and cedar, culminates in the peak of Mount Olympus, 1.952 metres above sea level. Between the two ranges lies the fertile plain of Mesaoria to the east and the still more fertile irrigated basin of Morphou to the west. The total area of arable land is about 430.000 hectares or 46,8% of the whole island. The total forest land is 1.735 square kms. i.e. 18,74% of the total area of the island. Cyprus has two salt lakes.

The principal crops in the lowlands are cereals (wheat and barley), vegetables, potatoes and citrus. The olive tree grows everywhere, but flourishes particularly on the sea-facing slopes. Vineyards occupy a large area on the southern and western slopes of the Troodos mountains. Deciduous fruit trees are grown in the fertile mountain valleys. The most valuable export crops are potatoes, citrus, fruits, vegetables and table grapes. Sheep and goats are mainly reared in sheds or tethered, but the semi-nomadic traditional system of grazing is still exercised.


Cyprus has a 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 centered 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, around 60 %.

Temperatures are high in summer and the mean daily temperature in July and August ranges between 29 degrees Celsius on the central plain to 22 degrees Celsius on the Troodos mountains, while the average maximum temperature for these months ranges between 36 degrees Celsius and 27 degrees Celsius respectively. Winters are mild with a mean January temperature of 10 degrees Celsius on the central plain and 3 degrees Celsius on the higher parts of the Troodos mountains and with an average minimum temperature of 5 degrees Celsius and 0 degrees Celsius respectively.

Relative humidity of the air is on average between 60% and 80% in winter and between 40% and 60% in summer with even lower values over inland areas around midday. Fog is infrequent and visibility is generally very good. Sunshine is abundant during the whole year and particularly from April to September when the average duration of bright sunshine exceeds 11 hours per day.

Winds are generally light to moderate and variable in direction. Strong winds may occur sometimes, but gales are infrequent over Cyprus and are mainly confined to exposed coastal areas as well as areas at high elevation. To view the current temperatures in Cyprus please click


The history of Cyprus is among the oldest in the world. The first signs of civilization traced in archaeological excavations and research, date back 11.000 years to the 9th millennium BC.

The discovery of copper in Cyprus in the 3rd millennium BC brought wealth to the island and attracted trade from its neighbours. Yet, although geographically placed at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa – and a meeting point of great world civilizations, Cyprus has developed and for centuries maintained, its own civilization.

The Mycenaean and Achaean Greeks settled on the island between the 13th and 11th century BC. They introduced the Greek language and culture, both of which are preserved by Greek Cypriots to this day.

At the end of the 4th century BC Cyprus became part of the kingdom of Alexander the Great. The Hellenistic period ended in 30 BC when Cyprus became part of Roman Empire until the 4th century AD.

In 330 AD Cyprus formed part of the Eastern Section of the Roman Empire and later of the Byzantine Empire, and remained so until the 12th century AD. During the Crusades Cyprus was conquered by Richard the Lionheart followed by the Lusignans and the Venetians.

In 1571 Cyprus was conquered by the Ottomans and in 1878 it was ceded to Britain. In 1914 Britain annexed the island and in 1923, under the Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey relinquished all claims on the island. In 1925 Britain declared Cyprus a crown colony.

In 1955 the Greek Cypriots launched a liberation struggle against British rule and the island won its independence in 1960.

In 2004 the Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union.


Neolithic period 9th - 4th millennium BC
Chalcolithic period 4th-mid – 3rd millennium BC
Bronze Age mid 3rd millennium – late 2nd millennium BC
Iron Age 1st millennium BC
Archaic Period 8th – 5th century BC
Classical period 480-310 BC
Hellenistic Period 310-30 BC
Roman period 30 BC -330 AD
Byzantine period 330-1191 AD
Cyprus Under the crusaders 1191-1192
Lusignan (Frankish) period 1192 – 1489
Venetian Period 1489-1571
Ottoman (Turkish Period) 1571-1878
British Period 1878-1960
Independence of the Republic of Cyprus 1960
Turkish invasion and occupation of 36.2 % of the island 20 July 1974
Republic of Cyprus joins EU 2004



Cyprus is an independent sovereign Republic with a presidential system of government. Under the 1960 Constitution, executive power is exercised by the President (Head of State and Government), elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term of office, through a Council of Ministers appointed by him. The office of the Vice-President, to be held by a Turkish Cypriot as provided by the Constitution, remains vacant because of the refusal of the Turkish Cypriot leadership to participate in the government of the Republic of Cyprus. For the same reason, the ministries and public service positions allocated to Turkish Cypriots are, out of necessity, held now by Greek Cypriots. The President of the Republic is H.E. Mr. Nicos Anastasiades (since 28 February 2013).

The composition of the Council of Ministers is the following:

Minister of Foreign Affairs: H.E. Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides
Minister of Finance: Mr. Harris Georgiades
Minister of Interior: Mr. Socrates Hasikos
Minister of Defence: Mr. Christoforos Fokaides
Minister of Education and Culture: Mr. Costas Kadis
Minister of Communications and Works: Mr. Marios Demetriades
Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism: Mr. Georgios Lakkotrypis
Minister of Enviroment and Rural Development: Mr. Nicos Kouyialis
Minister of Labour Welfare and Social Insurance: Mrs. Georgia Emilianidou
Minister of Justice and Public Order: Mr. Ionas Nicolaou
Minister of Health: Mr. Philippos Patsalis


Legislative authority is exercised by the House of Representatives. Its members are elected for a five-year term. At the time of its establishment the House consisted of 50 members, 35 of whom were to be Greek Cypriots and 15 Turkish Cypriots. Through a constitutional amendment in 1985, the number of seats was increased to 80 - 56 allocated to Greek Cypriot members and 24 reserved for Turkish Cypriot deputies. After the Parliamentary elections which took place on May 20, 2011, the seats of the House were divided as follows: Democratic Rally 20, AKEL - Left - New Forces 19, Democratic Party (DIKO) 9, Movement of Social Democrats (EDEK) 5, European Party (EVROKO) 2, Green Party 1. On June 2, 2011, Mr. Giannakis L. Omirou, President of EDEK, was elected in the position of Chairman of the House of Representatives. Given the vacancy in the Vice-President’s office, the House President serves as acting President of the Republic in the event of absence of the latter abroad. Following the withdrawal of the Turkish Cypriot members in 1964 the House has been functioning only with the Greek Cypriot members. According to the 1960 Constitution, the Maronite, Armenian and Latin communities, who opted to belong to the Greek Cypriot community, also elect representatives who attend meetings without a right of participation in the deliberations. They are consulted in matters concerning particular affairs of their respective religious groups.


The administration of justice is exercised by the island's separate and independent judiciary. Under the 1960 Constitution and other legislation in force, the following judicial institutions have been established: The Supreme Court of the Republic, The Assize Courts and District Courts. President of the Supreme Court is Mr. Petros Artemis.

Independent Officers and Bodies

There are also independent officers and bodies which do not come under any ministry: the Attorney-General and the Auditor-General who head the Law Office and Audit Office respectively; the Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus; the Ombudsman (Commissioner for Administration); the Public Service Commission; the Education Service Commission; the Planning Bureau; the Treasury; the Commission for the Protection of Competition; the Office of the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation; the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority; the Cyprus Agricultural Payments Organization; the Office of the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection; the Cooperative Societies Supervision and Development Authority; the Internal Audit Service; the Office of the Commissioner for State Aid Control; the Tenders Review Authority; the Law Commissioner; the Tax Tribunal; the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission; and the Radio and Television Authority; the Reviewing Authority of Refugees and the Commissioner for the Protection of Children’s Rights.

For further information and updates please refer to:

Press and Information Office:

House of Representatives:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs:


The Cyprus Flag

The Cyprus flag was defined in 1960, when Cyprus became independent

Colours of the Flag

The ground is white. The map of the Island of Cyprus, in the middle, has the colour of copper (144-C). The crest under the island and the olive-tree leaves, have the colour of olive-green (336-C)

The International code numbers of the colours of the flag of the Republic of Cyprus (PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM (PMS) are:

(a) Colour of copper Pantone 1385
(b) Colour of olive-green Pantone 574
Size: - in ratio 3x2

ARTICLE 4 of the Cyprus Constitution refers to the Cyprus flag:

  1. The Republic shall have its own flag of neutral design and colour, chosen jointly by the President and the Vice-President of the Republic.
  2. The authorities of the Republic and any public corporation or public utility body created by or under the laws of the Republic shall fly the flag of the Republic and they shall have the right to fly on holidays together with the flag of the Republic both the Greek and the Turkish flags at the same time.
  3. The Communal authorities and institutions shall have the right to fly on holidays together with the flag of the Republic either the Greek or the Turkish flag at the same time.
  4. Any citizen of the Republic or any body, corporate or unincorporate other than public, whose members are citizens of the Republic, shall have the right to fly on their premises the flag of the Republic or the Greek or the Turkish flag without any restriction”.

The Cyprus Emblem

The colours of the Cyprus emblem are the following: The outside frame is white, the crest of olive tree leaves is green, and the inside frame of the shield is golden like copper, which is associated with Cyprus. Inside the shield the pigeon is white, the formation of feathers and eye of the pigeon are black, the branch of olive tree in the mouth of the pigeon is olive green, and the year 1960 is black. The olive branch and pigeon symbolize peace, and the year 1960 is the date of Cyprus' independence

The Cyprus National Anthem

The decision concerning the National Anthem of the Republic of Cyprus was taken by the Council of Ministers Decision No 6133 of 16 November, 1966. According to this decision the music of the Greek National Anthem was adopted as the National Anthem of Cyprus (not the lyrics).

· Sheet Music

· Play the national anthem


The History and Culture of Cyprus is among the oldest in the world. The first signs of civilization traced in archaeological excavations and research date back 9,000 years to the 7th millennium BC. This rich cultural landscape involves hundreds of archaeological sites scattered throughout the island, representing various historical periods in the island's evolution.

The discovery of copper in Cyprus in the 3rd millennium BC brought wealth to the island and attracted trade from its trading neighbors. Yet, although geographically placed at the crossroads of three continents Europe, Asia and Africa and a meeting point of great world civilizations, Cyprus has developed and for centuries maintained, its own civilization. It remained a center of Greek culture with Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, French, Venetian, Ottoman and British influences.

The Cyprus Department of Antiquities is tasked with the operation, maintenance, protection and preservation of the rich archaeological heritage of the island. Its activities comprise such areas as excavation and conservation of artifacts, the preservation of ancient monuments, the protection of ethnological and ecclesiastical art, the restoration of buildings of traditional architecture etc. The final goal of all these activities is the presentation of the island's unique cultural property.

Relevant to the excavations and complementary to them is the task of maintenance and protection of ancient monuments and antiquities in general. This includes reconstruction and/or maintenance of ancient theatres, sanctuaries, castles, churches and other monuments of every nature as well as movable antiquities, metallurgy, handicraft, icons, items of religious and popular art dating back to Neolithic Times and up to 1940 A.D. Maintenance of Mosaics and frescoes is also included.

The Cyprus Museum in Nicosia houses the richest and most representative collection of Cypriot antiquities in Cyprus. In its exhibition rooms one may see some of the most important pieces of Cypriot art and get a comprehensive picture of the Cypriot culture from the Neolithic period to the Roman times.

There are also district archaeological museums in all towns, two site museums, in Episkopi (Limassol) for the antiquities of Kourion and at Kouklia (Paphos) for the antiquities of Palepaphos, Folk Art Museums at Yeroskipou, Lefkara and Phikardhou and an Ethnological Museum in the Nicosia House of Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios.

Most of the ancient monuments and archaeological sites on the island are open to the public and visitors may, with the aid of inexpensive guide books, tour the sites.

On the other hand ancient theatres have been fully reconstructed and host several theatrical, dance, musical and other performances. At the same time mobile Cyprus antiquities in the form of representative collections are sent abroad for exhibition. Such touring exhibitions are organized in many parts of the world.

Cypriote antiquities are also objects of scientific study during international congresses and seminars on archaeology.

An achievement of the Department of Antiquities is the inclusion in 1980, of both Paleapaphos (Kouklia) and Nea Paphos (Kato Paphos) in the World Cultural Heritage List of Unesco.

In 1986 nine Byzantine Churches situated in the Troodos range, those of Agios Nicolaos tis Stegis in Kakopetria village, Agios Ioannis Lambadistis in Kalopanayiotis village, Panayia tou Moutoulla in Moutoullas village, Archangelos in Pedoulas village, Panayia tis Poditou in Galata village, Stavros tou Agiasmati in Platanistasa village and Asinou near Nikitari village were also included in the World Cultural Heritage List of Unesco.

Cultural Life of Cyprus

There is an intense and active interest amongst all the people in Cyprus in fostering the creative drive in the field of Letters and the Arts and to strengthen cultural awareness.

Both the Government as well as non-governmental organizations and individuals have given high priority in making culture available to all, so that there is a greater participation and receptiveness on behalf of the public in the island's cultural life and in disseminating and projecting cultural achievements abroad in order to highlight Cyprus' links with international culture.

Particular emphasis is placed on promoting literature, music, dance (modern and classical), the visual arts and the cinema. In addition a special arts festival (The "Kypria") is organized annually with a view to upgrading the art movement on the island and highlighting its links with international culture. Since its inception, in 1993, this has become an institution making high quality cultural entertainment accessible to a wide range of people. The various performances include: theatre, ballet, opera, music. Alongside well-known international artists or ensembles, Cypriot artists who have distinguished themselves abroad and acquired international reputation are also invited to participate.


1980, Paphos, Sites of Palepaphos and Nea Paphos ,from 12th century BC to 5th cent AD:

Inhabited since the Neolithic Age, Paphos was a site of worship of Aphrodite and prehistoric fertility deities. Aphrodite's legendary birthplace was on this island, where her temple was erected by the Myceneans in the 12th century B.C. The remains of villas, palaces, theatres, fortresses and tombs give the site its exceptional architectural and historic value. The mosaics of Nea Paphos are among the most beautiful in the world.

Painted churches in the Troodos region, Nicosia and Limassol:

The World Heritage Committee declared that these churches bear outstanding testimony to Byzantine civilization, that they are well-conserved examples of rural religious architecture and that they provide evidence for the links between eastern and western Christian art. The architecture of these small churches is unique, confined to the Troodos range and almost certainly of indigenous origin. The interior-and in several cases parts of the exterior- of these churches is decorated with wall paintings, frescoes, which are of exceptional artistic quality.

1985, Kakopetria, Church of Ayios Nikolaos tis Steyis (St. Nicholas of the Roof), 11th cent.

1985, Kalopanayiotis,Ayios Ionannis (St. John)Lambadhistis Monastery, 11th cent.

1985, Nikitari,Church of Panayia (The Virgin) Phorviotissa (Asinou), 12th cent.

1985, Lagoudhera, Church of Panayia (The Virgin )tou Arakou,12th cent

1985, Moutoullas,Church of Panayia (The Virgin) 13th-14th cent.

1985, Pedhoulas, Church of Archangelos Michael (Archangel Michael),15th cent.

1985, Pelendria, Church of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross), 13th-15th cent.

1985, Galata, Church of Panayia (The Virgin) Podhithou, 16th cent.

1985, Platanistasa, Church of Stavros (Holy Cross) Ayiasmati,15th cent.

2001, Palaichori, Church of Metamorphosis tou Soteros,(the Transfiguration of the Saviour), 16th cent.

1998, Choirokoitia, Neolithic Settlement of Choirokoitia,7th- 4th mill.BC:

The Neolithic settlement of Choirokhoitia, occupied from the 7th to the 4th millennium BC, is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean. Its remains and the finds from the excavations there have thrown much light on the evolution of human society in this key region. Only part of the site has been excavated, and so it forms an exceptional archaeological reserve for future study.

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Last Modified at: 04/03/2024 12:35:16 PM

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