largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and Sardinia),
Cyprus is geographically situated in the eastern Mediterranean and just
south of the Anatolian peninsula (or Asia Minor) of the Asian mainland;
thus, it is commonly included in the Middle East (see also Western Asia
and Near East). Turkey is 75 kilometres (47 miles) north; other
neighbouring countries include Syria and Lebanon to the east, Israel to
the southeast, Egypt to the south, and Greece to the west-north-west.
Historically, politically and culturally, however, it is closely aligned
with Europe the Greek Cypriots in the internationally recognised
Government controlled area with Greece and the Turkish Cypriots in the
occupied North with Turkey. Historically, Cyprus has been at the
crossroads between Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa, with
lengthy periods of mainly Greek and intermittent Anatolian, Levantine,
and British influences. Thus, it is generally considered a
The central plain (Mesaoria) with the Kyrenia and Pentadactylos
mountains to the north and the Troodos mountain range to the south and
west. There are also scattered, but significant, plains along the
The climate is temperate and Mediterranean with dry summers and variably
rainy winters. Summer temperatures range from warm at higher elevations
in the Troodos mountains to hot in the lowlands. Winter temperatures are
mild at lower elevations, where snow rarely occurs, but are
significantly colder in the Troodos mountains, where there is sufficient
snow for a seasonal ski facility.
affairs in Cyprus are dominated by the division of the country.
The Cypriot economy is prosperous and has diversified in recent years.
Cyprus has been sought as a basis for several offshore businesses, due
to its highly developed infrastructure. Economic policy of the Cyprus
government has focused on meeting the criteria for admission to the
Recently, oil has been discovered in the sea south of Cyprus (between
Cyprus and Egypt) and talks are under way with Egypt to reach an
agreement as to the exploitation of these resources. The level of the
oil field in terms of production (barrels per day) that the two
countries will be able to produce is still a matter of speculation.
The economy of the Turkish Cypriot North 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 Turkish Cypriot economy turned in
an impressive performance in 2003 and 2004, with growth rates of 9.6%
and 11.4%. Over the same period, per capita income almost doubled. This
growth has been buoyed by the relative stability of the Turkish Lira and
by a boom in the education and construction sectors. The most vital
reason for the sudden increase of the per capita income of the Turkish
Cypriot economy was the conditional opening of the borders. This event
gave the Greek Cypriots the chance to visit the northern part of Cyprus
and see their homes and properties that they were forced to abandon 33
years ago. By visiting the other part the people were forced to pay
entrance fees and car insurance, which contributed to a great degree in
the improvement of the economy. The northern part of the island has also
been undeveloped and as a result most goods and services remained
relatively cheap. This was appealing to the Greek Cypriots that spend a
lot of money buying products from the Northern part contributing greatly
to the amazing increase of the per capita income by spending millions of
pounds only in the first year.
Eventual adoption of the euro currency is required of all new countries
joining the European Union, and the Cyprus government currently intends
to adopt the currency on 1 January 2008.
The largest bank on the island is the Bank of Cyprus.
independence Cyprus became a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement
despite all three guarantor powers (Greece, Turkey and the UK) being
North Atlantic Treaty Organization members. Cyprus left the Non-Aligned
Movement in 2004 to join the European Union, though it retains special
The 1960 Cypriot 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, for example, was headed by a Greek
Cypriot president, Archbishop Makarios III, and a Turkish Cypriot vice
president, Dr Fazıl Küçük, elected by their respective communities for
5-year terms and each possessing a right of veto over certain types of
legislation and executive decisions. This system was destined to fail as
the power of veto meant that whether democratically desired certain
legislation could not be passed. This of course also meant that a
Turkish Cypriot could never be president and the government would,
therefore, be Greek Cypriot dominant meaning that all laws passed would
be in favor of the Greek Cypriots. To prevent Dr Fazıl Küçük from
becoming provisional president Archbishop Makarios III never left the
The House of Representatives was elected on the basis of separate
voters' rolls. Since 1964, following clashes between the two
communities, the Turkish Cypriot seats in the House remained vacant,
while the Greek Cypriot Communal Chamber was abolished. The
responsibilities of the chamber were transferred to the newfounded
Ministry of Education.
By 1967, when a military junta had seized power in Greece, the political
impetus for enosis had faded, partly as a result of the non-aligned
foreign policy of Cypriot President Makarios. Enosis remained an
ideological goal, despite being pushed significantly further down the
political agenda. Dissatisfaction in Greece with Makarios's perceived
failure to deliver on earlier promises of enosis convinced the Greek
colonels to sponsor the 1974 coup in Nicosia.
Turkey responded by launching a military operation on Cyprus, using as a
pretext the protection of the Turkish minority from Greek militias. The
invasion is called "Cyprus Peace Operation" by the Turkish side. Turkish
forces captured the northern part of the island. Many thousands of
others, from both sides, left the island entirely. In addition to many
of the Greek Cypriot refugees (a third of the population), many Turkish
Cypriots (on whose pretext Turkey invaded) also moved to the UK and
other countries where for the past 30 years they have lived as
neighbours with the Greek Cypriots. In the meantime Turkey illegally
imported Turkish colonists to populate the occupied territories, thereby
altering the ethnic make up of the occupied north. Under the Geneva
Conventions of 1949, it is a war crime to transfer, directly or
indirectly, the civilian population of a country power onto land under
that country's military occupation.
Subsequently, the Turkish Cypriots established their own separatist
institutions with a popularly elected de facto President and a Prime
Minister responsible to the National Assembly exercising joint executive
powers. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared an independent state
called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), an action opposed
by the United Nations Security Council. In 1985, the TRNC adopted a
constitution and held its first elections.
the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Cyprus was annexed by
Britain in 1925 and made a crown colony. Between 1955-59 EOKA was
created by Greek Cypriots and led by George Grivas to perform enosis
(union of the island with Greece). However the EOKA campaign did not
result union with Greece but rather an independent republic, The
Republic of Cyprus, in 1960.
In 1960 Turkish Cypriots were only the 18% of the Cypriot population.
However, the 1960 constitution carried important safeguards for the
participation of Turkish Cypriots to the state affairs, like
vice-president being Turkish Cypriot, 30% of parliament being Turkish
Cypriot, etc. Archbishop Makarios would be the President and Dr Fazil
Kucuk would become Vice President. One of the articles in the
constitution was the creation of separate local municipalities so that
Greek and Turkish Cypriots could manage their own municipalities in the
big towns. This article of the constitution has never been implemented
by the Republic and president Archbishop Makarios. In response to the
Greek-backed coup Turkey invaded the island in 1974 and seized the
northern third of the island, Turkish Cypriots in the south would travel
north and Greek Cypriots in the north would move south. The de facto
state of Northern Cyprus was proclaimed in 1975 under the name "Turkish
Federated State of Northern Cyprus". The name was changed to its present
form on 15 November 1983. The only country to formally recognise The
"Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" is Turkey. Turkey repeatedly
violates numerous UN Resolutions "" and refers to the Republic of
Cyprus as the "Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus" and
refuse formal recognition against the international and European law.
Greek and Turkish Cypriots
share many customs but maintain separate ethnic identities based on
religion, language, and close ties with their respective motherlands.
Greeks comprise 77% of the island's population, Turks 18%, while the
remaining 5% are of other ethnicities.
After the Turkish invasion of 1974, about 150,000 Turks from Anatolia
were transferred or decided to settle in the north. This has changed the
actual demographic structure of the island. Northern Cyprus now claims
265,100 inhabitants .
In the years since the census data was gathered in 2000, 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 British residents. The island is also home to a significant
Armenian minority, as well as a large refugee population consisting of
people mainly from Serbia, Palestine and Lebanon.
Since the country joined the European Union, a significant Polish
population has also grown 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.
Most Greek Cypriots, and thus the majority of the population of Cyprus,
belong to the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Cyprus (Cypriot Orthodox
Church), whereas most Turkish Cypriots are Sunni Muslims. Church
attendance is relatively high and Cyprus is known, along with Malta and
Greece, as one of the most religious countries in the European Union. In
addition, there are also small Roman Catholic, Maronite and Armenian
Apostolic communities in Cyprus.
Greek is the predominant language in the south, while Turkish is spoken
in the north and by some Greek Cypriots, too. This delineation is only
reflective of the post-1974 division of the island, which involved an
expulsion of Greek Cypriots from the north and the analoguous move of
Turkish Cypriots from the south. Historically, the Greek language was
largely spoken by all Greek Cypriots and by many Turkish Cypriots too,
given the fact that the Greek Cypriots formed the majority of the
population. Turkish Cypriots use Turkish as VO language and as a rather
distinctive dialect of Turkish.
English is widely understood, and is taught in schools from the primary
age. Many official documents are published in English as well as the
official languages of Greek and Turkish.
[Source: Wikipedia - Cyprus]