2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Countries; European Countries

Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία  ( Greek)
Kypriakí Dhimokratía
Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti  ( Turkish)

Republic of Cyprus
Flag of Cyprus Coat of arms of Cyprus
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: none
Anthem: Ύμνος εις την Ελευθερίαν
Transliteration: Imnos is tin Eleftherian
(English: Hymn to Freedom)1
Location of Cyprus
(and largest city)
35°08′N 33°28′E
Official languages Greek, Turkish
Government Republic
 - President Tassos Papadopoulos
Independence From United Kingdom 
 - Date 16 August 1960 
Accession to EU May 1, 2004
 - Total 9,251 km² ( 167th)
3,572 sq mi 
 - Water (%) negligible
 - 2005 estimate 835,0002 ( 157th)
 - 2001 census 689,565
 - Density 90/km² ( 105th)
233/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $ 17.49 billion ( 115th)
 - Per capita $ 21,232 ( 32nd)
HDI  (2004) 0.903 (high) ( 29th)
Currency Cyprus Pound ( CYP)
Time zone EET ( UTC+2)
 - Summer ( DST) EEST ( UTC+3)
Internet TLD .cy3
Calling code +357
1 "Ymnos pros tin Eleutherian" is also used as the national anthem of Greece.
2 UN population estimate for entire island including Turkish-controlled areas.
3 The .eu domain is also used, shared with other European Union member states.
Not to be confused with Cypress.

Cyprus ( Greek: Κύπρος, Kýpros; Turkish: Kıbrıs), officially the Republic of Cyprus ( Greek: Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία, Kypriakí Dhimokratía; Turkish: Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti), is a Eurasian island nation in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea south of the Anatolian peninsula (Asia Minor) or modern-day Turkey. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. The Republic of Cyprus is divided into six districts : Lefkosia (the capital), Ammochostos, Keryneia, Larnaka, Lemesos, and Pafos. A former British colony, the Republic of Cyprus gained independence in 1960 while the United Kingdom retained two Sovereign Base Areas. Following years of intercomunnal violence, Turkey launched an invasion of the island in 1974 in response to an Athens engineered coup aimed uniting the island with Greece. The invasion led to the internal displacement of thousands of Greek and Turkish Cypriots and the creation of the de-facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, separated from the south by the United Nations-controlled Green Line and is recognised only by Turkey. The Republic of Cyprus has been a member state of the European Union since 1 May 2004.


The name Cyprus has a somewhat uncertain etymology. One suggestion is that it comes from the Greek word for the 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. Dossin, for example, suggests that it has roots to the Sumerian word for copper (zubar) or even the word for bronze (kubar), due to the large deposits of copper ore found on the island. Through overseas trade, the island has already given its name to the Classical Latin word for the metal, which appears in the phrase aes Cyprium, "metal of Cyprus", later shortened to Cuprum.


Prehistoric and ancient Cyprus

Ruins of ancient Salamis, near Famagusta.
Ruins of ancient Salamis, near Famagusta.
Petra tou Romiou, near Paphos.
Petra tou Romiou, near Paphos.

There are only small traces of the Stone Age, but the Bronze Age was characterized by a well-developed and clearly marked civilization. The people quickly learned to work the rich copper mines of the island. The Mycenæan civilization seems to have reached Cyprus at around 1600 BC and several Greek and Phœnician settlements that belong to the Iron Age can be found on the island. Cyprus came into contact with Egypt about 1500 BC and became an important trade partner for them.

Around 1200 BC, the Sea Peoples began to arrive as settlers to Cyprus, a process that lasted for more than a century. This migration is remembered in many sagas concerning how some of the Greek heroes that participated in the Trojan War came to settle in Cyprus. The newcomers brought with them their language, new technology and introduced a new outlook for visual arts. The Phœnicians arrived at the island in the early first millennium BC. In those times, Cyprus supplied the Greeks with timber for their fleets.

In the sixth century BC, Amasis of Egypt conquered Cyprus, which soon fell under the rule of the Persians when Cambyses conquered Egypt. In the Persian Empire, Cyprus formed part of the fifth satrapy and in addition to tribute it had to supply the Persians with ships and crews. In their new fate, the Greeks of Cyprus had as companions the Greeks of Ionia (west coast of Anatolia) with whom they forged closer ties. When the Ionian Greeks revolted against Persia (499 BC), the Cypriots, except for the city of Amathus, joined in led by Onesilos who dethroned his brother, the king of Salamis, for not wanting to fight for independence. The Persians reacted quickly, sending a considerable force against Onesilos. The Persians finally won despite Ionian help.

After their defeat, the Greeks mounted various expeditions in order to liberate Cyprus from Persian rule, but all their efforts bore only temporary results. Eventually, Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) took the island from the Persians. Later, the Ptolemies of Egypt controlled it; finally Rome annexed it in 58-57 BC. No doubt the most important event that occurred in Roman Cyprus was the visit by Apostles Paul and Barnabas accompanied by St Mark who came to the island at the outset of their first missionary journey in 45 AD. After their arrival at Salamis they proceeded to Paphos where they converted the Roman Governor Sergius Paulus to Christianity making Cyprus the first country in the world governed by a Christian ruler.

Cyprus in ancient myth

Cyprus is the legendary birthplace of the goddess of beauty and love, the beautiful Aphrodite (also known as Kypris or the Cyprian). According to Hesiod's Theogony, the goddess emerged fully grown from the sea where the severed genitals of the god Uranus were cast by his son, Kronos, causing the sea to foam (Greek: Aphros). Her birth was famously depicted by the artist Botticelli in The Birth of Venus. The legendary site of Aphrodite's birth is at 'Petra tou Romiou' (or 'Aphrodite's Rock'), a large sea stack close to the coastal cliffs near Paphos. Throughout ancient history, Cyprus was a flourishing centre for the cultic worship of Aphrodite.

Post-classical and modern Cyprus

Cyprus became part of the Byzantine Empire after the partitioning of the Roman Empire in 395, and remained so for almost eight hundred years, [punctuated by a?] brief period of Arab domination and influence.

After the rule of the rebellious Byzantine Emperor Isaac Comnenus, King Richard I of England captured the island in 1191 during the Third Crusade. On May 6, 1191, Richard's fleet arrived in the port of Lemesos and took the city. When Isaac arrived to stop the Crusaders he discovered he was too late and retired to Kolossi. Richard called Isaac to negotiations but Isaac broke his oath of hospitality and started demanding Richard's departure. Richard ordered his cavalry to follow him in a battle against Isaac's army in Tremetusia. The few Roman Catholics of the island joined Richard's army and so did the island's nobles who were dissatisfied with Isaac's seven years of tyrannical rule. Though Isaac and his men fought bravely, Richard's army was bigger and better equipped, assuring his victory. Isaac continued to resist from the castles of Pentadactylos but after the siege of his castle of Kantara he finally surrendered. In a fit of sardonic irony, Richard had Isaac confined with silver chains, scrupulously abiding by a previous promise that he would not place Isaac in irons should he be taken prisoner. Richard became the new ruler of Cyprus, gaining for the Crusade a major supply base that was not under immediate threat from the Turks as was Tyre. Richard looted the island and massacred those trying to resist him. He and most of his army left Cyprus for the Holy Land early in June. In his absence Cyprus would be governed by Richard Camville.

Guy of Lusignan purchased the island from Richard in 1192 compensated for the loss of his kingdom by purchasing Cyprus from the Templars. The Republic of Venice took control in 1489 after the death of the last Lusignan Queen, after which the Ottoman Empire conquered the Island in 1571.

Ottoman rule brought about two radical results in the history of the island. For the first time since the Phoenicians in the ninth century BC, a new population group appeared, the Turks. The Ottoman Empire gave timars – land grants – to soldiers under the condition that they and their families would stay there permanently. During the seventeenth century the Turkish population grew rapidly. Most of the Turks who had settled on the island during the three centuries of Ottoman rule remained when control of Cyprus – although not sovereignty – was ceded to Britain in 1878. Many, however, left for Turkey during the 1920s. By 1970, ethnic Turks represented 18% of the total population of the island, with ethnic Greeks representing the remainder. The distinction between the two groups was by religion and language.

The second important result of the Ottoman conquest benefited the Greek peasants who no longer remained serfs of the land they were cultivating. Now they could acquire it by purchase, thus becoming owners of it. The Ottomans also applied the millet system to Cyprus, which allowed religious authorities to govern their own non-Muslim minorities. This system reinforced the position of the Orthodox Church and the cohesion of the ethnic Greek population. Gradually the Archbishop of Cyprus became not only religious but ethnic leader as well. In this way the Church undertook the task of the guardian of Greek cultural legacy, which is partly carried on even now, although diminished after independence.

The heavy taxes and the abuses against the population on the part of the Ottoman rulers in the early years after the Ottoman conquest gave rise to opposition, following which the Sultan ordered the Governor (the "Kadi") and the Treasurer to govern with justice. While the Sultan's orders indicated his goodwill towards the local population, the local administration proved indifferent, arbitrary and often corrupt, along with imposing a heavy burden of taxes. The inhabitants of Cyprus, disappointed at the mismanagement of Ottoman governors, soon turned to Western Europe in search for help for liberation.

Between 1572 and 1668, around twenty-eight bloody uprisings took place on the island and in many of these both Greeks and Turk peasants took part. All ended in failure.

About 1660, in order to eliminate the mismanagement of the Ottoman administration, the Sultan recognised the Archbishop and the Bishops as "the protectors of people" and the representatives of the Sultan. In 1670, Cyprus ceased to be a "pasaliki" for the Ottoman Empire and came under the jurisdiction of the Admiral of the Ottoman fleet. In his turn, the Admiral sent an officer to govern in his place.

In 1703, Cyprus came under the jurisdiction of the Grand Vizier (Anthony Petane) who sent to the island a military and civil administrator. The title and function of this officer were awarded to the person who could raise the highest revenues in exchange. As a result, even heavier taxation was imposed. About 1760 the situation in Cyprus was intolerable. A terrible epidemic of plague, bad crops and earthquakes, drove many Cypriots to emigrate. In addition, what was worse for the Greeks and Turks of the island, the newly- appointed Pasha, doubled the taxes in 1764. In the end, Chil Osman and 18 of his friends were killed by Greek and Turkish Cypriots alike but the two ethnic elements had to pay a huge sum of money to the Sultan and the families of the victims. The latter did not accept this judgement and broke into an open rebellion, having Khalil Agha, the commander of the guard of the castle of Kyrenia, as their leader. Finally the uprising was crushed and Khalil Agha was beheaded.

Cyprus was placed under British control on 4 June 1878 as a result of the Cyprus Convention, which granted control of the island to Britain in return for British support of the Ottoman Empire in the Russian-Turkish War.

Famagusta harbour was completed in June 1906; by this time the island was a strategic naval outpost for the British Empire, shoring up influence over the Eastern Mediterranean and Suez Canal, the crucial main route to India.

Cyprus was formally annexed by the United Kingdom in 1913 in the run-up to the First World War. Many Cypriots, now British subjects, signed up to fight in the British Army, in this and in the Second World War.

During the 1900s and 1950s,Greek Cypriots began to demand union with Greece. In 1950, Greek Cypriots voted in a referendum in support of enosis while the Turkish Cypriots vetoed the referendum. The enosis movement largely ignored the Turkish Cypriots presence on the island and the British sought to quell any movement which could threaten their possession of the island. In 1955, the struggle against British rule erupted with the foundation of EOKA, which lasted until 1959.

Independence was attained in 1960 after exhaustive negotiations between the United Kingdom, as the colonial power, and Greece and Turkey, the cultural 'motherlands' for both of the communities in Cyprus. The UK ceded the island under a constitution allocating government posts and public offices by ethnic quota, but retained two small Sovereign Base Areas.


During the 1960s, Makarios and Küçük pursued a non-aligned foreign policy, cultivating good relations with Britain, Greece and Turkey, and taking a leading role in developing the Non-Aligned Movement.

Tension began in 1963 when Makarios proposed thirteen amendments to the constitution of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkish Cypriots were opposed to the proposal since it sought to remove their constitutional safeguards which Greek Cypriots claimed to be problematic in the conduct of government. On 21 December 1963, clashes between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots erupted unleashed a wave of violence across the island.

By 1974, dissatisfaction among Greek nationalist right-wing elements in favour of the long-term goal of Enosis precipitated a coup d'etat against President Makarios which was sponsored by the military government of Greece and led by the Cypriot National Guard. The new regime replaced Makarios with Nikos Giorgiades Sampson as president, and Bishop Gennadios as head of the Cypriot Orthodox Church. Seven days after these events Turkey intervened militarilly in Cyprus by sea and air on 20 July 1974. At the time Turkey claimed it was invading to uphold its obligation under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. Talks in Geneva involving Greece, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the two Cypriot factions failed in mid-August, and Turkish forces subsequently moved from the previous cease-fire lines to gain control of 37% of the island's territory. During the invasion, over 160,000 Greek Cypriots were displaced from their home land, while Turkish forces killed several thousand Greek Cypriots captured in the occupied areas. While this was happening, the entire inhabitants of several Turkish Cypriot villages were massacred in reprisal for the landings by Greek Cypriot paramilitaries. As of today, there are still thousands of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots unaccounted for. The events of the summer of 1974 have dominated Cypriot politics ever since and have been a major point of contention between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, as well as Greece and Turkey.

Since 1974, there have been continual efforts to negotiate a settlement, which met with varying levels of disagreement from either side. Since 18% of the population was left in control of 37% of the territory, including fertile and productive land, the Turkish government arranged an influx of settlers from Turkey whose exact numbers are disputed, but believed to be in the range of over 100,000. Turkey counters that the Turkish Cypriots - before 1963 - owned and farmed 33% of Cypriot land before being forced into enclaves, thus the take-over of one-third of Cyprus was seen as compensating the Turkish Cypriots for their lost land. This figures are rejected by the Cyprus Republic Authorities as fictional. According to the records held by the Cyprus Land Registry, only 12,3% of all cypriot land, or 16,7% of privately owned land was owned by Turkish Cypriots. Of the 3.241.930.428 square meters of the occupied area, 60,27% is owned by Greek Cypriots, 16,39% is owned by Turkish Cypriots and 23,09% is state owned land.

Turkish Cypriots proclaimed a separate state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), under Rauf Denktaş on November 15, 1983. The UN Security Council, in its Resolution 541 of November 18, 1983, declared the action illegal and called for withdrawal. Turkey is the only country to date that recognises the administration on the northern third of Cyprus. Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus's authority over the whole island, and refers to it as the Greek Cypriot administration.

Cyprus joined the European Union as a full member in May 2004. Although it was the island as a whole which joined (theoretically including the northern areas), the Acquis communautaire applies only to those (Greek) areas under the control of the Republic of Cyprus.

In 2004, the UN backed Annan plan sought to reunify the island before EU accesion. Turkish Cypriots accepted the plan whilsts Greek Cypriots rejected it, leading to the entry of a divided island, though the Acquis communautaire is considered suspended from the north, it is still theoretically part of the European Union.

Since the invasion, the economy of Cyprus has grown greatly and enjoys a high standard of living. The north maintains a lower standard of living due to international embargoes, relying on Turkey for aid, though increased revenues through tourism and a recent construction boom have led to rapid economic development in recent years. The Turkish Cypriot administration has allowed the illegal sale of real estate, consisting almost entirely of property and land still owned by Greek Cypriots since before the 1974 Turkish invasion, to private buyers from overseas. In 2005, the UK's Guardian Newspaper reported that up to 10,000 Europeans had invested in property in the north of Cyprus, a trend that still causes concern in the south. This concern was highlighted by the UK's Telegraph Newspaper in 2006 when the wife of Britain's prime minister, Cherie Blair, touched a diplomatic nerve; Mrs Blair, in her capacity as an advocate at law, represented a UK couple, the Orams, who had been taken to court by Greek Cypriots who claimed ownership of the land on which the Orams had built a house. President Tassos Papadopoulos referred to Blair's decision to represent the Orams as "a provocative action".


MODIS satellite image of Cyprus.
MODIS satellite image of Cyprus.
Topography of Cyprus.
Topography of Cyprus.

The third 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.

Politically and culturally, however, it is closely aligned with Europe – particularly Greece and 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 transcontinental island.

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 southern coast.

The climate is temperate and Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool, variably rainy winters. There is sufficient snow for a seasonal ski facility in the Troodos mountains.

The capital city, Nicosia, is located to the north-east of the centre of the island and is the only divided capital in the world. All the other major cities are situated on the coast: Paphos to the south-west, Limassol to the south, Larnaca to the south-east, Famagusta to the east, and Kyrenia to the north.

Administrative divisions

Map of Cyprus showing political divisions and districts
Map of Cyprus showing political divisions and districts

Cyprus is divided into six districts:

Greek Turkish
Famagusta Αμμόχωστος (Ammochostos) Gazimağusa
Kyrenia Κερύvεια (Keryneia) Girne
Larnaca Λάρνακα (Larnaka) Larnaka
Limassol Λεμεσός (Lemesos) Limasol/Leymosun
Nicosia Λευκωσία (Lefkosia) Lefkoşa
Paphos Πάφος (Pafos) Baf


After 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 observer status.

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 favour of the Greek Cypriots. To prevent Dr Fazıl Küçük from becoming provisional president Archbishop Makarios III never left the island.

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 in a move not approved by the other two international guarantor powers, Greece and the United Kingdom 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.

Political division

Cyprus gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, with the UK, Greece and Turkey retaining limited rights to intervene in internal affairs.

The capital Nicosia remains divided since 1974. The UN buffer zone separates the two sectors.
The capital Nicosia remains divided since 1974. The UN buffer zone separates the two sectors.

In July 1974, after an attempted coup against the Makarios government by extreme right-wing factions aided by the Greek junta, Turkey invaded Cyprus, despite the fact that the coup had been quashed before the arrival of Turkish paratroopers. The area occupied by the Turkish military was further extended to 37 percent of the island beyond the demarcation line given in the UN brokered ceasefire. Turkey has ever since occupied the northern part by a massive military force, estimated at 35 to 60 thousand troops. Cyprus has been divided, de facto, into the Greek-Cypriot controlled rump of the Republic, somewhat less than two-thirds of the island and the Turkish-occupied 37 percent area in the north. Further, British sovereign bases under the term of the establishment of the Republic in 1960, occupy 99 square miles (256 square kilometers). The Republic of Cyprus is the legitimate internationally-recognised government of Cyprus. Turkey aside, all foreign governments and the United Nations recognise the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island of Cyprus.

The Turkish Cypriot administration of the northern part of the island, together with Turkey, rejects the Republic's rule over the whole island and refers to it as the "Greek Authority of Southern Cyprus". Its territory, a result of the Turkish invasion of 1974 and whose status remains disputed, extends over the northern 34 percent of the island.

The north proclaimed its independence in 1975, and the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was established in 1983. This state is recognised only by Turkey. The Organization of the Islamic Conference granted it observer member status under the name of "Turkish Cypriot State".

The other power with territory on Cyprus is the United Kingdom. Under the independence agreement, the UK retained entitlement to lease two extensive areas on the southern coast of the island, around Akrotiri and Dhekelia, known collectively as the UK sovereign base areas. They are used as military bases.

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 south-east corner of the island, the Paralimni area, into a de facto, though not de jure, exclave.

Reunification, the Annan Plan and EU entry

The results of early negotiations between the Greek and Turkish politicians resulted in a broad agreement in principle to reunification as a bi-cameral, bi-zonal federation with territory allocated to the Greek and Turkish communities within a united island. However, agreement was never reached on the finer details, and the two sides often met deadlock over the following points, among others:

The Greek side:

  • took a strong line on the right of return for refugees to properties vacated in the 1974 displacement of Cypriots on both sides, which was based on both UN Resolutions and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights;
  • took a dim view of any proposals which did not allow for the repatriation of Turkish settlers from the mainland who had emigrated to Cyprus since 1974; and
  • supported a stronger central government.

The Turkish side:

  • favoured a weak central government presiding over two sovereign states in voluntary association, a legacy of earlier fears of domination by the majority Greek Cypriots; and
  • opposed plans for demilitarisation, citing security concerns.

The continued difficulties in finding a settlement presented a potential obstacle to Cypriot entry to the European Union, for which the government had applied in 1997. UN-sponsored talks between the Greek and Turkish leaders, Glafkos Klerides and Rauf Denktash, continued intensively in 2002, but without resolution. In December 2002, the EU formally invited Cyprus to join in 2004, insisting that EU membership would apply to the whole island and hoping that it would provide a significant enticement for reunification resulting from the outcome of ongoing talks. However, weeks before the UN deadline, Klerides was defeated in presidential elections by centre candidate Tassos Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos had a reputation as a hard-liner on reunification and based his stance on international law and human rights. By mid-March, the UN declared that the talks had failed.

A United Nations plan sponsored by Secretary-General Kofi Annan was announced on 31 March 2004, based on what progress had been made during the talks in Switzerland and fleshed out by the UN, was put for the first time to civilians on both sides in separate referenda on 24 April 2004. The Greek side overwhelmingly rejected the Annan Plan, and the Turkish side voted in favour. In considering the outcome it is interesting to note that whilst the Turkish settlers (who make up the majority in the occupied north) were allowed to vote, the refugees who had fled Cyprus had no right to vote in a referendum which would ultimately determine their future (their right to return and right to their property).

In May 2004, Cyprus entered the EU, although in practice membership only applies to the southern part of the island which is in the control of the Republic of Cyprus, but this reality does not concern the personal rights of native Turkish Cypriots as EU citizens, as they are considered as citizens of the Member State Republic of Cyprus.


Economic affairs in Cyprus are dominated by the division of the country due to the Turkish occupation of the north part of the island.

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 European Union.

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.

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.


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 ethnicity.

After the Turkish invasion of 1974, about 150.000 Turks from Anatolia were asked or decided to settle in the north. This has changed the acutal demographic structure of the island.

The major part of Greek Cypriots, and thus the majority of entire 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, 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 uses Turkish as VO language and rather as a strong dialect of Turkish.

English is widely understood, and is taught in schools from the primary age.


Cyprus has a well-developed system of primary and secondary education offering both public and private education. State schools are generally seen as equivalent in quality of education to private sector institutions. Although they don't offer A-level examinations, their end of year reports are partly recognized by the British universities. Graduates of public schools are required to take an entrance examination in order to enrol ato the University of Cyprus or other Universities in Greece. Private school students usually study in Britain and the USA although some of them go to the university of Cyprus or Greek universities. The main problem faced in public education is the need of extended extra lessons, while students in private schools need virtually no extra lessons. Neither for their entrance to the university nor for the school syllabus. The government is trying to eliminate this problem but this seems impossible at its current state.

The majority of Cypriots receive their higher education at Greek, British, Turkish, other European and North American universities, while there are also sizeable emigrant communities in the United Kingdom and Australia. Private colleges and state-supported universities have been developed by both the Turkish and Greek communities.

According to the 1960 constitution, education is under the control of the two communities (the communal chambers). State education was based on nationalisation of existing community supported schools from the colonial period. Thus following 1974 the Cypriot system follows the Greek system in the south, in other words providing their students with an apolytirion, and the Turkish system in the north. A large number of students after sitting for A-levels and/or SATs study abroad, mainly in English speaking countries such as the United Kingdom or the United States, but also in other European destinations such as France and Germany. Traditionally the communist party AKEL provided scholarships for its members to study in Eastern Europe. Eastern European countries, especially Bulgaria and Hungary, are still popular destinations for students.

In the north there are several universities, which are mostly attended by Turkish Cypriot and Turkish students. The largest of these universities is the Eastern Mediterranean University .

Educational institutions

  • Cyprus International Institute for the Environment and Public Health in association with Harvard School of Public Health (taught in English)
  • University of Cyprus
  • Open University of Cyprus
  • Cyprus College (taught in English) situated in Nicosia
  • Intercollege (taught in English) situated in Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca
  • Higher Technological Institute (taught in English and Greek) situated in Nicosia
  • Frederick Intitute of Technology (taught in English + Greek) situated in Nicosia and Limassol

Private secondary schools include:

  • The Falcon School (Nicosia)
  • The American Academy (Nicosia and Limassol)
  • The American International School (Nicosia)
  • The English School Nicosia (Nicosia)
  • GC School of Careers (Nicosia)
  • The Grammar School (Nicosia)
  • PASCAL English School (Nicosia, Larnaka, and Limassol)
  • PASCAL Greek School (Ελληνική Σχολή ΠΑΣΚΑΛ)
  • Foleys Grammar School (Limassol)

Current events

A consequence of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict has been the evacuation of many thousands of refugees to southern Cyprus. Governments including the U.K., U.S, France and Germany are launching independent operations to evacuate their citizens from the area. Canada has leased seven ships from Cyprus in order to facilitate the evacuation of Canadians living or vacationing in Lebanon.

Internal membership



  • Peter Andre (born 1973), singer.
  • Marcos Baghdatis (born 1985), tennis player.
  • Mustafa Halilsoy (born 1949), physicist
  • Michael Cacoyiannis (born 1922), film director known for the movies Stella (1955) and Zorba the Greek (1964).
  • Antony Costa, former member of the boy band Blue whose father is/was a Greek Cypriot.
  • Evridiki, singer.
  • Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (born 1967), owner of easyGroup and self-styled "serial entrepreneur".
  • Costas Harris, (Born 1983), Chess Player, came 29th in World Junior Chess Championships for Cyprus in 1999
  • Mick Karn (born 1958), bassist for the new-wave band Japan.
  • Giannos Kranidiotis (died 1999 in airplane crash), former deputy Minister of State.
  • Dr Fazil Küçük (1906-1984), the first and only Turkish Cypriot Vice President of the 1960 Republic of Cyprus.
  • Archbishop Makarios (1913-1977), first President of the Republic of Cyprus.
  • George Michael (born 1963), singer.
  • Stel Pavlou (born 1970), author and screenwriter.
  • Peter Polycarpou, actor.
  • Anna Vissi (born 1957), singer.
  • Yusuf Islam (previously "Cat" Stevens), singer whose father was a Greek Cypriot.
  • Zeno of Citium (born 333 BC), Hellenistic philosopher, founder of Stoicism; possibly Phoenician.

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