Kypriakí Dhimokratía (Greek)

Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti (Turkish)


Coat of Arms

Motto: None
Anthem: Ymnos pros tin Eleutherian 1
Capital Nicosia (pop. 200,686)
4) 35°08′ N 33°28′ E
Largest city Nicosia
Official languages Greek and Turkish
Tassos Papadopoulos 2
From the UK
16 August 1960
16 August 1960 3
  Water (%)
9,250 4 km² (161st)
  2005 est.
2001 census
780,133 5 (155th)
689,565 6
84/km² (111)
  Per capita
n/a estimate
$ 16,745 (n/a)
$ 20,669 (n/a)
Currency Euro
Time zone
  Summer (DST)
Internet TLD .cy
Calling code +357 7
1. "Ymnos pros tin Eleutherian"

is also used as the national anthem of Greece.

2. The north has a separate president of the TRNC
3. Not recognised by Turkey, which instead recognises

TRNC. TRNC is only recognised by Turkey
4. Of which 5,895 km² is in the south and 3,355 km² in the north
5. Number does not include 323,657 inhabitants in the north
6. Number does not include any TRNC inhabitants
7. +90-392 (a Turkish access number) is used in the north

The Republic of Cyprus (Greek: Κύπρος, Kýpros; Turkish: Kıbrıs) is an island nation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, 113 kilometres (70 miles) south of Turkey and around 120 km west of the Syrian coast.

Name and position

The name Cyprus comes from the Greek word "Κύπρος (Kýpros)" meaning "land of cypress trees". The word for the metal "copper" in the English language (and many other languages) stems from the Latin phrase aes Cyprium , "metal of Cyprus", later shortened to cuprum, "copper". Large deposits of copper are found on the island.

Cyprus is geographically in Western Asia (or the Near East), though politically and culturally it is considered as being in Europe. Historically, Cyprus has always been a bridgehead between Europe and Asia, with interchanging periods of Levantine, Anatolian, Turkish and Greek influences.

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 Republic of Cyprus is the internationally recognised government of the island, and it controls the southern two-thirds of the island. Almost all foreign governments and the United Nations recognise the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island of Cyprus.

Turkish Cypriots, together with Turkey, do not accept the Republic's rule over the whole island and call it the "Greek Authority of Southern Cyprus". They control the northern third of the island, following a military invasion by Turkey in 1974. This happened following a coup sponsored by the military regime of Greece, see: the 1974 crisis between Greece and Turkey.

The Turkish Cypriot area proclaimed its independence in 1975, and the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was established in 1983. This state was 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 title to two 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.

Map of Cyprus showing political divisions and districts

See also:

Cyprus dispute

UN Buffer Zone on Cyprus


Negotiations have been ongoing for years to reunite the island, but have not as yet seen substantial success. A United Nations plan, announced on 31 March 2004 following talks in Switzerland, was put to both sides in separate referenda on 24 April 2004.

On the referendum, the proposed reunification was favoured by the Turkish Cypriots by a majority of 2 to 1, but was overwhelmingly rejected by the Greek Cypriots by a 3 to 1 margin. As a result, while officially the whole of Cyprus entered the European Union on 1 May 2004, the de facto EU border runs along the Green Line, dividing the country between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot parts.

EU law is currently not applied in the Turkish controlled North. The Union has promised to send aid in the form of money and work towards lifting the trade sanctions imposed by the European Court, but they have ruled out diplomatic recognition of northern Cyprus. To date, the self declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized by Turkey and to a degree by Azerbaijan, has yet not received aid or seen an easing of trade sanctions. The international community, to this day, does not recognise the 30 year old Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).


Main article: History of Cyprus

There are but scanty traces of the Stone Age, but the Bronze Age is characterized by a well-developed and clearly marked civilization. The people early learned to work the rich copper mines of the island. The Mycenæan civilization of the West seems to have reached the island around 1600 B.C. The Greek and Phœnician settlements belong to the Iron Age. The island was invaded by Thothmes III of Egypt about 1500 B.C., and was forced to pay tribute. Around 1200 B.C. we observe the massive arrival of the Mycenaean Greeks as permanent settlers to Cyprus, a process that started and lasted for more than a century. This migration is remembered in many sagas rehearsing how some of the Greek heroes that participated in the Trojan war came to settle in Cyprus. The newcomers brought with them their language, their advanced technology and introduced a new outlook for visual arts. Thus from 1220 B.C. Cyprus has remained predominantly Greek in culture, language and population despite various influences resulting from successive conquests. In ancient times Cyprus supplied the rest of the Greeks with timber for their fleets.

In the sixth century B.C., 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 Asia Minor - now Turkey) with whom they forged closer ties. When the Ionian Greeks revolted against Persia (499 BC) the Cypriots except for Amathus, joined in at the instigation of Onesilos, brother of the king of Salamis, whom he dethroned for not wanting to fight for independence. The Persians reacted quickly sending a considerable force against Onesilos. They won despite Ionian help.

After the Persian defeat, the Greeks mounted various expeditions against Cyprus in order to liberate it from the Persian yoke, but all their efforts bore only temporary results. Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) finally liberated the island from the Persians. Later, the Greek rulers of Egypt controlled it, then Rome annexed it in 58-57 BC. No doubt the most important event that occurred in Roman Cyprus is the visit by Apostles Paul and Barnabas having with them 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. In this way Cyprus became the first country in the world to be governed by a Christian ruler.

Cyprus became part of the Byzantine Empire after the partitioning of the Roman Empire in 395 and remained so for almost nine centuries. The Arabs pillaged the island in 646. In 654 the second Arab invasion took place that devastated the island again. Cyprus was finally liberated by Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus Phokas in 965. In 1191 King Richard I of England captured the island on his way to the Holy Land. Guy of Lusignan took possession of the island in 1192. The Republic of Venice took control in 1489, after which the Ottomans took control in 1570. Cyprus was placed under British control on June 4, 1878 as a result of the Cyprus Convention. Famagusta harbor was completed in June, 1906. Cyprus was ceded to United Kingdom in 1913. It gained independent status in 1960.

Map of Cyprus


Main article: Geography of Cyprus

The central plain (Mesaoria) with the Kyrenia/Girne and Pentadactylos/Besparmak 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, Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool, variably rainy winters.

See also:

List of cities in Cyprus, Greek and Turkish names

MODIS Satellite Image of Cyprus [Source]


After independence Cyprus became a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement despite all three guarantor powers (Greece, Turkey and the UK) being NATO members. Cyprus left the Non-Aligned Movement in 2004 to join the EU.

Following the independence of Cyprus from the UK, the Greek Cypriots held three referendums on the issue of whether they wanted to be annexed by Greece. On all three occasions there was a nine to one vote in favour of annexation but Greece has agreed not to merge with Cyrpus under the terms of the independence treaty and Greek Prime Minister Kostantinos Karamanlis did not seek to do so in reponse to the referendum results.

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, and a Turkish Cypriot vice president, Kükük, elected by their respective communities for 5-year terms and each possessing a right of veto over certain types of legislation and executive decisions.

The House of Representatives was elected on the basis of separate voters' rolls. Since 1964, following clashes between the two communities the Turkish seats in the House have been vacant after their unilateral withdrawal from the government and the Greek Cypriot Communal Chamber was abolished. The responsibilities of the chamber were transferred to the newfounded Ministry of Education.

In 1967 a military junta took over the Greek government and enosis went out of favour - even the most fervent Greece-lovers didn't want union with such a repressive regime. On 15 July 1974 the Greek military junta organised a coup which overthrew Makarios and replaced him with a puppet leader.

Turkey responded by invading Cyprus. Instead of claiming its authority as one of the three international guarantor powers of the Republic Cyprus and reinstating the status quo before the coup, Turkey took the northern third of the island forcing 180,000 Greek Cypriots to flee their homes and 55,000 Turkish Cypriots to move from the south to the north.

Subseqently the Turkish Cypriots established their own institutions with a popularly elected president and a Prime Minister responsible to the National Assembly exercising joint executive powers. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared an independent "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC,) contrary to numerous UN SC resolutions calling such an act as illegal and a by-product of a foreign and illegal (Turkish) intervention. In 1985, they adopted a constitution and held elections – an arrangement recognised only by Turkey.

Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided de facto into the Greek-Cypriot controlled southern two-thirds of the island and the Turkish-Cypriot northern one-third. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has continued as the internationally recognised authority; in practice, its power extends only to the Greek Cypriot-controlled areas.

See also:

  • Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
  • Foreign relations of Cyprus
  • List of political parties in Cyprus
  • Military of Cyprus


Main article: Economy of Cyprus

Economic affairs in Cyprus are dominated by the division of the country into the southern (Greek) area controlled by the Cyprus Government and the northern Turkish Cypriot-administered area.

The Greek Cypriot economy is prosperous but highly susceptible to external shocks. Erratic growth rates in the 1990s reflect the economy's vulnerability to swings in tourist arrivals, caused by political instability on the island and fluctuations in economic conditions in Western Europe. Economic policy in the south in the years leading up to 2005 focused on meeting the criteria for admission to the European Union. As in the Turkish sector, water shortage is a growing problem, and several desalination plants are planned.

The Turkish Cypriot economy has about one-fifth the population and one-third the per capita GDP of the south. Because it is recognised only by Turkey, it has had much difficulty arranging foreign financing, and foreign firms have hesitated to invest there. The economy remains heavily dependent on agriculture and government service, which together employ about half of the work force. Moreover, the small, vulnerable economy has suffered because the Turkish lira is legal tender. To compensate for the economy's weakness, Turkey provides direct and indirect aid to tourism, education, industry, etc.


Main article: Demographics of Cyprus

Greek and Turkish Cypriots share many customs but maintain their ethnicity based on religion, language, and close ties with their respective motherlands.

Greek language is predominantly spoken in the south, Turkish language in the north. This delineation of languages is true only in the present period, due to 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 however, Greek (its Cypriot dialect) was spoken by nearly 82% of the population, which was evenly distributed along the entire area of Cyprus, north and south. Similarly, Turkish speakers were evenly distributed. English is widely understood.


Cyprus has a well-developed system of primary and secondary education offering both public and private education with the option of attending either Catholic or traditional Orthodox Private Schools.

The majority of Cypriots receive their higher education at Greek, British, Turkish or US 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.

The Cypriot system follows the Greek system in the south and the Turkish system in the north. A large number of students (after A levels) study abroad, mainly in English speaking countries such as the US, UK, and Australia, but also in other European destinations such as France and Germany. With the opening of Eastern Europe the students also have the opportunity to go to universities in Romania, Hungary etc.

  • University of Cyprus
  • Technical University of Cyprus
  • Cyprus College (taught in English) situated in Nicosia
  • Intercollege (taught in English) situated in Nicosia and Larnaca
  • The Frederick institute (taught in English) situated in Nicosia and Limassol
  • Philips College (taught in English/Greek) situated in Nicosia
  • Americanos College (taught in English/Greek) situated in Nicosia

Also on the Turkish Side:

  • Eastern Mediterranean University (taught in English) in Famagusta
  • Girne American University (taught in English) in Kyrenia
  • Near East University (taught in English) in Nicosia
  • International Cyprus University (taught in English) in Nicosia
  • European University of Lefke (taught in English) in Lefka
  • Middle East Technical University Northern Cyprus Campus (taught in English) in Kalkanli




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  • Brewin, Christopher (2000). European Union and Cyprus. Eothen Press. ISBN 0-906719-24-0.
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Districts of Cyprus

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