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Cyprus ( , transliterated: Kýpros, ; ), officially the Republic of Cyprus ( , Kypriakī́ Dīmokratía, ; ), is a Eurasian island country in the Eastern Mediterranean, south of Turkeymarker and west of Syriamarker and Lebanonmarker. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Seamarker and one of its most popular tourist destinations. A highly developed country, the Republic of Cyprus was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement until it joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

The island has known human activity since around the 10th millennium BC and contains the well-preserved Neolithic village of Choirokoitiamarker, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Tombs of the Kingsmarker. It is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world, and is the site of the earliest known example of feline-human association. At a strategic location in the Middle East, Cyprus has been occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Hittites, Assyrians, Phoeniciansmarker, Egyptians, Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, and Ottomans. It was placed under British administration in 1878 until it was granted independence in 1960, becoming a member of the Commonwealth the following year. In 1974, following 11 years of intercommunal violence and an attempted coup d'état by Greek Cypriot nationalists, Turkey invaded and occupied the northern portion of the island. The Turkish invasion led to the displacement of thousands of Cypriots and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot political entity in the north. This event and its resulting political situation are matters of ongoing dispute.

The Republic of Cyprus has de jure sovereignty over the entire island of Cyprus and its surrounding waters except small portions that are allocated by treaty to the United Kingdommarker as sovereign military bases. The Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts, the area under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, comprising about 59% of the island's area and the Turkish-occupied area in the north, calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprusmarker, covering about 37% of the island's area and recognised only by Turkey.


The name Cyprus has a somewhat uncertain etymology. One suggestion is that it comes from the Greek word for the Mediterranean 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. Georges Dossin, for example, suggests that it has roots in the Sumerian word for copper (zubar) or for bronze (kubar), from the large deposits of copper ore found on the island. Through overseas trade the island has given its name to the Classical Latin word for copper through the phrase aes Cyprium, "metal of Cyprus", later shortened to Cuprum. Cyprus is also known as the Island of Aphrodite, Venus, or Love since according to Phoenician mythology, Astarte, goddess of love and beauty, who was later identified with the Greek goddess Aphrodite, was born on the shores of Paphosmarker.

The standard demonym relating to Cyprus or its people or culture is Cypriot. The terms Cypriote and Cyprian are also, less frequently, used.


Ancient times

The earliest confirmed site of human activity on Cyprus is Aetokremnos, situated on the south coast, indicating that hunter-gatherers were active on the island from around 10,000 BC, with settled village communities dating from 8200 BC. The arrival of the first humans correlates with the extinction of the dwarf hippos and dwarf elephant. Water wells discovered by archaeologists in western Cyprus are believed to be among the oldest in the world, dated at 9,000 to 10,500 years old. Remains of an 8-month-old cat were discovered buried with its human owner at a separate Neolithic site in Cyprus. The grave is estimated to be 9,500 years old, predating ancient Egyptian civilization and pushing back the earliest known feline-human association significantly. The remarkably well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitiamarker is a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating to approximately 6800 BC.

The island was part of the Hittite empire during the late Bronze Age until the arrival of two waves of Greek settlement. The first wave consisted of Mycenaean Greek traders, which started visiting Cyprus around 1400 BC. A major wave of Greek settlement is believed to have taken place following the Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece in the period 1100-1050 BC, with the island's predominantly Greek character dating from this period. Cyprus occupies an important role in Greek mythology being the birthplace of Aphrodite and Adonis, and home to King Cinyras, Teucer and Pygmalion. Beginning in the 8th century BC Phoenician colonies were founded on the south coast of Cyprus, near present day Larnaca and Salamis.

Cyprus was ruled by Assyria for a century starting in 708 BC, before a brief spell under Egyptian rule and eventually Persian rule in 545 BC. Cypriots, led by Onesilos, king of Salamismarker, joined their fellow-Greeks in the Ionian cities during the unsuccessful Ionian Revolt in 499 BC against the Achaemenid Empire. The revolt was suppressed without bloodshed, although Cyprus managed to maintain a high degree of autonomy and remained oriented towards the Greek world. The island was brought under permanent Greek rule by Alexander the Great and the Ptolemies of Egypt following his death. Full Hellenisation took place during the Ptolemaic period, which ended when Cyprus was annexed by the Roman Republic in 58 BC.

Middle Ages

When the Roman Empire was divided into Eastern and Western parts in 395, Cyprus became part of the East Roman, or Byzantine Empire, and would remain part of it until the crusades some 800 years later. Under Byzantine rule, the Greek orientation that had been prominent since antiquity developed the strong Hellenistic-Christian character that continues to be a hallmark of the Greek Cypriot community. Beginning in 649, Cyprus suffered from devastating raids launched from the Levant, which continued from the next 300 years. Many were quick piratical raids, but others were large-scale attacks in which many Cypriots were slaughtered and great wealth carried off or destroyed. No Byzantine churches survive from this period, thousands were killed, and many cities, such as Salamis, were destroyed and never rebuilt. Byzantine rule was restored in 965, when General Nikephoros Phokas (later Emperor) scored decisive victories on land and sea. In 1191, during the Third Crusade, Richard I of England captured the island from Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus He used it as a major supply base that was relatively safe from the Saracens. A year later Richard sold the island to the Templars, who, following a bloody revolt, in turn sold it to Guy of Lusignan.

Following the death in 1473 of James II, the last Lusignan king, the Republic of Venicemarker assumed control of the island, while his Venetian widow, Queen Caterina Cornaro reigned as figurehead. Venice formally annexed Cyprus in 1489, following the abdication of Caterina. Using it as an important commercial hub, the Venetians fortified Nicosiamarker, the current capital city in Cyprus, with its famous Venetian Walls. Throughout Venetian rule, the Ottoman Empire frequently raided Cyprus. In 1539 the Ottomans destroyed Limassolmarker and so fearing the worst, the Venetians also fortified Famagustamarker and Kyreniamarker.

During the almost four centuries of Latin rule, there existed two societies on Cyprus. The first consisted of Frankish nobles and their retinue, as well as Italian merchants and their families. The second, the majority of the population, consisted of Greek Cypriots serfs and laborers. Although a determined effort was made to supplant native traditions and culture, the effort failed.

Ottoman and British rule

In 1570, a full scale Ottoman assault with 60,000 troops brought the island under Ottoman control, despite stiff resistance by the inhabitants of Nicosiamarker and Famagustamarker. 20,000 Nicosians were put to death, and every church, public building, and palace was looted. The previous Latin elite was destroyed and the first significant demographic change since antiquity took place when Ottoman Janissaries were settled on the island. The Ottomans abolished the feudal system previously in place and applied the millet system to Cyprus, under which non-Muslim peoples were governed by their own religious authorities. In a reversal from the days of Latin rule, the head of the Church of Cyprus was invested as leader of the Greek Cypriot population and acted a mediator between Christian Greek Cypriots and the Ottoman authorities. Ottoman rule of Cyprus was at times indifferent, at times oppressive, depending on the temperaments of the sultans and local officials, and during this period the island fell into economic decline. Reaction to Ottoman misrule led to uprisings by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, although none were successful. By 1872, the population of the island had risen to 144,000 comprising 44,000 Muslims and 100,000 Christians. Centuries of neglect by the Turks, the unrelenting poverty of most of the people, and the ever-present tax collectors fueled Greek nationalism, and by 19th century the idea of enosis, or union, with newly independent Greecemarker was firmly rooted among Greek Cypriots.

In the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War , administration, but not sovereignty, of the island was ceded to the British Empire in 1878 in exchange for guarantees that Britain would use the island as a base to protect the Ottoman Empire against possible Russian aggression. The island would serve Britain as a key military base in its colonial routes. By 1906, when the Famagusta harbour was completed, Cyprus was a strategic naval outpost overlooking the Suez Canalmarker, the crucial main route to India which was then Britain's most important colony. Following the outbreak of World War I and the entry of the Ottoman Empire on the side of the Central powers, the United Kingdommarker annexed the island in 1914. In 1915, Britain offered Cyprus to Constantine I of Greece on condition that Greece join the war on the side of the British, which he declined. In 1923, under the Treaty of Lausanne, the nascent Turkish republicmarker relinquished any claim to Cyprus and in 1925 it was declared a British Crown Colony. Many Greek Cypriots fought in the British Army during both World Wars, in the hope that Cyprus would eventually be united with Greecemarker. During World War II many enlisted in the Cyprus Regiment.

In January 1950 the Eastern Orthodox Church organized a referendum, which was boycotted by the Turkish Cypriot community, where over 90% voted in favor of "enosis", meaning union with Greece. Restricted autonomy under a constitution was proposed by the British administration but eventually rejected. In 1955 the EOKA organisation was founded, seeking independence and union with Greece through armed struggle. At the same time the TMT, calling for Taksim, or partition, was established by the Turkish Cypriots as a counterweight. Turmoil on the island was met with force by the British.


On August 16, 1960, Cyprus attained independence after an agreement in Zürich and London between the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey. The UK retained two Sovereign Base Areas in Akrotiri and Dhekeliamarker while government posts and public offices were allocated by ethnic quotas giving the minority Turks a permanent veto, 30% in parliament and administration, and granting the 3 mother-states guarantor rights.

In 1963 inter-communal violence broke out, partially sponsored by both "motherlands" with Turkish Cypriots being forced into enclaves and Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios III calling for unilateral constitutional changes as a means to ease tensions over the whole island. The United Nations was involved and the United Nations forces in Cyprus (UNICYP) deployed at flash points.

In 1964, Turkeymarker attempted to invade Cyprus but was stopped by a strongly worded letter from the American President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 5, 1964

Invasion and occupation

Turkey launched a military invasion on the island in 1974 following the coup d'e'tatengineered by the Greek Junta. The Turkish air force began bombing Greek positions on Cyprus, hundreds of paratroops were dropped in the area between Nicosia and Kyrenia, where well-armed Turkish Cypriot enclaves had been long-established, while off the Kyrenia coast 30 Turkish troop ships protected by destroyers disgorged 6,000 men as well as an array of tanks, trucks, and armored vehicles. Three days later, when a ceasefire had been agreed, Turkey had landed 30,000 troops on the island and captured Kyrenia, the corridor linking Kyrenia to Nicosia and the Turkish-Cypriot quarter of Nicosia. The junta in Athens and then Sampson in Cyprus fell from power. In Nicosia, Glafkos Clerides assumed the presidency and constitutional order was restored; ostensibly removing the pretext the Turks gave for the invasion, though the Turks having come this far were now committed to implementing their long-held plan to partition the island and annex northern Cyprus. The Turks used a period of sham negotiations - during which Turkey enjoyed American moral, intelligence and diplomatic support - to reinforce their Kyrenia bridgehead and prepare for the second phase of the invasion, which began on 14 August and resulted in the seizure of Morphou, Karpasia, Ammochostos and the Mesaoria. Heavily outnumbered, the Greek forces were unable to resist the Turkish advance.

International pressure led to a ceasefire and at that point 37% of the land fell within the Turkish occupation zone, 180,000 Greek Cypriots were evicted from their homes in the north. At the same time around 50,000 Turkish Cypriots moved to the areas under the control of the Turkish Forces and settled in the properties of the displaced Greek Cypriots. In 1983 Turkish Cypriots unilaterally proclaimed independencemarker, which was only recognized by Turkey. As of today, there are 1,534 Greek Cypriots and 502 Turkish Cypriots missing as a result of the fighting. The events of the summer of 1974 dominate the politics on the island, as well as Greco-Turkish relations. Around 150,000 settlers from Turkeymarker are believed to be living in the north in violation of the Geneva Convention and various UN resolutions. Following the invasion and the capture of its northern territory by Turkish troops, the Republic of Cyprus announced that all of its ports of entry in the north are closed, as they are effectively not under its control.

Recent history

Since de facto, though not de jure, partition of the Republic, the north and south have followed separate paths. The Republic of Cyprus is a constitutional democracy that has reached great levels of prosperity, with a booming economy and good infrastructure. It is a member of the UN, the European Union and several other organisations by whom it is recognised as the sole legitimate government of the whole island. The area of the island not under effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, Northern Cyprusmarker, is dependent on help from Turkey. The last major effort to settle the Cyprus dispute was the Annan Plan. It gained the support of the Turkish Cypriots but was rejected by the Greek Cypriots.

In July 2006, the island served as a safe haven for people fleeing Lebanon because of the conflict between Israelmarker and Hezbollah.

In March 2008, a wall that for decades had stood at the boundary between the Greek Cypriot controlled side and the UN buffer zone was demolished. The wall had cut across Ledra Street in the heart of Nicosia and was seen as a strong symbol of the island's 32-year division. On 3 April 2008, Ledra Streetmarker was reopened in the presence of Greek and Turkish Cypriot officials.


Topographic image of Cyprus

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean (after the Italianmarker islands of Sicily and Sardinia) and the world's 81st largest. It measures 240 kilometers latitudinally and 100 km longitudinally, with Turkey 75 km to the north. Other neighbouring territories include Syriamarker and Lebanonmarker to the east (105 km and 108 km, respectively), Israelmarker 200 km to the southeast, Egyptmarker 380 km to the south, and Greecemarker to the west-northwest: 280 km to the small Dodecanesian island of Kastellórizo marker, 400 km to Rhodesmarker, and 800 km to the Greek mainland.

The physical relief of the island is dominated by two mountain ranges, the Troodos Mountainsmarker and the smaller Kyrenia Range, and the central plain they encompass, the Mesaoria. The Troodos Mountains cover most of the southern and western portions of the island and account for roughly half its area. The highest point on Cyprus is Mount Olympusmarker at 1,952 m, located in the center of the Troodos range. The narrow Kyrenia Range, extending along the northern coastline, occupies substantially less area, and elevations are lower, reaching a maximum of 1,024 m.

Geopolitically, the island is subdivided into four main segments. The Republic of Cyprus, the internationally recognized government, occupies the southern two-thirds of the island (59.74%). The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprusmarker occupies the northern third (34.85%) of the island and is recognized only by Turkey, as it consists of the Turkish-occupied areas. The United Nations-controlled Green Line is a buffer zone that separates the two and covers 2.67% of the island. Lastly, two bases under British sovereignty are located on the island: Akrotiri and Dhekeliamarker, covering the remaining 2.74%.


Cyprus is a Presidential republic. The head of state and of the government is the President, who is elected by a process of Universal suffrage for a five-year term. Executive power is exercised by the government with legislative power vested in the House of Representatives whilst the Judiciary is independent of both the executive and the legislature.

The 1960 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, was headed by a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice president elected by their respective communities for five-year terms and each possessing a right of veto over certain types of legislation and executive decisions. Legislative power rested on the House of Representatives, also elected on the basis of separate voters' rolls. Since 1964, following clashes between the two communities, the Turkish Cypriot seats in the House remain vacant. Turkish Cypriots refuse to establish the state of affairs before the invasion of Cyprus in their attempt to de jure partition the Republic of Cyprus. This is evident in the Secretary-General of the United Nations report at the time. The Turkish Cypriot leaders have adhered to a rigid stand against any measures which might involve having members of the two communities live and work together, or which might place Turkish Cypriots in situations where they would have to acknowledge the authority of Government agents. Indeed, since the Turkish Cypriot leadership is committed to physical and geographical separation of the communities as a political goal, it is not likely to encourage activities by Turkish Cypriots which may be interpreted as demonstrating the merits of an alternative policy. The result has been a seemingly deliberate policy of self-segregation by the Turkish Cypriots

In 1974 Cyprus was divided de facto into the Greek Cypriot controlled southern two-thirds of the island and the Turkishmarker controlled northern third. The Turkish Cypriots subsequently declared independence in 1983 as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprusmarker, but were recognized only by Turkeymarker. In 1985, the TRNC adopted a constitution and held its first elections. The United Nations recognizes the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the entire island of Cyprus.

The House of Representatives currently has 59 members elected for a five year term, 56 members by proportional representation and 3 observer members representing the Armenian, Latin and Maronite minorities. 24 seats are allocated to the Turkish community but remain vacant since 1964. The political environment is dominated by the communist AKEL, the liberal conservative Democratic Rally, the centrist Democratic Party, the social-democratic EDEK and the centrist EURO.KO.

On 17 February 2008 Dimitris Christofias of the AKEL was elected President of Cyprus, on AKEL's first electoral victory without being part of a wider coalition. Cyprus is currently one of only two countries in the world to have a democratically elected communist government (the other being Nepalmarker), and the only European Union member state under communist leadership. Christofias took over government from Tassos Papadopoulos of the Democratic Party who had been in office since February 2003.


The Republic of Cyprus is divided into six districts: Nicosiamarker, Famagustamarker, Kyreniamarker, Larnacamarker, Limassolmarker and Paphosmarker.

Map of Cyprus Districts Greek name Turkish name File:Cyprus_districts.jpg|370px|rect 206 189 282 230 Nicosiamarkerrect 284 248 354 275 Larnacamarkerrect 139 280 221 307 Limassolmarkerrect 32 238 97 272 Paphosmarkerrect 179 337 275 360 Akrotirimarkerrect 211 118 289 144 Kyreniamarkerrect 341 158 427 185 Famagustamarkerrect 373 217 429 274 Dhekeliamarker Famagustamarker    Αμμόχωστος (Ammochostos)    Gazimağusa    Kyreniamarker Κερύvεια (Keryneia) Girne Larnacamarker Λάρνακα (Larnaka) Larnaka/İskele Limassolmarker Λεμεσός (Lemesos) Limasol/Leymosun Nicosiamarker Λευκωσία (Lefkosia) Lefkoşa Paphosmarker Πάφος (Pafos/Bafos) Baf/Gazibaf

Exclaves and enclaves

Cyprus has four exclaves, all in territory that belongs to the British Sovereign Base Area of Dhekeliamarker. The first two are the villages of Ormidhiamarker and Xylotymvoumarker. The third is the Dhekelia Power Station, which is divided by a British road into two parts. The northern part is an exclave, like the two villages, whereas the southern part is located by the sea and therefore not an exclave, although it has no territorial waters of its own.The UN buffer zone 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, and in that sense the buffer zone turns the southeast corner of the island, the Paralimnimarker area, into a de facto, though not de jure, exclave.

Pyrgosmarker is a de facto exclave of the government-controlled part of the island. It is the only Greek Cypriot town located on the TRNC-controlled Morphou Baymarker.

Human rights

The constant focus on the division of the island can sometimes mask other human rights issues. Prostitution is rife in both the Greek-controlled and the Turkish-controlled regions, and the Greek south has been criticised for its role in the sex trade as one of the main destinations for human trafficking from Eastern Europe. The regime in the North has been the focus of occasional freedom of speech criticisms regarding heavy-handed treatment of newspaper editors. Domestic violence legislation in the Republic remains largely unimplemented, and it has not yet been passed into law in the North. Reports on the mistreatment of domestic staff, mostly immigrant workers from developing countries, are sometimes reported in the Greek Cypriot press, and are the subject of several campaigns by the anti-racist charity KISA.


The Cypriot National Guard is the main military institution of the Republic of Cyprus in the South. It is an all Greek combined arms force, with land, air and naval elements.

The land forces of the Cypriot National Guard comprise the following units:
  • First Infantry Division (Ιη Μεραρχία ΠΖ)
  • Second Infantry Division (ΙΙα Μεραρχία ΠΖ)
  • Fourth Infantry Brigade (ΙVη Ταξιαρχία ΠΖ)
  • Twentieth Armored Brigade (ΧΧη ΤΘ Ταξιαρχία)
  • Third Support Brigade (ΙΙΙη Ταξιαρχία ΥΠ)
  • Eighth Support Brigade (VIIIη Ταξιαρχία ΥΠ)

The air force includes the 449th Helicopter Gunship Squadron (449 ΜΑΕ) - operating SA-342L and Bell 206 and the 450th Helicopter Gunship Squadron (450 ME/P) - operating Mi-35P, BN-2B and PC-9. Current Senior officers include Supreme Commander, Cypriot National Guard: Lt. Gen. Konstantinos Bisbikas, Deputy Commander, Cypriot National Guard: Lt. Gen. Savvas Argyrou and Chief of Staff, Cypriot National Guard: Maj. Gen. Gregory Stamoulis.


The Cypriot economy is prosperous and has diversified in recent years. According to the latest IMFmarker estimates, its per capita GDP (adjusted for purchasing power) is, at $28,381, just above the average of the European Union. Cyprus has been sought as a base for several offshore businesses for its highly developed infrastructure. Economic policy of the Cyprus government has focused on meeting the criteria for admission to the European Union. Adoption of the euro as a national currency is required of all new countries joining the European Union, and the Cypriot government adopted the currency on 1 January 2008.Oil has recently been discovered in the seabed between Cyprus and Egypt, and talks are underway between Lebanonmarker and Egyptmarker to reach an agreement regarding the exploration of these resources. The seabed separating Lebanon and Cyprus is believed to hold significant quantities of crude oil and natural gas. However, the Turkish Navy doesn't allow the exploration of oil in the region.

The economy of the Turkish-occupied area (effectively a district of the Mersin Provincemarker) 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 economy turned in an impressive performance in 2003 and 2004, with growth rates of 9.6% and 11.4%. The average income in the area was $15,984 in 2008. Economic and Social Indicators 1977-2008, TRNC State Planning Organization. Growth has been buoyed by the relative stability of the Turkish new lira and by a boom in the education and construction sectors.The island has witnessed a massive growth in tourism over the years and as such the property rental market in Cyprus has grown along side. Added to this is the capital growth in property that has been created from the demand of incoming investors and property buyers to the island.


In Cyprus, the euro was introduced in 2008. Three different designs were selected for the Cypriot coins. To commemorate this event, a €5 collector coin was also issued. This coin is a legacy of an old national practice of minting silver and gold commemorative coins. Unlike normal issues, these coins are not legal tender in all of the eurozone; so they cannot be used in any other country but only in Cyprus.


Population distribution of Cyprus
Population growth (numbers for the entire island, excluding in recent years some 150,000 Turkish immigrants residing in Northern Cyprus).
Population structure.
According to the first population census after the declaration of independence, carried out in December 1960 and covering the entire island, Cyprus had a total population of 573,566, with Greek Cypriots comprising 77% of the island's population and Turkish Cypriots 18% (other nationals accounted for the remaining 5%). According to the last census covering the entire island (April 1973), the population of Cyprus was 631,778 with the Turkish Cypriots estimated at 19% of the total (about 120,000).

The subsequent censuses conducted in 1976-2001 after the de facto division of the island covered only the population in the area controlled by the Republic of Cyprus government, and the number of Turkish Cypriots residing in Northern Cyprusmarker was estimated by the Republic of Cyprus Statistical Service on the basis of population growth rates and migration data. In the last census of 2001 carried out by the Republic of Cyprus, the population in the area controlled by the government was 703,529. The number of Turkish Cypriots residing in Northern Cyprus was estimated by the Republic of Cyprus Statistical Service at 87,600, or 11% of the reported total.

The latest available estimates by the Republic of Cyprus Statistical Service put the island’s population at the end of 2006 at 867,600, with 89.8% (778,700) in the government controlled area and 10.2% (88,900) Turkish Cypriots in Northern Cyprus. However, the Republic of Cyprus estimate of Turkish Cypriots does not represent the total population of Northern Cyprus. In addition, the Republic of Cyprus Statistical Service also estimated that 150,000-160,000 Turkish immigrants (described as “illegal settlers” in the Republic of Cyprus Statistical Abstract 2007, footnote on p. 72) were living in Northern Cyprus, bringing the de facto population of Northern Cyprus to about 250,000. This estimate produced by the Republic of Cyprus matches the results of the 2006 population census carried out by the 'government' of Northern Cyprus, which gives 265,100 as the total population of Northern Cyprus. The total population of Cyprus is thus slightly over 1 million, comprising 778,700 in the territory controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus and 265,100 in the territory controlled by the government of TRNC.

Cyprus has seen a large influx of guest workers from countries such as Thailandmarker, the Philippinesmarker, and Sri Lankamarker, as well as major increases in the numbers of permanent Russian, British or other EU residents. Sizeable communities from Russia and Ukrainemarker (mostly Pontic Greeks, immigrating after the fall of the Eastern Bloc), Bulgariamarker, Romaniamarker, and Eastern European states. By the end of 2007, about 124,000 immigrants settled in Cyprus, the three largest groups being 37,000 Greeks, 27,000 Britons, and 10,000 Russians. The island is also home to a Maronite minority of 6,000, an Armenian minority of around 2,000, and refugees mainly from Serbiamarker, Palestine, and Lebanonmarker. There is also a Kurdish minority present in Cyprus.

Outside Cyprus there is a significant and thriving Cypriot diaspora in other countries, within the United States, the United Kingdom, Greece and Australia hosting the majority of migrants who left the island after the de facto division in 1974. Specifically in the United Kingdom it is estimated that there are 150,000 Cypriots.

Pylamarker village in Larnaca Districtmarker is the only settlement in Government controlled territory with a mixed Greek and Turkish Cypriot population.


Y-Dna haplogroups are found at the following frequencies in Cyprus : J (43.07% including 6.20% J1), E1b1b (20.00%), R1 (12.30% including 9.2% R1b), F (9.20%), I (7.70%), K (4.60%), A (3.10%). J, K, F and E1b1b haplogroups consist of lineages with differential distribution within Middle East, North Africa and Europe while R1 and I are typical in West European populations.


Most Greek Cypriots are members of the Greek Orthodox Church, whereas most Turkish Cypriots are Muslim. According to Eurobarometer 2005, Cyprus is one of the most religious countries in the European Union, along with Malta, Romania, Greece, and Poland. Even the first President of Cyprus, Makarios III, was an archbishop. It is also one of only five EU states that have an official state religion (Cypriot Orthodox Church, the other four states being Malta, Greece, Denmark, and United Kingdom (Church of England)). In addition to the Christian Orthodox and Muslim communities, there are also small Bahá'í, Jewish, Protestant (including Pentecostal), Roman Catholic, Maronite (Eastern Rites Catholic) and Armenian Apostolic communities in Cyprus.


Cyprus has a highly developed system of primary and secondary education offering both public and private education. The high quality of instruction can be attributed to a large extent to the above-average competence of the teachers but also to the fact that nearly 7% of the GDP is spent on education which makes Cyprus one of the top three spenders of education in the EU along with Denmark and Sweden. State schools are generally seen as equivalent in quality of education to private-sector institutions. However, the value of a state high-school diploma is limited by the fact that the grades obtained account for only around 25% of the final grade for each topic, with the remaining 75% assigned by the teacher during the semester, in a minimally transparent way. Cypriot universities (like universities in Greece) ignore high school grades almost entirely for admissions purposes. While a high-school diploma is mandatory for university attendance, admissions are decided almost exclusively on the basis of scores at centrally administered university entrance examinations that all university candidates are required to take. The majority of Cypriots receive their higher education at Turkish, Greek, British, other European and North American universities. It is noteworthy that Cyprus currently has the highest percentage of citizens of working age who have higher-level education in the EU at 30% which is ahead of Finland's 29.5%. In addition 47% of its population aged 25–34 have tertiary education, which is the highest in the EU. The body of Cypriot students is highly mobile, with 78.7% studying in a university outside Cyprus.



The art history of Cyprus can be said to stretch back up to 10,000 years, following the discovery of a series of Chalcolithic period carved figures in the villages of Khoirokoitiamarker and Lempamarker, and the island is also the home to numerous examples of high quality religious icon painting from the Middle Ages.

In modern times, however, Cypriot art history begins with the painter Vassilis Vryonides (1883-1958) who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. Arguably the two founding fathers of modern Cypriot art, however, were Adamantios Diamantis (1900-1994), who studied at London's Royal College of Artmarker, and Christopheros Savva (1924-1968), who also studied in London, at St Martins School of Artmarker. In many ways these two artists set the template for subsequent Cypriot art, and both their artistic styles and the patterns of their education remain influential to this day. In particular the majority of Cypriot artists still train in Englandmarker, although art schools in Greecemarker are also popular, and local art institutions, such as the Cyprus College of Art, University of Nicosia and the Frederick Institute of Technology are becoming more popular.

One of the features of Cypriot art is a tendency towards figurative painting, although conceptual art is being rigorously promoted by a number of art institutions, most notably the Nicosia Municipal Art Centre[546]. Municipal art galleries exist in all the main towns, and there is a large and lively commercial art scene. Cyprus was due to host the international art festival Manifesta in 2006, but this was cancelled at the last minute following a dispute between the Dutch organisers of Manifesta and the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture over the location of some of the Manifesta events in the Turkish sector of the capital Nicosiamarker. The ensuing furore over this event resulted in questions in Cyprus as to whether Manifesta was a CIA-backed plot to undermine the Greek Cypriot side in on-going negotiations over the reunification of Cyprus.

Other notable Cypriot artists include Rhea Bailey, Mihail Kkasialos, Ioannis Kissonergis, Theodoulos Gregoriou, Helene Black, George Skoteinos, Kalopedis family, Nicos Nicolaides, Stass Paraskos, Arestís Stasí, Telemachos Kanthos, Konstantia Sofokleous and Chris Achilleos.


The traditional folk music of Cyprus has many common elements with Greek mainland and island folk music, including dances like the sousta, syrtos, zeibekikos, tatsia, and the kartsilamas. The instruments commonly associated with Cyprus folk music are the violin ["fkiolin"], the lute ["laouto"], the accordion, and the Cyprus flute "pithkiavlin". There is also a form of musical poetry known as "chattista", which is often performed at traditional feasts and celebrations. Composers associated with traditional music in Cyprus include Evagoras Karageorgis, Marios Tokas, Solon Michaelides, Savvas Salides. Pop music in Cyprus is generally influenced by the Greek pop music "Laïka" scene, with several artists such as Anna Vissi and Evridiki earning widespread popularity. Cypriot rock and "Éntekhno" rock music is often associated with artists such as Michalis Hatzigiannis and Alkinoos Ioannidis. Metal also has a following in Cyprus, represented by bands such as Armageddon Rev. 16:16, Winter's Verge, RUST, Blynd and Quadraphonic.


Literary production of the antiquity includes the Cypria, an epic poem probably composed in the later seventh century BC and attributed to Stasinus. The Cypria is one of the very first specimens of Greek and European poetry. The Cypriot Zeno of Citium was the founder of the Stoic philosophy. Epic poetry, notably the "acritic songs", flourished during Middle Ages. Two chronicles, one written by Leontios Machairas and the other by Voustronios, refer to the period under French domination (15th century). Poèmes d'amour written in medieval Greek Cypriot date back from 16th century. Some of them are actual translations of poems written by Petrarch, Bembo, Ariosto and G. Sannazzaro. Modern literary figures from Cyprus include the poet and writer Kostas Montis, poet Kyriakos Charalambides, poet Michalis Pasardis, writer Nicos Nicolaides, Stylianos Atteshlis, Altheides and also Demetris Th. Gotsis. Dimitris Lipertis and Vasilis Michaelides are folk poets who wrote poems mainly in the Cypriot-Greek dialect. Lawrence Durrell lived on Cyprus for a time, and wrote the book Bitter Lemons concerning his time there, which book in 1957 won the second Duff Cooper Prize. The majority of the play Othello by William Shakespeare is set on the island of Cyprus. Cyprus also figures in religious literature, most notably in Acts of the Apostles, according to which the Apostles Barnabas and Paul preached on the island.


Halloumi or Hellim cheese originated in Cyprus and was initially made during the Medieval Byzantine period, subsequently gaining popularity throughout the Middle-East. Halloumi is commonly served sliced, either fresh or grilled, as an appetiser.

Seafood and fish dishes of Cyprus include squid, octopus, red mullet, and sea bass. Cucumber and tomato are used widely in salads. Common vegetable preparations include potatoes in olive oil and parsley, pickled cauliflower and beets, asparagus and kolokassi. Other traditional delicacies of the island are meat marinated in dried coriander, seeds and wine, and eventually dried and smoked, such as lountza (smoked pork loin), charcoal-grilled lamb, souvlaki (pork and chicken cooked over charcoal), and sheftalia / seftali (minced meat wrapped in mesentery). Pourgouri (bulgur, cracked wheat) is the traditional carbohydrate other than bread.

Fresh vegetables and fruits are common ingredients in Cypriot cuisine. Frequently used vegetables include courgettes, green peppers, okra, green beans, artichokes, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and grape leaves, and pulses such as beans, broad beans, peas, black-eyed beans, chick-peas and lentils. The commonest among fruits and nuts are pears, apples, grapes, oranges, mandarines, nectarines, mespila, blackberries, cherry, strawberries, figs, watermelon, melon, avocado, lemon, pistachio, almond, chestnut, walnut, hazelnut.


Governing bodies of sport in Cyprus include the Cyprus Automobile Association, Cyprus Badminton Federation, Cyprus Basketball Federation, Cyprus Cricket Association, Cyprus Football Association, Cyprus Rugby Federation and the Cyprus Volleyball Federation. Marcos Baghdatis is one of the most successful tennis players in international stage. He was a finalist at the Australian Open in 2006, and reached the Wimbledonmarker semi-final in the same year. Also Kyriakos Ioannou a Cypriot high jumper born in Limassol achieved a jump of 2.35 m at the 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics held in Osaka, Japan, in 2007 winning the bronze medal.

Football is by far the most popular spectator sport. Notable teams include AEL Limassol, APOLLON FC, Anorthosis Famagusta FC, AC Omonia, Apollon Ladies, Olympiakos Nicosia , Nea Salamina Famagusta, AEK Larnaca and APOEL Nicosia FC. Stadiums or sports venues in Cyprus include the GSP Stadiummarker (the largest in Cyprus), Makario Stadiummarker, Neo GSZ Stadiummarker, Antonis Papadopoulos Stadiummarker, Ammochostos Stadiummarker and Tsirion Stadiummarker. The Cyprus Rally is also on the World Rally Championship sporting calendar.


Newspapers include the Phileleftheros, Politis , Simerini, Cyprus Mail, the Cyprus Observer, Famagusta Gazette, Cyprus Today, Cyprus Weekly, Financial Mirror, Haravgi, Makhi and Kathimerini (in a special Cypriot edition). TV channels include ANT1 Cyprus, Alfa TV, CNC Plus TV, Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, Lumiere TV, Middle East Television, Mega Channel Cyprus and Sigma TV.



Main roads of Cyprus
A1 Highway - Limassol

The Cyprus Government Railway ceased operation on the 31st December 1951, the remaining modes of transport are by road, sea, and air. Of the of roads in the Greek Cypriot area as of 1998, were paved, and were unpaved. As of 1996 the Turkish Cypriot area had a similar ratio of paved to unpaved, with approximately of paved road and unpaved. Cyprus is one of only four EU nations in which vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road, a remnant of British colonisation, the others being Ireland, Malta and the United Kingdom.


Number of licensed vehicles
Vehicle Category 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Private vehicles 270,348 277,554 291,645 324,212 344,953
Taxis 1,641 1,559 1,696 1,770 1,845
Rental cars 8,080 8,509 9,160 9,652 8,336
Buses 3,003 2,997 3,275 3,199 3,217
Light trucks (lighter than 40 tonnes) 107,060 106,610 107,527 105,017 105,327
Heavy trucks (over 40 tonnes) 10,882 11,182 12,119 12,808 13,028
Motorcycles (2 wheels) 12,956 14,983 16,009 16,802 16,836
Motorcycles (3 wheels) 42 41 43 55 558
Scooters 28,987 25,252 25,464 24,539 22,987
TOTAL 442,999 448,687 466,938 498,054 517,087

In 1999, Cyprus had six heliports and two international airports: Larnaca International Airportmarker and Paphos International Airportmarker. Nicosia International Airportmarker has been closed since 1974 and although Ercan airport was still in use it was only for flights from Turkey. Since 2006 Ercan International Airportmarker has been mentioned in talks between Britain, United States and the EU for direct flights, with the EU sanctioning the opening, however International flights direct are still unavailable.

Public transport in Cyprus is limited to privately run bus services (except in Nicosiamarker), taxis, and 'shared' taxi services (referred to locally as service taxis). Per capita private car ownership is the 5th highest in the world. In 2006 extensive plans were announced to improve and expand bus services and restructure public transport throughout Cyprus, with the financial backing of the European Union Development Bank. The main harbours of the island are Limassol harbour and Larnacamarker harbour, which service cargo, passenger, and cruise ships.


Cyta, the state-owned telecommunications company, manages most Telecommunications and Internet connections on the island. However, following the recent liberalisation of the sector, a few private telecommunications companies have emerged including MTN, Cablenet, TelePassport, OTEnet Telecom and PrimeTel.

International membership

The island nation Cyprus is member of: Australia Group,CN, CE, CFSP, EBRD, EIB, EU, FAO, IAEAmarker, IBRD, ICAOmarker, ICC, ICCt, ITUC, IDA, IFAD, IFCmarker, IHO,ILO, IMFmarker, IMO, Interpolmarker, IOCmarker, IOM, IPU, ITU, MIGA, NAM, NSG, OPCWmarker, OSCE, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCOmarker, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPUmarker, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO.

International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
State of World Liberty Project State of World Liberty Index 9 out of 159
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 2006

Human Development Index 2004

Human Development Index 2000
29 out of 177

29 out of 177

29 out of 177
The Economist Worldwide Quality-of-life Index, 2005 23 out of 111
University of Leicestermarker Satisfaction with Life Index 49 out of 178
Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom 20 out of 157
Reporters Without Borders Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006

Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2005
30 out of 168

25(tied) out of 168
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2006

Corruption Perceptions Index 2005

Corruption Perceptions Index 2004
37 out of 163

37 out of 158

36 out of 145
World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 46 out of 125
International Monetary Fundmarker GDP per capita 31 out of 180
Yale Universitymarker/Columbia University Environmental Sustainability Index 2005 not ranked
Nationmaster Labor strikes not ranked
A.T. Kearney / Foreign Policy Globalisation Index 2006

Globalisation Index 2005

Globalisation Index 2004

not ranked

See also


  1. Fouskas, V. 2002. Eurasian gambles over Cyprus' European prospects. Turkish Yearbook of International Relations (ISSN: 0544-1943): Vol. 33, pp. 183-207; on p. 186: "[In analysing Cyprus within a wider geopolitical context, t]he requirement is to decipher the parameters and the linkages of the balance of power in the Eurasian region, and in its Near Eastern subregion, to which Cyprus belongs."
  2. Cyprus is approximate to Anatolia (which comprises the bulk of Turkey) but it may be considered to be in Asia and/or Europe, which together constitute Eurasia.[1] The UN classification of world regions places Cyprus in Western Asia; [2] National Geographic also places Cyprus in Asia. Conversely, numerous sources place Cyprus in Europe such as the BBC [3] and; it is also a member of the European Union. Additionally, sources may place Cyprus in the Middle East, e.g., the CIA World Factbook.[4]
  3. Invest in Cyprus website - figures do not include tourism to the occupied North [5]
  4. Background Information: Member States and Other Participants, Non-Aligned Movement
  5. International Position of Cyprus, Cyprus Net
  6. Wade, Nicholas, " Study Traces Cat's Ancestry to Middle East", The New York Times, June 29, 2007
  7. Cyprus, CIA World Factbook ; CIA Atlas of the Middle East (1993) ( online edition)
  8. Middle East Region, Xpeditions Altas, National Geographic
  9. Middle East (region, Asia), Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  10. Middle East Map, MSN Encarta
  11. Cyprus date of independence (click on Historical review)
  12. Fisher, Fred H. Cyprus: Our New Colony And What We Know About It. London: George Routledge and Sons 1878, pp. 13-14.
  13. Les îles des Princes, banlieue maritime d'Istanboul: guide touristique - Page 136 by Ernest Mamboury
  14. Mithen, S. After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20000 BC - 5000 BC. Boston: Harvard University Press 2005, p.97. [6]
  15. The earliest prehistory of Cyprus from colonization to exploitation, ed. Swiny, Stuart, American Schools of Oriental Research, 2001, In PDF
  16. Simmons, A.H. Faunal extinction in an island society: pygmy hippopotamus hunters of Cyprus. New York: Springer 1999, p.15. [7]
  17. Thomas, Carol G. & Conant, C.: The Trojan War, pages 121-122. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005. ISBN 031332526X, 9780313325267.
  18. Thomas, C.G., Conant, D. The Trojan War. Santa Barbara, CA, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group 2005. p.64. [8]
  19. Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Part 1 and Its Kindred Sciences Comprising the Whole Range of Arts … - Page 25
  20. Riddle, J.M. A History of the Middle Ages. Lanham, MD, USA: Rowman & Littlefield 2008. p. 326. [9]
  21. Cyprus - OTTOMAN RULE, U.S. Library of Congress
  22. Cyprus - OTTOMAN RULE, U.S. Library of Congress
  23. Cyprus - OTTOMAN RULE, U.S. Library of Congress
  24. Osmanli Nufusu 1830–1914 by Kemal Karpat, ISBN 975-333-169-X and Die Völker des Osmanischen by Ritter zur Helle von Samo.
  25. Cyprus - OTTOMAN RULE, U.S. Library of Congress
  26. Ledra Street crossing opens in Cyprus. Associated Press article published on International Herald Tribune Website, 3 April 2008
  27. Quotation from March 1999 report submitted by Cyprus in the framework of the Convention for the Protectino of Mational Minorities citing United Nations Secretary General Report S/6426, 10 June 1965
  28. List of countries by future GDP (PPP) per capita estimates
  29. Eric Solsten, ed. Cyprus: A Country Study, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 1991.
  30. Statistical Abstract 2007, Republic of Cyprus, Statistical Service, Report No. 53
  31. (n=65), Population structure in the Mediterranean basin: a Y chromosome perspective, Capelli et al. 2005
  32. Chrysanthos Christou, A short History of Modern and Contemporary Cypriot Art, Nicosia 1983.
  33. Ministry of Education and Culture, State Gallery of Contemporary Cypriot Art (Nicosia: MOEC,1998)
  34. Michael Paraskos, 'The Art of Modern Cyprus', in Sunjet, Spring 2002, 62f
  35. Martin Herbert, 'School's Out' in Freeze, 2 September 2006
  36. Michael Paraskos, 'Was Manifesta a CIA Plot?' in Artcyprus, issue 2, Autumn 2006, 2
  37. "An indication that at least the main contents of the Cypria were known around 650 BCE is provided by the representation of the Judgment of Paris on the Chigi vase" (Burkert 1992:103). On the proto-Corinthian ewer of ca. 640 BCE known as the Chigi "vase", Paris is identified as Alexandros, as he was apparently called in Cypria.
  38. Th. Siapkaras- Pitsillidés, Le Pétrarchisme en Cypre. Poèmes d' amour en dialecte Chypriote d' après un manuscript du XVIe siècle, Athènes 1975 (2ème édition)

Further reading

External links


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