Cyprus was placed under the UK's administration based on the Cyprus Convention
in 1878 and was formally annexed by the UK in 1914. The future of the island became a matter of disagreement between the two prominent ethnic communities, Greek Cypriots
, who made up 77% of the population in 1960, and Turkish Cypriots
, who made up 18% of the population. From the 19th century onwards, the Greek Cypriot population pursued enosis
, union with Greece
, which became a Greek national policy in the 1950s.
The Turkish Cypriot population initially advocated the continuation of the British rule, then demanded the annexation of the island to Turkey, and in the 1950s, together with Turkey, established a policy of taksim
, the partition of Cyprus and the creation of a Turkish polity in the north.
Following nationalist violence in the 1950s
, Cyprus was granted independence
The crisis of 1963–64
brought further intercommunal violence
between the two communities, displaced more than 25,000 Turkish Cypriots into enclaves:56–59
and brought the end of Turkish Cypriot representation in the republic. On 15 July 1974, a coup d'état
was staged by Greek Cypriot nationalists
and elements of the Greek military junta
in an attempt at enosis
. This action precipitated the Turkish invasion of Cyprus
on 20 July,
which led to the capture of the present-day territory of Northern Cyprus and the displacement
of over 150,000 Greek Cypriots
and 50,000 Turkish Cypriots.
A separate Turkish Cypriot state in the north was established by unilateral declaration
in 1983; the move was widely condemned by the international community
, with Turkey alone recognising
the new state. These events and the resulting political situation are matters of a continuing dispute
The Republic of Cyprus has de jure sovereignty
over the entire island, including its territorial waters
and exclusive economic zone
, with the exception of the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia
, which remain under the UK's control according to the London and Zürich Agreements
. However, the Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts: the area under the effective control of the Republic, located in the south and west and comprising about 59% of the island's area, and the north,
administered by the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, covering about 36% of the island's area. Another nearly 4% of the island's area is covered by the UN buffer zone
. The international community considers the northern part of the island to be territory of the Republic of Cyprus occupied by Turkish forces.[h]
The occupation is viewed as illegal under international law and amounting to illegal occupation of EU territory since Cyprus became a member of the European Union
A copper mine in Cyprus. In antiquity, Cyprus was a major source of copper.
The earliest attested reference to Cyprus
is the 15th century BC Mycenaean Greek
meaning "Cypriot" (Greek: Κύπριος), written in Linear B
The classical Greek form of the name is Κύπρος (Kýpros
The etymology of the name is unknown. Suggestions include:
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
The standard demonym
relating to Cyprus or its people or culture is Cypriot
. The terms Cypriote
(later a personal name
) are also used, though less frequently.
The state's official name in Greek literally translates to "Cypriot Republic" in English, but this translation is not used officially; "Republic of Cyprus" is used instead.
Archeologic site of Khirokitia with early remains of human habitation during Aceramic Neolithic period (reconstruction)
Prehistoric and Ancient Cyprus
During the late Bronze Age the island experienced two waves of Greek settlement.
The first wave consisted of Mycenaean Greek
traders who 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 from 1100 to 1050 BC, with the island's predominantly Greek character dating from this period.
The first recorded name of a Cypriote king is "Kushmeshusha" as appears on letters sent to Ugarit in the 13th c. BCE.
Cyprus occupies an important role in Greek mythology
being the birthplace of Aphrodite
, and home to King Cinyras
Literary evidence suggests an early Phoenician presence at Kition
which was under Tyrian
rule at the beginning of the 10th century BC.
merchants who were believed to come from Tyre colonised
the area and expanded the political influence of Kition. After c. 850 BC the sanctuaries [at the Kathari site] were rebuilt and reused by the Phoenicians."
Zeus Keraunios, 500–480 BC, Nicosia museum
Cyprus is at a strategic location in the Middle East.
It 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.
The Cypriots, led by Onesilus
, king of Salamis, joined their fellow Greeks in the Ionian
cities during the unsuccessful Ionian Revolt
in 499 BC against the Achaemenid Empire
. The revolt was suppressed, but Cyprus managed to maintain a high degree of autonomy and remained inclined towards the Greek world.
The Walls of Nicosia
were built by the Venetians to defend the city in case of an Ottoman attack
was originally built by the Byzantines and enlarged by the Venetians
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 so 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 endured several attacks launched by raiders from the Levant
, which continued for 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.
There are no Byzantine churches which survive from this period; thousands of people were killed, and many cities – such as Salamis
– were destroyed and never rebuilt.
Byzantine rule was restored in 965, when Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas
scored decisive victories on land and sea.
Although the Lusignan French aristocracy remained the dominant social class in Cyprus throughout the medieval period, the former assumption that Greeks were treated only as serfs on the island
is no longer considered by academics to be accurate. It is now accepted that the medieval period saw increasing numbers of Greek Cypriots elevated to the upper classes, a growing Greek middle ranks
and the Lusignan royal household even marrying Greeks. This included King John II of Cyprus
who married Helena Palaiologina
Cyprus under the Ottoman Empire
In 1570, a full-scale Ottoman assault with 60,000 troops brought the island under Ottoman control, despite stiff resistance by the inhabitants of Nicosia and Famagusta. Ottoman forces capturing Cyprus massacred
many Greek and Armenian Christian inhabitants.
The previous Latin elite were destroyed and the first significant demographic change since antiquity took place with the formation of a Muslim community.
Soldiers who fought in the conquest settled on the island and Turkish peasants and craftsmen were brought to the island from Anatolia
This new community also included banished Anatolian tribes, "undesirable" persons and members of various "troublesome" Muslim sects, as well as a number of new converts 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 as mediator between Christian Greek Cypriots and the Ottoman authorities. This status ensured that the Church of Cyprus was in a position to end the constant encroachments of the Roman Catholic Church.
Ottoman rule of Cyprus was at times indifferent, at times oppressive, depending on the temperaments of the sultans and local officials, and the island began over 250 years of economic decline.
The ratio of Muslims to Christians fluctuated throughout the period of Ottoman domination. In 1777–78, 47,000 Muslims constituted a majority over the island's 37,000 Christians.
By 1872, the population of the island had risen to 144,000, comprising 44,000 Muslims and 100,000 Christians.
The Muslim population included numerous crypto-Christians
including the Linobambaki
, a crypto-Catholic community that arose due to religious persecution of the Catholic community by the Ottoman authorities;
this community would assimilate into the Turkish Cypriot community during British rule.
As soon as the Greek War of Independence
broke out in 1821, several Greek Cypriots left for Greece to join the Greek forces. In response, the Ottoman governor of Cyprus arrested and executed 486 prominent Greek Cypriots, including the Archbishop of Cyprus, Kyprianos
, and four other bishops.
In 1828, modern Greece's first president Ioannis Kapodistrias
called for union of Cyprus with Greece, and numerous minor uprisings took place.
Reaction to Ottoman misrule led to uprisings by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, although none were successful. After centuries of neglect by the Ottoman Empire, the poverty of most of the people and the ever-present tax collectors fuelled Greek nationalism, and by the 20th century idea of enosis
, or union, with newly independent Greece was firmly rooted among Greek Cypriots.
Under the Ottoman rule, numeracy, school enrolment and literacy rates were all low. They persisted sometime after Ottoman rule ended and then increased rapidly during the twentieth century.
Cyprus under the British Empire
Hoisting the British flag at Nicosia
The island would serve Britain as a key military base for its colonial routes. By 1906, when the Famagusta harbour was completed, Cyprus was a strategic naval outpost overlooking the Suez Canal
, the crucial main route to India which was then Britain's most important overseas possession. Following the outbreak of the First World War
and the decision of the Ottoman Empire to join the war on the side of the Central Powers
, on 5 November 1914 the British Empire formally annexed Cyprus and declared the Ottoman Khedivate
of Egypt and Sudan
a Sultanate and British protectorate
The Greek Cypriot population, meanwhile, had become hopeful that the British administration would lead to enosis
. The idea of enosis
was historically part of the Megali Idea
, a greater political ambition of a Greek state encompassing the territories with Greek inhabitants in the former Ottoman Empire, including Cyprus and Asia Minor
with a capital in Constantinople
, and was actively pursued by the Cypriot Orthodox Church
, which had its members educated in Greece. These religious officials, together with Greek military officers and professionals, some of whom still pursued the Megali Idea
, would later found the guerrilla organisation Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston or
National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA
The Greek Cypriots viewed the island as historically Greek and believed that union with Greece was a natural right.
In the 1950s, the pursuit of enosis
became a part of the Greek national policy.
Βritish soldier taking aim at Greek Cypriot demonstrators in Nicosia, 1956
Initially, the Turkish Cypriots favoured the continuation of the British rule.
However, they were alarmed by the Greek Cypriot calls for enosis
as they saw the union of Crete
with Greece, which led to the exodus of Cretan Turks
, as a precedent to be avoided,
and they took a pro-partition stance in response to the militant activity of EOKA.
The Turkish Cypriots also viewed themselves as a distinct ethnic group of the island and believed in their having a separate right to self-determination
from Greek Cypriots.
Meanwhile, in the 1950s, Turkish leader Menderes
considered Cyprus an "extension of Anatolia", rejected the partition of Cyprus along ethnic lines and favoured the annexation of the whole island to Turkey. Nationalistic slogans centred on the idea that "Cyprus is Turkish" and the ruling party declared Cyprus to be a part of the Turkish homeland that was vital to its security. Upon realising the fact that the Turkish Cypriot population was only 20% of the islanders made annexation unfeasible, the national policy was changed to favour partition. The slogan "Partition or Death" was frequently used in Turkish Cypriot and Turkish protests starting in the late 1950s and continuing throughout the 1960s. Although after the Zürich and London conferences Turkey seemed to accept the existence of the Cypriot state and to distance itself from its policy of favouring the partition of the island, the goal of the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot leaders remained that of creating an independent Turkish state in the northern part of the island.
In January 1950, the Church of Cyprus organised a referendum
under the supervision of clerics and with no Turkish Cypriot participation,
where 96% of the participating Greek Cypriots voted in favour of enosis
The Greeks were 80.2% of the total island' s population at the time (census 1946
). Restricted autonomy under a constitution was proposed by the British administration but eventually rejected. In 1955 the EOKA organisation was founded, seeking union with Greece through armed struggle. At the same time the Turkish Resistance Organisation
(TMT), calling for Taksim, or partition, was established by the Turkish Cypriots as a counterweight.
British officials also tolerated the creation of the Turkish underground organisation T.M.T. The Secretary of State for the Colonies in a letter dated 15 July 1958 had advised the Governor of Cyprus not to act against T.M.T despite its illegal actions so as not to harm British relations with the Turkish government.
Independence and inter-communal violence
Ethnic map of Cyprus according to the 1960 census.
On 16 August 1960, Cyprus attained independence after the Zürich and London Agreement
between the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey. Cyprus had a total population of 573,566; of whom 442,138 (77.1%) were Greeks, 104,320 (18.2%) Turks, and 27,108 (4.7%) others.
The UK retained the two Sovereign Base Areas
of Akrotiri and Dhekelia
, while government posts and public offices were allocated by ethnic quotas, giving the minority Turkish Cypriots a permanent veto, 30% in parliament and administration, and granting the three mother-states guarantor rights.
However, the division of power as foreseen by the constitution soon resulted in legal impasses and discontent on both sides, and nationalist militants started training again, with the military support of Greece and Turkey respectively. The Greek Cypriot leadership believed that the rights given to Turkish Cypriots under the 1960 constitution were too extensive and designed the Akritas plan
, which was aimed at reforming the constitution in favour of Greek Cypriots, persuading the international community about the correctness of the changes and violently subjugating Turkish Cypriots in a few days should they not accept the plan.
Tensions were heightened when Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios III
called for constitutional changes
, which were rejected by Turkey:17–20
and opposed by Turkish Cypriots.
Intercommunal violence erupted
on 21 December 1963, when two Turkish Cypriots were killed at an incident involving the Greek Cypriot police. The violence resulted in the death of 364 Turkish and 174 Greek Cypriots,
destruction of 109 Turkish Cypriot or mixed villages and displacement of 25,000–30,000 Turkish Cypriots. The crisis resulted in the end of the Turkish Cypriot involvement in the administration and their claiming that it had lost its legitimacy;:56–59
the nature of this event is still controversial. In some areas, Greek Cypriots prevented Turkish Cypriots from travelling and entering government buildings, while some Turkish Cypriots willingly withdrew due to the calls of the Turkish Cypriot administration.
Turkish Cypriots started living in enclaves
. The republic's structure was changed, unilaterally, by Makarios, and Nicosia was divided by the Green Line
, with the deployment of UNFICYP
In 1964, Turkey threatened to invade Cyprus
in response to the continuing Cypriot intercommunal violence
, but this was stopped by a strongly worded telegram from the US President Lyndon B. Johnson
on 5 June, warning that the US would not stand beside Turkey in case of a consequential Soviet invasion of Turkish territory.
Meanwhile, by 1964, enosis
was a Greek policy that could not be abandoned; Makarios and the Greek prime minister Georgios Papandreou
agreed that enosis
should be the ultimate aim and King Constantine
wished Cyprus "a speedy union with the mother country". Greece dispatched 10,000 troops to Cyprus to counter a possible Turkish invasion.
1974 coup, Turkish invasion, and division Varosha (Maraş)
, a suburb of Famagusta, was abandoned when its inhabitants fled in 1974 and remains under Turkish military control
The Turkish air force began bombing Greek positions in Cyprus, and hundreds of paratroopers
were dropped in the area between Nicosia and Kyrenia, where well-armed Turkish Cypriot enclaves had been long-established; while off the Kyrenia coast, Turkish troop ships landed 6,000 men as well as tanks, trucks and armoured 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 itself.
The junta in Athens
, and then the Sampson regime in Cyprus fell from power. In Nicosia, Glafkos Clerides
temporarily assumed the presidency.
But after the peace negotiations in Geneva
, the Turkish government reinforced their Kyrenia bridgehead and started a second invasion on 14 August.
The invasion resulted in Morphou
, Famagusta and the Mesaoria
coming under Turkish control.
International pressure led to a ceasefire, and by then 36% of the island had been taken over by the Turks and 180,000 Greek Cypriots had been evicted from their homes in the north.
At the same time, around 50,000 Turkish Cypriots were displaced to the north and settled in the properties of the displaced Greek Cypriots. Among a variety of sanctions against Turkey, in mid-1975 the US Congress imposed an arms embargo on Turkey for using US-supplied equipment during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus
There were 1,534 Greek Cypriots
and 502 Turkish Cypriots
missing as a result of the fighting from 1963 to 1974.
A map showing the division of Cyprus
After the restoration of constitutional order and the return of Archbishop Makarios III
to Cyprus in December 1974, Turkish troops remained, occupying the northeastern portion of the island. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriot parliament
, led by the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktaş
the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is recognised only by Turkey.
The events of the summer of 1974 dominate the politics
on the island, as well as Greco-Turkish relations
. Turkish settlers
have been settled in the north with the encouragement of the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot states. The Republic of Cyprus considers their presence a violation of the Geneva Convention
whilst many Turkish settlers have since severed their ties to Turkey and their second generation considers Cyprus to be their homeland.
Foreign Ministers of the European Union countries in Limassol during Cyprus Presidency of the EU in 2012
The Turkish invasion, the ensuing occupation and the declaration of independence by the TRNC have been condemned by United Nations resolutions, which are reaffirmed by the Security Council every year.
Attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute have continued. In 2004, the Annan Plan
, drafted by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan
. The plan was put to a referendum
in both Northern Cyprus and the Cypriot Republic. 65% of Turkish Cypriots voted in support of the plan and 74% Greek Cypriots voted against the plan, claiming that it disproportionately favoured the Turkish side.
In total, 66.7% of the voters rejected the Annan Plan
On 1 May 2004 Cyprus joined the European Union
, together with nine other countries.
Cyprus was accepted into the EU as a whole, although the EU legislation is suspended in Northern Cyprus until a final settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Efforts have been made to enhance freedom of movement between the two sides. In April 2003, Northern Cyprus unilaterally eased border restrictions, permitting Cypriots to cross between the two sides for the first time in 30 years.
In March 2008, a wall that had stood for decades at the boundary between the Republic of Cyprus and the UN buffer zone
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 Street was reopened in the presence of Greek and Turkish Cypriot officials.
North and South relaunched reunification talks in 2015,
but these collapsed in 2017.
The European Union
issued a warning in February 2019 that Cyprus, an EU member, was selling EU passports
to Russian oligarchs, saying it would allow organised crime
syndicates to infiltrate the EU.
In 2020 leaked documents revealed a wider range of former and current officials from Afghanistan, China, Dubai, Lebanon, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Vietnam who bought a Cypriot citizenship prior to a change of the law in July 2019.
Cyprus and Turkey have been engaged in a dispute
over the extent of their exclusive economic zones
, ostensibly sparked by oil and gas exploration in the area.
Other neighbouring territories include Syria and Lebanon to the east (105 and 108 kilometres (65 and 67 mi), respectively), Israel 200 kilometres (124 mi) to the southeast, Egypt 380 kilometres (236 mi) to the south, and Greece to the northwest: 280 kilometres (174 mi) to the small Dodecanesian
island of Kastellorizo
(Megisti), 400 kilometres (249 mi) to Rhodes
and 800 kilometres (497 mi) to the Greek mainland. Sources alternatively place Cyprus in Europe,
or Western Asia and the Middle East.
The physical relief of the island is dominated by two mountain ranges, the Troodos Mountains
and the smaller Kyrenia Range
, and the central plain they encompass, the Mesaoria
. The Mesaoria plain is drained by the Pedieos River
, the longest on the island. 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 Olympus
at 1,952 m (6,404 ft), located in the centre 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 (3,360 ft). The island lies within the Anatolian Plate
, the island is subdivided into four main segments. The Republic of Cyprus occupies the southern two-thirds of the island (59.74%). The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus occupies the northern third (34.85%), and the United Nations-controlled Green Line
provides 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 Dhekelia
, covering the remaining 2.74%.
Cyprus has one of the warmest climates in the Mediterranean part of the European Union.
The average annual temperature on the coast is around 24 °C (75 °F) during the day and 14 °C (57 °F) at night. Generally, summers last about eight months, beginning in April with average temperatures of 21–23 °C (70–73 °F) during the day and 11–13 °C (52–55 °F) at night, and ending in November with average temperatures of 22–23 °C (72–73 °F) during the day and 12–14 °C (54–57 °F) at night, although in the remaining four months temperatures sometimes exceed 20 °C (68 °F).
Among all cities in the Mediterranean part of the European Union, Limassol has one of the warmest winters, in the period January – February average temperature is 17–18 °C (63–64 °F) during the day and 7–8 °C (45–46 °F) at night, in other coastal locations in Cyprus is generally 16–17 °C (61–63 °F) during the day and 6–8 °C (43–46 °F) at night. During March, Limassol has average temperatures of 19–20 °C (66–68 °F) during the day and 9–11 °C (48–52 °F) at night, in other coastal locations in Cyprus is generally 17–19 °C (63–66 °F) during the day and 8–10 °C (46–50 °F) at night.
The middle of summer is hot – in July and August on the coast the average temperature is usually around 33 °C (91 °F) during the day and around 22 °C (72 °F) at night (inland, in the highlands average temperature exceeds 35 °C (95 °F)) while in the June and September on the coast the average temperature is usually around 30 °C (86 °F) during the day and around 20 °C (68 °F) at night in Limassol, while is usually around 28 °C (82 °F) during the day and around 18 °C (64 °F) at night in Paphos. Large fluctuations in temperature are rare. Inland temperatures are more extreme, with colder winters and hotter summers compared with the coast of the island.
Average annual temperature of sea is 21–22 °C (70–72 °F), from 17 °C (63 °F) in February to 27–28 °C (81–82 °F) in August (depending on the location). In total 7 months – from May to November – the average sea temperature exceeds 20 °C (68 °F).
Sunshine hours on the coast are around 3,200 per year, from an average of 5–6 hours of sunshine per day in December to an average of 12–13 hours in July.
This is about double that of cities in the northern half of Europe; for comparison, London receives about 1,540 per year.
In December, London receives about 50 hours of sunshine
while coastal locations in Cyprus about 180 hours (almost as much as in May in London).
Cyprus suffers from a chronic shortage of water. The country relies heavily on rain to provide household water, but in the past 30 years average yearly precipitation has decreased.
Between 2001 and 2004, exceptionally heavy annual rainfall pushed water reserves up, with supply exceeding demand, allowing total storage in the island's reservoirs to rise to an all-time high by the start of 2005. However, since then demand has increased annually – a result of local population growth, foreigners moving to Cyprus and the number of visiting tourists – while supply has fallen as a result of more frequent droughts.
Dams remain the principal source of water both for domestic and agricultural use; Cyprus has a total of 107 dams (plus one currently under construction) and reservoirs, with a total water storage capacity of about 330,000,000 m3
plants are gradually being constructed to deal with recent years of prolonged drought. The Government has invested heavily in the creation of water desalination plants which have supplied almost 50 per cent of domestic water since 2001. Efforts have also been made to raise public awareness of the situation and to encourage domestic water users to take more responsibility for the conservation of this increasingly scarce commodity.
Turkey has built a water pipeline under the Mediterranean Sea from Anamur
on its southern coast to the northern coast of Cyprus, to supply Northern Cyprus with potable and irrigation water (see Northern Cyprus Water Supply Project)
Cyprus is a presidential republic
. The head of state and of the government 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 led 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 who were also elected on the basis of separate voters' rolls.
Since 1965, following clashes between the two communities, the Turkish Cypriot
seats in the House remain vacant. In 1974 Cyprus was divided de facto when the Turkish army occupied the northern third of the island. The Turkish Cypriots subsequently declared independence in 1983 as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus but were recognised only by Turkey. In 1985 the TRNC adopted a constitution and held its first elections. The United Nations recognises the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the entire island of Cyprus.
Exclaves and enclaves
The UN buffer zone
runs up against Dhekelia and picks up again from its east side off Ayios Nikolaos
and is connected to the rest of Dhekelia by a thin land corridor. In that sense the buffer zone turns the Paralimni
area on the southeast corner of the island into a de facto, though not de jure
The Republic of Cyprus is a member of the following international groups: Australia Group
, EU, FAO
, UN, UNCTAD
The Cypriot National Guard is the main military institution of the Republic of Cyprus. It is a combined arms
force, with land, air and naval elements. Historically all men were required to spend 24 months serving in the National Guard after their 17th birthday, but in 2016 this period of compulsory service was reduced to 14 months.
Annually, approximately 10,000 persons are trained in recruit centres. Depending on their awarded speciality the conscript recruits are then transferred to speciality training camps or to operational units.
While until 2016 the armed forces were mainly conscript based, since then a large Professional Enlisted institution has been adopted (ΣΥΟΠ), which combined with the reduction of conscript service produces an approximate 3:1 ratio between conscript and professional enlisted.
Law, justice and human rights
Supreme Court of Justice
The Cyprus Police
(Greek: Αστυνομία Κύπρου, Turkish
: Kıbrıs Polisi
) is the only National Police Service of the Republic of Cyprus and is under the Ministry of Justice and Public Order since 1993.
In "Freedom in the World 2011", Freedom House rated Cyprus as "free".
In January 2011, the Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
on the question of Human Rights in Cyprus noted that the ongoing division of Cyprus continues to affect human rights throughout the island "... including freedom of movement, human rights pertaining to the question of missing persons, discrimination, the right to life, freedom of religion, and economic, social and cultural rights."
The constant focus on the division of the island can sometimes mask other human rights issues.
In 2014, Turkey was ordered by the European Court of Human Rights
to pay well over $100m in compensation to Cyprus for the invasion;Ankara
announced that it would ignore the judgment.
In 2014, a group of Cypriot refugees and a European parliamentarian, later joined by the Cypriot government, filed a complaint to the International Court of Justice, accusing Turkey of violating the Geneva Conventions
by directly or indirectly transferring its civilian population
into occupied territory.
Other violations of the Geneva and the Hague Conventions—both ratified by Turkey—amount to what archaeologist Sophocles Hadjisavvas called "the organized destruction of Greek and Christian heritage in the north".
These violations include looting of cultural treasures, deliberate destruction of churches, neglect of works of art, and altering the names of important historical sites, which was condemned by the International Council on Monuments and Sites
. Hadjisavvas has asserted that these actions are motivated by a Turkish policy of erasing the Greek presence in Northern Cyprus within a framework of ethnic cleansing, as well as by greed and profit-seeking on the part of the individuals involved.
Art law expert Alessandro Chechi has classified the connection of cultural heritage destruction to ethnic cleansing as the "Greek Cypriot viewpoint", which he reports as having been dismissed by two PACE
reports. Chechi asserts joint Greek and Turkish Cypriot responsibility for the destruction of cultural heritage in Cyprus, noting the destruction of Turkish Cypriot heritage in the hands of Greek Cypriot extremists.
Limassol General Hospital
According to the 2017 International Monetary Fund estimates, its per capita GDP
(adjusted for purchasing power
) at $
36,442 is below the average of the European Union.
Cyprus has been sought as a base for several offshore businesses for its low tax rates. Tourism, financial services and shipping are significant parts of the economy. Economic policy of the Cyprus government has focused on meeting the criteria for admission to the European Union. The Cypriot government adopted the euro as the national currency on 1 January 2008.
In recent years significant quantities of offshore natural gas have been discovered in the area known as Aphrodite
(at the exploratory drilling block 12) in Cyprus' exclusive economic zone (EEZ
about 175 kilometres (109 miles) south of Limassol at 33°5'40″N and 32°59'0″E.
However, Turkey's offshore drilling companies have accessed both natural gas and oil resources since 2013.
Cyprus demarcated its maritime border with Egypt in 2003, with Lebanon in 2007,
and with Israel in 2010.
In August 2011, the US-based firm Noble Energy
entered into a production-sharing agreement with the Cypriot government regarding the block's commercial development.
Turkey, which does not recognise the border agreements of Cyprus with its neighbours,
threatened to mobilise its naval forces if Cyprus proceeded with plans to begin drilling at Block 12.
Cyprus' drilling efforts have the support of the US, EU, and UN, and on 19 September 2011 drilling in Block 12 began without any incidents being reported.
Because of the heavy influx of tourists and foreign investors, the property rental market in Cyprus has grown in recent years.[when?]
In late 2013, the Cyprus Town Planning Department announced a series of incentives to stimulate the property market and increase the number of property developments in the country's town centres.
This followed earlier measures to quickly give immigration permits to third country nationals investing in Cyprus property.
A1 Motorway between Agios Athanasios junction and Mesa Ghetonia junction in Limassol
Available modes of transport
are by road, sea and air. Of the 10,663 km (6,626 mi) of roads in the Republic of Cyprus in 1998, 6,249 km (3,883 mi) were paved, and 4,414 km (2,743 mi) were unpaved. In 1996 the Turkish-occupied area had a similar ratio of paved to unpaved, with approximately 1,370 km (850 mi) of paved road and 980 km (610 mi) unpaved.
Cyprus is one of only three EU nations in which vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road
, a remnant of British colonisation (the others being Ireland and Malta). A series of motorways
runs along the coast from Paphos east to Ayia Napa, with two motorways running inland to Nicosia, one from Limassol and one from Larnaca.
Per capita private car ownership is the 29th-highest in the world.
There were approximately 344,000 privately owned vehicles, and a total of 517,000 registered motor vehicles in the Republic of Cyprus in 2006.
In 2006, plans were announced to improve and expand bus services and other public transport throughout Cyprus, with the financial backing of the European Union
Development Bank. In 2010 the new bus network was implemented.
Population growth, 1961–2003 (numbers for the entire island, excluding Turkish settlers residing in Northern Cyprus).
2010 population by age and gender
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, of whom 442,138 (77.1%) were Greeks, 104,320 (18.2%) Turkish, and 27,108 (4.7%) others.
Due to the inter-communal ethnic tensions between 1963 and 1974, an island-wide census was regarded as impossible. Nevertheless, the Cypriot government conducted one in 1973, without the Turkish Cypriot populace.
According to this census, the Greek Cypriot population was 482,000. One year later, in 1974, the Cypriot government's Department of Statistics and Research estimated the total population of Cyprus at 641,000; of whom 506,000 (78.9%) were Greeks, and 118,000 (18.4%) Turkish.
After the partition of the island in 1974, the government of Cyprus conducted four more censuses: in 1976, 1982, 1992 and 2001; these excluded the Turkish population which was resident in the northern part of the island.
According to the Republic of Cyprus's latest estimate, in 2005, the number of Cypriot citizens currently living in the Republic of Cyprus is around 871,036. In addition to this, the Republic of Cyprus is home to 110,200 foreign permanent residents
and an estimated 10,000–30,000 undocumented illegal immigrants currently living in the south of the island.
According to the 2006 census carried out by Northern Cyprus, there were 256,644 (de jure
) people living in Northern Cyprus. 178,031 were citizens of Northern Cyprus, of whom 147,405 were born in Cyprus (112,534 from the north; 32,538 from the south; 371 did not indicate what part of Cyprus they were from); 27,333 born in Turkey; 2,482 born in the UK and 913 born in Bulgaria. Of the 147,405 citizens born in Cyprus, 120,031 say both parents were born in Cyprus; 16,824 say both parents born in Turkey; 10,361 have one parent born in Turkey and one parent born in Cyprus.
The villages of Rizokarpaso
(in Northern Cyprus), Potamia (in Nicosia district) and Pyla
(in Larnaca District
) are the only settlements remaining with a mixed Greek and Turkish Cypriot population.
are found at the following frequencies in Cyprus: J
(43.07% including 6.20% J1), E1b1b
(12.30% including 9.2% R1b), F
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.
Functional urban areas
Cyprus has two official languages, Greek and Turkish
and Cypriot Maronite Arabic
are recognised as minority languages.
Although without official status, English is widely spoken and it features widely on road signs, public notices, and in advertisements, etc.
English was the sole official language during British colonial rule and the lingua franca
until 1960, and continued to be used (de facto) in courts of law until 1989 and in legislation until 1996.
80.4% of Cypriots are proficient in the English language as a second language
Russian is widely spoken among the country's minorities, residents and citizens of post-Soviet countries, and Pontic Greeks
. Russian, after English and Greek, is the third language used on many signs of shops and restaurants, particularly in Limassol and Paphos. In addition to these languages, 12% speak French and 5% speak German.
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 in part 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 Greek, British, Turkish, other European and North American universities. Cyprus currently[when?]
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.
Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots share a lot in common in their culture due to cultural exchanges but also have differences. Several traditional food (such as souvla
) and beverages are similar, as well as expressions and ways of life. Hospitality and buying or offering food and drinks for guests or others are common among both. In both communities, music, dance and art are integral parts of social life and many artistic, verbal and nonverbal expressions, traditional dances such as tsifteteli
, similarities in dance costumes and importance placed on social activities are shared between the communities.
However, the two communities have distinct religions and religious cultures, with the Greek Cypriots traditionally being Greek Orthodox
and Turkish Cypriots traditionally being Sunni Muslims
, which has partly hindered cultural exchange.
Greek Cypriots have influences from Greece and Christianity, while Turkish Cypriots have influences from Turkey and Islam
Typical Cypriot architecture in old part of Nicosia
A well known traditional art that dates at least from the 14th century is the Lefkara Lace
(also known as "Lefkaratika", which originates from the village Lefkara
. Lefkara lace is recognised as an Intangible cultural heritage
(ICH) by Unesco, and it is characterised by distinct design patterns, and its intricate, time-consuming production process. A genuine Lefkara lace with full embroidery can take typically hundreds of hours to be made, and that is why it is usually priced quite high. Another local form of art the originated from Lefkara is the production of Cypriot Filigree (locally known as Trifourenio
), a type of jewellery that is made with twisted threads of silver. In Lefkara village there is government funded center named Lefkara Handicraft Center the mission of which is to educate and teach the art of making the embroidery and silver jewellery. There's also the Museum of Traditional Embroidery and Silversmithing located in the village which has large collection of local handmade art.
In modern times 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 were Adamantios Diamantis (1900–1994) who studied at London's Royal College of Art
and Christopheros Savva
(1924–1968) who also studied in London, at Saint Martin's School of Art
. In 1960, Savva founded, together with Welsh artist Glyn Hughes, Apophasis [Decision], the first independent cultural center of the newly established Republic of Cyprus. In 1968, Savva was among the artists representing Cyprus in its inaugural Pavilion at the 34th Venice Biennale. English Cypriot Artist Glyn HUGHES
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 England
while others train at art schools in Greece and local art institutions such as the Cyprus College of Art
, University of Nicosia
and the Frederick Institute of Technology
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" and most notably the Nicosia Municipal Art Centre. 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 organizers 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 Nicosia
There were also complaints from some Cypriot artists that the Manifesta organisation was importing international artists to take part in the event while treating members of the local art community in Cyprus as 'ignorant' and 'uncivilized natives' who need to be taught 'how to make proper art'.
, dominant instrument of the Cypriot traditional music.
The traditional folk music
of Cyprus has several common elements with Greek
, and Arabic Music
, all of which have descended from Byzantine music, including Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot dances such as the sousta
, and karsilamas
as well as the Middle Eastern-inspired tsifteteli
. There is also a form of musical poetry known as chattista
which is often performed at traditional feasts and celebrations. The instruments commonly associated with Cyprus folk music are the violin ("fkiolin"), lute
("laouto"), Cyprus flute (pithkiavlin
and percussions (including the "tamboutsia
"). Composers associated with traditional Cypriot music include Solon Michaelides
, Marios Tokas
, Evagoras Karageorgis and Savvas Salides. Among musicians is also the acclaimed pianist Cyprien Katsaris
, composer Andreas G. Orphanides
, and composer and artistic director of the European Capital of Culture initiative Marios Joannou Elia
Literary production of the antiquity includes the Cypria
, an epic poem
, probably composed in the late 7th century BC and attributed to Stasinus
. The Cypria
is one of the first specimens of Greek and European poetry.
The Cypriot Zeno of Citium
was the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy.
Epic poetry, notably the "acritic songs", flourished during Middle Ages
. Two chronicles, one written by Leontios Machairas
and the other by Georgios Boustronios
, cover the entire Middle Ages until the end of Frankish rule (4th century–1489). Poèmes d'amour written in medieval Greek Cypriot date back from the 16th century. Some of them are actual translations of poems written by Petrarch
and G. Sannazzaro
Many Cypriot scholars fled Cyprus at troubled times such as Ioannis Kigalas
(c. 1622–1687) who migrated from Cyprus to Italy in the 17th century, several of his works have survived in books of other scholars.
Hasan Hilmi Efendi, a Turkish Cypriot poet, was rewarded by the Ottoman sultan Mahmud II
and said to be the "sultan of the poems".
Modern Greek Cypriot literary figures include the poet and writer Kostas Montis
, poet Kyriakos Charalambides
, poet Michalis Pasiardis
, writer Nicos Nicolaides
, Stylianos Atteshlis, Altheides
, Loukis Akritas
and Demetris Th. Gotsis. Dimitris Lipertis
, Vasilis Michaelides
and Pavlos Liasides are folk poets who wrote poems mainly in the Cypriot-Greek
Among leading Turkish Cypriot writers are Osman Türkay
, twice nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature
, Özker Yaşın
, Neriman Cahit
, Urkiye Mine Balman
, Mehmet Yaşın
and Neşe Yaşın
There is an increasingly strong presence of both temporary and permanent emigre Cypriot writers in world literature, as well as writings by second and third -generation Cypriot writers born or raised abroad, often writing in English. This includes writers such as Michael Paraskos
and Stephanos Stephanides
Examples of Cyprus in foreign literature include the works of Shakespeare, with most of the play Othello
by William Shakespeare
set on the island of Cyprus. British writer Lawrence Durrell
lived in Cyprus from 1952 until 1956, during his time working for the British colonial government on the island, and wrote the book Bitter Lemons
about his time in Cyprus which won the second Duff Cooper Prize
In the 2015 Freedom of the Press report of Freedom House
, the Republic of Cyprus and Northern Cyprus were ranked "free". The Republic of Cyprus scored 25/100 in press freedom
, 5/30 in Legal Environment, 11/40 in Political Environment, and 9/30 in Economic Environment (the lower scores the better).Reporters Without Borders
rank the Republic of Cyprus 24th out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, with a score of 15.62
The law provides for freedom of speech
, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combine to ensure freedom of speech and of the press. The law prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, and the government generally respects these prohibitions in practice.
Local television companies in Cyprus include the state owned Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation
which runs two television channels. In addition on the Greek side of the island there are the private channels ANT1 Cyprus, Plus TV, Mega Channel, Sigma TV, Nimonia TV (NTV) and New Extra. In Northern Cyprus, the local channels are BRT
, the Turkish Cypriot equivalent to the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, and a number of private channels. The majority of local arts and cultural programming is produced by the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation and BRT, with local arts documentaries, review programmes and filmed drama series.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, George Filis produced and directed Gregoris Afxentiou
, Etsi Prodothike i Kypros
, and The Mega Document
. In 1994, Cypriot film production received a boost with the establishment of the Cinema Advisory Committee. In 2000, the annual amount set aside for filmmaking in the national budget was CYP£
500,000 (about €850,000). In addition to government grants, Cypriot co-productions are eligible for funding from the Council of Europe
Fund, which finances European film co-productions. To date, four feature films on which a Cypriot was an executive producer have received funding from Eurimages. The first was I Sphagi tou Kokora
(1996), followed by Hellados
(unreleased), To Tama
(1999), and O Dromos gia tin Ithaki
During the medieval period, under the French Lusignan monarchs of Cyprus an elaborate form of courtly cuisine developed, fusing French, Byzantine and Middle Eastern forms. The Lusignan kings were known for importing Syrian cooks to Cyprus, and it has been suggested that one of the key routes for the importation of Middle Eastern recipes into France and other Western European countries, such as blancmange, was via the Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus. These recipes became known in the West as Vyands de Chypre,
or Foods of Cyprus, and the food historian William Woys Weaver has identified over one hundred of them in English, French, Italian and German recipe books of the Middle Ages. One that became particularly popular across Europe in the medieval and early modern periods was a stew made with chicken or fish called malmonia,
which in English became mawmeny.
Another example of a Cypriot food ingredient entering the Western European canon is the cauliflower, still popular and used in a variety of ways on the island today, which was associated with Cyprus from the early Middle Ages. Writing in the 12th and 13th centuries the Arab botanists Ibn al-'Awwam
and Ibn al-Baitar
claimed the vegetable had its origins in Cyprus,
and this association with the island was echoed in Western Europe, where cauliflowers were originally known as Cyprus cabbage or Cyprus colewart.
There was also a long and extensive trade in cauliflower seeds from Cyprus, until well into the sixteenth century.
Although much of the Lusignan food culture was lost after the fall of Cyprus to the Ottomans in 1571, a number of dishes that would have been familiar to the Lusignans survive today, including various forms of tahini and houmous, zalatina, skordalia and pickled wild song birds called ambelopoulia. Ambelopoulia
, which is today highly controversial, and illegal, was exported in vast quantities from Cyprus during the Lusignan and Venetian periods, particularly to Italy and France. In 1533 the English traveller to Cyprus, John Locke, claimed to have seen the pickled wild birds packed into large jars, or which 1200 jars were exported from Cyprus annually.
Also familiar to the Lusignans would have been Halloumi
cheese, which some food writers today claim originated in Cyprus during the Byzantine period
although the name of the cheese itself is thought by academics to be of Arabic origin.
There is no surviving written documentary evidence of the cheese being associated with Cyprus before the year 1554, when the Italian historian Florio Bustron wrote of a sheep-milk cheese from Cyprus he called calumi.
Halloumi (Hellim) is commonly served sliced, grilled, fried and sometimes fresh, as an appetiser or meze dish.
Cypriot style café in an arcade in Nicosia
Seafood and fish dishes 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 taro
. Other traditional delicacies 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
(minced meat wrapped in mesentery
, cracked wheat) is the traditional source of carbohydrate other than bread, and is used to make the delicacy koubes
Fresh vegetables and fruits are common ingredients. 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 most common fruits and nuts are pears, apples, grapes, oranges, mandarines
, nectarines, medlar
, blackberries, cherry, strawberries, figs, watermelon, melon, avocado, lemon, pistachio, almond, chestnut, walnut, and hazelnut.
Notable sports teams in the Cyprus leagues include APOEL FC
, Anorthosis Famagusta FC
, AC Omonia
, AEL Lemesos
, Apollon FC
, Nea Salamis Famagusta FC
, AEK Larnaca FC
, AEL Limassol B.C.
, Keravnos B.C.
and Apollon Limassol B.C.
. Stadiums or sports venues include the GSP Stadium
(the largest in the Republic of Cyprus-controlled areas), Tsirion Stadium
(second largest), Neo GSZ Stadium
, Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium
, Ammochostos Stadium
and Makario Stadium
Tennis player Marcos Baghdatis
was ranked 8th in the world, was a finalist at the Australian Open, and reached the Wimbledon
semi-final, all in 2006. High jumper Kyriakos Ioannou
achieved a jump of 2.35 m at the 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics
, Japan, in 2007, winning the bronze medal. He has been ranked third in the world. In motorsports, Tio Ellinas
is a successful race car driver, currently racing in the GP3 Series
for Marussia Manor Motorsport
. There is also mixed martial artist Costas Philippou
, who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship
promotion's middleweight division. Costas holds a 6–3 record in UFC bouts, and recently defeated "The Monsoon" Lorenz Larkin
by a knockout in the first round.
- ^ The Greek national anthem was adopted in 1966 by a decision of the Council of Ministers.
- ^ The vice presidency is reserved for a Turkish Cypriot. However the post has been vacant since the Turkish invasion in 1974.
- ^ a b c Including Northern Cyprus, the UN buffer zone and Akrotiri and Dhekelia.
- ^ Excluding Northern Cyprus.
- ^ The .eu domain is also used, shared with other European Union member states.
- ^ Greek: Κύπρος, romanized: Kýpros [ˈcipros]; Turkish: Kıbrıs [ˈkɯbɾɯs]
- ^ Greek: Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία, romanized: Kypriakí Dimokratía, [cipriaˈci ðimokraˈti.a], lit: Cypriot Republic; Turkish: Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti, [ˈkɯbɾɯs ˈdʒumhuɾijeti], lit: Republic of Cyprus
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