1. General Information
  2. Geography
  3. History
  4. Government
  5. State Symbols
  6. Culture

General Information

Location : Island in the Eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus lies at a latitude of 34˚33˚ - 35˚34˚ North and longitude 32˚16˚ - 34˚37˚ East.
Government Presidential system
President NicosAnastasiades
Independence Day 1st October
The flag Apply Visa to Cyprus in Qatar
Capital Nicosia
Population 885.600 (Dec. 2008)
Area 9.251 sq. km
Official Languages Greek and Turkish
Natural Resources Copper, pyrites, asbestos, gypsum, timber, salt, marble, clay earth pigment
Economy Services oriented market economy (80% of GDP)
Sectors Services (tourism, financial services, real estate, telecommunications), Industry (cement and gypsum production, textiles, light chemicals, metal products, wood, paper, stone and clay products), Agriculture and Fisheries (citrus, vegetables, barley, grapes, olives)
Per Capita GDP € 22.25 (2018)
Unemployment Rate 6,9% (April 2019)
Exports €2.968,4 mn (2017)
Main Export Partners Germany 16%, Greece 12,6%, United Kingdom 8,8%, Italy 3,5% (2009)
Imports €8.216,2 mn (2017)
Main Import Partners Greece, United Kingdom and Italy
Time Zone GMT+ 2
Currency Euro
International Dialing Code 00357

Geography

Area and Population

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean with an area of 9.251 sq. kilometers. It has a maximum length of 240 kms from east to west and a maximum width of 100 kms from north to south.

It is situated 380 kms north of Egypt, 105 kms west of Syria and 75 kms south of Turkey. The Greek mainland is some 800 kms to the west and the nearest Greek island is Kastellorizo, 278 kms to the west.

In December 2012, the population of Cyprus was estimated at 952.100 of whom 681.000 belong to the Greek Cypriot community (71,5%), 90.100 (9,5%) to the Turkish Cypriot community and 181.000 (19,0%) are foreigners residing in Cyprus.

Prior to the Turkish invasion of 1974 the two communities lived together in all the six administrative districts.

The capital of the island is Nicosia with a population of 336.00 in the sector controlled by the Cyprus government. It is the only divided capital in Europe. It is situated roughly in the center of the island and is the seat of government as well as the main business center.

The second largest town is Limassol on the south coast, with a population of around 241.300. After 1974 it has become the island's chief port, an industrial center and an important tourist resort.

Larnaca, in the south-coast of the island, has a population of 146.300 and is the country's second commercial port and an important tourist resort. To the north of the town one can find the country's oil refinery while to the south, the Larnaca International Airport.

Finally, Paphos, on the south-west coast, with a population of around 90.800, is a fast-developing tourist resort, home to the island's second international airport and an attractive fishing harbor.

The towns of Famagusta, Kyrenia and Morphou have been under Turkish occupation since the Turkish invasion of 1974. The original Greek Cypriot inhabitants have been forced to flee as refugees to the government-controlled area, while the Turkish authorities have imported thousands of settlers from Anatolia.

Land and Crops

The coastline is indented and rocky in the north with long, sandy beaches in numerous coves in the south. The northern coastal plain, covered with olive and carob trees, is backed by a steep, narrow mountain range of limestone, the Northern or Pentadactylos Range, rising to a height of 1.024 meters.

In the south-west the extensive mountain massif of Troodos, covered with pine, dwarf oak, cypress and cedar, culminates in the peak of Mount Olympus, 1.952 meters above sea level. Between the two ranges lies the fertile plain of Mesaoria to the east and the still more fertile irrigated basin of Morphou to the west. The total area of arable land is about 430.000 hectares or 46,8% of the whole island. The total forest land is 1.735 square kms. i.e. 18,74% of the total area of the island. Cyprus has two salt lakes.

The principal crops in the lowlands are cereals (wheat and barley), vegetables, potatoes and citrus. The olive tree grows everywhere, but flourishes particularly on the sea-facing slopes. Vineyards occupy a large area on the southern and western slopes of the Troodos Mountains. Deciduous fruit trees are grown in the fertile mountain valleys. The most valuable export crops are potatoes, citrus, fruits, vegetables and table grapes. Sheep and goats are mainly reared in sheds or tethered, but the semi-nomadic traditional system of grazing is still exercised.

Climate

Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate with the typical seasonal rhythm strongly marked in respect of temperature, rainfall and weather generally. Hot, dry summers from mid-May to mid-September and rainy, rather changeable winters from November to mid-March are separated by short autumn and spring seasons.

In summer the island is mainly under the influence of a shallow trough of low pressure extending from the great continental depression centered over southwest Asia. It is a season of high temperatures with almost cloudless skies. In winter Cyprus is near the track of fairly frequent small depressions which cross the Mediterranean Sea from west to east between the continental anticyclone of Eurasia and the generally low pressure belt of North Africa.

These depressions give periods of disturbed weather usually lasting for a day or so and produce most of the annual precipitation, around 60 %.

Temperatures are high in summer and the mean daily temperature in July and August ranges between 29 degrees Celsius on the central plain to 22 degrees Celsius on the Troodos Mountains, while the average maximum temperature for these months ranges between 36 degrees Celsius and 27 degrees Celsius respectively. Winters are mild with a mean January temperature of 10 degrees Celsius on the central plain and 3 degrees Celsius on the higher parts of the Troodos Mountains and with an average minimum temperature of 5 degrees Celsius and 0 degrees Celsius respectively.

Relative humidity of the air is on average between 60% and 80% in winter and between 40% and 60% in summer with even lower values over inland areas around midday. Fog is infrequent and visibility is generally very good. Sunshine is abundant during the whole year and particularly from April to September when the average duration of bright sunshine exceeds 11 hours per day.

Winds are generally light to moderate and variable in direction. Strong winds may occur sometimes, but gales are infrequent over Cyprus and are mainly confined to exposed coastal areas as well as areas at high elevation. To view the current temperatures in Cyprus please click

History

The history of Cyprus is among the oldest in the world. The first signs of civilization traced in archaeological excavations and research, date back 11.000 years to the 9th millennium BC.

The discovery of copper in Cyprus in the 3rd millennium BC brought wealth to the island and attracted trade from its neighbors. Yet, although geographically placed at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa – and a meeting point of great world civilizations, Cyprus has developed and for centuries maintained, its own civilization.

The Mycenaean and Achaean Greeks settled on the island between the 13th and 11th century BC. They introduced the Greek language and culture, both of which are preserved by Greek Cypriots to this day.

At the end of the 4th century BC Cyprus became part of the kingdom of Alexander the Great. The Hellenistic period ended in 30 BC when Cyprus became part of Roman Empire until the 4th century AD.

In 330 AD Cyprus formed part of the Eastern Section of the Roman Empire and later of the Byzantine Empire, and remained so until the 12th century AD. During the Crusades Cyprus was conquered by Richard the Lionheart followed by the Lusignans and the Venetians.

In 1571 Cyprus was conquered by the Ottomans and in 1878 it was ceded to Britain. In 1914 Britain annexed the island and in 1923, under the Treaty of Lausanne, Turkey relinquished all claims on the island. In 1925 Britain declared Cyprus a crown colony.

In 1955 the Greek Cypriots launched a liberation struggle against British rule and the island won its independence in 1960.

In 2004 the Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union.

Chronology

Neolithic period 9th - 4th millennium BC
Chalcolithic period 4th-mid – 3rd millennium BC
Bronze Age mid 3rd millennium – late 2nd millennium BC
Iron Age 1st millennium BC
Archaic Period 8th – 5th century BC
Classical period 480-310 BC
Hellenistic Period 310-30 BC
Roman period 30 BC -330 AD
Byzantine period 330-1191 AD
Cyprus Under the crusaders 1191-1192
Lusignan (Frankish) period 1192 – 1489
Venetian Period 1489-1571
Ottoman (Turkish Period) 1571-1878
British Period 1878-1960
Independence of the Republic of Cyprus 1960
Turkish invasion and occupation of 36.2 % of the island 20 July 1974
Republic of Cyprus joins EU 2004

Historical Review

Cyprus, owing to its strategic position, was throughout its history colonized by some of the most influential colonial powers in the Eastern Mediterranean. In 1878 Britain was the last power to occupy Cyprus, taking over the island from the Ottoman Empire. The Cypriots, Greeks and Turks alike, had for centuries co-existed peacefully in mixed villages, towns and places of work.

Though the Greek Cypriots had always voiced their demand for national self-determination, it was a demand which, in the pre- World War II international environment, the colonial power did not satisfy. Prior to World War II the policy of the leadership of the Turkish Cypriots could be summed up as opposition to the national aspirations of the Greeks. The first party of the Turkish Cypriot community, KATAK (Party for the Protection of the Turkish Minority), formed in 1943, supported the continuation of British colonial rule. The following year witnessed the foundation of the Turkish National Party, which drew its ideological inspiration from the Turkish Republic.

What came to be known as the Cyprus Problem appeared in the early post World War II years, which inaugurated the universal demand for self-determination and the ensuing crisis of the colonial system. In 1955, when all their demands for self-determination were ignored, the Greek Cypriots embarked upon a militant struggle to free the country from colonial rule. The British Government, unable to face the national liberation movement in Cyprus, began to exploit the Turkish factor and encouraged the intervention of Ankara. Turkey's declared policy toward Cyprus, which had until the early fifties been one of support toward the colonial status quo, began to shift toward a policy of partition of the island along ethnic lines. Professor NihadErim, who had been assigned by Turkey's Prime Minister, Adnan Menderes, to formulate a policy for Cyprus, prepared and submitted, in November 1956, a memo proposing the geographical division of the island coupled with the transfer of populations. This straightforward proposal for ethnic cleansing would result in the formation of two separate political entities, one Greek and one Turkish, each of which would then proceed to political union with Greece and Turkey respectively. Finally, the memo noted that Ankara should participate in the security of the Greek sector of the island.

Professor Erim's memo formed the basis of Ankara's policy for the next twenty years. The Turkish Cypriot nationalist leadership became in effect the instrument for the implementation of Turkey's policies in Cyprus. The Turkish National Party`s policy shift was reflected in the adoption of a new name: “Cyprus is Turkish Party". What is more, officers from Turkey helped establish Turkish Cypriot clandestine organizations, Volkan and subsequently TMT. Their members were recruited primarily from the ranks of the paramilitary security force formed by the colonial administration and made up exclusively by Turkish Cypriots, for the purpose of fighting the Greek national movement. Aiming toward total influence amongst the Turkish Cypriots the TMT waged a campaign of murderous terror against their co-nationals in the Trade Unions, the major institutions in which members of the two communities co-operated for common social and political causes. The TMT leadership therefore sought conflict with the Greeks as the strategy for partition.

In 1958, following the eruption of intercommunal clashes and the proposal of a partitionist plan by the British Government the Greek national movement, led by Archbishop Makarios, accepted a solution of limited independence whose basic premises had been elaborated in Zurich by the Governments of Greece and Turkey.

The constitution in particular, categorized citizens as Greeks or Turks. Elected positions were filled by separate elections. Separate municipalities were established in each town and separate elections were to be held for all elected public posts. Posts filled by appointment and promotion, such as the civil service and police, were to be shared between Greeks and Turks at a ratio of 70 to 30. In the army this ratio rose to 60 to 40. The President was designated Greek and the Vice President Turkish, each elected by their respective community. The Turkish Cypriot community also enjoyed vetoes in both the executive and legislative branches of the government. The Turkish Vice President could block the decisions of the President whereas in the House of Representatives fiscal, municipal and electoral legislation required separate majorities.

The Turkish Cypriot leadership made full use of their constitutional privileges to block decisions of the government and render the administration of the young republic difficult and inefficient. Their ulterior motives were presented in two top-secret documents, found in December 1963 in the office of NiaziPlumer, one of the three Turkish ministers in the Government. These documents, covering the period between October 1959 and October 1963 explained in great detail the policy of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, a policy in which the 1959 agreements were an interim stage toward partition. (Copies of both documents are appended as annexes 8 and 9 in the memorandum submitted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons on February 27, 1987).

In 1963, after the Turkish members of the House of Representatives had rejected the budget, President Makarios decided to submit to the Turkish Cypriot Vice-President for consideration, proposals for constitutional amendment. Despite the fact that his proposals aimed toward removing certain causes of friction between the two communities and of the obstacles to the smooth functioning and development of the state, the Government of Ankara opposed the amendments outright, even before their consideration by the Turkish Cypriots. The Turkish Cypriot leadership followed suit. In December 1963 tensions rose when police cars used by Turkish Cypriot policemen suspected of engaging in the distribution of weapons refused to submit to government inspection.

In December 1963 armed clashes broke out in Cyprus Immediately the Turkish Cypriot leadership openly called for partition, Turkish policemen and civil servants withdrew from their posts en masse and Ankara threatened to invade. Facing a very grave threat to the Republic's existence the Government tried to contain the revolt but could do little to prevent armed civilians from both sides from taking part in the clashes. The instances when these irregulars failed to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants tainted the conflict with sectarian violence and loss of innocent lives in both communities.

These tragic but isolated events were utilised by the Turkish Cypriot nationalist leaders in their propaganda that the two communities could not live together, in spite of the fact that this leadership bore a heavy responsibility for the political situation. A large number of Turkish Cypriots withdrew into the enclaves, partly as a consequence of the hostilities that had taken place but mostly due to the efforts of their nationalist leadership to enforce a de-facto partition of the island. In doing so the Turkish Cypriot nationalist leadership had turned against members of their community who stood for co-operation between the two communities.

Even before the crisis of Christmas 1963, in April 1962, the two editors of "Chumhuriet", a Turkish language newspaper advocating co-operation between the two communities, had been gunned down in circumstances pointing the finger at the TMT. In April 1965 another prominent Turkish Cypriot, in charge of the Turkish section of the bi-communal trade unions, was ambushed and murdered by the TMT. This policy of murderous intimidation against supporters of intercommunal co-operation continued through the years of independence.

The pattern of establishment of the enclaves did not necessarily follow the distribution of the Turkish population. The Turks attempted, with some success, to occupy strategic positions, such as the Kokkina enclave on the northern coast, through which military personnel and hardware were transported to the island from Turkey, and the medieval St Hilarion castle, commanding the road linking the capital to the coastal town of Kyrenia. The largest enclave was set up by the Turkish military contingent, which, in open violation of the Treaty of Guarantee, abandoned their camp and established themselves north of the capital, thus cutting the road between Nicosia and Kyrenia. For Turkey therefore these enclaves were primarily bridgeheads for facilitating the planned invasion. Indeed, when in August 1964 the Government attempted to contain the Kokkina bridgehead, Turkey's air force bombed the National Guard and neighbouring Greek villages with napalm and threatened to invade.

The other major purpose served by the enclaves was the political and physical separation of the two communities. Despite the Turkish leadership's claims to be motivated by concern for their community, the policy of forced segregation created very considerable economic and social hardship for the mass of the Turkish Cypriots. This fact was noted in the UN Secretary General's reports on Cyprus:

"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 (S/6426, Report of 10.6.1965, p. 271)".

Calls for peace and reconciliation with the Greek Cypriots were silenced. As late as 1973 the leader of the Republican Party, EichanBerberoglu, who had decided to run against Rauf Denktas in the elections, was eventually forced to stand down following pressure from the Turkish ambassador and the TMT.

Turkey found the pretext to impose its partitionist plans against Cyprus following the coup of July 15, 1974, perpetrated against the elected government of President Makarios by the Athens military junta. On July 20, claiming to act under article 4 of the Treaty of Guarantee, the Turkish armed forces staged a full scale invasion against Cyprus. Though the invasion was in violation of all rules of international legality, including the UN Charter, Turkey proceeded to occupy the northern part of the island and empty it from its Greek inhabitants. By the end of the following year the majority of the Turkish Cypriots living in the areas left under the control of the Republic had also made their way to the part of Cyprus occupied by the Turkish army. Thereby, the policy adopted by Ankara twenty years earlier, of partition and forcible population expulsion, had been enforced. The human cost was immense. Thousands of Greek Cypriots were killed or maimed as a result of the actions of the invading Turkish army. Moreover, till today the fate of approximately 1500 persons is not known and they are still missing. 1493 of these cases were submitted for investigation to the Committee on Missing Persons, which operates under the auspices of the United Nations. 35.83% of the Republic of Cyprus territory, representing 70% of the economic potential came under the occupation of the Turkish military. One third of the Greek Cypriots became refugees in their own country and are to this day prevented from returning to their homes by the Turkish occupation authorities. In an effort to alter the country's demographic structure Ankara has brought into Cyprus 114,000 colonists from Turkish Anatolia. In view of the mass emigration of Turkish Cypriots from the occupied area the total number of Turkish troops and settlers is now greater than that of the Turkish Cypriots remaining.

The United Nations have in several resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council demanded respect for the independence, unity and territorial integrity of Cyprus, the return of refugees to their homes and the withdrawal of foreign troops from the island. All of these resolutions have been consistently ignored by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership. The basis for a solution of the Cyprus Problem has been set in two High Level Agreements. Both agreements, the first, between President Makarios and the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Denktas, in February 1977 and the second, between President Kyprianou and Mr. Denktas in May 1979, were concluded under the auspices of the UN Secretary General and provided for a solution to the problem in accordance with UN resolutions.

The most striking evidence of the Turkish side's unwillingness to work for a solution in line with UN police was given on November 15, 1983 when, in order to consolidate their hold over the occupied area the Turkish Cypriot leadership unilaterally declared that area an independent state, by the name of "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus". Despite the fact that this act has been condemned by the UN and that no country other than Turkey has recognised this illegal secessionist entity the situation continues.

Though since 1977 several rounds of talks under UN auspices have taken place, they have produced no result, given that the Turkish side refuses to abide by UN resolutions. In January 1989 the Government of Cyprus submitted "Outline Proposals for the Establishment of a Federal Republic and the Solution of the Cyprus Problem", which were in accordance with the UN resolutions on Cyprus and the two High Level Agreements. Another demonstration of the Government's willingness to work toward a just solution of the issue was given by President Clerides proposals of December 17, 1993, according to which the Republic was prepared to disband the National Guard and hand over all its weapons to the custody of the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus.

The Turkish side continuously ignores international opinion on Cyprus and insists on pursuing a policy of legitimising the status quo it has imposed through the use of military might and which the international community deems as unacceptable. In doing so the Turkish side continues to violate the human rights of Cypriots and has thus run against judgement and opinion coming from the most authoritative international institutions. An important case, Loizidou v. Turkey, was tried in the European Court of Human Rights. In two successive judgements, the court found Turkey guilty of denying MrsLoizidou access to her property in occupied Kyrenia and ordered the payment of damages. The same court, in a judgement on May 10, 2001, in the Fourth Interstate application of Cyprus against Turkey, found Turkey guilty of massive human rights violations in the occupied part of Cyprus.

Turkey's actions have been condemned by unanimous UN Security Council resolutions, UN General Assembly resolutions, international court decisions, and decisions by other major international and regional organizations. But most of these resolutions and decisions remain unimplemented. As a result, the Republic of Cyprus remains forcibly divided and occupied.

The Government and the people of Cyprus remain committed to a viable settlement that would allow the genuine, peaceful and secure reunification of their country. Consistent with this outlook, the Cyprus government has been working systematically towards creating the necessary conditions for substantial and constructive negotiations under UN auspices, which will in turn lead to an agreed, functional and lasting settlement to the Cyprus problem.

On 8 July 2006, President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat signed an agreement on a "Set of Principles", They reaffirmed their commitment to reunify Cyprus on the basis of a bi-zonal bi-communal federation and agreed on procedures to prepare the ground for comprehensive negotiations toward that end. The implementation of this Agreement was undermined by the intransigence of the Turkish side.

In order to move the process forward, H.E. the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. DemetrisChristofias, sought, immediately after his inauguration on 28 February 2008, to meet with the Turkish Cypriot leader in yet another effort to achieve a breakthrough and to set in motion a process that would bring about direct negotiations between the two communities.

At their first meeting, on 21 March 2008, President Christofias and Mr. Talat decided to proceed with the setting up of a number of Working Groups and Technical Committees, and their respective agendas. They also decided to meet in three months to evaluate the work of the Working Groups and Technical Committees, with a view to starting full-fledged negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. Additionally, they agreed on the opening of the Ledra Street crossing, which finally took place on 3 April 2008.

On 23 May 2008, President Christofias and Mr. Talat issued a Joint Statement where the two leaders "reaffirmed their commitment to bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. This partnership will have a Federal Government with a single international personality…" .

On 25 July 2008, President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat reviewed the work of the Technical Committees and Working Groups. Based on the progress made, as well as on the clarification of the basis of the solution achieved during their meetings, they decided to "start full-fledged negotiations on 3 September 2008, under the good offices of the United Nations Secretary General".

Since the start of the full-fledged negotiations, there have been several rounds of talks between President Christofias and Mr. Talat, as well as a number of meetings of the Working Groups and Technical Committees. During the talks, some common understanding was reached regarding certain aspects of the solution; however, important divergences remain, due to the provocative and unconstructive stance of the Turkish side and its unwillingness to sincerely commit to a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.

On 26 May 2010, the President of the Republic, Mr. DemetrisChristofias held his first meeting with Dr. DervişEroglu, the newly elected leader of the Turkish Cypriot Community, who succeeded Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat on 18 April 2010. The two leaders met several times, unfortunately with no results, due to the intransigent Turkish stance, until 1 July 2012, when the Republic of Cyprus assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union. The President of the Republic of Cyprus underlined that the fact that the Republic of Cyprus assumed the presidency was in no case an obstacle for the continuation of the negotiations and expressed his readiness to continue. Nevertheless, the Turkish side, refused to hold any negotiations during the presidency of Cyprus. 

On 24 February 2013, Mr. Nikos Anastiasiades was elected President of the Republic of Cyprus. In September 2013, a new effort was launched, at the level of negotiators, aiming at paving the way for resuming full –fledged negotiations between the two communities. 

On 11 February 2014, in the framework of this new effort, President Anastasiades and Dr. Eroglu held their first meeting under the auspices of the United Nations. A Joint Declaration was adopted by the leaders of the two communities which set the framework of the new negotiating process, reaffirmed the basic principles for a settlement and clarified the methodology to be followed. 

More specifically, the Joint Declaration reiterated that the settlement will be based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant Security Council Resolutions and the High Level Agreements and that a united Cyprus, as a member of the United Nations and of the European Union, shall have a single international legal personality, a single sovereignty, and a single citizenship. The Joint Declaration also underlines that this settlement should respect democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike, and ensure their common future in a united Cyprus within the European Union. 

On 27 February 2014, the Greek Cypriot Negotiator, Mr. Andreas Mavroyiannis, met in Ankara with Ambassador F. Sinirlioglu, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, establishing for the first time a direct channel of communication with Turkey. 

On 27 February 2014, the Turkish Cypriot Negotiator, Mr. KudretOzersay, paid a visit in Greece and had a meeting with Ambassador A. Mitsialis, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece.

The adoption of the Joint Declaration and the resumption of full-fledged negotiations attracted renewed international interest and created a new momentum for the settlement of the Cyprus Problem. The resumption of the negotiations was welcomed by the United Nations Security Council and the European Union, as well as by many states. 

The Cyprus Government, in its effort to maintain and enhance this positive climate, attaches great importance to the implementation of confidence building measures which can inject a new momentum into the negotiating process. In this framework, President Anastasiades submitted a comprehensive package proposal of confidence-building measures regarding Varosha. This Package will be a game-changer since it will inject dynamism into the process and will contribute decisively to the rebuilding of mutual trust, hope and confidence of Greek and Turkish Cypriots in a solution. EU and US have expressed their support to this proposal. Nonetheless, a positive response from Turkey has not yet been received.

(Last Modified at: 08/09/2016)

Government

Executive

Cyprus is an independent sovereign Republic with a presidential system of government. Under the 1960 Constitution, executive power is exercised by the President (Head of State and Government), elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term of office, through a Council of Ministers appointed by him. The office of the Vice-President, to be held by a Turkish Cypriot as provided by the Constitution, remains vacant because of the refusal of the Turkish Cypriot leadership to participate in the government of the Republic of Cyprus. For the same reason, the ministries and public service positions allocated to Turkish Cypriots are, out of necessity, held now by Greek Cypriots. The President of the Republic is H.E. Mr. NicosAnastasiades (since 28 February 2013).

The composition of the Council of Ministers is the following:

  1. Minister of Foreign Affairs: H.E. Mr. Nikos Christodoulides
  2. Minister of Finance: Mr. Harris Georgiades
  3. Minister of Interior: Mr. ConstantinosPetrides
  4. Minister of Defense: Mr. Savvas Angelides
  5. Minister of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth: Mr. Kostas Champiaouris
  6. Minister of Transport, Communications and Works: Ms. VasilikiAnastasiadou
  7. Minister of Energy, Commerce and Industry: Mr. YiorgosLakkotrypis
  8. Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment: Mr. Costas Kadis
  9. Minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance: Mrs. ZetaEmilianidou
  10. Minister of Justice and Public Order: Mr. YiorgosSavvides
  11. Minister of Health: Mr. ConstantinosIoannou
  12. Deputy Minister of Shipping: Ms. NatasaPilidou
  13. Deputy Minister of Tourism: Mr. SavvasPerdios
  14. Deputy Minister to the President: Mr. Vasilis Palmas
  15. Government Spokesman: Mr. ProdromosProdromou

Legislature

Legislative authority is exercised by the House of Representatives. Its members are elected for a five-year term. At the time of its establishment the House consisted of 50 members, 35 of whom were to be Greek Cypriots and 15 Turkish Cypriots. Through a constitutional amendment in 1985, the number of seats was increased to 80 - 56 allocated to Greek Cypriot members and 24 reserved for Turkish Cypriot deputies. After the Parliamentary elections which took place on 22 May 2016, the seats of the House were divided as follows: Democratic Rally 18, AKEL - Left - New Forces 16, Democratic Party (DIKO) 9, Movement of Social Democrats (EDEK) 3, Citizens' Alliance 3, Solidarity Movement 3, Movement of Ecologists – Citizens' Cooperation 2 and National Popular Front 2. On June 2, 2016, Mr. DemetrisSyllouris, President of the European Party, was elected in the position of the Chairman of the House of Representatives. Given the vacancy in the Vice-President's office, the House President serves as acting President of the Republic in the event of absence of the latter abroad. Following the withdrawal of the Turkish Cypriot members in 1964 the House has been functioning only with the Greek Cypriot members. According to the 1960 Constitution, the Maronite, Armenian and Latin communities, who opted to belong to the Greek Cypriot community, also elect representatives who attend meetings without a right of participation in the deliberations. They are consulted in matters concerning particular affairs of their respective religious groups.

Judiciary

The administration of justice is exercised by the island's separate and independent judiciary. Under the 1960 Constitution and other legislation in force, the following judicial institutions have been established: The Supreme Court of the Republic, The Assize Courts and District Courts. President of the Supreme Court is Mr. Myron Nicolatos.

Independent Officers and Bodies

There are also independent officers and bodies which do not come under any ministry: the Attorney-General and the Auditor-General who head the Law Office and Audit Office respectively; the Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus; the Ombudsman (Commissioner for Administration); the Public Service Commission; the Education Service Commission; the Planning Bureau; the Treasury; the Commission for the Protection of Competition; the Office of the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation; the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority; the Cyprus Agricultural Payments Organization; the Office of the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection; the Cooperative Societies Supervision and Development Authority; the Internal Audit Service; the Office of the Commissioner for State Aid Control; the Tenders Review Authority; the Law Commissioner; the Tax Tribunal; the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission; and the Radio and Television Authority; the Reviewing Authority of Refugees and the Commissioner for the Protection of Children's Rights.

For further information and updates please refer to:

Press and Information Office: www.moi.gov.cy/pio
House of Representatives: www.parliament.cy
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: www.mfa.gov.cy

State Symbols

The Cyprus Flag

The Cyprus flag was defined in 1960, when Cyprus became independent

Colors of the Flag

The ground is white. The map of the Island of Cyprus, in the middle, has the color of copper (144-C). The crest under the island and the olive-tree leaves, have the color of olive-green (336-C)

  1. Color of copper Pantone 1385
  2. Color of olive-green Pantone 574

Size: - in ratio 3x2

ARTICLE 4 of the Cyprus Constitution refers to the Cyprus flag:

  1. The Republic shall have its own flag of neutral design and color, chosen jointly by the President and the Vice-President of the Republic.
  2. The authorities of the Republic and any public corporation or public utility body created by or under the laws of the Republic shall fly the flag of the Republic and they shall have the right to fly on holidays together with the flag of the Republic both the Greek and the Turkish flags at the same time.
  3. The Communal authorities and institutions shall have the right to fly on holidays together with the flag of the Republic either the Greek or the Turkish flag at the same time.
  4. Any citizen of the Republic or anybody, corporate or unincorporate other than public, whose members are citizens of the Republic, shall have the right to fly on their premises the flag of the Republic or the Greek or the Turkish flag without any restriction".

Turkish

The Cyprus Emblem

The colors of the Cyprus emblem are the following: The outside frame is white, the crest of olive tree leaves is green, and the inside frame of the shield is golden like copper, which is associated with Cyprus. Inside the shield the pigeon is white, the formation of feathers and eye of the pigeon are black, the branch of olive tree in the mouth of the pigeon is olive green, and the year 1960 is black. The olive branch and pigeon symbolize peace, and the year 1960 is the date of Cyprus' independence

Culture

The History and Culture of Cyprus is among the oldest in the world. The first signs of civilization traced in archaeological excavations and research date back 9,000 years to the 7th millennium BC. This rich cultural landscape involves hundreds of archaeological sites scattered throughout the island, representing various historical periods in the island's evolution.

The discovery of copper in Cyprus in the 3rd millennium BC brought wealth to the island and attracted trade from its trading neighbors. Yet, although geographically placed at the crossroads of three continents Europe, Asia and Africa and a meeting point of great world civilizations, Cyprus has developed and for centuries maintained, its own civilization. It remained a center of Greek culture with Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, French, Venetian, Ottoman and British influences.

The Cyprus Department of Antiquities is tasked with the operation, maintenance, protection and preservation of the rich archaeological heritage of the island. Its activities comprise such areas as excavation and conservation of artifacts, the preservation of ancient monuments, the protection of ethnological and ecclesiastical art, the restoration of buildings of traditional architecture etc. The final goal of all these activities is the presentation of the island's unique cultural property.

Relevant to the excavations and complementary to them is the task of maintenance and protection of ancient monuments and antiquities in general. This includes reconstruction and/or maintenance of ancient theatres, sanctuaries, castles, churches and other monuments of every nature as well as movable antiquities, metallurgy, handicraft, icons, items of religious and popular art dating back to Neolithic Times and up to 1940 A.D. Maintenance of Mosaics and frescoes is also included.

The Cyprus Museum in Nicosia houses the richest and most representative collection of Cypriot antiquities in Cyprus. In its exhibition rooms one may see some of the most important pieces of Cypriot art and get a comprehensive picture of the Cypriot culture from the Neolithic period to the Roman times.

There are also district archaeological museums in all towns, two site museums, in Episkopi (Limassol) for the antiquities of Kourion and at Kouklia (Paphos) for the antiquities of Palepaphos, Folk Art Museums at Yeroskipou, Lefkara and Phikardhou and an Ethnological Museum in the Nicosia House of HadjigeorgakisKornesios.

Most of the ancient monuments and archaeological sites on the island are open to the public and visitors may, with the aid of inexpensive guide books, tour the sites.

On the other hand ancient theatres have been fully reconstructed and host several theatrical, dance, musical and other performances. At the same time mobile Cyprus antiquities in the form of representative collections are sent abroad for exhibition. Such touring exhibitions are organized in many parts of the world.

Cypriote antiquities are also objects of scientific study during international congresses and seminars on archaeology.

An achievement of the Department of Antiquities is the inclusion in 1980, of both Paleapaphos (Kouklia) and NeaPaphos (Kato Paphos) in the World Cultural Heritage List of Unesco.

In 1986 nine Byzantine Churches situated in the Troodos range, those of AgiosNicolaos tis Stegis in Kakopetria village, AgiosIoannisLambadistis in Kalopanayiotis village, PanayiatouMoutoulla in Moutoullas village, Archangelos in Pedoulas village, Panayia tis Poditou in Galata village, Stavros touAgiasmati in Platanistasa village and Asinou near Nikitari village were also included in the World Cultural Heritage List of Unesco.

Cultural Life of Cyprus

There is an intense and active interest amongst all the people in Cyprus in fostering the creative drive in the field of Letters and the Arts and to strengthen cultural awareness.

Both the Government as well as non-governmental organizations and individuals have given high priority in making culture available to all, so that there is a greater participation and receptiveness on behalf of the public in the island's cultural life and in disseminating and projecting cultural achievements abroad in order to highlight Cyprus' links with international culture.

Particular emphasis is placed on promoting literature, music, dance (modern and classical), the visual arts and the cinema. In addition a special arts festival (The "Kypria") is organized annually with a view to upgrading the art movement on the island and highlighting its links with international culture. Since its inception, in 1993, this has become an institution making high quality cultural entertainment accessible to a wide range of people. The various performances include: theatre, ballet, opera, music. Alongside well-known international artists or ensembles, Cypriot artists who have distinguished themselves abroad and acquired international reputation are also invited to participate.

List Of 13 Sites From Cyprus Included In The World Heritage List of Unesco

1980, Paphos, Sites of Palepaphos and NeaPaphos ,from 12th century BC to 5th cent AD:

Inhabited since the Neolithic Age, Paphos was a site of worship of Aphrodite and prehistoric fertility deities. Aphrodite's legendary birthplace was on this island, where her temple was erected by the Myceneans in the 12th century B.C. The remains of villas, palaces, theatres, fortresses and tombs give the site its exceptional architectural and historic value. The mosaics of NeaPaphos are among the most beautiful in the world.

Painted churches in the Troodos region, Nicosia and Limassol:

The World Heritage Committee declared that these churches bear outstanding testimony to Byzantine civilization, that they are well-conserved examples of rural religious architecture and that they provide evidence for the links between eastern and western Christian art. The architecture of these small churches is unique, confined to the Troodos range and almost certainly of indigenous origin. The interior-and in several cases parts of the exterior- of these churches is decorated with wall paintings, frescoes, which are of exceptional artistic quality.

The World Heritage Committee declared that these churches bear outstanding testimony to Byzantine civilization, that they are well-conserved examples of rural religious architecture and that they provide evidence for the links between eastern and western Christian art. The architecture of these small churches is unique, confined to the Troodos range and almost certainly of indigenous origin. The interior-and in several cases parts of the exterior- of these churches is decorated with wall paintings, frescoes, which are of exceptional artistic quality.

1985, Kalopanayiotis,AyiosIonannis (St. John) Lambadhistis Monastery, 11th cent.

1985, Nikitari,Church of Panayia (The Virgin) Phorviotissa (Asinou), 12th cent.

1985, Lagoudhera, Church of Panayia (The Virgin )tou Arakou,12th cent

1985, Moutoullas,Church of Panayia (The Virgin) 13th-14th cent.

1985, Pedhoulas, Church of Archangelos Michael (Archangel Michael),15th cent.

1985, Pelendria, Church of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross), 13th-15th cent.

1985, Galata, Church of Panayia (The Virgin) Podhithou, 16th cent.

1985, Platanistasa, Church of Stavros (Holy Cross) Ayiasmati,15th cent.

2001, Palaichori, Church of Metamorphosis touSoteros,(the Transfiguration of the Saviour), 16th cent.

1998, Choirokoitia, Neolithic Settlement of Choirokoitia,7th- 4th mill.BC:

The Neolithic settlement of Choirokhoitia, occupied from the 7th to the 4th millennium BC, is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean. Its remains and the finds from the excavations there have thrown much light on the evolution of human society in this key region. Only part of the site has been excavated, and so it forms an exceptional archaeological reserve for future study.


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Last Updated at: 12/03/2020
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