Capital city: Nicosia
Population: 1,215,584 (2021)
Land area: 9,251 km²
Official languages: Greek, Turkish
Legal system: A mixed legal system including common law and continental tradition
Time zone: GMT+3
GDP: 23.50 USD Billion (2021 est.)
Main industries: Tourism, food and beverage processing, cement and gypsum, ship repair and refurbishment, textiles, light chemicals, metal products, wood, paper, stone and clay products
Principal exports: Citrus, potatoes, pharmaceuticals, cement, clothing
Cyprus is an island country in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean and located about 80 km (50 mi) south of the coast of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, northwest of Israel, north of Egypt and east of Greece. Endowed with stunning beaches, clear blue waters, picturesque forests and excellent weather, Cyprus is the sunniest country in Europe with over 300 days of sun annually. The environment is one of the healthiest in the world and is relatively unspoiled by industrialization.
With a total land area of 9,240 km² (3,568 sq. miles), the population density in the country is 131 per km² (338 people per mi²). In 2020, 66.8 % of the population is urban (806,754 people). The median age in Cyprus is 37.3 years. The two biggest communities are individuals of Greek and Turkish descent.
There are various languages used in the country. The official languages of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish. The three main minority languages spoken in Cyprus are Armenian, Cypriot Arabic, and Kurbetcha. English is a popular foreign language spoken in the country. The language is used in street signs, advertisements, and public notices in the country. During the British colonial rule in Cyprus, English served as the country’s official language. Cypriot Greek and Cypriot Turkish are the vernacular languages of Cyprus.
In 1960, Cyprus was granted independence, and archbishop Makarios was elected president.
However, in 1963 the Greeks proposed changes to the constitution. The Turks refused and there was more inter-communal fighting. In 1964 the UN sent a peacekeeping force to Cyprus. However, a solution was not found and in April 1974 hard line Greeks staged a coup. Archbishop Makarios was overthrown and fled abroad. As a result, in July 1974 Turkish forces invaded Northern Cyprus. The island became partitioned. Refugees from both sides crossed the border between the two parts of Cyprus. Meanwhile, the hardliners fell from power and in December 1974 Archbishop Makarios returned from exile. He died in 1977.
In 1975 the Turkish section called itself the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus and it seemed that some sort of federation of the two parts might be possible. However, in 1983 the Turkish section of Cyprus declared full independence. It called itself the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.
The two sections of Cyprus remained separate and in 2004 the Southern (Greek) Republic of Cyprus joined the EU. In 2008, Cyprus joined the euro. Today the population of the whole of Cyprus is 1.2 million
Key dates in the history of Cyprus
1914 – Cyprus annexed by Britain, after more than 300 years of Ottoman rule. Britain had occupied the island in 1878, although it remained nominally under Ottoman sovereignty.
1955 – Greek Cypriots begin guerrilla war against British rule. The guerrilla movement, the National Organisation of Cypriot Combatants (EOKA), wants enosis (unification) with Greece.
1960 – Britain grants independence to Cyprus under a power-sharing constitution between Turkish and Greek Cypriots, holding intervention rights over the island along with Turkey and Greece.
1963 – President Makarios raises Turkish fears by proposing constitutional changes which would abrogate power-sharing arrangements. Inter-communal violence erupts. Turkish side withdraws from power-sharing.
1974 – Military junta in Greece backs coup against President Makarios, prompting Turkish invasion and occupation of a third of the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots flee in opposite directions.
1983 – Rauf Denktas declares a Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Turkey.
2003 – Turkish and Greek Cypriots cross island’s dividing “green line” for first time in 30 years after Turkish Cypriot authorities ease border restrictions.
2004 – Cyprus joins the EU but does so as a divided island.
2013 – Cyprus negotiates deal to extricate its financial sector from the eurozone debt crisis.
Legal System and Government
The Republic of Cyprus is a unitary presidential representative republic, whereby the President of Cyprus is both head of state and head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Cyprus is a common law jurisdiction, and its legal system is based on the adversarial model. Main sources of law include the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, the laws retained in force by virtue of Article 188 of the Constitution, the principles of Common Law and Equity, as well as the Laws enacted by the House of Representatives.
Following Cyprus’ membership to the European Union in 2004, the Constitution was amended to give European law supremacy over the Constitution and national legislation.
The Cyprus economy is dominated by services, which accounted for 82.7% of gross value added in 2019. Other key sectors include construction, and agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Tourism remains one of the most significant sectors, which contributes to 21% to the country’s GDP.
Cyprus’ key exports include citrus fruits, cement, potatoes, clothing and pharmaceuticals. The European Union is Cyprus’ largest, and most important, trading partner. It accounts for 50% of all Cypriot trade flows, followed by the Middle East, destination for 20% of exports from Cyprus.
In 2020 Cyprus gained US$23.8 billion in GDP. Top exports were ships, boats, and other floating structures (31.0%), mineral fuels, oils, distillation products (16.0%), pharmaceutical products (14.0%), and dairy products, eggs, honey, edible products (9.9%). Main export partners were Greece (9.1%), Liberia (8.1%), United Kingdom (7.1%) and Libya (6.5%). Main import commodities were ships, boats, and other floating structures (16%), mineral fuels, oils, and distillation products (14%), vehicles other than railway and tramways (8.2%) and machinery, nuclear reactors and boilers (6.2%). Main import suppliers were Greece (23%), Italy (8.9%), the UK (8.7%), and Germany (7.1%).
Cyprus has the potential to become a global fuel hub now with the discovery of high-grade hydrocarbons in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which the state is capitalising on via the construction of the Cyprus LNG Terminal (a.k.a the Vassilikos) and the floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU). The construction of these facilities began in mid of last year, and once completed will decrease energy costs of the consumers within Cyprus, and due to the advantageous position of Cyprus at the cross section of Europe, the Middle East and the region of Maghreb, the possibilities for the energy market seem versatile and prosperous. Being a member of the European Union, Cyprus enjoys favourable EU and OECD approved tax regimes. The corporate income tax rate stands at a low 12.5, and investors can take advantage of tax neutrality on foreign exchange differences, no taxation on capital gains, exit tax, no Controlled Foreign Currency (CFC) rules, and 50% exemption on employment income exceeding €100,000 per annum for non-residents taking up employment in Cyprus amongst many other benefits.