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General information about Cyprus

Republic of Cyprus
(Greek) Κυπριακη Δημοκρατια
(Turkish) Kιbrιs Cumhuriyeti
Cyprus Flag  Coat of arms 
Cyprus Flag Coat of arms
Location of  Cyprus 
Location of  Cyprus in EU 
Cyprus Anthem:
Hymn to Liberty
Independence Day 16 August 1960
(from the United Kingdom)
Official languages Greek and Turkish
Capital (and largest city) Nicosia (Lefkosia, Lefkosa)
Government Presidential republic
President Dimitris Christofias
Geographical coordinates 35°10′00″ N.
33°21′00″ E.
  - Total
162-th in the world
9 250 [1] sq.m.
3 572  sq mi
from north to south
from east to west

96 km.
224 km.
Distance to:
Syria and Lebanon

74 km.
105 km.
380 km.
  - Total (2002)
  - Total (2007)
  - density of population
(155-th in the world)
771 657 
789 300 [1] person.
84 person./sq.km.
  - Total (2004)
  - Per capita
117-th in the world
15,76 milliard $
20.428 $
Currency Euro (EUR)
(before 01/01/2008,
the Cypriot pound).
Internet TLD .cy [2]
Calling code +357
Time zone UTC (Coordinated Universal Time)+2 [3]
  1. ^ 1 2 Not including Turkish republic of North Cyprus.
  2. ^ The .eu domain is also used, shared with other European Union member states.
  3. ^ In Cyprus Daylight saving time.
Cyprus (Greek: Kypros, transliterated: Kypros, Turkish: Kibris), officially the Republic of Cyprus (Greek: Κυπριακη Δημοκρατια, Kypriaki Dimokratia ; Turkish: Kibris Cumhuriyeti), is an island country situated in the eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, west of Lebanon, Syria, and Israel, south of Turkey and north of Egypt.

Cyprus is the third largest Mediterranean island and one of the most popular tourist destinations, attracting over 2.4 million tourists per year (do not include tourism to the occupied North). A former British colony, it became an independent republic in 1960 (Cyprus date of independence) and a member of the Commonwealth in 1961. The Republic of Cyprus is one of the advanced economies in the region, and has been a member of the European Union since 1 May 2004. It adopted the euro on 1 January 2008.

In 1974, following years of intercommunal violence between ethnic Greeks and Turks and an attempted coup d'etat by Greek Cypriot nationalists aimed at annexing the island to Greece and engineered by the military junta then in power in Athens, Turkey invaded and occupied one third of the island. This led to the displacement of thousands of Cypriots and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot political entity in the north. This event and its resulting political situation are matters of ongoing dispute.

The Republic of Cyprus, the internationally recognised state, has de jure sovereignty over the entire island of Cyprus and its surrounding waters except the 3% which appendix O of the Treaty of Establishment of the Republic allocates to the United Kingdom as sovereign military bases. The island is de facto partitioned into four main parts: (The Republic of Cyprus exercises full effective control over approximately 59% of the island, the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) controls over approximately 36% of the island, and the remaining approximately 5% of the land mass is split evenly between British-controlled Sovereign Base Areas and the UN-controlled Green Line. See relevant reference articles for areas)

the area under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, in the south of the island;
the Turkish-occupied area in the north,[11] calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (recognised only by Turkey);
the United Nations-controlled Green Line, separating the two; and
two British Sovereign Base Areas (Akrotiri and Dhekelia).


The name Cyprus has a somewhat uncertain etymology. One suggestion is that it comes from the Greek word for the Mediterranean cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens), kyparissos, or even from the Greek name of the henna plant (Lawsonia alba), Kypros. Another school suggests that it stems from the Eteocypriot word for copper. Georges Dossin, for example, suggests that it has roots in the Sumerian word for copper (zubar) or for bronze (kubar), from the large deposits of copper ore found on the island. Through overseas trade the island has given its name to the Classical Latin word for the metal through the phrase aes Cyprium, "metal of Cyprus", later shortened to Cuprum. Cyprus is also called "the island of Aphrodite or love", since in Greek mythology, the goddess Aphrodite, of beauty and love, was born in Cyprus.


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

The 1960 Constitution provided for a presidential system of government with independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as a complex system of checks and balances, including a weighted power-sharing ratio designed to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots. The executive, was headed by a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice president elected by their respective communities for five-year terms and each possessing a right of veto over certain types of legislation and executive decisions. Legislative power rested on the House of Representatives, also elected on the basis of separate voters' rolls. Since 1964, following clashes between the two communities, the Turkish Cypriot seats in the House remain vacant. Turkish Cypriots refuse to establish the state of affairs before the invasion of Cyprus in their attempt to de jure partition the Republic of Cyprus. This is evident in the Secretary-General of the United Nations report at the time. The Turkish Cypriot leaders have adhered to a rigid stand against any measures which might involve having members of the two communities live and work together, or which might place Turkish Cypriots in situations where they would have to acknowledge the authority of Government agents. Indeed, since the Turkish Cypriot leadership is committed to physical and geographical separation of the communities as a political goal, it is not likely to encourage activities by Turkish Cypriots which may be interpreted as demonstrating the merits of an alternative policy. The result has been a seemingly deliberate policy of self-segregation by the Turkish Cypriots[28]

In 1974 Cyprus was divided de facto into the Greek Cypriot controlled southern two-thirds of the island and the Turkish controlled northern third. The Turkish Cypriots subsequently declared independence in 1983 as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus but have not been recognised by any country in the world, except Turkey. In 1985, the TRNC adopted a constitution and held its first elections. All foreign governments (except Turkey), as well as the United Nations, recognise the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island of Cyprus.

The House of Representatives currently has 59 members elected for a five year term, 56 members by proportional representation and 3 observer members representing the Maronite, Latin and Armenian minorities. 24 seats are allocated to the Turkish community but remain vacant since 1964. The political environment is dominated by the communist AKEL, the liberal conservative Democratic Rally, the centrist[29] Democratic Party, the social-democratic EDEK and the centrist EURO.KO.

On 17 February 2008 Dimitris Christofias of the AKEL was elected President of Cyprus and the first electoral victory without being part of a wider coalition. This made Cyprus one of only three countries in the world to currently have a democratically elected communist government, the others being Moldova and Nepal, and the only European Union member state currently under communist leadership. Christofias took over government from Tassos Papadopoulos of the Democratic Party who had been in office since February 2003.

Exclaves and enclaves

Pyrgos, a Greek Cypriot exclave on Morphou BayCyprus has four exclaves, all in territory that belongs to the British Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia. The first two are the villages of Ormidhia and Xylotymvou. The third is the Dhekelia Power Station, which is divided by a British road into two parts. The northern part is an exclave, like the two villages, whereas the southern part is located by the sea and therefore not an exclave, although it has no territorial waters of its own.[31] The UN buffer zone runs up against Dhekelia and picks up again from its east side off Ayios Nikolaos, connected to the rest of Dhekelia by a thin land corridor, and in that sense the buffer zone turns the southeast corner of the island, the Paralimni area, into a de facto, though not de jure, exclave.

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

Human rights in Cyprus

The constant focus on the division of the island can sometimes mask other human rights issues. Prostitution is rife in both the government-controlled and the Turkish-controlled regions, and the island as a whole has been criticised[32] for its role in the sex trade as one of the main routes of human trafficking from Eastern Europe.[33] The regime in the North has been the focus of occasional freedom of speech criticisms[34] regarding heavy-handed treatment of newspaper editors. Domestic violence legislation in the Republic remains largely unimplemented,[35] and it has not yet been passed into law in the North. Reports on the mistreatment of domestic staff, mostly immigrant workers from developing countries, are sometimes reported in the Greek Cypriot press,[36] and are the subject of several campaigns by the anti-racist charity KISA.


Pancyprian Gymnasium, the oldest functioning high school in Cyprus.For a complete list see List of colleges and universities in Cyprus Cyprus has a highly developed system of primary and secondary education offering both public and private education. The high quality of instruction can be attributed to a large extent to the above-average competence of the teachers but also to the fact that nearly 7% of the GDP is spent on education which makes Cyprus one of the top three spenders of education in the EU along with Denmark and Sweden. State schools are generally seen as equivalent in quality of education to private-sector institutions. However, the value of a state high-school diploma is limited by the fact that the grades obtained account for only around 25% of the final grade for each topic, with the remaining 75% assigned by the teacher during the semester, in a minimally transparent way. Greek (List of universities in Greece) and Cypriot universities 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. It is noteworthy that Cyprus currently has the highest percentage of citizens of working age who have higher-level education in the EU at 30% which is ahead of Finland's 29.5%.

Private colleges and state-supported universities have been developed.

University of Cyprus: Established in 1989
The Cyprus Academy of Art: Established in 1995 and offers the only EDEXCEL Accredited Diploma in Foundation Studies in Cyprus.
Cyprus University of Technology: Started in 2007
European University - Cyprus: Established in 1961 as Cyprus College and changed its name in 2007
University of Nicosia: Established in 1981 and formerly known as Intercollege; It changed to its present name in 2007. There are a total of 5,000 students at the Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca campuses
Frederick University
Students from overseas are also increasing.

Universities in the north side of Cyprus include:

Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta
Near East University, Nicosia (North)
Girne American University, Girne
European University of Lefke, Lefke
Cyprus International University, Nicosia (North)
Middle East Technical University, North Cyprus Campus, Guzelyurt


Notable artists include Rhea Bailey, Mihail Kkasialos, Ioannis Kissonergis, Theodoulos Gregoriou, Helene Black, George Skoteinos, Kalopedis family, Nicos Nicolaides, Stass Paraskos, Arestis Stasi, Telemachos Kanthos, Adamantios Diamantis, Konstantia Sofokleous and Chris Achilleos.

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

Literary production of the antiquity includes the Cypria, an epic poem probably composed in the later seventh century BC and attributed to Stasinus. The Cypria is one of the very first specimens of Greek and European poetry.[46] The Cypriot Zeno of Citium was the founder of the Stoic philosophy. Epic poetry, notably the "acritic songs", flourished during Middle Ages. Two chronicles, one written by Leontios Machairas and the other by Voustronios, refer to the period under French domination (15th century). Poemes d'amour written in medieval Greek Cypriot date back from 16th century. Some of them are actual translations of poems written by Petrarch, Bembo, Ariosto and G. Sannazzaro.[47] Modern literary figures from Cyprus include the poet and writer Kostas Montis, poet Kyriakos Charalambides, poet Michalis Pasardis, writer Nicos Nicolaides, Stylianos Atteshlis, Altheides and also Demetris Th. Gotsis. Dimitris Lipertis and Vasilis Michaelides are folk poets who wrote poems mainly in the Cypriot-Greek dialect. Lawrence Durrell lived on Cyprus for a time, and wrote the book Bitter Lemons concerning his time there, which book in 1957 won the second Duff Cooper Prize. The majority of the play Othello by William Shakespeare is set on the island of Cyprus. Cyprus also figures in religious literature, most notably in Acts of the Apostles, according to which the Apostles Barnabas and Paul preached on the island.


Governing bodies of sport in Cyprus include the Cyprus Automobile Association, Cyprus Badminton Federation,[48] Cyprus Basketball Federation, Cyprus Cricket Association, Cyprus Football Association, Cyprus Rugby Federation and the Cyprus Volleyball Federation. Marcos Baghdatis is one of the most successful tennis players in international stage. He reached the Wimbledon semi-final in 2006. Also Kyriakos Ioannou a Cypriot high jumper born in Limassol achieved a jump of 2.35 m at the 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics held in Osaka, Japan, in 2007 winning the bronze medal

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


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

In the north:
TV: BRT 1, BRT 2, Kibris Genc TV, Avrasya Tv + all of mainland Turkey's TV channels are available by analog and satellite. Newspapers: Kibris Gazetesi, Cyprus Daily,

Public Transport.
The bus and taxi services run an extensive network. The bus terminal is at Solomos Square, in the city center. Buses run to all destinations in the city and in the suburbs from 5.30 am to 6.15 pm, every half an hour. They are more frequent at peak periods.

Nicosia Municipality also runs the Yellow Buses with regular itineraries in the city center. The starting point is Solomos square. The service is free.

Country bus services are timed to bring villagers and their produce to market early in the morning, returning about midday when business is done.

Taxis are numerous and operate from the offices of their owners rather than from taxi ranks. They are best contacted by telephone if no taxi office is in your vicinity. When engaging a taxi for excursions in the country, special arrangements should be made with the taxi operator. The cost from Larnaca Airport to Nicosia is about CYP12.

Inexpensive scheduled taxi services operate regularly and frequently (every half an hour) between the main towns. The last taxi service leaves at 5.30 pm. Seats may be booked in advance. The services run on time, pick you up at your hotel or private address, and take you to your destination.

Information for Drivers.

Numerous firms specialize in self-drive car hire. Charges vary according to the size and make of car. The Survey of Cyprus Map, obtainable in a single sheet from booksellers, is adequate for general purposes.

Speed limits are: 50 Km/h (30 m/h) in town

80 Km/h (50 m/h) out of town

100 Km/h (60 m/h) on motorways

The charge for use of public and private car parks in the city center is 40 cents per half day unless otherwise stated. Special arrangements can be made with attendants of private car parks for longer periods.


Nicosia enjoys rather mild winters and hot summers with cool evenings after 6.00 pm.

Minimum and maximum temperatures are:

August: 21C min - 40C max
70F min - 104F max

February: 6C min - 16C max
43F min - 61F max

Bank Holidays.

January 1, 6
Green Monday
March 25
April 1
Good Friday, Easter Monday
May 1
Holy Spirit Monday (Pentecost)
August 15
October 1, 28
December 25, 26

Public Holidays.

January 1, 6
Green Monday
March 25
April 1
Good Friday, Easter Monday
May 1
August 15
October 1, 28
December 25, 26

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