Situated at the north-eastern end of the Mediterranean basin, Cyprus is the third largest island in the region, with an area of 9,251 square kilometres (3,572 square miles).
The latitude of Cyprus is 34° 33’-35° 34’ North, and its longitude is 32° 16’ - 34° 37’ East.
Population (de jure): 946,000 (End 2013)
72%: Greek Cypriots (690,900)
17.6%: Foreign residents (167,100)
9.6%: Turkish Cypriots (91,000)
Note: Prior to the Turkish invasion (July-August 1974), the two communities lived together in roughly the same proportions (4 Greek Cypriots: 1 Turkish Cypriot), in all six administrative districts of the island. Since the invasion, more than 58,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the occupied area have emigrated, with the result that today they constitute less than 10% of the population of Cyprus compared to 18% before July 1974.
- Population of Main Towns:
As of end of 2013, the population of the island’s main towns is as follows:
Lefkosia (Nicosia): 333,800 (part of Lefkosia in the Government controlled area)
Lemesos (Limassol): 239,700
Larnaka (Larnaca): 145,900
Pafos (Paphos): 91,200
Ammochostos (Free Famagusta) rural area: 47,400
- Government and Regime:
Cyprus is an independent sovereign Republic with a presidential system of government. Under the 1960 Constitution, executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic, elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term of office through a Council of Ministers appointed by him. Ministers cannot serve concurrently in the House of Representatives.
On May 01, 2004 the Republic of Cyprus became a full member of the EU completing a long journey that lasted more than three decades. Accession to the EU was a natural choice for Cyprus, dictated by its culture, civilisation, history, its European outlook and adherence to the ideals of democracy, freedom and justice. EU accession has launched a new era of challenges, opportunities and responsibilities for Cyprus.
The application of the EU laws and regulations (the acquis communautaire) is suspended in the area under military occupation by Turkey, pending a solution to the division of the island. Meanwhile, the government of Cyprus in cooperation with the EU Commission, has been promoting arrangements to facilitate increased economic transactions between the two communities and improve the standard of living of Turkish Cypriots. On January 01, 2008 the Republic of Cyprus joined the Eurosystem and in so doing introduced the Euro as its official currency, replacing the Cyprus pound as the unit of account. Thus, Euro banknotes and coins are the country’s legal tender.
Cyprus is also a member of the United Nations and its specialised agencies, the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and many other international organisations.
Blessed with the beauty of nature’s best palette, the scenery of Cyprus unfolds across glittering coasts, rolling mountains, fragrant forests and rugged headlands. From the warm shores of the mainland to the unspoiled and cool oasis of the Troodos mountain range, nature lovers, artists, photographers and explorers will all delight in meeting shy creatures, and discovering rare plants that peep out amidst waterfalls, coves, woodland, winding trails and secluded sands. As the island is on the migration path between Europe, Asia and Africa, Cyprus is a birdwatchers dream, with flocks of flamingos frequenting the salt lakes, and many other significant species passing through or nesting. And deep in the forests, the national animal - the Mouflon – roams freely, with catching a glimpse of this timid, wild sheep a real treat for locals and visitors alike.
Exotic and rare forms of wildlife also give Cyprus a special touch. Green and Loggerhead turtles breed on the island's sandy beaches in summer, while the Mediterranean Seal and dolphins have also been seen swimming in the warm, calm, crystal clear seas of the island.
Botanists and herbalists will equally appreciate the island’s green side, with a large number of local herbs and endemic plants, including the Cyprus orchid, tulip and crocus waiting to be stumbled upon along winding nature trails and paths less travelled.
From stunning sunrise to breathtaking sunset, the natural allure of Cyprus is both magnificent and inspiring… and all waiting to be uncovered
- Culture and Religion:
Cyprus is a small island with a long history and a rich culture that spans 10,000 years, making it one of the oldest civilisations in the Mediterranean - as evidenced by the many fascinating cultural sights, museums, monuments and galleries. Situated at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa - the island’s unique geographic position has played an important part in its turbulent past since antiquity. Its Prehistoric Age inhabitants were joined 3500 years ago by the Mycenaean Greeks, who introduced and established their civilisation, thus permanently instilling the island’s Greek roots. Many other cultures followed thereafter, including Phoenicians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Romans, Franks, Venetians, Ottomans and British, who all left behind visible remnants of their passage, and have thus created a mosaic of different cultures and periods.
As such, the island is an open-air museum of prehistoric settlements, classical Greek temples, Roman theatres and villas, Early Christian basilicas, Byzantine churches and monasteries, Crusader castles, Gothic cathedrals, Venetian fortifications, Moslem mosques, and British colonial-style buildings. The old ways of life, customs and traditions are still beautifully preserved in the rural villages, and interesting elements of the island are captured in the many museums and galleries. It is not surprising then that UNESCO includes a number of the island’s sights on its list of World Heritage Sites. Whilst the preservation of historical sites and riches is of the upmost priority for the island, these efforts are in stark contrast with the unfortunate reality that a large part of its cultural heritage remains under Turkish occupation since July 1974, and has been subjected to severe damage. But when visiting Cyprus, you will never have to look far to find a piece of its history and culture, whether you want to discover more about the traditions of the island, or immerse yourself in its captivating past.