In 1960, Cyprus declared independence from the United Kingdom. Despite a constitution that guaranteed a degree of power-sharing between the Greek Cypriot majority and the Turkish Cypriot minority, the two populations clashed vehemently in 1974, with support from the governments of Greece and Turkey, respectively, resulting in Turkey’s occupation of the northern and eastern 40 percent of the island. The Turkish-controlled region proclaimed itself the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” in 1983. So date, only Turkey recognizes the TRNC, while all other countries and the United Nations acknowledge only the Republic of Cyprus as the only authority over the whole island. The United Nations maintains a peacekeeping force as well as a small buffer zone between the two Cypriot ethnic groupings. Fortunately, open confrontations have been avoided for some years as the two sides (today with the increasing participation of the European Union) inch closer to some kind of reunification.
After the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia, Cyprus is the third biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea (both in terms of area and population). It is also the world’s 80th biggest in terms of land and the world’s 51st largest in terms of people. It is 240 kilometers (149 miles) long and 100 kilometers (62 miles) broad at its widest point, with Turkey 75 kilometers (47 miles) to the north. It is located between the latitudes of 34° and 36° N, and the longitudes of 32° and 35° E.
Syria and Lebanon are to the east (105 and 108 kilometers (65 and 67 mi), respectively), Israel is to the southeast (200 kilometers (124 mi), Egypt is to the south (380 kilometers (236 mi), and Greece is to the northwest (280 kilometers (174 mi) to the small Dodecanesian island of Kastellorizo (Megisti), 400 kilometers (249 mi) to Rhodes, and 800 kilometers (497 mi) to the Gr. According to several sources, Cyprus is located in Europe, Western Asia, and the Middle East.
The island’s physical relief is dominated by two mountain ranges, the Troodos Mountains and the lesser Kyrenia Range, as well as the middle plain they encircle, the Mesaoria. The Mesaoria plain is drained by the Pedieos River, the island’s longest. The Troodos Mountains encompass the majority of the island’s southern and western regions, accounting for approximately half of its total size. Mount Olympus, situated in the Troodos range, is Cyprus’s highest peak at 1,952 m (6,404 ft). The short Kyrenia Range, which runs along the northern shore, has a much smaller area and has lower heights, reaching a maximum of 1,024 m. (3,360 ft). The island is located on the Anatolian Plate.
The island is split into four major geopolitical divisions. The Republic of Cyprus controls the island’s southern two-thirds (59.74 percent ). The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus occupies the northern third of the island (34.85 percent), while the UN-controlled Green Line serves as a buffer zone between the two, covering 2.67 percent of the island. Finally, the remaining 2.74 percent of the island is covered by two bases under British control: Akrotiri and Dhekelia.
Cyprus has a subtropical climate – Mediterranean and semi-arid (in the north-eastern portion of the island) – Köppen climatic classifications Csa and BSh, with pleasant winters (near the coast) and moderate to hot summers. Snow is only conceivable in the Troodos Mountains in the island’s center. Rain falls mostly in the winter, with the summer being mostly dry.
Cyprus has one of the hottest temperatures in the European Union’s Mediterranean region. On the shore, the average yearly temperature is about 24 °C (75 °F) during the day and 14 °C (57 °F) at night. Summers last approximately 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 temperatures occasionally exceed 20 °C (68 °F) during the remaining four months.
Limassol has one of the warmest winters in the Mediterranean region of the European Union, with an average temperature of 17–18 °C (63–64 °F) during the day and 7–8 °C (45–46 °F) at night, while other coastal locations in Cyprus have an average temperature of 16–17 °C (61–63 °F) during the day and 6–8 °C (43–46 °F) at night. Limassol has an average temperature of 19–20 °C (66–68 °F) during the day and 9–11 °C (48–52 °F) at night in March, whereas other coastal places in Cyprus have an average temperature of 17–19 °C (63–66 °F) during the day and 8–10 °C (46–50 °F) at night.
In July and August, the average temperature on the shore is typically about 33 °C (91 °F) during the day and approximately 22 °C (72 °F) at night (inland, in the highlands, the average temperature reaches 35 °C (95 °F)). In June and September, the average temperature on the shore is typically about 30 °C (86 °F) during the day and around 20 °C (68 °F) at night in Limassol, while in Paphos it is usually around 28 °C (82 °F) during the day and around 18 °C (64 °F) at night. Temperature swings of this magnitude are uncommon. Inland temperatures are more severe, with colder winters and hotter summers than on the island’s coast.
The average annual sea temperature is 21–22 °C (70–72 °F), with temperatures ranging from 17 °C (63 °F) in February to 27–28 °C (81–82 °F) in August (depending on the location). From May through November, the average sea temperature surpasses 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).
Sunshine hours on the coast average about 3,200 each year, ranging from 5–6 hours per day in December to 12–13 hours in July. This is almost twice the amount received by cities in the northern part of Europe; for example, London gets around 1,540 per year. In December, London gets about 50 hours of sunlight, whereas coastal areas in Cyprus receive over 180 hours (almost as much as in May in London).
According to the CIA World Factbook, Greek Cypriots made up 77% of the Cypriot population in 2001, Turkish Cypriots 18%, and others 5%. According to the 2011 official census, Cyprus has 10,520 individuals of Russian ancestry.
According to the first population census following independence, conducted in December 1960 and encompassing the whole island, Cyprus had a total population of 573,566 people, of which 442,138 (77.1 percent ) were Greeks, 104,320 (18.2 percent ) Turkish, and 27,108 (4.7 percent ) others.
An island-wide census was deemed unfeasible between 1963 and 1974 due to inter-communal ethnic conflicts. Nonetheless, the Greek Cypriots staged one in 1973, without the participation of the Turkish Cypriot population. The Greek Cypriot population was 482,000 at the time of the census. One year later, in 1974, the Cypriot government’s Department of Statistics and Research estimated the entire population of Cyprus to be 641,000, with 506,000 Greeks (78.9 percent) and 118,000 Turkish (18.4 percent). Following the island’s division in 1974, Greeks conducted four additional censuses: in 1976, 1982, 1992, and 2001; they omitted the Turkish population who lived in the northern half of the island.
According to the Republic of Cyprus’s most recent estimate from 2005, the number of Cypriot nationals residing in the Republic of Cyprus is about 871,036. In addition, the Republic of Cyprus has 110,200 foreign permanent residents and an estimated 10,000–30,000 undocumented illegal immigrants residing in the island’s south.
Northern Cyprus has 256,644 (de jure) persons residing there in 2006, according to the Northern Cyprus census. Northern Cyprus had 178,031 people, of which 147,405 were born in Cyprus (112,534 in the north; 32,538 in the south; 371 did not specify which part of Cyprus they were from); 27,333 in Turkey; 2,482 in the United Kingdom; and 913 in Bulgaria. Of the 147,405 Cyprus citizens born, 120,031 had both parents born in Cyprus; 16,824 have both parents born in Turkey; and 10,361 have one parent born in Turkey and one parent born in Cyprus.
According to the International Crisis Group, the overall population of Cyprus is 1.1 million, with an estimated 300,000 inhabitants in the north, possibly half of whom were born in Turkey or are offspring of such immigrants.
According to one estimate, the population in the north has reached 500,000 people, with half of them believed to be Turkish immigrants or Cypriot-born offspring of such settlers.
Potamia (Nicosia district) and Pyla (Larnaca District) are the only settlements in the Republic of Cyprus with a mix of Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
In Cyprus, the following Y-Dna haplogroups are found at the following frequencies: J (43.07 percent, including 6.20 percent J1), E1b1b (20.00 percent), R1 (12.30 percent, including 9.2 percent R1b), F (9.20 percent), I (7.70 percent), K (4.60 percent), A (4.60 percent) (3.10 percent ). J, K, F, and E1b1b haplogroups are made up of lineages that are found in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, while R1 and I are found in West European populations.
Outside of Cyprus, there is a sizable and vibrant Greek Cypriot diaspora as well as a Turkish Cypriot diaspora in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the United States, Greece, and Turkey.
The majority of Greek Cypriots are Greek Orthodox, while the majority of Turkish Cypriots are Sunni Muslims. According to Eurobarometer 2005, Cyprus was the second most religious state in the European Union at the time, behind only Malta (although Romania was not a member of the European Union in 2005; presently, Romania is the most religious state in the European Union). Makarios III, the first President of Cyprus, was an archbishop. Archbishop Chrysostomos II is the current head of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus.
Some secular orientalists see Hala Sultan Tekke, located near the Larnaca Salt Lake, as the third holiest shrine in Sunni Islam and a place of pilgrimage for both Muslims and Christians.
According to the 2001 census, 94.8 percent of the population is Eastern Orthodox, 0.9 percent are Armenians and Maronites, 1.5 percent are Roman Catholics, 1.0 percent are Church of England, and 0.6 percent are Muslims. On Cyprus, there is also a Jewish community. The remaining 1.3 percent are members of other religious groups or have not declared their faith.
The Cypriot economy has diversified and become wealthy in the early twenty-first century. However, it was impacted by the Eurozone financial and banking crisis in 2012. The Cypriot government stated in June 2012 that it would need €1.8 billion in external assistance to sustain the Cyprus Popular Bank, which was followed by Fitch lowering Cyprus’s credit rating to junk status. Fitch stated Cyprus will require an extra €4 billion to sustain its banks, and the downgrading was mostly due to the exposure of Cyprus’s three biggest banks, Bank of Cyprus, Cyprus Popular Bank, and Hellenic Bank, to the Greek financial crisis.
The 2012–2013 Cypriot financial crisis resulted in a March 2013 agreement with the Eurogroup to divide the country’s second largest bank, Cyprus Popular Bank (also known as Laiki Bank), into a “bad” bank that would be wound down over time and a “good” bank that would be absorbed by the Bank of Cyprus. In exchange for a €10 billion bailout from the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, collectively known as the “troika,” the Cypriot government was required to impose a significant haircut on uninsured deposits, the majority of which were held by wealthy Russians who used Cyprus as a tax haven. Deposits of €100,000 or less were unaffected.
According to the most recent International Monetary Fund estimates, its per capita GDP (adjusted for buying power) is $30,769, which is somewhat higher than the European Union average. Because of its low tax rates, Cyprus has been sought after as a location for many offshore companies. Tourism, financial services, and shipping all play important roles in the economy. The Cyprus government’s economic strategy has been centered on fulfilling the requirements for entrance to the European Union. On January 1, 2008, the Cypriot government accepted the euro as the national currency.
Significant amounts of offshore natural gas have been found in recent years in the Aphrodite region of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), about 175 kilometers (109 miles) south of Limassol at 33°5′40′′N and 32°59′0′′E. Offshore drilling firms in Turkey, on the other hand, have had access to both natural gas and oil resources since 2013. Cyprus established a marine boundary with Egypt in 2003 and a border with Lebanon in 2007. In 2010, Cyprus and Israel defined their maritime boundary, and in August 2011, the US-based company Noble Energy entered into a production-sharing deal with the Cypriot government regarding the commercial exploitation of the block.
Turkey, which does not recognize Cyprus’s boundary accords with its neighbors, has threatened to mobilize its naval troops if Cyprus goes through with preparations to begin drilling in Block 12. Cyprus’ drilling operations have the backing of the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations, and drilling in Block 12 started on September 19, 2011, with no issues recorded.
The property rental industry in Cyprus has expanded in recent years as a result of the large inflow of tourists and international investors. The Cyprus Town Planning Department launched a series of incentives in late 2013 in order to boost the property market and increase the number of property projects in the country’s town centers. This comes on the heels of previous steps to expedite the issuance of immigration permits to third-country citizens who invest in Cyprus real estate.