Ruins at the ancient Cypriot town of Salamis . The city was founded in the Bronze Age and destroyed in the 300s, but was later partially rebuilt.

Cyprus is an island and republic in the eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey and west of Syria. The island is the third largest in the Mediterranean.

The island is divided into a Greek-Cypriot part (Cyprus), described here, and a Turkish-Cypriot part ( Northern Cyprus ). The latter is a self-proclaimed state (Kuzey Kibris Türk Cumhuriyeti, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) recognized only by Turkey. 59.7 per cent of the island is under Cypriot rule, 2.7 per cent is under UN control and 2.7 per cent is made up of the British bases Akrotiri and Dhekelia. The country’s politics are characterized by the question of island sharing.

The Republic of Cyprus is slightly larger than Akershus County and had about 1.2 million inhabitants in 2018 (not including Northern Cyprus). The inhabitants are called Cypriots. The capital is the southern part of Nicosia.

Cyprus is the third most populous island in the Mediterranean and a popular tourist destination.

The name is interpreted as ‘Copper Island’, since the country was an important supplier of copper in ancient times. The name may also be derived from the introduced tree type cypress.

The national anthem is ‘Imnos eis tin eleftherian’ (‘Hymn to Freedom’). This is also the Greek national anthem.

Geography and environment

Large parts of the interior are met by the Troodos mountain range. North of this lies the low and fertile lowland plain of Mesaoria, which is the most important agricultural area. Most watercourses dry out in the summer. The border with Northern Cyprus, for example, passes through Nicosia and is a UN-guarded buffer zone.

In the mountains and in the west there are forests with cypress, aleppo fur and a native cedar, Cedrus brevifolia. The vegetation also consists of shrubs and trees as well as herbs that bloom in the winter. Due to Cyprus’ isolated position in the Mediterranean, 120 of the approximately 2000 plant species are found only in Cyprus.

There are 21 mammal species, including the rare sheep species muflon. In the salt lakes, flocks of flamingos are in the winter. Vultures and falcons are found in the mountains. Of reptiles there are geckos, chameleons and eight species of snakes. Swordfish visit the coasts in May – July.

Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate with long, hot summers. There is some rain in December – February and snow in the Troodos mountains.

Ruins at the ancient Cypriot town of Salamis . The city was founded in the Bronze Age and destroyed in the 300s, but was later partially rebuilt.

People and society

Greek Cypriots make up 78.6 percent of the island’s population, Turkish Cypriots slightly below twenty percent (2011). The island also has a small Armenian (3500) and Maronite (6000) population who mainly live in Nicosia. Two thirds of the total population lives in cities and the rest mainly in lowland along the coast. Nearly all Greek Cypriots are members of the Greek Orthodox Church, while the vast majority of Turkish Cypriots are Sunni Muslims.

Official languages ​​are Greek and Turkish. More than three-quarters of the population speak English, which is important in education and trade.

State and politics

Cyprus is a democratic and presidential republic. The president is the head of state and the real head of government, and is elected in the general election for five years.

Cyprus has a one-chamber parliament: The House of Representatives with the legislative authority has 59 seats and three observer members (for the Armenian, Maronite and Latin minorities). 24 seats for Turkish society are available. Cyprus has multi-party systems.

Cyprus is divided into six districts; these cross the border between Cyprus and Northern Cyprus. Four exclaves belong to the British enclave area of ​​Dhekelia, and it is a UN buffer zone between Cyprus and Northern Cyprus.

Cyprus is a member of the UN and UN special organizations, among others by the World Trade Organization, the Commonwealth, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Cyprus joined the EU in 2004.

Since 1964, the UN has had peacekeeping forces in Cyprus, the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) . Photo from 1977.

Economy and business

Tourism and service industries are the dominant industry, both in GDP and employment. Important tourist centers include Ayia Napa, Fig Tree Bay, Protaras and Polis. Light industry has grown over the last 30 years. Agriculture is still an important trade route, including the cultivation of citrus fruits, potatoes, barley, wheat, olives and grapes. Water shortage limits production. Fishing is modest. Animal husbandry includes sheep and goats.

Copper ore, iron pyrite, asbestos, limestone and sand are extracted.

Important export products include potatoes, wine, fruits and vegetables. Imports include textiles, transport equipment, oil products and food products.

The trade relationship between Cyprus and Northern Cyprus is modest.

Financial services and shipping are of great importance. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Cyprus became a major gateway for investment in Russia. Before the financial crisis, it is estimated that around $ 120 billion circulated between Cyprus and Russia each year. Before the financial crisis hit the island in 2009, Cyprus was both a tax haven and a money laundering center for European players, and in particular, actors associated with the Russian mafia. More than 30,000 offshore companies were established on the island before the financial crisis, and these make it possible to move money to avoid taxes or to launder criminal money. Milosevic The regime also moved large sums of money to Cyprus. A large number of Russians have invested in homes and holiday homes in Cyprus, and this is reflected in the stores’ selection of goods and in the street scene.

The unofficial part of the economy is large, and some are estimated to be more than 50 per cent. Cyprus has long been a transit country for tobacco smuggling into the European market. Cyprus is also believed to have been an important center for international arms trade. Human trafficking in refugees goes through Cyprus, and organized prostitution with Eastern European women has long been on a large scale.