MARCH 1992 
Official Name:   Republic of Cyprus (1) 
Area:  9,251 sq. km. (3,572 sq. mi.); about the size of Connecticut.  
Cities: Capital--Nicosia (pop. 164,400).  Other cities--Limassol, 
Larnaca, Famagusta, Kyrenia, Paphos.  Terrain: Central plain with 
mountain ranges to the north and south.  Climate:  Mediterranean with 
hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. 
Nationality:  Noun and adjective--Cypriot(s).  Population (1991): 
735,000.  Greek area:  565,000;  Turkish area: 170,000. Annual growth 
rate: 1%.  Ethnic groups: Greek (78%), Turkish (18%), Armenian and other 
(4%).  Religions: Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Maronite, Roman Catholic, 
Armenian.  Languages:  Greek, Turkish, English.  Education: Years 
compulsory--  6 in elementary; 3 in high school. Attendance--almost 
100%.  Literacy--about 99%. Health (1990):  Infant mortality rate--
10/1,000. Life expectancy--73 yrs. males; 78 yrs. females.  Work force 
(1991): Greek area--280,000:  trade and tourism-- 24%; industry--20%; 
agriculture--15%; public services--6%. Turkish area--74,000: 
agriculture--29%; public services--22%; industry--10%; trade and 
(1) Figures cited are for the Greek Cypriot Community, unless otherwise 
Type: Republic.  Independence: August 16, 1960. Constitution:  August 
16, 1960.   
Branches:  Executive--president elected to 5-yr. term.  Legislative--
unicameral House of Representatives, members elected to 5-yr. terms.  
Judicial--Supreme Court; six district courts.  Administrative 
subdivisions: six. 
Political parties: Greek Cypriot Community--Democratic Rally (right); 
Democratic  (center-right);  AKEL (communist); EDEK (socialist).  
Turkish Cypriot Community--National Unity  (center-right); Republican 
Turkish (Marxist); Communal Liberation (left); New Dawn  (right); Free 
Democratic (center); Social Democratic (center-left).    Suffrage: 
Universal at age 18. 
Central government budget (1991):  Total revenue--$1.2 billion; Total 
expen-diture--$2 billion; Development spending--$206 million. Fiscal 
deficit reached   $285 million (5% of GDP) in 1991.   
Defense (1991 est.):  $379 million  
(6% of GDP).  
Flag:  Against a white background, island's shape in gold above two 
crossed olive branches. 
GNP (1991):  $5.9 billion.  Per capita income (1991):  Greek Cypriots--
$9,970; Turkish Cypriots--about $3,500.   
Natural resources: Pyrites, copper, asbestos, gypsum, lumber, salt, 
marble, clay, earth pigment. 
Agriculture (7% of GDP):  Products--Potatoes and other vegetables, 
citrus fruits, olives, grapes, wheat, carob seeds. 
Industry (18% of GDP):  Types--mining,  chemicals, non-electric 
machinery, clothing, footwear, beverages, cement. 
Services and Tourism (50% of GDP):  Trade, restaurants, and hotels 23%; 
finance, insurance, real estate, and business 15%; transport, storage, 
and communication 10%. 
Trade (1991):  Exports--$838 million: citrus, grapes, wine, potatoes, 
clothing, footwear.  Major markets--EC (especially the UK),  Middle 
East.  Imports-- $2.3 billion: consumer goods, petroleum and lubricants, 
food and feed grains.  Major suppliers--EC (especially the UK), Japan, 
Exchange Rate:  US$2.30=1 Cyprus pound. Fiscal year:  Calendar year.  

Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish military intervention of 1974, 
following a coup directed from Greece.  Since then, the southern part of 
the country has been under the control of the Government of Cyprus and 
the northern part under an autonomous Turkish-Cypriot administration 
supported by the presence of Turkish troops.  In 1983, that 
administration proclaimed itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern 
Cyprus," recognized only by Turkey.  UN  peace-keeping forces maintain a 
buffer zone between the two sides.  

Greek and Turkish Cypriots share many customs but maintain distinct 
identities  based on religion, language, and close ties with their 
respective  motherlands.  Greek and Turkish are official languages in 
their sectors.  English is widely used.   

Cyprus has a well-developed system of primary and secondary education.  
Cypriots traditionally have received higher education at Greek, Turkish, 
or British universities.   Growing numbers also are being educated in 
the United States.  Separate institutions of higher education on the 
island have been developed by both the Turkish and Greek communities. 

Cypriot culture is among the oldest in the Mediterranean.  By BC 3700, 
the island was well inhabited, a crossroads between East and West.  The 
island fell successively under Assyrian, Egyptian,  Persian, Greek, and 
Roman domination.  For 800 years, beginning in 364 AD, Cyprus was ruled 
by Byzantium.   After brief possession by Richard the Lion-Hearted, the 
island came under Frankish control in the late 12th century.  It was 
ceded to the Venetian Republic in 1489 and acquired by the Ottoman Turks 
in 1571.  The Ottomans applied the millet system to Cyprus, under which 
non-Muslim minorities were governed by their religious authorities.  
This system reinforced the position of the church and the cohesion of 
the ethnic Greek population.  Most of the Turks who settled on the 
island during the three centuries of Ottoman rule remained when control 
of Cyprus, although not sovereignty,  was ceded to the United Kingdom   
in 1878.  Many, however, left for Turkey during the 1920s.  The island 
was annexed formally by the UK   in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I 
and became a crown colony in 1925. 

Cyprus gained its independence from the UK  in 1960, after an anti-UK 
campaign by the Greek Cypriot EOKA (National Organization of Cypriot 
Fighters), a guerrilla group which desired political union with Greece, 
in a process known as enosis.   Archbishop Makarios, a charismatic 
religious and political leader, was elected President. 

Shortly after the founding of the republic, serious differences arose 
between the two communities over the implementation and interpretation 
of the constitution.  Intercommunal fighting erupted in December 1963, 
after which Turkish Cypriots, in their view, were forced to withdraw 
from most national institutions and began to administer their own 
affairs.  UN peacekeepers have been on the island since 1964.  

In 1974, a military junta in Athens sponsored a coup in Nicosia led by 
extremist Greek Cypriots supporting union with Greece.  The junta had 
been hostile to Makarios for alleged pro-communist leanings and for what 
was perceived as President Makarios' abandonment of enosis.  Turkey, 
citing the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, intervened militarily to protect 
Turkish Cypriots.   

In a two-stage offensive, Turkish troops took control of 38% of the 
island.  Many Greek Cypriots fled south while Turkish Cypriots fled 
north.  After a cease-fire was declared, a large-scale population 
transfer occurred.  

Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided de facto into two areas.  The 
Government of the Republic of Cyprus has continued as the 
internationally recognized authority, but, in practice, its power 
extends only to the Greek Cypriot-controlled areas. 

The 1960 Cypriot 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, for example, was headed by a Greek 
Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice president, elected by their 
respective communities for 5-year terms and possessing a right of veto 
over certain types of legislation and executive decisions.   

Certain provisions of the constitution were never fully implemented. The 
Greek Cypriots argued that the complex mechanisms introduced to protect 
Turkish Cypriot interests were obstacles to efficient government.  In 
November 1963, President Makarios advanced a series of constitutional 
amendments designed to eliminate some of these special provisions.  The 
Turkish Cypriots opposed such changes.  The confrontation prompted 
widespread intercommunal fighting, after which Turkish Cypriot 
participation ceased in the central government.  Following a further 
outbreak of intercommunal violence in 1967-68, a Turkish Cypriot 
provisional administration was formed.    

In February 1975, the Turkish Cypriots formally set up their own 
government with a popularly elected president and a prime minister 
responsible to the National Assembly exercising joint executive powers.  
In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared the independence of the "Turkish 
Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC) and in 1985 adopted a constitution 
and held elections; this arrangement is recognized only by Turkey. 
Principal Government Officials  
President--George Vassiliou Takis Nemitsas Christofides 
Foreign Minister--George Iacovou 
Ambassador to the United States--Michaelis Sherifis 
Ambassador to the United Nations--Andreas Mavrommatis 
Cyprus maintains an Embassy in the United States at 2211 R Street NW, 
Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-462-5772).  The Cypriot Consulate General 
is located in New York City and Cypriot Honorary Consuls are in Atlanta, 
Baton Rouge, Chicago, Fort Wayne, Houston, Los Angeles, Oakland, 
Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, St. Louis, Rochester, 
MN., and Wellesley, MA.  Cyprus also maintains a trade center at 13 East 
40th Street, New York, NY 10016 (tel. 212-686-6016).   The Turkish 
Cypriots maintain offices in Washington and at the Turkish Mission to 
the United Nations in New York. 

Both the Republic of Cyprus and the "TRNC" have active multi-party 
political systems. There are four major Greek Cypriot political parties-
-the conservative Democratic Rally, the center-right Democratic Party, 
socialist EDEK, and communist AKEL.  None has been able to elect a 
president by itself or dominate the 56-seat House of Representatives. 

President Vassiliou, a successful businessman elected in 1988 as an 
independent with backing from AKEL,  faces pressures from the party of 
former President Spyros Kyprianou and the Socialist party led by Vassos 
Lyssarides.  Both are considered less flexible on settlement issues than 
the President.  The 165,000 Greek Cypriot refugees are also a potent 
political force, along with the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, an 
independent branch of Greek Orthodoxy which exercises broad influence in 
temporal as well as ecclesiastical matters. 

On the Turkish Cypriot side,  the National Unity Party founded by 
current "TRNC President" Rauf Denktash, controls all but five seats in 
the  assembly.  The two main opposition parties--the leftist Republican 
Turkish Party and the Communal Liberation Party--have boycotted the 
assembly since they lost a critical general election in May 1990. They 
contend that election rules were unfair and that the Turkish mainland 
had intervened unfairly during the campaign.   One month earlier, 
Denktash, running without party affiliation, was re-elected with 67% of 
the votes.   

Efforts to develop institutional arrangements acceptable to both 
communities have been made almost since the founding of the republic.   
UN-sponsored negotiations began in 1968.  Since 1975, there have been 
several sets of negotiations and other initiatives.  Despite setbacks, 
discussions continue to focus on ways to establish a new constitutional 
arrangement for the State of Cyprus that will regulate the relations of 
the two communities on a federal, bicommunal,  and bizonal basis.  
Turkish Cypriots place emphasis on bizonality, security guarantees,  and 
political equality of the two communities.   Greek Cypriots emphasize 
the rights of  movement, property, settlement, and the return of 
territory.  Turkish Cypriots favor a federation of  two nearly 
autonomous societies living side by side with limited contact, while 
Greek Cypriots envision a more integrated structure.   

Talks between Greek Cypriot President Vassiliou and Turkish Cypriot 
leader Denktash have taken place since 1988.  UN efforts continue, with 
Security Council Resolutions 649 (1990) and 716 (1991)  calling on both 
communities to negotiate on an equal footing and to complete an overall 
framework agreement. 

The economy of the Republic of Cyprus has made a dramatic recovery from 
the 1974 hostilities which created  more than 230,000 jobless and 
homeless refugees across the island.  Cyprus benefited from the mid-
1970's economic boom in the Middle East and from its evolution as a 
substitute base for multinational companies fleeing civil war in 
Lebanon.  Already a signatory of a custom's union agreement with the 
European Community (EC), which provides for gradual elimination of 
bilateral customs duties on 82% of goods traded, the government  applied 
for full membership in the EC in 1990.   

The economy has shifted from agriculture to light manufacturing 
(especially of clothing and footwear) and services and expanded rapidly 
in 1990 due to strong growth of domestic demand and tourism.   The 
government is promoting industrial restructuring toward "flexible 
specialization" aimed at penetrating new markets, especially in Europe.   
Tourism--which has rebounded after a decline due to the Gulf war--is a 
vital source of foreign exchange and a strong stimulus to growth.  More 
than 1.5 million tourists visited Cyprus in 1990. 

GNP of the government-controlled area grew by 6% in 1990, topping the 
5.6% average growth rate during previous decade.  Unemployment declined 
further to 1.8% of the workforce.  Severe labor shortages were felt in 
tourism, industry, and agriculture.   

Agriculture fell to 6.8% of the GNP in 1990 and accounted for 14% of 
employment and 26% of total exports.  Potatoes and citrus are the 
principal export crops.  Cyprus subsidizes vineyards and winemaking and 
has an annual glut of unsold wine. The island has few natural resources 
and must import fuels, most raw materials, heavy machinery, and 
transportation equipment.   

A drop in tourist arrivals due to the Gulf war, drought, and the 
government's failure to enact tax revisions all had a negative impact on 
state finances in 1990, which saw the deficit rise to 5.1% of GDP--more 
than double 1990 levels.    However, the deficit is forecast to drop to 
3.5% of GDP in 1992, well above administration targets.  The trade 
deficit has increased steadily from $281 million in 1973 to $1.5 billion 
in 1991, but other earnings--mostly from tourism--have kept pace, 
resulting in a favorable trade balance.  
Turkish Cypriot Economics  

The economic disparity between the two communities is pronounced.  In 
1991, Turkish Cypriot  per capita income was about $3,500; for Greek 
Cypriots it rose to $9,970.  The Turkish Cypriot economy suffers from a 
lack of private and governmental investment, and shortages of skilled 
labor and experienced managers.  The Government of Cyprus has sought, 
with some success, to limit economic interaction between the Turkish 
Cypriot sector and the outside world.   

Agriculture is waning as an economic mainstay.  Recent measures have 
provided subsidized credits for investing in tourism, an area which 
Turkish Cypriots are working to develop.  As in the south, earnings from 
tourism largely offset the merchandise trade deficit.  Four-fifths of 
visitors to the north are from Turkey. 

The common unit of account among Turkish Cypriots is the Turkish lira, 
subject to 70% inflation in 1990.  Financial reforms have instituted a 
free market in foreign exchange and authorized residents to hold 
foreign-currency denominated bank accounts.  This encouraged transfers 
from Turkish Cypriots abroad, resulting in a construction boom, imports, 
and customs duties.  Local revenues now cover about 80% of current needs 
of the authorities.  Commercial bank credit available to Turkish 
Cypriots, however,  is only 7% of that extended in the Greek Cypriot 

Turkey is the major source of development assistance and of imports; the 
EC is the primary destination of exports, which consist principally of 

Since independence, the Republic of Cyprus has been a neutral country 
and a member of the Non-aligned Movement.  It is not a member of any 
military alliance.  Troops of five official military organizations, 
however,  are based in Cypriot territory:  Greek Cypriot, Turkish 
Cypriot, mainland Greek, mainland Turkish, and the UN Force in Cyprus 

The Greek Cypriot community requires compulsory military service for 
males following secondary education.  The Greek Cypriot National Guard 
numbers about 10,000, with 65,000 reserves.  Many senior officers of the 
Greek Cypriot National Guard and a number of its personnel are Greek 
army regulars.   A separate mainland Greek military contingent also is 
stationed in the Republic of Cyprus. 

A 4,500 troop Turkish Cypriot Security Force, originally designed to 
protect Turkish Cypriot enclaves before 1974, is also based on 
compulsory military service for Turkish Cypriot males.  In addition to 
the estimated 30,000 Turkish military forces stationed on Cyprus, 
Turkish regulars provide a significant portion of the leadership of the 
Turkish Cypriot Security Force. 

UNICYP has about 2,200 troops with military contingents from the UK , 
Canada, Austria, and Denmark, as well as civilian police from Australia 
and Sweden and smaller units from Finland and Ireland. The UN force 
patrols the cease-fire buffer zone, known as the "green line," between 
the two communities.   In addition, British forces are stationed at two 
Sovereign Base Areas on the southern coast of the island. 

The Government of Cyprus follows a non-aligned foreign policy, although 
it identifies with the West in its cultural affinities and trade 
patterns and maintains close relations with Greece.   Turkey does not 
recognize the Government of Cyprus. 

Since 1974, the foreign policy of the Government of Cyprus has sought 
the withdrawal of Turkish forces and the most favorable constitutional 
and territorial settlement possible. This campaign has been  pursued 
primarily through international forums such as the United Nations and 
the Non-aligned Movement.  In 1990, Greek Cypriot popular and political 
support for membership in the European Community spurred the government  
to make a formal application to the EC--despite bitter objections from 
the Turkish Cypriots, who argued that such a move required their 

The United States regards the status quo on Cyprus as unacceptable.  
Successive US Administrations have viewed UN-led intercommunal 
negotiations as the best means to achieve a lasting settlement.  The 
United States will continue actively to  support and aid the UN Security 
Council's efforts.  Since 1981, the United States has had a Special 
Cyprus Coordinator--currently Ambassador Nelson Ledsky. 

The United States has channeled $260 million in assistance to the two 
communities through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Cyprus 
Red Cross since the mid-1970s.   The United States now provides $15 
million annually to promote bicommunal projects and finance scholarships 
for Cypriot students.  

The United States has been the largest financial contributor to UNFICYP 
since the creation of the force in 1964.  By November 1990, the US had 
contributed 48%--$203 million out of a total $424 million--to the 
UNFICYP account.   
Principal US Officials 
Ambassador--Robert E. Lamb 
Deputy Chief of Mission Carolyn R. Huggins 
Chief Political Officer--Donald Braum 
Economic/Commercial Officer--Trevor Evans 
Defense Attache--Lt. Col. Thomas Haase  
Public Affairs Officer-- Marcelle Wahba 
Consular Officer--Cynthia Stockbridge 
The US Embassy in Cyprus is located at Therissos Street and Dositheos 
Street, Nicosia;  US mailing address: PSC 815, FPO-AE 09836-0001. Tel. 
[357] (2) 465151 through 465155; Telex 4160 AMEMY CY ;  Fax: [357] (2) 
Travel Notes  

Climate and customs:  Climate is comparable to the southern Atlantic 
states.  Clothing and shoe requirements are similar to those in 
Washington, DC.   December through March are rainy; summer temperatures 
often exceed 380C (1000F) with low humidity. Americans do not need a 
visa to enter Cyprus. 

Health:  Medical facilities are available.  Tapwater is safe.  

Telecommunications:  Telephone and telegraph communications within 
Cyprus and to international points are good.   There are few telephone 
links between north and south Cyprus. Nicosia is seven time zones ahead 
of eastern standard time.  

Transportation:   Larnaca International and Paphos International 
Airports, and the ports of Limassol, Larnaca, and Paphos are the only 
legal ports of entry and exit to the Republic of Cyprus.  Ships carrying 
cargo and passengers call regularly at Larnaca and Limassol, the 
principal southern ports.  Ercan and Gecitkale Airports in the Turkish 
Cypriot area are served by Turkish Airlines but are not recognized by 
the International Civil Aviation Organization.  

Visitors arriving in the north are not permitted to visit the Republic 
of Cyprus in the south.  Visitors arriving in the south from abroad can 
often obtain permission from the Government of Cyprus and from Turkish 
Cypriot officials to visit the north, but travelers with luggage and 
those suspected of intending to depart Cyprus from the north probably 
will be prohibited from crossing. The American Embassy in Nicosia is 
able to advise travelers of current requirements. Buses and taxis are 
the only forms of local public transportation. There are no trains on 
the island.  In Nicosia, good taxi service is always available at 
moderate prices.  
Published by the United States Department  of State -- Bureau of Public 
Affairs -- Office of Public Communication -- Washington, DC --  March 
1992 -- Editor:  Deborah Guido-O'Grady 

Department of State Publication 7932--Background Notes Series -- This 
material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without 
permission; citation of this source is appreciated.  For sale by the 
Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, 
DC  20402.