Nation at a Glance - Cyprus

History

A former British colony, Cyprus became independent in 1960 following years of resistance to British rule. Tensions between the Greek Cypriot majority and Turkish Cypriot minority came to a head in December 1963, when violence broke out in the capital of Nicosia. Despite the deployment of UN peacekeepers in 1964, sporadic intercommunal violence continued, forcing most Turkish Cypriots into enclaves throughout the island. In 1974, a Greek Government-sponsored attempt to overthrow the elected president of Cyprus was met by military intervention from Turkey, which soon controlled more than a third of the island. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriot administered area declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC"), but it is recognized only by Turkey. A UN-mediated agreement, the Annan Plan, failed to win approval by both communities in 2004. In February 2014, after a hiatus of nearly two years, the leaders of the two communities resumed formal discussions under UN auspices aimed at reuniting the divided island. Talks were suspended in October 2014, but resumed in earnest in May 2015 following the election of a new Turkish Cypriot "president." The entire island entered the EU on 1 May 2004, although the EU acquis - the body of common rights and obligations - applies only to the areas under the internationally recognized government, and is suspended in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots. However, individual Turkish Cypriots able to document their eligibility for Republic of Cyprus citizenship legally enjoy the same rights accorded to other citizens of EU states.

Location: Middle East, island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey; note - Cyprus views itself as part of Europe; geopolitically, it can be classified as falling within Europe, the Middle East, or both

Border Countries: Akrotiri 48 km, Dhekelia 108 km

Total Area: 9,251 sq km Land: 9,241 sq km Water: 10 sq km

Climate: Temperate; Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool winters

Terrain: Central plain with mountains to north and south; scattered but significant plains along southern coast

Natural resources: Copper, pyrites, asbestos, gypsum, timber, salt, marble, clay earth pigment

Land use: Agricultural land: 13.4% arable land 9.8%; permanent crops 3.2%; permanent pasture 0.4% Forest: 18.8% Other: 67.8% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Greek 98.8%, Other 1% (includes Maronite, Armenian, Turkish-Cypriot), Unspecified 0.2%

Languages: Greek (official) 80.9%, Turkish (official) 0.2%, English 4.1%, Romanian 2.9%, Russian 2.5%, Bulgarian 2.2%, Arabic 1.2%, Filipino 1.1%, Other 4.3%, Unspecified 0.6%

Religions: Orthodox Christian 89.1%, Roman Catholic 2.9%, Protestant/Anglican 2%, Muslim 1.8%, Buddhist 1%, Other (includes Maronite, Armenian Church, Hindu) 1.4%, Unknown 1.1%, None/Atheist 0.6%

Population: 1,205,575 (July 2016 est.)

Literacy: 99.1%; Male: 99.5%; Female: 98.7% (2015 est.)

Administrative divisions: 6 districts; Ammochostos (Famagusta); (all but a small part located in the Turkish Cypriot community), Keryneia (Kyrenia; the only district located entirely in the Turkish Cypriot community), Larnaka (Larnaca; with a small part located in the Turkish Cypriot community), Lefkosia (Nicosia; a small part administered by Turkish Cypriots), Lemesos (Limassol), Pafos (Paphos); note - the 5 "districts" of the "TRNC" are Gazimagusa (Famagusta), Girne (Kyrenia), Guzelyurt (Morphou), Iskele (Trikomo), Lefkosia (Nicosia)

Economy: The area of the Republic of Cyprus under government control has a market economy dominated by the service sector, which accounts for more than four-fifths of GDP. Tourism, financial services, shipping, and real estate have traditionally been the most important sectors. Cyprus has been a member of the EU since May 2004 and adopted the euro as its national currency in January 2008.During the first five years of EU membership, the Cyprus economy grew at an average rate of about 4%, with unemployment between 2004 and 2008 averaging about 4%. However, the economy tipped into recession in 2009 as the ongoing global financial crisis and resulting low demand hit the tourism and construction sectors. An overextended banking sector with excessive exposure to Greek debt added to the contraction. Cyprus’ biggest two banks were among the largest holders of Greek bonds in Europe and had a substantial presence in Greece through bank branches and subsidiaries. Following numerous downgrades of its credit rating, Cyprus lost access to international capital markets in May 2011. In July 2012, Cyprus became the fifth euro-zone government to request an economic bailout program from the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - known collectively as the "Troika."Shortly after the election of President Nikos ANASTASIADES in February 2013, Cyprus reached an agreement with the Troika on a $13 billion bailout that resulted in losses on uninsured bank deposits. The bailout triggered a two-week bank closure and the imposition of capital controls that remained partially in place until April 2015. Cyprus' two largest banks merged and the combined entity was recapitalized through conversion of some large bank deposits to shares and imposition of losses on bank bondholders. As with other EU countries, the Troika conditioned the bailout on passing financial and structural reforms and privatizing state-owned enterprises. Despite downsizing and restructuring, the Cypriot financial sector throughout 2015 remained burdened by the largest stock of non-performing loans in the euro zone, equal to nearly half of all loans. Since the bailout, Cyprus has received positive appraisals by the Troika and outperformed fiscal targets but has struggled to overcome political opposition to bailout-mandated legislation, particularly regarding privatizations. Cyprus emerged from recession in 2015 and its economy grew an estimated 1.6% for the year, setting a positive tone for the scheduled end of the bailout program in March 2016.In October 2013, a US-Israeli consortium completed preliminary appraisals of hydrocarbon deposits in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which revealed an estimated gross mean reserve of about 130 billion cubic meters. Though exploration continues in Cyprus’ EEZ, no additional commercially exploitable reserves were identified during the exploratory drilling in 2014/2015. Developing offshore hydrocarbon resources remains a critical component of the government’s economic recovery efforts, but development has been delayed as a result of regional developments and disagreements about exploitation methods.Economy - overview: Even though the whole of the island is part of the EU, implementation of the EU "acquis communautaire" has been suspended in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots, known locally as the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC"), until political conditions permit the reunification of the island. The market-based economy of the "TRNC" is roughly one-fifth the size of its southern neighbor and is likewise dominated by the service sector with a large portion of the population employed by the government. In 2012 - the latest year for which data are available - the services sector, which includes the public sector, trade, tourism, and education, contributed 58.7% to economic output. In the same year, light manufacturing and agriculture contributed 2.7% and 6.2%, respectively. Manufacturing is limited mainly to food and beverages, furniture and fixtures, construction materials, metal and non-metal products, textiles and clothing. The “TRNC” maintains few economic ties with the Republic of Cyprus outside of trade in construction materials. Since its creation, the "TRNC" has heavily relied on financial assistance from Turkey, which supports the "TRNC" defense, telecommunications, water and postal services. The Turkish Lira is the preferred currency, though foreign currencies are widely accepted in business transactions. The "TRNC" remains vulnerable to the Turkish market and monetary policy because of its use of the Turkish Lira. The "TRNC" weathered the European financial crisis relatively unscathed - compared to the Republic of Cyprus - because of the lack of financial sector development, the health of the Turkish economy, and its separation from the rest of the island. The "TRNC" economy experienced growth estimated at 2.8% in 2013 and 2.3% in 2014 and is projected to grow 3.8% in 2015.

Agriculture - products: Citrus, vegetables, barley, grapes, olives, vegetables; poultry, pork, lamb; dairy, cheese

Industries: Tourism, food and beverage processing, cement and gypsum, ship repair and refurbishment, textiles, light chemicals, metal products, wood, paper, stone and clay products

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