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About Cyprus

 

The island of Cyprus has an area of 3,571 square miles and is located in the east end of the Mediterranean basin, at the cross roads of Europe, Asia and Africa. It has a subtropical-Mediterranean climate with rainy, mild winters, hot, long summers and short, pleasant springs and autumns. Cyprus’s has two mountain ranges, the range of Pentadaktylos which lies in the occupied north part of Cyprus and the range of Troodos which lies in the southwest of the island; in between lies the fertile plain of Mesaoria. The major cities of the island are  Nicosia which is built in the center of the island and is the capital of Cyprus, Larnaca, Limassol, Paphos and the occupied cities of Famagusta and Kyrenia. With the exeption of Nicosia, all other cities are built on the coast. Cyprus’s population is slightly over 1 million and is comprised by Greeks, Turks, Maronites, Armenians, sizeable communities of Britons, Russians and nationals of other Eastern European countries, as well as sizeable communities of Palestinian and Lebanese nationals.
 
Cyprus has a service based economy, and the sector accounts for four fifths of Cyprus’s GDP. The major service sectors are tourism, real estate, shipping, finance, insurance and business services, trade, hotels, transport, communication and education. Agriculture’s share of the national economy has slumped after the 1974 Turkish invasion, that left in the hands of the Turkish Cypriot community the plain of Mesaoria, the bread basket of Cyprus, where four-fifths of the citrus and cereal crops were produced. Cyprus’s manufacturing sector is dominated by small enterprises. 
 
The ancient settlement of Choirokitia in Larnaca shows that human activity on the island began around the 9th millennium B.C. Originally part of the Aegian and Minoan Civilizations, Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in the second millennium B.C. and legends connect the founding of numerous ancient Cypriot city kingdoms to Achaean Greek heroes who settled in Cyprus after the Trojan War. Situated on the cross roads of three continents, Cyprus became a target and was occupied be several empires, including the empires of the Hittites, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Byzantines, Lusignans and the Venetians, and it served a base for the crusaders owing to its proximity to the Holy land.
 
Cyprus was occupied by the Ottomans in 1571 and remained under their control until 1878, when it was placed under British administration. Cyprus gained its independence in 1960 after a five years long struggle led by EOKA (National Organization of Cypriot Fighters).  In 1963 intercommunal violence broke out between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots that subsecuently led to the 1974 Turkish invasion and the occupation of more than a third of the island. This resulted in the forcible transfer of  hundreds of thousands of Greek Cypriots to the south and the transfer of thousand of Turkish Cypriots to the north and in on-going political disputes with Turkey. Presently, negotiations under UN patronage aim at reuniting the island. 
 
Cyprus joined the European Union on the 1st of May 2004 and adopted the euro in 2008.  Oil and natural gas has been discovered in the south seabed of Cyprus and talks are underway to reach an agreement regarding the exploration of the seabed block that also boarders Israel. The exploration of these resources has raised tensions with Turkey, which uses the occupied north Cyprus to claim rights in the area and is interfering with the offshore oil and gas survey off Cyprus’ south coast.
 
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