Cyprus: facts and figures
(NICOSIA) - Herewith a few facts and figures about the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, which takes over the six-month presidency of the European Union on July 1.
Cyprus joined the EU on May 1, 2004 and the eurozone on January 1, 2008.
The Greek-run Republic of Cyprus is the only part of the island to be recognised internationally.
Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkish troops invaded the northern third in response to an Greek-inspired coup in Nicosia aimed at uniting the island with Greece.
Ankara is alone in recognising the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which has about 200,000 inhabitants.
- GEOGRAPHY: The third largest island in the Mediterranean with an area of 9,251 square kilometres (3,572 sq miles), strategically placed Cyprus has long been a crossroads for Europe, Asia and Africa. Its coasts are 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of Turkey, and 200 kilometres (124 miles) west of Syria and Lebanon.
- POPULATION: 838,897 in 2011 in the government-run south, according to the latest census.
- CAPITAL: Nicosia, whose residents are divided by a buffer zone into two sectors, making it the world's last divided capital.
- OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Greek and Turkish. English is widely spoken.
- RELIGION: 80 percent Cypriot Greek Orthodox, 18 percent Muslim. Small Maronite, Armenian and Latin communities comprise the remaining two percent.
- HISTORY: Successively administered or colonised by the Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Romans, Byzantines, Franks, Venetians, and then the Ottomans from 1571 to 1878. Britain began administering Cyprus in 1878 and annexed it in 1914. The country obtained independence in 1960, under Archbishop Makarios III who became president, although Britain still maintains two sovereign bases on the island.
UN peacekeeping troops were deployed in Cyprus in January 1964 because of inter-communal violence.
Since August 1974, Cyprus has been divided by a "Green Line" into two sectors separated by a UN-patrolled buffer zone, the Turkish-held north and the Republic of Cyprus
- POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS
The directly elected president, Demetris Christofias, is both the head of state and government as there is no prime minister. Christofias, elected in February 2008, headed the communist AKEL party and leads a minority government which now includes only his party which holds 19 of 56 seats in parliament.
The next presidential election is due in February 2013 and legislative elections in 2016.
- ECONOMY: Services, in particular financial services and tourism, account for 70 percent of Cyprus's economy. The crisis in Greece has hit Cyprus hard due to close economic and cultural links with Greece. In particular, Cypriot banks hold a considerable amount of Greek sovereign debt.
GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT: 17.3 billion euros ($21.6 billion) in 2010 (European Commission)
Growth: -0.8 percent in 2012 (European Commission forecasts)
PUBLIC DEBT: 76.5 percent of GDP in 2012. (source: European Commission)
PUBLIC DEFICIT: 3.4 percent of GDP in 2012 (Eurostat)
INFLATION: 3.4 percent in 2012
UNEMPLOYMENT: 9.8 percent in 2012
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