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Cyprus (sīˈprəs), Gr. Kypros, Turk. Kıbrıs, officially Republic of Cyprus, republic (2020 est. pop. 1,207,359), 3,578 sq mi (9,267 sq km), an island in the E Mediterranean Sea, c.40 mi (60 km) S of Turkey and c.60 mi (100 km) W of Syria. The capital and largest city is Nicosia. In addition to the capital, other important cities are Famagusta, Larnaca, and Limassol. The island is divided into a northern, Turkish Cypriot sector and a southern, Greek Cypriot sector. A thin buffer zone occupied by the United Nations Forces in Cyprus separates the two sectors. In addition, Great Britain retains sovereignty over two military bases, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, located on the SW and SE coasts respectively.

Land and People

Two mountain ranges traverse the island from east to west; the highest point is Mt. Olympus (6,406 ft/1,953 m), in the southwest. Between the ranges lies a wide plain, the chief agricultural region. Since the 1970s, diminished rainfall and increased population and economic growth have reduced local water supplies. Over three quarters of the population is Greek, generally residing in the southern sector of the country, and belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church. Less than 20% of the people are Turkish Muslims, mainly living in the northern region. Religious minorities include the Maronites and Armenian Orthodox. In addition to Greek and Turkish, English is also widely spoken.


Agricultural products include citrus, vegetables, cereal grains, potatoes, olives, and cotton; in addition, the Greek sector grows deciduous fruits and wine grapes, and the Turkish side, where agriculture is more important, grows tobacco and table grapes. Poultry, hogs, sheep, goats, and some cattle are raised. Fishing is an important industry in the Turkish sector, and the Greek side has a strong manufacturing economy that produces building materials, textiles, chemicals, and metal, wood, paper, stone, and clay products. There is also food and beverage processing, ship repair, and petroleum refining. Mineral resources include copper, pyrites, gypsum, and salt. Tourism is important for both areas; financial services are also important in the Greek sector. The Greek sector is considerably more prosperous than the Turkish side, which is heavily dependent on aid from Turkey. Exports include citrus, potatoes, pharmaceuticals, clothing, and cigarettes from the Greek side and citrus, dairy products, potatoes, and textiles from the Turkish side. Both sides import consumer goods, fuel, machinery, transportation equipment, and foodstuffs. The main trading partners are Greece, Great Britain, France, and Germany.


Cyprus is governed under the constitution of 1960. The president of Cyprus, who is both the head of state and the head of government, is popularly elected for a five-year term. The unicameral House of Representatives has 80 seats; 56 are assigned to Greek Cypriots and 24 to Turkish Cypriots, but only the Greek seats are filled. Members are elected by popular vote to five-year terms. Administratively, Cyprus is divided into six districts.

The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is governed under a constitution adopted in 1985, but the TRNC is recognized only by Turkey. The TRNC has its own elected president, prime minister, and cabinet. The TRNC's unicameral Assembly of the Republic has 50 members, who are elected by popular vote to five-year terms.


Excavations have proved the existence of a Neolithic culture on Cyprus in the period from 6000 B.C. to 3000 B.C.; the earliest known settlement dates to the 10th millennium B.C. Contact with the Middle East and, after 1500 B.C., with Greece greatly influenced Cypriot civilization. Phoenicians settled on the island c.800 B.C. Cyprus subsequently fell under Assyrian, Egyptian, and Persian rule. Alexander the Great conquered it in 333 B.C., after which the island again became an Egyptian dependency until its annexation by Rome in 58 B.C. Ancient Cyprus was a center of the cult of Aphrodite.

After A.D. 395, Cyprus was ruled by the Byzantines until 1191, when Richard I of England conquered it. In 1192, Richard bestowed the island on Guy of Lusignan. In 1489, Cyprus was annexed by Venice. The Turks conquered it in 1571. At the Congress of Berlin (1878) the Ottoman Empire placed Cyprus under British administration, and in 1914, Britain annexed it outright.

Under British rule the movement among the Greek Cypriot population for union (enosis) with Greece was a constant source of tension. In 1955 a Greek Cypriot organization (EOKA), led by Col. George Grivas, launched a campaign of widespread terrorism. Tension and terror mounted, especially after British authorities deported (1956) Makarios III, the spokesman for the Greek Cypriot nationalists. The conflict was aggravated by Turkish support of Turkish Cypriot demands for partition of the island. Negotiations (1955) among Britain, Greece, and Turkey on the status of Cyprus broke down completely. Finally in 1959, a settlement was reached, providing for Cypriot independence in 1960 and for the terms of the constitution. Treaties precluded both enosis and partition. Makarios was elected president in 1959 and reelected in 1968 and 1973.

In 1961, Cyprus joined the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations. Large-scale fighting between Greek and Turkish Cypriots erupted several times in the 1960s, and a UN peacekeeping force was sent in 1965. In Mar., 1970, there was an attempt on Makarios's life by radical Greek Cypriots. The government was also fearful of a possible coup led by Grivas, who favored enosis. Turkish Cypriots demanded official recognition of their organization (which exercised de facto political control in the 30 Turkish enclaves) and the stationing of Turkish troops on the island to offset the influence of the Cypriot national guard, which was dominated by officers from Greece. Greek Cypriots interpreted the proposal as amounting to partition. Acts of violence against the government increased and were met in 1973 by an effort to suppress the guerrillas by the national police force (which had been created by Makarios to counter the national guard). Grivas died in Jan., 1974, and although EOKA was split between hard-liners and moderates, it continued to be dominated by Greek officers.

On July 15, 1974, following a large-scale national police assault on EOKA, the Makarios government was overthrown by the national guard. Nikos Sampson, a Greek Cypriot newspaper publisher, acceded to the presidency and Makarios fled the country. Both Greece and Turkey mobilized their armed forces. Citing its obligation to protect the Turkish Cypriot community, Turkey invaded (July 20) N Cyprus, occupied over 30% of the island, and displaced about 200,000 Greek Cypriots. The invasion precipitated the fall of the military regime in Athens and also resulted in the resignation of Sampson. He was replaced by Glafkos Clerides, the conservative Greek Cypriot president of the house of representatives.

A UN-sponsored cease-fire was arranged on July 22, and Turkey was permitted to retain military forces in the areas it had captured. Makarios was returned to office in Dec., 1974. In 1975 the island was partitioned into Greek and Turkish territories separated by a UN-occupied buffer zone. Makarios remained president until his death in 1977 and was succeeded by Spyros Kyprianou (1977–88). In 1983, Turkish Cypriots declared themselves independent from the Cypriot state; the resulting Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, with Rauf Denktash as president, was recognized only by Turkey. Negotiations to end the division of the country continued intermittently and inconclusively in the subsequent decades.

George Vassiliou, a leftist, defeated Clerides in the presidential elections of 1988, but Clerides was elected president in 1993 and again in 1998. By the late 1990s it was estimated that over half the population of Turkish Cyprus consisted of recent settlers from Turkey. In 1998, Cyprus began membership talks with the European Union (EU), a move that was bitterly opposed by Turkish Cypriots, and Turkey insisted on a political settlement for the island prior to its joining the EU. Denktash was elected to his fourth term as president in 2000, but Clerides lost his bid for a third consecutive term in 2003, losing to Tassos Papadopoulos of the Democratic party.

In Apr., 2003, long-standing Turkish Cypriot restrictions on cross-border travel were eased, and the Greek south ended a ban on trade with the north. The United Nations sponsored renewed negotiations to reunify the island, and an accord establishing a federation was reached in 2004, but failed to win approval in a referendum in April. Although Turkish Cypriot voters approved the accord, the Greek population rejected it. Turkish approval of the accord, however, did result in many nations, including S Cyprus, ending or reducing the economic embargo the north had been under since the Turkish invasion.

Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, but the north was excluded due to the failure of the referendum in the south. The Turkish Cypriot government subsequently fell, but elections (Feb., 2005) returned the government to power. In April, Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Talat was elected to succeed Denktash as Turkish Cypriot president. Cyprus adopted the euro in Jan., 2008. In Feb., 2008, Demetris Christofias, the AKEL (Communist) party candidate, was elected president of Cyprus after a runoff; Papadopoulos was eliminated in the first round. Subsequently, Greek and Turkish Cypriots agreed to restart reunification talks, which began in Sept., 2008. Slow progress, however, led to popular dissatisfaction in the north, and in 2010 the nationalist candidate, Derviş Eroğlu, defeated Talat to win the Turkish Cypriot presidency. In subsequent years, reunification talks sometimes experienced prolonged interruptions.

In June, 2012, the government of Cyprus announced plans to seek loans from the eurozone bailout funds because of the country's exposure to the Greek economy, but a rescue plan, involving some €10 billion in aid, was not agreed on until Mar., 2013. Under that plan large depositors at Cyprus's two largest banks had significant losses, and the government imposed controls on currency transfers that were not lifted until 2015. The Feb., 2013, presidential election in Cyprus was won by Nikos Anastasiades of the conservative Democratic Rally.

The European Court of Human Rights in May, 2014, ordered Turkey to pay Cyprus €90 million as compensation for the effects of the Turkish invasion in 1974; the case had been brought by Cyprus in 1994 and had been decided in the country's favor in 2001. Turkey, however, said it would not make the payment. Mustafa Akıncı defeated Eroğlu to win the Turkish Cypriot presidency in Apr., 2015; Akıncı had promised to work toward reunification with greater urgency. Subsequently, unification talks resumed on a recurring basis, but a number of issues remained stumbling blocks. Anastasiades won a second term in Feb., 2018. In Oct., 2020, Akıncı lost his bid for a second term as Turkish Cypriot president to Ersin Tatar, a conservative Turkish nationalist opposed to reunification.


See G. F. Hill, History of Cyprus (4 vol., 1940–52); V. Karageorghis, Ancient Cyprus (1982); J. S. Joseph, Cyprus: Ethnic Conflict and International Concern (1985); I. Robertson, Cyprus (1987).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Republic of Cyprus (in Greek—Kypros, Kypriake Demokratia; in Turkish—Kibns, Kibns Cumhuriyeti), a state in western Asia on the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. A member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Cyprus occupies an advantageous geographic position on international sea and air routes from Europe to the countries of the Near and Middle East and Northeast Africa. Its area is 9,251 sq km. In 1971, the population was 645,000. The capital of Cyprus is Nicosia. The country is divided into six administrative districts: Kirinia, Larnax (Larnaca), Lemesos (Limassol), Nicosia, Pafos, and Ammokhostos (Famagusta).

Constitution and government. Cyprus is a republic whose constitution went into effect on Aug. 16, 1960. The head of state is the president. Under the constitution, the president must be a Greek, and the vice-president, a Turk. Both are elected by the population for five years—the president, by the Greek community and the vice-president, by the Turkish community. The powers of the president are, in effect, substantially limited by the vice-president’s right to exercise an independent veto on the major questions of state policy. The highest legislative body is the unicameral Parliament—the House of Representatives, which consists of 50 deputies elected for five years by universal direct suffrage. (The Greek community elects 35 deputies and the Turkish community 15.) In addition, the Turkish community elects a national communal chamber that considers questions of religion, culture, and education.

The highest executive body (the government) is the Council of Ministers, which is headed by the president and vice-president. Of the ten ministerial portfolios, seven are held by the Greeks, and three by the Turks. The ministers are appointed by a joint resolution of the president and the vice-president. The Supreme Constitutional Court was created to resolve controversies between government bodies and to consider parliamentary laws and decisions of the Council of Ministers that are vetoed by the president or the vice-president.

The representatives of the Turkish community have not taken part in the work of Parliament, the government, the Supreme Court, or other state bodies since 1963. An executive body of the Turkish community—the Provisional Turkish Administration—was created in December 1967.

The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court.

Natural features. Most of the coastline is low-lying and slightly indented, but in the north it is steep and rocky. Mountainous terrain prevails. The Kirenia Range (maximum elevation 1,023 m) and the low-mountain Karpas Range (maximum elevation 364 m) extend along the northern coast for almost 150 km. The Troodos Massif (maximum elevation, 1,951 m), which is made up of ultrabasites and gabbro, occupies central and southern Cyprus. The magmatic complex along the periphery of the massif is covered with marine carbonaceous deposits. The ridges of northern and southern Cyprus are divided by the broad Messaoria intermontane plain (elevations of about 200 m), which is composed of Mesozoic-Cenozoic sedimentation. Characteristic of this area is hilly terrain. Minerals found on Cyprus include chromites, iron and copper ores, and asbestos (in the Troodos Massif).

The climate is subtropical Mediterranean, with hot summers (air temperatures of 25°-35°C) and mild, comparatively rainy winters (10°-15°C). The total annual precipitation ranges from 300–500 mm on the plains to 1,000–1,300 mm in the mountains, where there is a snow cover in winter in some places. Only after it rains are the riverbeds full of water. Floods occur in winter and spring.

In the foothills and on the plains thickets of evergreen scrubs—maquis and frigana (xerophytic shrub and semishrub vegetation)—prevail at elevations of up to 500 m. The limestone southern slopes of the Kirinia and Karpas ranges are characterized by sparse, steppelike flora. Forests, which occupy about 20 percent of the island’s area (primarily in the Troodos Massif), consist of oak, cypress, and Aleppo pine. Oleander and tamarisk grow in the mountain valleys.

The mouflon is encountered in the forests. Among the island’s characteristic fauna are snakes, lizards, and chameleons. Typical of the island’s birds are the eagle and hawk. There are also many migratory birds on Cyprus.

Population. Greek Cypriots make up about 78 percent of the population, and Turkish Cypriots, about 18 percent. English, Arabs, Armenians, and Italians also live in Cyprus. The official languages are Greek and Turkish. The Greek Cypriots belong to the Orthodox Church, and the Turkish Cypriots are Sunnite Muslims. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

Between 1963 and 1970, population growth averaged 1 percent a year. The economically active population totals 273,000 (1971), of whom 35.2 percent work in agriculture, 22.8 percent in manufacturing industry and construction, 1.5 percent in mining, 11.3 percent in trade and administration, 13.5 percent in the service industries, and 15.7 percent in other branches of industry. The average population density is 68 inhabitants per sq km. Nicosia is the most highly populated area. In 1971, 41 percent of the total population was urban. The major cities in 1971 were Nicosia (118,000, including the suburbs), Lemesos (61,000), Ammokhostos (44,000), and Larnax (21,600).

Historical survey. The first traces of human beings on the territory of Cyprus date to the Neolithic period (sixth millennium B.C.). The origin of the earliest population has not been established, inasmuch as inscriptions from the 22nd through the 21st century B.C. have not yet been deciphered. Between the late 15th and the 11th centuries Cyprus was colonized by the Achaeans, and in the ninth century, by the Phoenicians. (According to some scholars, however, the Phoenicians came to the island in the second millennium.) Cyprus was one of the centers of Mycenaean culture. It was conquered by Assyria at the end of the eighth century, by the Egyptian pharaoh Ahmose II in about 560, and by the Achaemenids in around the mid-sixth century. Part of Alexander of Macedonia’s state from 333 to 323 and of the Ptolemaic state from 294 to 258, Cyprus was conquered by Rome in 58 B.C

After the partition of the Roman Empire in 395 A.D., Cyprus became a possession of Byzantium. It was conquered by the Arabs in 648 and reconquered by Byzantium in 965. Under Byzantine rule, feudal relations developed in Cyprus. In 1191 the island was seized by the Crusaders. Established in 1192 under the representatives of the Lusignan feudal family, the Kingdom of Cyprus survived until 1489. Cyprus belonged to Venice from 1489 to 1571, when it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire.

The movement of Greek Cypriots for the unification of Cyprus with Greece (enosis), which was in objective terms a progressive national liberation movement, arose on Cyprus in the 19th century. In 1878, Great Britain occupied Cyprus in accordance with the Cyprus Convention of 1878, a secret treaty between Great Britain and Turkey “concerning a defensive alliance.” After Turkey’s entry into World War I (1914–18), Great Britain proclaimed the annexation of Cyprus (Nov. 5, 1914), which was recognized by Turkey under the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. Cyprus received the status of a British colony in May 1925. Great Britain turned the country into one of its agrarian and raw materials appendages.

The development of capitalism in Cyprus, which began in the 20th century (chiefly in mining), resulted in the growth of the working class. Under the influence of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, Marxist circles were founded. An outgrowth of these circles, the Communist Party of Cyprus, which led the national liberation struggle of the toiling people, was formed on Aug. 20, 1926. A spontaneous uprising against British rule in October 1931 was harshly suppressed by the colonialists. By a special royal edict the country’s elected institutions and its constitution, which had been put into effect before the uprising, were abolished. Political parties and social organizations were banned, and a dictatorship was established under the British governor.

Founded on Apr. 14, 1941, the Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus (AKEL), the successor to the Communist Party, participated actively in the struggle against fascism during World War II (1939–45). More than 20,000 Cypriots fought in the British Army against fascist Germany. After the war, the national liberation movement grew stronger in Cyprus. In January 1950 a plebiscite on the question of enosis was held among the Greek Cypriots, 96 percent of whom voted for union with Greece. Refusing to recognize the results of the plebiscite, the government of Great Britain attempted to foist a colonial constitution on Cyprus.

Cypriot demonstrations organized by AKEL became larger and more militant. On Apr. 1, 1955, the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA), led by retired Greek Army officer G. Grivas, began its political activity, which was reflected in terrorist acts against British military and civilian personnel. Striving to crush the struggle of the Cypriot people, British authorities declared a state of emergency in Cyprus in November 1955, banning AKEL and other democratic organizations. However, the unceasing struggle of the Cypriots compelled the government of Great Britain to enter into negotiations concerning independence for Cyprus.

Agreements providing for Cypriot independence and defining the foundations of the state structure of the future Republic of Cyprus while restricting its sovereignty were signed in February 1959 in Zürich by Greece and Turkey and in London by Great Britain, Greece, and Turkey, with the participation of representatives of the Greek and Turkish communities of Cyprus. Under these agreements Great Britain retained the military bases of Akrotiri, Episkopi, and Dhekelia (99 sq mi) on Cyprus and had the right to use the island’s roads, ports, and airfields for military purposes. Greece and Turkey were given the right to keep military contingents on Cyprus.

On Dec. 4, 1959, British authorities rescinded the state of emergency, and on December 13 elections were held for the offices of president and vice-president. (The presidential election was won by Archbishop Makarios III, and the vice-presidential election, by F. Kütchük.) On Apr. 6, 1960, a joint constitutional commission signed a draft constitution for Cyprus, a number of articles of which artificially divided the Greek and Turkish population and set them in opposition to each other. On Aug. 16, 1960, Cyprus was proclaimed an independent republic. (In 1963, however, October 1 was named Cypriot Independence Day.) Diplomatic relations were established between the USSR and Cyprus in August 1960, and in September 1960, Cyprus became a member of the UN.

In foreign relations the government proclaimed a policy of “positive neutrality” and the development of friendly ties with all countries. A representative of Cyprus took part in the Belgrade Conference of Nonaligned Nations in 1961. In late 1963 the efforts of the NATO powers to dislodge Cyprus from its position of neutrality and put it under military control provoked armed clashes between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The Cyprus question became the subject of discussion in the UN Security Council, which decided on Mar. 4, 1964, to send UN troops to the island. As a result of the worsening of relations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the Turkish population, which lived in compact groups in various parts of the country, kept even more aloof from the Greek population.

At the end of 1967 the Provisional Turkish Administration was established on Cyprus. On Feb. 25, 1968, Archbishop Makarios III was reelected president, and F. Kütchük was reelected vice-president. The attempts of Anglo-American imperialism to force the Makarios government to renounce its policy of non-alignment, as well as Anglo-American efforts to turn the island into a NATO military base, encountered the determined resistance of the people of Cyprus and led to the rallying of anti-imperialist forces. In June 1968 negotiations began between representatives of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots concerning the resolution of their existing differences in such a way as to maintain a united independent state. Aggressive NATO circles endeavored to ruin these negotiations, persistently encouraging local reactionary forces to oppose the Makarios government and the country’s progressive figures. On Mar. 8, 1970, an attempt was made on the life of President Makarios.

In parliamentary elections held on July 5, 1970, nine seats were won by AKEL, which received 40.7 percent of the votes. The results of the elections were evidence of the growing influence of democratic forces, which consistently defended the national interests of the Cypriot people. In June 1971, President Makarios made an official visit to the Soviet Union, thus promoting the further development of political, economic, and cultural ties between Cyprus and the USSR, and in May 1972 the two countries signed a cultural agreement.

Using Turkish extremists and Greek officers in the Cypriot National Guard who were supporters of enosis, the ruling circles of the NATO countries put increased pressure on the government of Cyprus in late 1971 and early 1972, hoping to force the retirement of President Makarios. In February 1972 the government of Greece presented an ultimatum to President Makarios demanding the formation of a government of “national unity” on Cyprus with the participation of supporters of the Athens regime and of Grivas. The ultimatum also demanded that UN troops have control over weapons imported by the Cypriot government. Moreover, the Cypriot government was to recognize Greece’s leading role in the resolution of the Cyprus problem and to adopt measures against left-wing forces. Three metropolitans who belonged to the Holy Synod of Cyprus insisted that Archbishop Makarios III renounce his secular authority. The Greek ultimatum and the actions of the metropolitans were condemned by the overwhelming majority of the Cypriot people.

In July 1972 a new round of internal negotiations began in Cyprus concerning a new constitution and the regulation of relations between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. A representative of the secretary-general of the UN and legal experts from Greece and Turkey participated in these negotiations. On Feb. 8, 1973, Archbishop Makarios III was again elected president of Cyprus, and R. Denktash was elected vice-president. On July 15, 1974, the Greek military junta, encouraged by militaristic NATO circles, instigated an armed rebellion in Cyprus, intending to overthrow the Makarios government and transfer power to reactionary forces in Cyprus. On July 20, Turkish troops landed on the island under the pretext of protecting the Turkish Cypriots. By August, 40 percent of the island was under Turkish control. Again, the Cyprus question was referred to the UN. The resolutions adopted by the UN called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the island, the end of foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Cyprus, and the restoration of constitutional order. On Feb. 13, 1975, the administration of the Turkish community announced the formation of the Turkish Federal State of Cyprus and declared its intention to unite with the Greek community in a federation made up of two regions and governed under an amended constitution. This maneuver was another attempt by certain NATO circles to block the normalization of the situation in Cyprus and bring about a partition of the island against the will of the Cypriot people.

The USSR consistently supports the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, the elimination of foreign military bases on the island, and the peaceful resolution of the Cyprus question without any foreign intervention.

T. K. GARUSHIANTS (to the 19th century) and K. A. SHEMENKOV (from the 19th century)

Political parties, trade unions, and other social organizations. The Unified Party of National-minded People (Eniaio komma ton ethnikophronon), which was founded in February 1969, reflects the interests of the big and middle bourgeoisie. The Progressive Front (Proodeutiko metopo), founded in March 1969, expresses the interests of the prosperous peasantry, the commercial bourgeoisie, and the rural clergy. The liberal intelligentsia are represented by the United Democratic Union of the Center (Eniaia demokratike enose tu kentru), which was founded in March 1969. Founded in April 1941, the Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus (AKEL; Anorthotiko komma tu ergazomenu lau) is the successor to the Communist Party of Cyprus. A right-wing nationalist political organization, the Democratic National Party (Demokratiko ethniko komma) was founded in March 1968. The Republican Party of Turkish Cypriots (Kibns Cumhuriyeti tiirk partisi), which was founded in 1970, is a bourgeois nationalist party of the Turkish community.

Among the trade unions of Cyprus in 1975 was the Pan-Cypriot Federation of Labor, an outgrowth of the Pan-Cypriot Trade-union Committee (established in 1941). Founded in 1946, the Pan-Cypriot Federation belongs to the World Federation of Trade Unions. It had 42,000 members in 1972. The Cyprus Workers’ Confederation, which was established in 1943, had 21,000 members by 1972. It belongs to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. Organized in 1927, the Pan-Cypriot Union of State Employees had 5,500 members in 1972. The Democratic Workers’ Federation of Cyprus, which was founded in January 1962, had 500 members a decade later. The Pan-Cypriot Federation of Independent Trade Unions, which had 1,000 members in 1972, was founded in 1948. All of the Turkish trade unions in Cyprus belong to the Cyprus Federation of Turkish Trade Unions. Founded in 1944, it had 3,000 members by 1972.

Founded in 1959, the United Organization of Democratic Youth, an outgrowth of the Progressive Youth Organization (founded in 1946), belongs to the World Federation of Democratic Youth. The Pan-Cypriot National Youth Organization, which was founded in 1971, is a right-wing nationalist organization. Established in 1958, the Pan-Cypriot Federation of Women’s Organizations is a mass democratic organization. The Pan-Cypriot Committee for the Defense of Peace was founded in 1960, and the Cyprus-Soviet Society, in 1961. Organized in 1946, the Union of Cypriot Peasants is a progressive mass organization. The All-Peasant Union of Cyprus, which was founded in 1942, represents the interests of the prosperous strata in the countryside.


Economy. Cyprus is primarily an agrarian country. Since independence (1960), it has made substantial gains in economic development: programs of economic development have been devised, the volume of agricultural and industrial production has increased, and the standard of living of the population has risen. However, foreign capital continues to hold a strong position in the economy.

In 1971, agriculture accounted for about 18 percent of the gross national product. More than one-third of the land belongs to the state, the clergy, and large-scale landlords. For the most part, farms are small and medium-sized peasant plots not exceeding six hectares (ha). The fragmentation and scattering of plots of land hinder the mechanization of agriculture. Farming is the leading branch of agriculture. Cultivated lands make up 66 percent of the total area of Cyprus. To a considerable degree, the further development of farming depends on irrigation. About 12 percent of the cultivated land is continuously irrigated, and approximately 50 percent of the entire agricultural yield is produced on land requiring irrigation.

Among the country’s chief crops are wheat (78,000 ha; yield, 95,000 tons in 1971), barley (72,000 ha; 110,000 tons), and oats. Legumes, melons, and gourds are grown on the Messaoria plain and in the vicinity of the city of Pafos. On the southern and western slopes of the mountains and along the coast, grapes are grown (38,000 ha, 185,000 tons in 1971). Citrus fruits (172,000 tons) are raised primarily along the coast. Other major crops include carobs (35,000 tons), potatoes, carrots, tobacco, almonds, and pomegranates. The island’s olive orchards produced 15,000 tons of fruit in 1971. Some olive oil is exported. There are also groves of walnuts on Cyprus. Of the harvest of fruits, vegetables, and industrial crops, four-fifths is exported.

Animal husbandry, which suffers from backward methods, is important in the mountainous regions. In 1971 there were 460,000 sheep, 365,000 goats, 115,000 pigs, and 35,500 cattle. Sericulture is well developed. Fish and sponges are caught in the coastal waters.

In 1971 industry’s share of the gross national product was 18 percent. Mining provides one-third of the value of the country’s industrial output, and manufacturing, two-thirds. Small enterprises prevail. Almost all of the comparatively large enterprises (particularly in the mining industry) are held by foreign capital (primarily British). The mineral resources extracted in Cyrus are copper ore (in 1971, 16,300 tons by metal content; exported); ferrous pyrites (57,600 tons; exported), chromites (41,300 tons), asbestos (23,300 tons; exported), salt, and gypsum. The island’s electric power plants (total capacity, 204,000 kW) operate on imported petroleum. In 1971 the output of electric power was 564,000,000 kW-hrs.

The food processing industry produced 49,400 tons of wine in 1971 and about 1,000 tons of olive oil, as well as various canned fruits and vegetables. Other well-developed industries include tobacco, textiles, and leather footwear. In 1971, Cyprus produced 303,000 tons of cement. A petroleum refinery was built in 1971 with the aid of British and American companies. The domestic handicrafts industry, which produces ceramics and metal goods, is well developed.

The motor vehicle is the basic form of transportation. (In 1971 there were about 80,000 motor vehicles and buses in the country.) The total length of the highways is 8,400 km, of which 3,700 km were paved with asphalt as of 1971. The major means of transportation to and from the island is foreign vessels. The main seaports are Ammokhostos, which handles 48 percent of the country’s imports and 25 percent of its exports, and Lemesos (20 percent of the imports and 8 percent of the exports). Cyprus’ main airport is located in Nicosia.

The country exports primarily mineral raw materials (22 percent of the value of exports in 1971), citrus fruits (27 percent), potatoes (9.5 percent), and wine and liquor. Its chief imports are machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, foodstuffs, chemicals, and petroleum products. In 1971, Cyprus’ principal foreign trading partners were Great Britain (41.6 percent of the exports and 28.8 percent of the imports), the Federal Republic of Germany (16 percent and 8 percent), and Italy (7 percent and 10 percent). Trade relations with the USSR and other socialist countries are developing. Among the Soviet Union’s exports to Cyprus are machinery and equipment, petroleum products, and lumber, and among its imports are citrus fruits, tobacco, raisins, brandy, and animal hides.

Tourism is important to the economy. (In 1971, 178,400 tourists visited Cyprus.) The main tourist attractions are Nicosia, Ammokhostos, Larnax, Pafos, and Kirenia. To a considerable degree, the income from tourism covers the deficit in the country’s balance of trade. The monetary unit is the Cypriot pound.


Armed forces. The Greek and Turkish communities organized separate armed forces on Cyprus in 1964. The National Guard is manned by the Greeks. Overall leadership is exercised by the minister of internal affairs and defense (a civilian), and immediate leadership is exercised by the commander (a Greek general). In 1972 the National Guard consisted of 13,500 men. It includes an army (11,200 men), an air force (four planes, two helicopters, and about 300 men), and a navy (torpedo and patrol boats; about 600 men). The Turkish Cypriot Army consists of land forces (about 5,000 men) under the leadership of the commander of the Turkish military contingent on Cyprus. The National Guard and Turkish Cypriot Army are in fact under the control of Greece and Turkey, respectively. Stationed on Cyprus are 17,000 British, 2,500 Greek, 1,200 Turkish, and 3,000 UN troops.

Health and social welfare. In 1971 the birthrate was 21.7 per thousand inhabitants, the general mortality was 6.4 per 1,000, and the infant mortality was 25.3 per 1,000 live births. (In 1956, the figures were 26.4, 6.3, and 31.7, respectively.) The average life expectancy is 64 years. The principal causes of death are arteriosclerosis and degenerative heart disease, malignant neoplasms, vascular disease affecting the central nervous system, pneumonia, and diseases of old age. Echinococcus is the most prevalent endemic disease. Noninfectious diseases include enzymic and blood diseases. Cooley’s anemia is prevalent on the plains and in the mountainous areas. After the country gained its independence, trachoma and malaria were eliminated, and the incidence of intestinal infections, poliomyelitis, and leprosy decreased substantially. Between 1955 and 1963 the percentage of six- through 12-year-old children infected with tuberculosis decreased from 2.9 to 1.3.

In 1970 there were 3,300 hospital beds (5.4 per 1,000 inhabitants), 493 physicians (one for every 1,300 inhabitants), 176 dentists, 247 pharmacists, and about 2,400 other medical personnel. Only intermediate and lower-level medical personnel are trained in the country.

VETERINARY SERVICES. The most prevalent diseases of sheep and goats are enterotoxemia (45 outbreaks in 1971), piroplasmosis, and mange. Since 1952 cases of catarrhal fever of sheep have been recorded. Outbreaks of rickettsial conjunctivitis and paratuberculosis have been recorded (13 in 1971). Enzootic mastitis, cases of which have been recorded among cattle, sheep, and goats (in 1971, 116 outbreaks), is typical of the country’s animal diseases. In 1971 there were about 30 veterinarians in the country. The Institute for the Study of Agriculture of Cyprus does important work on animal husbandry, and the veterinary laboratory in Nicosia does research and diagnostic work and produces vaccines and other biopreparations. There are veterinary quarantine stations in the ports of Ammokhostos and Larnax.


Education. Historically, the public education systems of the Greek and Turkish communities developed separately beginning in the early 19th century. In 1962 compulsory elementary education was instituted for children between the ages of six and 12. Instruction is given in the native language of the students. There are six-year elementary schools and six-year secondary schools; the latter are divided into two three-year levels. The first level of the Greek secondary school (the Gymnasium) provides general education, whereas the second level has divisions offering instruction in the humanities, agriculture, and business. In the elementary schools and first level of the secondary schools instruction is free. A number of specialized secondary schools, including a technical institute, a pedagogical academy, and a forestry school, are designed to meet the needs of students who have completed the first level of secondary school.

In the academic year 1969–70 the Greek system of public education consisted of 557 elementary schools (70,200 students), 70 general-education secondary schools (34,900 students), and 29 specialized secondary schools (5,100 students). During the academic year 1968–69 the Turkish system included 227 elementary schools (16,700 students) and 15 general-education secondary schools and four specialized secondary schools (7,600 students). In addition, there were four Armenian schools (227 students) and five other schools (884 students).

Because there are no institutions of higher learning in Cyprus, young Cypriots go abroad for their higher education, usually to Greece or Turkey. The USSR gives Cyprus a great deal of assistance in training Cypriot specialists. (For example, in the academic year 1972–73, 260 Cypriots were studying in Soviet institutions of higher learning.)

The Library of Phaneromeni, founded in 1934, holds about 35,000 volumes. About 4,000 volumes in Eastern languages are shelved in the Sultan Mahmud II Turkish Public Library. Also located in Nicosia are the Cyprus Museum (founded in 1883), the Folk Art Museum (1950), the Turkish Cypriot Museum, and the Museum of National Relics (1962).


Press, radio, and television. In 1975 several dozen periodicals with a total circulation of about 200,000 copies were published. Of the 30 newspapers published in Cyprus, 13 are dailies, three of which are published in Turkish, one in Armenian, one in English, and the rest in Greek. The main Greek-language newspapers are Agon, a daily that expresses the interests of bourgeois nationalist circles. Founded in 1964, its circulation was 9,000 in 1975. (All circulation figures are from 1975.) Founded in 1951, the weekly Aletheia (circulation, 9,000) reflects the interests of the liberal bourgeoisie. Mache (circulation, 10,000), which was first published in 1960, began in the 1970’s to express the views of one of the Progressive Front groupings. Published since 1969, Nea is a daily that reflects the views of the United Democratic Union of the Center. The weekly Phileleutheros (circulation, 12,000), the unofficial organ of the government, first came out in 1955. Harauge (founded in 1956; circulation, 15,000) is the daily newspaper of the Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus.

The main Turkish-language newspaper is the daily Halkin Sesi (circulation, 5,000). Founded in 1941, it expresses the views of the Turkish Cypriot liberal bourgeoisie. On the whole, printing and publishing is privately owned and commercial in Cyprus. The main source of news is the Public Information Office. The Turkish community also has a central news agency.

Radio and television are under the jurisdiction of the Cyprus Radio Broadcasting Corporation, which is controlled by the government and operated on a commercial basis. Radio broadcasts have been produced in Cyprus since October 1953 (in Greek, Turkish, English, and Armenian), and television broadcasts, since October 1957 (in Greek, Turkish, and English).


Literature. Cyprus has both a Greek and a Turkish literary tradition. Greek Cypriot literature emerged and developed in close interaction with Greek literature as a whole. The first Cypriot literary texts were Stasinus’ Cypriot Tales (seventh-sixth centuries B.C.) and the Homeric Hymns in honor of Aphrodite. The Cypriot dialect developed gradually. Among the works written in it were the akritic ballads (eighth-tenth centuries A.D.), a Cypriot version of the medieval Greek epic of Diogenes Akritas, which was written down in the 12th–13th centuries. The Assizes of Jerusalem and Cyprus (14th century) and Love Lyrics (14th-15th centuries) date from the first appearance of a literary culture in demotic (the language of the people). Historical chronicles written by L. Machaeras in the 15th century were continued in the early 16th century by G. Bustron.

Church literature—primarily poetry—was developed by Neophytos (12th century), Gregory II, patriarch of Constantinople (13th century), and H. Kigala (17th century). Deacon Constantine was the author of Markolis, a narrative poem in the Cypriot dialect that depicted the way of life and customs of the island in the 17th century.

The development of the literature of Cyprus was held back by the Turkish conquest (1571). However, written literature flowered again in the late 19th century and the early 20th. By then the spirit of the struggle to liberate Cyprus from the British colonialists had permeated the poems of V. Michaelides (1850–1918). D. Limpertes (1866–1937) introduced idyllic motifs and everyday themes into literature. At the core of the creative work of the prose writer N. Nikolaides (1884–1956) and of M. Nikolaidis, a master of the lyrical short story, are Cypriot provincial themes. Among those whose works were influenced by the Greek poets of the first Athenian school were O. lasonides and I. Karageorgiades.

With certain exceptions (P. Liasides), Greek Cypriot writers have turned to the standard Greek spoken language. After World War I (1914–18) considerable poetic talent was concentrated around such journals as Avgi and Kipriaka grammata. G. Markides wrote poems on civic themes. Characteristic of G. Alyterses’ poetry was a philosophical perception of life. T. Anthias introduced the theme of the “lower depths” of society into Greek poetry. After the 1930’s, themes of the struggle for national self-determination thundered in the works of many Greek Cypriot writers, including the poets K. Lysiotis, A. Pernares, and A. Ioannou, and the prose writers K. Prousis and A. Indianos. Dramatic intensity and the quest for new artistic solutions characterize the poems of P. Mechanikos, S. Lazaros, and S. Sophroniou. The short story was further developed by P. Ioannides and L. Malenis.

Among the writers of the 1950’s and 1960’s were A. Christophides and Ivy Meleagrou and the poets A. Pastelas and M. Pasiardes. A new generation of progressive writers took shape, including the poets A. Peliotes and G. Konstandes and the prose writers P. Paionides, L. Solomonidou, and N. Rosside. Because there are no literary publishing houses in Cyprus, periodicals are extremely important for the development of Cypriot literature.


Most Turkish Cypriot literature is poetry. Among the 19th-century Turkish Cypriot poets were Kenzi and Süküti Ismailaga, Hasan Hilmi Efendi, and Müftü Raci. Modern poets include Nazif Suleiman Ebeoglu (the collection At the Beirut Wharf), Urkiye Mine (the collection Roads Leading to My Homeland), and Mehmet Lèvent. Ozkerğas, in (born in 1932), Fikret Demirag (born 1940), and Oğuz Kuchetoglu (born 1928) are among the writers popular in the Turkish community. Modern dramaturgy is represented by Fadil Korkut (The Bride’s Handkerchief) and Yiiner Ulutug (This Is Our Story). Hikmet Afif Mapolar (born 1919), the author of novels, short stories, and critical essays, is well known.


Architecture and art. The settlement of Khirokitia (sixth millennium B.C.), with its paved street and round dwellings, dates to the early Neolithic period. Stone vessels and primitive idols have been found at the site. Pottery with comb-shaped designs dates to the middle Neolithic period (fourth millennium B.C.). Typical of the early Bronze Age (2400–1800 B.C.) was painted and red glazed pottery with relief designs and more complex stone and clay idols. The art of the middle Bronze Age (1800–1400 B.C.) is represented by zoomorphic pottery and by vessels with a white slip and red or black painting. During the late Bronze Age (1400–1050 B.C.) Cypriot Mycenaean art flourished. Both Aegean and Eastern artistic methods are reflected in painted vases, small works in the plastic arts, bronze articles, gold ornaments, and ivory reliefs. A city with a rectangular street grid and regular masonry has been found in Enkomi.

The geometric Cypriot style, which flourished between 1050 and 700 B.C., is represented by vessels with geometric painting and by clay figurines of idols and animals. During the archaic Cypriot period (700–450 B.C.) two-color (red and black) vase painting (stylized depictions of people, animals, and plants), toreutics, and terra-cotta sculpture flowered. The typical Cypriot sanctuary of this period (for example, the one at Ayiaf Irini, 12th-sixth centuries B.C.) was an enclosed sector with an altar and clay and terra-cotta votive statues. The influence of the Greek archaic style can be felt in the monumental limestone sculpture of the late sixth century B.C. The layout of the palace in Vouni (early fifth century B.C.) combines features of Eastern palaces and of the Greek megaron. Between the fourth century B.C. and the fourth century A.D. the influence of classical Greek, Hellenic, and finally Roman art spread in Cyprus, as is evidenced by the monuments at Pafos, Kurion, and Salamis, for example.

Aside from architectural ruins, outstanding mosaics of the sixth-seventh centuries are the main examples of early Byzantine art in Cyprus (the churches of Panayia Angeloktista near Kita and Panayia Kanakaria near Litrangomi). Stylistically, they resemble the Ravenna mosaics. Frescoes created in the 12th through 15th centuries have been preserved in churches and monasteries of the 11th through the 13th century (the church in Asina and the Monastery of St. Neophytos near Pafos). Examples of Gothic architecture, such as the churches in Nicosia and Ammokhostos, the Abbey of Bellapais, the St. Hilarion castle, and the castle in Kolossi, date from the 13th through 15th centuries. Fortresses in Ammokhostos and Kirinia and icons that combine the Byzantine tradition with the influence of Italian Renaissance art date to the period of Venetian rule (1489–1571). Under Turkish rule, mosques were built, and under British rule, administrative buildings in the spirit of 19th-century classicism and of modern architecture.

During the 1960’s artistic activity became more intense. Architects (for example S. Oikonomou, the Mikhaelides brothers, and I. Demetrios), painters, and graphic artists (for example, A. Diamantis, G. Georgiou, and T. Kantos) have been developing their styles. The folk art of Cyprus includes wood carving, ceramics, silver engraving, lace-making, and embroidery.

Music. The history of Cypriot music dates from ancient times. Songs about the akrits (warriors) who defended the borders of the Byzantine Empire, lyrical songs from the time of the Frankish invasion of Cyprus, and songs of the liberation struggle of the period of Ottoman and British dominion are extant. Greek songs and instruments were well known on the island.

Professionalism did not develop in Cypriot music culture until the early 20th century. Among the first and best-known composers of Cyprus were Solon and Iangos Mikhaelides. The former founded a conservatory in Lemesos (1934), as well as the first symphony orchestra on Cyprus (1938) and a concert society in Nicosia. He wrote symphonic works, chamber music, music to a number of tragedies by Euripides, the opera Ulysses and the ballet Nausikae. In addition, Solon Mikhaelides has done research on music history and theory. I. Mikhaelides is the author of many popular songs and symphonic works. He was one of the founders of the Mozart Society (1938) and the symphony orchestra of Cyprus Radio and Television (1968), the only professional group in the country.

Among the contemporary composers of Cyprus are A. Limporides, G. Kotsones, M. Biolares, A. Dzozephain, and K. Kos-teas. Although the country does not have a professional music theater, there are singers who perform successfully in the homeland and on the stages of foreign theaters—for example, M. Smetopoulou, A. Tsitaros, P. Zarmaos, and D. Modinos and the variety singers K. Spirou and M. Biolares. There are conservatories in Lemesos, Ammokhostos, Larnax, and Nicosia and music schools in a number of cities. Amateur choral groups and song and dance ensembles have developed.



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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Cyprus

Capital city: Nicosia

Internet country code: .cy

Flag description: White with a copper-colored silhouette of the island (the name Cyprus is derived from the Greek word for copper) above two green crossed olive branches in the center of the flag; the branches symbolize the hope for peace and reconciliation between the Greek and Turk­ish communities

National anthem: “Imnos pros tin Eleftherian” (The Hymn to Liberty)

National plant: Cyprus cyclamen

National tree: Golden oak (Quercus alnifolia)

Geographical description: Middle East, island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey

Total area: 3,572 sq. mi. (9,251 sq. km.); 3,355 sq. km. Are in Turkish-controlled north Cyprus

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

Nationality: noun: Cypriot(s); adjective: Cypriot

Population: 788,457 (July 2007 CIA est.); est. 264,000 reside in Turkish-controlled north Cyprus

Ethnic groups: Greek 77%, Turkish 18%, other 5%

Languages spoken: Greek, Turkish, English

Religions: Greek Orthodox 78%, Muslim 18%, other (including Maronite and Armenian Apostolic) 4%

Legal Holidays:

Assumption DayAug 15
Ataturk DayMay 19
Boxing DayDec 26
Christmas DayDec 25
Christmas EveDec 24
Cyprus Independence DayOct 1
Easter MondayApr 25, 2011; Apr 16, 2012; May 6, 2013; Apr 21, 2014; Apr 13, 2015; May 2, 2016; Apr 17, 2017; Apr 9, 2018; Apr 29, 2019; Apr 20, 2020; May 3, 2021; Apr 25, 2022; Apr 17, 2023
EOKA DayApr 1
Epiphany DayJan 6
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 13, 2012; May 3, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 10, 2015; Apr 29, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Apr 6, 2018; Apr 26, 2019; Apr 17, 2020; Apr 30, 2021; Apr 22, 2022; Apr 14, 2023
Greek Independence DayMar 25
Labor DayMay 1
New Year's DayJan 1
Ochi DayOct 28
Republic of Turkey DayOct 29
Turkish Independence DayApr 23
Turkish Victory DayAug 30
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


an island in the E Mediterranean: ceded to Britain by Turkey in 1878 and made a colony in 1925; became an independent republic in 1960 as a member of the Commonwealth; invaded by Turkey in 1974 following a Greek-supported military coup, leading to the partition of the island. In 1983 the Turkish-controlled northern sector declared itself to be an independent state as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus but failed to receive international recognition. Attempts by the U.N. to broker a reunification agreement have failed. Cyprus joined the EU in 2004. The UK maintains two enclaves as military bases (Akrotiri and Dhekelia Sovereign Base Areas), which are not included in Cyprus politically. Languages: Greek and Turkish. Religions: Greek Orthodox and Muslim. Currency: pound and Turkish lira. Capital: Nicosia. Pop. (Greek): 675 000 (2001 est.); (Turkish): 198 000 (2001 est.). Area: 9251 sq. km (3571 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
"Further Note on the Remains of Elephas Cypriotes, Bate, from a Cave-deposit in Cyprus." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London B 197 (1905): 347-60.