U.S. Department of State
Released by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs
Official Name: Republic of Cyprus
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, Paphos, Kyrenia, Morphou.
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 (1996 est.): 827,000. Greek area: 657,000; 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: Infant mortality rate--9/1,000. Life expectancy--73 yrs. males; 78 yrs. females.
Work force (1996): Greek area--304,000: business and social services--31%; trade and tourism-- 26%; agriculture--12%; manufacturing and utilities--16%; construction and mining--9%; other--6%. Turkish area--76,000: agriculture--22%; public services--22%; industry--11%; trade and tourism--11%; other--34%.
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 Party (center-right); AKEL (communist); EDEK (socialist); United Democrats Movement (center-left). Turkish Cypriot Community--National Unity (right); Democratic party (center-right); Republican Turkish (leftist); Communal Liberation (left); New Dawn (right); Democratic (center).
Suffrage: Universal at age 18.
Central government budget (1996): Total revenue--$2.9 billion; Total expenditure--$3.3 billion. Expenditure profile (1995)--defense (10%), social services (24%), payment of interests (15%), education (11%), and health (6%). Development spending--$342 million. Fiscal deficit forecast to reach $257 million (2.9% of GDP) in 1996 from 1.3% of GDP in 1995.
Defense (1995): $290 million, (3.4% of GDP) funded from the general budget and a special defense fund.
Flag: Against a white background, island's shape in gold above two crossed olive branches.
GDP (1996): $8.8 billion.
Annual real growth rate (1996): 2.2%.
Per capita GDP income (1996): Greek Cypriots--$13,500; Turkish Cypriots--about $3,300.
Agriculture and Natural Resources (6.0% of GDP): Products--Potatoes and other vegetables, citrus fruits, olives, grapes, wheat, carob seeds.
Resources--Pyrites, copper, asbestos, gypsum, lumber, salt, marble, clay, earth pigment.
Industry and Construction (24.3% of GDP): Types--mining, cement, construction, utilities, manufacturing, chemicals, non-electric machinery, textiles, footwear, food, beverages, tobacco.
Services and Tourism (69.7% of GDP): Trade, restaurants, and hotels 21.6%; banking, insurance, real estate, and business 17.5%; transport and communication 11%; government services 12%; social and personal services 8%.
Trade (1996): Exports--$1.4 billion: citrus, grapes,
wine, potatoes, clothing, footwear. Major markets--EU (especially
the U.K.), Middle East. Imports--$4.0 billion: consumer
goods, raw materials for industry, petroleum and lubricants, food
and feed grains. Major suppliers--EU, U.S. Japan. (U.S.
trade surplus $450 million.)
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 peacekeeping forces maintain a buffer zone between the two sides. Except for occasional demonstrations or infrequent incidents between soldiers in the buffer zone, there had been no violent conflict since 1974 until August 1996, when violent clashes led to the death of two demonstrators and escalated tension. There is essentially no movement of goods, people, or services between the two parts of the island. Efforts to reunite the island under a federal structure continue, however, under the auspices of the United Nations.
PEOPLE AND HISTORY
Greek and Turkish Cypriots share many customs but maintain distinct identities based on religion, language, and close ties with their respective motherlands. Greek is predominantly spoken in the south; Turkish in the north. English is widely used. Cyprus has a well-developed system of primary and secondary education. The majority of Cypriots earn their higher education at Greek, Turkish, British, or American universities. Private colleges and state-supported universities have been developed by both the Turkish and Greek communities.
Cypriot culture is among the oldest in the Mediterranean. By 3700 BC, 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 AD 364, Cyprus was ruled by Byzantium. After brief possession by Richard the Lion-Hearted during the Crusades, the island came under Frankish control in the late 12th century. It was ceded to the Venetian Republic in 1489 and conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1571. The Ottomans applied the millet system to Cyprus, which allowed religious authorities to govern their own non-Muslim minorities. This system reinforced the position of the Orthodox 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 Great Britain in 1878. Many, however, left for Turkey during the 1920s. The island was annexed formally by the U.K. in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I and became a crown colony in 1925.
Cyprus gained its independence from the U.K. in 1960, after an anti-British campaign by the Greek Cypriot EOKA (National Organization of Cypriot Fighters), a guerrilla group which desired political union with Greece, or 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 about the implementation and interpretation of the constitution. 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 in December 1963, after which Turkish Cypriot participation in the central government ceased. UN peacekeepers were deployed on the island in 1964. Following another outbreak of intercommunal violence in 1967-68, a Turkish Cypriot provisional administration was formed.
In July 1974, the military junta in Athens sponsored a coup led by extremist Greek Cypriots hostile to Makarios for his alleged pro-communist leanings, and for his perceived 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 many Turkish Cypriots fled north. Another large-scale population transfer later occurred.
Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided de facto into the government-controlled southern two-thirds of the island and the Turkish-controlled northern one-third. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has continued as the internationally recognized authority; 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.
Following the 1974 hostilities, the Turkish Cypriots formally set up their own institutions with a popularly elected president and a prime minister responsible to the National Assembly exercising joint executive powers. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared an independent "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC). In 1985, they adopted a constitution and held elections--an arrangement recognized only by Turkey.
Both the Republic of Cyprus and the "TRNC" held active multi-party elections in 1993. Greek Cypriots narrowly elected Glafcos Clerides, a seasoned politician from the conservative Democratic Rally Party, as president of the Republic of Cyprus. Once elected, he quickly resumed UN-sponsored negotiations.
The Democratic Rally party formed a coalition government with the center-right Democratic Party following Clerides' victory and holds 6 of 11 cabinet positions. There are three other major Greek Cypriot political parties--communist AKEL, socialist EDEK, and center-left United Democrats. None has been able to elect a president by itself or dominate the 56-seat House of Representatives. The 165,000 Greek Cypriot refugees are also a potent political force, along with the independent Orthodox Church of Cyprus, which has influence in temporal as well as ecclesiastical matters.
Turkish Cypriots also voted for change in 1993, removing the long-ruling National Unity Party in favor of a coalition of the Democratic and Republican Turkish parties. However, in August 1996, a new coalition was formed between the two main rightist parties, the National Unity Party and the Democratic Party. "TRNC President" Rauf Denktash won re-election in 1995 after an unprecedented second round of voting. He defeated the current "Prime Minister," Dr. Dervis Eroglu.
UN-sponsored negotiations to develop institutional arrangements acceptable to both communities began in 1968; several sets of negotiations and other initiatives followed. Turkish Cypriots desire bi-zonality, security guarantees, and political equality between 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.
The last face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the two communities, President Clerides and Mr. Denktash, took place in October 1994. Since then, the UN and other international mediators have tried to assist the sides in finding greater common ground on settlement issues and in creating a more auspicious atmosphere for negotiations. These efforts have been complicated by the tragic killing of four Greek Cypriots and one Turkish Cypriot along the cease-fire lines in 1996 and mounting military tensions on and around the island.
Principal Government Officials
President of the Republic--Glafcos Clerides
Foreign Minister--Yiannakis Cassoulides
Minister of Finance--Christodoulos Christodoulou
Minister of Commerce, Tourism and Industry--Kyriacos Christofi
Minister of Communication and Works--Leontios Ierodiaconou
Minister of Justice--Alecos Evangelou
Ambassador to the United States--Andreas Nicolaides
Ambassador to the United Nations--Nicos Agathocleous
Cyprus maintains an Embassy in the United States at 2211 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-462-5772) and a Consulate General in New York City. Cyprus also maintains a trade center at 13 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016 (tel. 212-686-6016). Turkish Cypriots maintain offices in Washington and at the Republic of Turkey's Mission to the UN.
Cyprus has an open, free-market, serviced-based economy. The industrial sector is fairly diversified. Cypriots are among the most prosperous in the Mediterranean. Internationally, Cyprus promotes its geographical location as a "bridge" between West and East, along with its educated English-speaking population, moderate local costs, good airline connections, and telecommunications.
In the past 20 years, the economy has shifted from agriculture to light manufacturing and services. The service sector, including tourism, contributes 70% to the GDP and employs 62% of the labor force. Industry and construction contribute 24% and employ 25% of labor. Manufactured goods account for approximately 69% of domestic exports. Agriculture is responsible for 6% of GDP and 12% of the labor force. Potatoes and citrus are the principal export crops.
After robust growth rates in the 1980s (average annual growth was 6.1%), economic performance in the 1990s has been mixed: Real GDP growth was 9.7% in 1992, 1.7% in 1993, 6.0% in 1994, 5.0% in 1995, and 1.5% in 1996. This pattern underlines the economy's vulnerability to swings in tourist arrivals (i.e., to economic and political conditions in Western Europe and the Middle East) and the need for restructuring the economy. Lack of competitiveness in tourism and especially in manufacturing will act as a drag on growth until structural changes are effected. Overvaluation of the Cypriot pound has kept inflation in check in recent years (3.0% in 1996) and is forecast to continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Economic prospects are good over the long term, but real growth in 1997 is expected to rise by an anemic 2.0%.
Trade is vital to the Cypriot economy--the island is not self- sufficient in food and has few natural resources--and the trade deficit continues to grow. Exports rose by about 13% in 1996, while imports rose by 11%, resulting in a trade deficit of 9.5% in 1996. Cyprus must import fuels, most raw materials, heavy machinery, and transportation equipment. More than 50% of its trade is with the European Union (especially the U.K.); the Middle East receives 19% of exports. Cyprus signed an Association Agreement with the European Union (EU) in 1972, which calls for the abolition of all barriers to trade by establishment of a Customs Union between the two sides by 1998. Cyprus applied for full EU membership in 1990, and has since linked the Cyprus pound to the European Monetary Unit (ECU). In 1991, Cyprus introduced a Value Added Tax (VAT), which is currently 8%. Cyprus ratified the new world trade agreement (GATT) in 1995 and began implementing it fully on January 1, 1996.
Cyprus has the fourth-largest ship registry in the world, with 2,766 ships and 26.8 million gross registered tons (GRTs). It is an open registry and includes ships from more than 43 countries, including Greece, Germany, and Russia.
Cyprus has been liberalizing its trade regime by eliminating import quotas and licenses and lowering tariffs on most products as a result of its obligations under the new world trade agreement and its Customs Union agreement with the European Union. As a result, U.S. products are becoming more competitive in Cyprus and prospects for further expansion of bilateral trade ties are excellent.
Government computerization and telecommunications development, two of the priorities of the Governments' five-year development plan (1994-1998), provide excellent opportunities for U.S. exports. Sales of computer-assisted design systems, new capital equipment for textile, clothing, footwear production, medical equipment, environmental equipment, and services are also expected to grow. U.S. pressure resulted in the adoption of a new copyright law in 1994, and the U.S. continues to work with the government for a new patent law.
The government offers tax incentives to encourage foreign direct investment. Majority ownership by foreigners is rarely approved, although exceptions occur. Cyprus has concluded treaties on double taxation with 23 countries, including the U.S., and has removed exchange restrictions on current international transactions. Non-residents and foreign investors may freely repatriate proceeds from investments in Cyprus.
The 1,180 full-fledged offshore companies--which are located in Cyprus but conduct business abroad only--qualify for various tax-and duty-free concessions. Foreign exchange earnings from offshore companies rose to $364 million in 1996. There are about 40 U.S.-owned firms in Cyprus; about half operate on an exclusively offshore basis.
U.S. firms are mainly engaged in the regional marketing of computers, computer graphics, telecommunications, printing equipment, household products, and soft drinks. Since 1994, re-entry visa provisions have been streamlined and three-year work permits have been introduced for offshore employees.
Trade Between Cyprus and the United States
The U.S. embassy in Nicosia sponsors a popular pavilion for American products at the annual Cyprus International State Fair, hosts the Commercial Awards dinner, and organizes other events to promote U.S. products throughout the year. Total U.S. exports to Cyprus were about $650 million in 1996 (compared with $480 million in 1995), making the U.S. Cyprus' number-one supplier of total imports. Exports include American tobacco and tobacco products, automatic data processing and other machinery, and cereals. Principal U.S. imports from Cyprus consist of clothing, footwear, steel tubes and pipes, dairy products, and various food items.
Turkish Cypriot Economy
The economic disparity between the two communities is pronounced. The lack of private and governmental investment, shortages of skilled labor and experienced managers, inflation, and the devaluation of the Turkish lira continue to plague the economy. The European Union has been the primary destination of exports, principally citrus and textiles.
Assistance from Turkey is the mainstay of the Turkish Cypriot economy. Under the latest economic protocol (signed January 3, 1997), Turkey undertakes to provide Turkish Cypriots loans totaling $250 million for the purpose of implementing projects included in the protocol related to public finance, tourism, banking, and privatization. Fluctuation in the Turkish lira, which has fallen to just 50% of its 1995 value, continues to exert downward pressure on the Turkish Cypriot standard of living.
Turkish Cypriot authorities have instituted a free market in foreign exchange and authorize residents to hold foreign-currency denominated bank accounts. This encourages transfers from Turkish Cypriots living abroad.
Since independence, the Republic of Cyprus has been a neutral country and a member of the Non-aligned Movement. Troops of five official military organizations, however, are based on Cypriot territory: Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot, mainland Greek, mainland Turkish, and the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). In addition, U.K. forces are stationed at two Sovereign Bases on the southern coast of the island. The Republic signed a joint defense pact with Greece in 1993.
The Greek Cypriot community requires compulsory military service for males following secondary education. The Greek Cypriot National Guard numbers about 11,000 with 100,000 reserves. The commander and many senior officers of the Greek Cypriot National Guard have traditionally been Greek army regulars. A separate mainland Greek military contingent is stationed in the Republic of Cyprus, under a provision of the 1960 Treaty of Alliance.
The 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.
UNFICYP has about 1,200 troops with major military contingents from the U.K., Austria, and Argentina; smaller units from Finland, Ireland and Hungary; and civilian police from Australia and Ireland. The UN force patrols the cease-fire buffer zone and performs humanitarian tasks between the two communities. The U.S. has been a major donor to UNFICYP, contributing 48%--$234 million out of a total $490 million--of the total voluntary UNFICYP account since its creation in 1964. UNFICYP changed to a system of both voluntary and assessed contributions in 1993; that year Cyprus and Greece paid slightly less than half of the force's $42.8 million annual costs.
The Government of Cyprus has historically followed a non-aligned foreign policy, although it increasingly identifies with the West in its cultural affinities and trade patterns and maintains close relations with Greece.
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. Turkey does not recognize the Government of Cyprus.
Cyprus' 1990 application for full EU membership caused a storm in the Turkish Cypriot community which argued that the move required their consent. In March 1995, the European Union undertook to start accession negotiations with Cyprus within six months of the conclusion of the EU's 1996 Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) in exchange for Greece lifting objections to the Turkey-EU Customs Union Agreement. Accession negotiations are thus expected to begin in 1998, regardless of whether or not a Cyprus settlement has been achieved.
The Government of Cyprus enjoys close relations with Greece. Cyprus is expanding relations with Russia, Israel, and Syria, from which it purchases most of its oil.
Cyprus is a member of the UN and most of its agencies as well as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Council of Europe, and the Commonwealth. In addition, the country has signed the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency Agreement (MIGA).
The United States regards the status quo on Cyprus unacceptable. Successive administrations have viewed UN-led intercommunal negotiations as the best means to achieve a fair and permanent settlement. The United States will continue actively to support and aid the UN Security Council's efforts. In 1994, the U.S. appointed Richard I. Beattie as a Special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus.
The United States has channeled $305 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 U.S. scholarships for Greek and Turkish Cypriot students.
Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador: Kenneth C. Brill
Deputy Chief of Mission: Deborah E. Graze
Chief Political Officer: Donald Shemanski
Economic/Commercial Officer: Clark Price
Defense Attaché: Col. David Fetter
Public Affairs Officer: Dr. Judith R. Baroody
Consular Officer: William Carlson
Administrative Officer: Jeffrey Levine
The U.S. Embassy in Cyprus is located at the corner of Metochiou
and Ploutarchou Streets in Engomi, Nicosia, Cyprus mailing address:
PO Box 4536, Nicosia Cyprus.
U.S. mailing address: PSC 815, FPO-AE 09836-0001. Tel. (2)476-100; Telex: 4160 AMEMY CY; Fax: (2)465-944; Consular Fax: (2)366-841; Web Page: http://www.spidernet.net/~amcenter
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State?s Consular Information Program provides Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all countries and include information on immigration practices, currency regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is required). The CABB also carries international security information from the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department?s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-4000.
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648) Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at (404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800. Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country?s embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see ?Principal Government Officials? listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a countr y (see ?Principal U.S. Embassy Officials? listing in this publication). This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. DOSFAN?s World Wide Web site is at http://ww.state.gov.
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information. It is available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information. [end of document]