Republic of Cyprus
The Republic of Cyprus is a member state of the European Union. It is in Asia, but it is often associated with Europe because of the culture and history of the people. It is also closer to Africa than to Europe. The capital is Nicosia. Most of the population speaks Greek and Turkish.
Cyprus gained independence from the British Empire in 1960. The UK, Turkey and Greece became guarantor powers of the island.
In July 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus. Since then the northern part of the island has been under Turkish control. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus became independent in 1983 but it is recognised only by Turkey. When entering by aeroplane, a short stop is made at an airport in mainland Turkey.
The present situation with the island split came about because Cyprus, historically Greek, was conquered and became part of the Ottoman Empire from 1570–1914. The British administered it from 1878 until 1960. Likewise, Greece had been part of the Ottoman Empire for several centuries. Negotiations for a unified island have been held several times without success.
In 2004, Cyprus joined the European Union. On 1 January 2008 Cyprus adopted the Euro, the single European currency. Northern Cyprus accepts Turkish lira, and sometimes the Euro or United States dollar.
There are two mountain ranges, the Troodos Mountains and the smaller Kyrenia Range. The Pedieos River is the longest on the island. The highest point on Cyprus is Mount Olympus at 1,952 metres (6,404 feet).
The Republic of Cyprus is only on the southern two-thirds of the island (59.74%). The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is the northern third (34.85%) and rest are Akrotiri and Dhekelia owned by the British.
The Republic of Cyprus is a constitutional presidential republic. Each president is elected for a five-year term. The president has a lot of power. Cyprus is the only member of the European Union that is governed by a presidential system of government. It is one of few countries (along with San Marino) to have had a democratically-elected communist government, in office from 2008 until 2013. Since 2013 governing party has been the Democratic Rally.
The European Union issued a warning in February 2019 that Cyprus, an EU member, was selling EU passports to Russian oligarchs. This would allow allow organised crime syndicates to get into the EU. In 2020 leaked documents revealed a range of former and current officials from Afghanistan, China, Dubai, Lebanon, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Vietnam who bought a Cypriot citizenship before a change of the law in July 2019. Cyprus and Turkey have been engaged in a dispute over the extent of their exclusive economic zones. It was apparently caused by the potential for oil and gas exploration in the area.