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Information on Cyprus


Main Data
Location: Island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey. Geographical coordinates: 35 00 N, 33 00 E.
Size: Total area of island: 9 250 km2 (including 3 355 km2 in the Turkish Cypriot area).
Highest Point: Mount Olympus, 1 951m above sea level.
Coastline: As an island Cyprus has no land borders. Total length of coastline: 648km.
Time Zone: GMT + 2
Capital: Nicosia
Form of Government: Republic. Only the Greek government is recognised by the international community.
Political Division: 6 administrative divisions: Famagusta, Kyrenia, Larnaca, Limassol, Nicosia and Paphos.
State Holidays: Greek Cypriots celebrate Independence Day on October 1st.
Head of Government: President is both chief of state and head of government. Post of vicepresident is reserved for Turkish Cypriot, but vacant since early 1960s.
Currency: Euro in the Greek area, Turkish lira in the Turkish area.
Language: Greek and Turkish are official languages; English is widely spoken.
Religion: Greek Cypriot area is almost exclusively Greek Orthodox, and the Turkish area is primarily Muslim.
Foreword: The companies incorporated by LAVECO Ltd. in Cyprus are registered and administered in the Greek area of the island. For this reason, the information contained below concentrates primarily on the Greek-administered south.

Cyprus is an island with a very long history, full of power struggles and periods of occupation by various different forces. The first occupation was by the Egyptians in around 1450 BC, and was followed by two millennia during which the island passed from empire to empire. Turkey ruled the island for 300 years from the latter part of the 16th century until 1878 when an agreement was reached with the British over the administration of Cyprus. After the First World War Cyprus became a British Crown Colony, and so began a very turbulent period. Riots and terrorism broke out at various times up to the granting of independence in 1960. Problems continued between the Greek and Turkish communities, with Turkish Cypriots demanding the establishment of a separate state and the Greeks insisting on unity. Things came to a head in 1974, when the hostilities led to the current situation with a Turkish Cypriot area in the north and a Greek Cypriot area in the south separated by a UN buffer zone. EU accession in May 2004 offered a chance of reunification, but a referendum failed to provide a positive outcome.

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, situated 65km to the south of the Turkish coast and some 980km south-east of Athens. The total area of the island covers 9 250km2, of which 3 355 are in the Turkish-administered north. The centre of the island is dominated by a large fertile plain, with mountains to the north and south, the highest of which is Mount Olympus at 1 951m. Cyprus has no lakes or rivers, and the supply of fresh water is a constant problem. The total length of coastline is 648km, with many bays and beaches on all sides. Many of the beaches are sandy, but there are also beaches with shingle, rocks and clear blue waters.

The climate of Cyprus is typically Mediterranean, with hot, humid summers and mild winters. There is a light rainy season during the winter months, with the average annual rainfall ranging from 300 – 400mm in the north-east to over 1000mm at the top of the Troodos Massif, the highest mountain range, where in winter months much of this falls as snow. The average rainfall for the whole island is around 500 mm, though this has been declining steadily over recent decades, further exacerbating the problems with the water supply. Temperatures vary considerably between the geographical regions, though on average summer highs tend to reach around 40° C on the central plain and 27° C in the mountains, and winter lows touch 5° C on the plain and 0° C on the upper slopes of the Troodos.

Cyprus has a total estimated population of some 885 600, of whom almost 660 600 are Greek Cypriots, and 88 900 are Turkish Cypriots, with the remainder made up of a very cosmopolitan group including some 25 823 Britons and 9 854 Russians. The vast majority of Turkish Cypriots (98,7%) live in the Turkish-administered area, while similar numbers of Greek Cypriots and other groups (99,5 and 99,2% respectively) live in the Greek Cypriot area. The population has recently been growing at the rate of about 1,6% per year. The Greek area follows predominantly the Greek Orthodox religion, while the Turkish area is almost exclusively Muslim. The official languages of Cyprus are Greek and Turkish, but English is very widely spoken.


When independence was proclaimed in 1960 the constitution called for a system of government incorporating the two communities under a Greek Cypriot president and Turkish Cypriot vice-president, who would jointly appoint a Council of Ministers from the 50 (35 Greek and 15 Turkish) elected members of the House of Representatives (this was later amended to 80 members, with 56 Greeks and 24 Turks).
In practice, however, this only worked for the first years of the 1960s, and the two areas are now governed independently. The Greek-run government has retained the planned format, with the post of vice-president and the seats allocated to Turkish representatives remaining vacant.
The Turkish community established their own legislative institutions and proclaimed the self-governing “Turkish Federal State of Cyprus” (now “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”) in 1975, though this state is only recognised by Turkey.
The United Nations has been very active in efforts at the reunification of the two sides, and a great deal of optimism surrounded EU accession in May 2004, but a referendum failed to achieve a positive result.
The Legal System:

The legal system of the Greek Cypriot area is based very closely on English or Anglo-Saxon law, and the majority of laws have been translated into English. It is also extremely common for lawyers from Cyprus either to study in British universities or to gain experience with UK legal firms.
The Continental system of administrative law has also been introduced in parallel with the Anglo-Saxon principles.
In the Greek area there are six District Courts to deal with minor offences, while more serious cases are heard in the Assize Courts. The highest court in Cyprus is the Supreme Court.

All inland transport takes place by road, as there are neither railways nor inland waterways in either region. The total length of the road network in the Greek area is some 11 000km.
There are seaports capable of handling large container ships, and international airports in Larnaca and Paphos operating with more than 40 airlines.
Communications: Communications throughout the island are excellent. State of the art main and mobile telephone networks are in operation, providing direct access to the rest of the world.
Internally, postage and courier services are fast, reliable and inexpensive, and scheduled bus and taxi services also link the major towns and cities. The island is served by the major courier companies, including DHL, UPS and FedEx.

The Greek area is considerably more prosperous than its Turkish counterpart, with per capita GDP some three times greater than that of the Turkish area. The economy in both areas is dominated by tourism, and as such can be subject to fairly large swings, dependent on the various factors which can affect this field. The Greek Cypriot area also has a long tradition as an offshore jurisdiction, which, through detailed changes in the laws and co-operation with the OECD and EU, it has now adapted to being a leading financial services industry. These tourism and financial services industries account for some 75% of the workforce in the Greek area. 20% of the workforce is in the industry, with agriculture accounting for the rest. These figures are also mirrored by the contribution of each sector to the GDP. In addition to the service industries, the island also has food, beverages, textiles, chemical and metal and wood product industries.
Tourism In Cyprus:

Tourism is extremely important for the whole island.
The Greek area has been a very popular tourist destination for a considerable number of years, with large numbers of Britons and Russians in particular enjoying the Mediterranean climate throughout the year, while the Turkish area in the north is fast developing.
Political instability in the region, together with fluctuating economic conditions in western Europe play an important role in determining the number of tourist arrivals each year.
In the Greek area, tourism is centred around Limassol and Larnaca in the south, Pafos in the south-west and Agia Napa on the east coast.
The Banking System:

The banking system in the Greek area of Cyprus is one of the most advanced and efficient systems available.
The Central Bank of Cyprus is responsible for the issue and control of banking licences and for continued supervision of banking establishments. As well as local banks with branches throughout the world, Cyprus also plays host to a large number of international banks.
All banks offer the most up to date services and technology available, allowing clients to manage accounts by telephone, fax and via the Internet.
The currency is the Euro, but as in all major financial areas, accounts can be opened in all major currencies.

European offices

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