The Republic of Cyprus gained its independence in 1960 when Britain relinquished her colonial rule and granted independence to the island.
This was the latest scenario in a succession of major acts in which the island featured, because of its geographical position - attracting foreign invaders and colonisers throughout its history that can be traced back to the sixth millennium B.C.
But it was not destined to be the last act.
Once again, it was foreign intervention that brought it about: in 1974 the dictators who then ruled Greece staged an abortive coup against Archbishop Makarios, then President of Cyprus, and Turkey launched an invasion "to restore constitutional order". Twenty two years on, 37% of the island still remains under the invaders' occupation in defiance of United Nations Resolutions of unequivocal substance. And the "Cyprus Problem" has become a major dispute in the sensitive Middle East. This compilation includes facts and figures, business and general information on Cyprus which should be useful to editors, politicians, diplomats, tourists, economists and business travellers for quick and reliable reference.
Cyprus is an independent sovereign Republic with a presidential system of government. Under the 1960 Constitution, executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic, elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term of office. The President exercises executive power through a Council of Ministers appointed by him. Ministers may be chosen from outside the House of Representatives.
The legislative authority in the Republic is exercised by the House of Representatives now consisting of eighty members (56 of whom are to be Greek Cypriots and 24 Turkish Cypriots) elected by universal suffrage for a five - year term. At the time of its establishment the House consisted of 50 members, 35 of whom were to be Greek Cypriots and 15 Turkish Cypriots. According to the Constitution the ratio is 70% Greek Cypriots and 30% Turkish Cypriots.
Following the withdrawal of the Turkish Cypriot members the House has been functioning only with the Greek Cypriot members. The Maronite, Armenian and Latin minorities also elect representatives who attend meetings without a right of participation in the deliberations. They are consulted in matters concerning particular affairs of their respective religious groups.
Parliamentary Committees of the House of Representatives
Every bill which is introduced in the House is referred by the President for examination by the appropriate parliamentary committee of the House. The introduction of the bill in the House is a formal stage intended only to give the House notice that the bill has been introduced.
The Parliamentary committees are set up by the Committee of Selection which consists of the President of the House as chairman, the Vice-President of the House as vice-chairman, and eight other members elected by the House. On appointing the members of the parliamentary committees, the Committee of Selection appoints, at the same time, the chairman of each committee as well as the member who will be replacing him in case of temporary absence or incapacity. The committees of the House are representative in the sense that political parties are adequately represented on them in proportion to the total number of their seats in the House.
The parliamentary committees of the House generally correspond to the Ministries of the Government and are set up to consider every bill or private bill or any other particular matter that may be referred to them by the House.
The administration of justice is exercised by the island's separate and independent Judiciary. Under the 1960 Constitution and other legislation in force, the following judicial institutions have been established:
The Supreme Court of the Republic, The Assize Courts and District Courts.
In the Republic there are also Independent Offices which do not come under any Ministry. These are: The Law Office, the Audit Office of the Republic, the Public Service Commission, the Planning Bureau, the Educational Service Commission, and the Office of the Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman).
The Republic of Cyprus is a member of the United Nations Organisation and U.N. Agencies.
The Republic of Cyprus is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, being a founder member through the pioneer contribution of its first President, the late Archbishop Makarios.
Cyprus is a member of the Council of Europe and is linked with the European Union through a Customs Union Agreement .
The Cyprus Republic is also a member of the Commonwealth composed of former British colonies.
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, after Sicily and Sardinia, with an area of 3.572 sq. miles (9.251 sq. kms).
It is situated at the north-eastern corner of the Mediterranean, at a distance of 300 km north of Egypt, 90 km west of Syria, and 60 km south of Turkey. Greece lies 360 km north-west (Rhodes - Crete).
Cyprus lies at a latitude of 34 33'-35 34' North and longitude 32 -16'-34 37' East. The 35th latitudinal parallel traverses it.
The country has two mountain ranges: the Pentadaktylos range which runs along almost the entire northern coast, and the Troodos massif in the central and south-western parts of the island. Cyprus' coastal line is indented and rocky in the north with long sandy beaches in numerous coves in the south. The north coastal plain, covered with olive and carob trees, is backed by the steep and narrow Pentadaktylos mountain range of limestone, rising to a height of 1.042 m. In the south the extensive mountain massif of Troodos, covered with pine, dwarf oak, cypress and cedar, culminates in the peak of Mount Olympus, 1.953 m above sea level. Between the two ranges lies the fertile plain of Messaoria.
Cyprus has a Mediterranean climate, with its typical seasonal rhythm strongly marked in respect of temperature, rainfall and weather generally. Hot, dry summers from June to September and changeable winters from November to March are separated by short Autumn and Spring seasons of rapid change in weather patterns in October, April and May. Summer is a season of high temperatures and cloudless skies.
The average annual rainfall is 500 mm, the fall from December to February being nearly two-thirds of the yearly total. Autumn and winter rainfall on which agriculture and water supplies generally depend is variable from year to year.
What is abundant, however, is sunshine during the whole year, particularly from April to September when the daily average exceeds 11 hours. Winds are on the whole light to moderate. Gales are very infrequent and storms rare.
Snow hardly falls in the lowlands and on the Northern range, but is a frequent feature every winter on ground above 1.000 metres in the Troodos range. From December till April snow is usually in evidence there, but hardly continuous. Yet during the coldest months it lies in considerable depth for several weeks, attracting skiers.
Flora and Fauna
With its approximately 1.800 species and subspecies of flowering plants, Cyprus, is an extremely interesting place for nature lovers and has all the attributes which make it a botanist's paradise. Being an island, it is sufficiently isolated to allow the evolution of a strong endemic flowering element. At the same time being surrounded by big continents, it incorporates botanological elements of the neighbouring land masses. About 8% of the indigenous plants of the island, 125 different species and subspecies, are endemic. The island's great variety of habitats, attributed to a varied microclimate and geology, is the main reason which contributed to this high number of endemics.
The arrival of animals in Cyprus has been a subject of interest to zoologists, since it has always been an island. According to existing evidence, the first arrivals were hippopotami and elephants, both excellent swimmers. They arrived 1,5 mil. years ago and apart from some shrews and mice, were the only land mammals roaming the island prior to Man's arrival 9.000 years ago. The present-day fauna of Cyprus includes some 7 species of land mammals, 26 species of amphibians and reptiles, 357 species of birds, a great variety of insects and mites, while the coastal waters of the island give shelter to 197 fish species and various species of crabs, sponges and echinodermata.
The largest wild animal that still lives on the island is the Cyprus moufflon (Ovis orientalis ophion), a rare type of wild sheep that can only be found in Cyprus. Cyprus is used by millions of birds as a stepping-stone during their migration from Europe to Africa and back, something that has been observed since Homeric times. The main reason for that is the occurrence on the island of two wetlands, with unique and international importance, namely Larnaca and Akrotiri salt lakes. From the numerous wild birds of Cyprus, birds of prey are the most fascinating and amongst them the Eleonora's falcon (Falco eleonorae) and the imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca) are the jewel on the crown. Our sea creatures include seals and turtles, though unfortunately the Monk seal no longer breeds in the coastal sea caves of the island. On the other hand two marine turtles, the Green turtle (Chelona mydas) and the Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) have been found to breed regularly on the island's sandy beaches and are strictly protected.