Cyprus´ civilization, according to archaeological evidence, goes back 11,000 years to the 9th millennium BC (early Neolithic Period or Stone Age). The island acquired its Greek character after it was settled by the Mycenaean-Achaean Greeks between the 13th and 11th century BC. In the mid- 9th century BC, Phoenician settlers began to arrive, concentrating mainly in the coastal city of Kition. Subsequently, Cyprus came, in turn, under Assyrian, Egyptian and Persian domination between the 8th and 4th century BC. It became part of the Roman Empire between 30 BC and 330 AD.
However, Cyprus retained its Greek identity and, as part of the Hellenistic state of the Ptolemies (310-30 BC) and of the Greek-speaking world of Byzantium (330 AD-1191), its ethnic heritage was kept alive. The Greek language and culture also prevailed throughout the centuries that followed even though Cyprus came under the rule of successive foreign powers – King Richard I (the Lionheart) of England and the Knights Templar (1191-1192), the Franks (Lusignans) (1192-1489), Venetians (1489-1571), Ottoman Turks (1571-1878) and British (1878-1960).
The Greek Cypriots mounted an anti-colonial liberation struggle against British rule from 1955 to 1959. In 1960 Cyprus gained its independence and became a constitutional Republic. Greece, Turkey and Britain were to stand as guarantors of the country’s independence under the Zurich-London Agreements and Britain would retain two sovereign base areas, one at Akrotiri/Episkopi and the other at Dhekelia, covering 2.7% of the island’s territory.
Turkey found the pretext to impose its partitionist plans against Cyprus following the coup of July 15, 1974, perpetrated against the elected government of President Makarios by the Athens military junta. On July 20, claiming to act under article 4 of the Treaty of Guarantee, the Turkish armed forces staged a full-scale invasion against Cyprus. Though the invasion was in violation of all rules of international legality, including the UN Charter, Turkey proceeded to occupy the northern part of the island and empty it from its Greek inhabitants. By the end of the following year the majority of the Turkish Cypriots living in the areas left under the control of the Republic had also made their way to the part of Cyprus occupied by the Turkish army. As a result of the invasion, 35.83% of the Republic of Cyprus territory (representing 70% of the economic potential) came under the occupation of the Turkish military. One third of the Greek Cypriots became refugees in their own country and are to this day prevented from returning to their homes by the Turkish occupation authorities.
Source: Cyprus at a Glance, Published by the Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus, 2011
Cyprus is an island situated at the north-eastern end of the Mediterranean basin, located at 34°33’-35°34’ North, and 32°16’-34°37’ East. It covers an area of 9,251 sq. km (3,572 sq. miles) and stands at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, smaller than Sicily and Sardinia, but larger than Corsica and Crete. Local time is two hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), 7 hours ahead of New York and 7 hours behind Tokyo.
The population of Cyprus is about 870,000. The capital of Cyprus is Lefkosia situated in the heart of the island with a population of approximately 332,200. The second largest city is Lemesos on the south coast with a population of approximately 239,400 and the island’s major port. Larnaka and Pafos are the third and fourth largest cities, each with a new airport, situated on the south west and south east coasts, respectively.
It has a varied and picturesque coastline of 1,364 km (848 miles) with long sandy beaches, and a rich variety of vegetation and fruit. The climate is generally sunny and dry throughout the year. The sun shines for about 340 days a year. Winter is mild, and the bathing season practically starts from April and only ends in November.
Topographically, Cyprus consists of two mountain masses (on the north and south) and a central lowland. The Kyrenia Range lies close to the north coast and consists mainly of limestone. To the south is the Mesaoria Plain, in which the densest population is found. The southern half of the island is occupied by the rugged Troodos mountains, composed mainly of volcanic rocks and reaching a maximum elevation of 1,953 m (6,407 ft).
The native official languages are Greek and Turkish, but English is widely understood and extensively spoken. German and French are spoken at most hotels and shops, as well.
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 through a Council of Ministers appointed by him. Ministers cannot serve concurrently in the House of Representatives.
On May 01, 2004 the Republic of Cyprus became a full member of the EU completing a long journey that lasted more than three decades. Accession to the EU was a natural choice for Cyprus, dictated by its culture, civilization, history, its European outlook and adherence to the ideals of democracy, freedom and justice. EU accession has launched a new era of challenges, opportunities and responsibilities for Cyprus.
The application of the EU laws and regulations (the acquis communautaire) is suspended in the area under military occupation by Turkey, pending a solution to the division of the island. Meanwhile, the government of Cyprus in cooperation with the EU Commission, has been promoting arrangements to facilitate increased economic transactions between the two communities and improve the standard of living of Turkish Cypriots. On January 01, 2008 the Republic of Cyprus joined the Eurosystem and in so doing introduced the Euro as its official currency, replacing the Cyprus pound as the unit of account. Thus, Euro banknotes and coins are the country’s legal tender.
Cyprus is also a member of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and many other international organizations.
There are several vulnerabilities to Climate Change that have been identified for Cyprus.
- Reduction in water availability for (i) domestic supply and irrigation in mountain areas, (ii) domestic water supply in urban areas, and (iii) irrigation in coastal and plain areas because of decreasing levels of precipitation and increasing occurrences of droughts.
- Change in the quality of surface water bodies resulting from increasing temperatures.
- The phenomenon of desertification due to prolonged drought periods and intense precipitation events.
- Soil erosion caused by intense precipitation and extended drought periods, in addition to an increase in wind speed.
- Soil salinization as a consequence of a reduction of water availability and a rise in sea levels.
- Coastal erosion as a result of sea-level rise and human interventions.
- Coastal flooding, inundation and squeezing brought on by an increase in the frequency of large storms (storm surges), as well as an increase in sea levels.
Fisheries and aquaculture
- Variation in the abundance and species composition of fish stocks resulting from the increase in sea surface temperature and inland water temperature.
- Damages and/or losses to aquaculture facilities/fishing gear because of increases in the frequency and intensity of storms, in addition to the rise in sea levels.
- Changes in cooling and heating energy demands due to an increase in air temperature.
- Damages to cables and insulators caused by increased dust deposits.
- Change in tourists’ selection of visiting period (season) and length of stay, in order to avoid the discomfort of heatwaves resulting from an increase in maximum temperature.
- Degradation of coastal aesthetics brought on by the erosion of coastal areas caused by a rise in sea level and extreme weather conditions.
- Degradation of the landscape aesthetics at natural attractions, cultural and religious routes and viticulture points.
- Reduction in water availability for consumption, irrigation and other tourist facilities during summer months caused by a decrease in precipitation and an increase in droughts.
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