The media landscape in Cyprus is divided along the linguistic and political border. Both the Turkish part of Cyprus in the north and the Greek part in the south of the island have their own television and radio stations as well as newspapers and magazines. This offer is complemented by programmes from Turkey and Greece. While freedom of the press is largely respected in the south, journalists in the Turkish northern part of the island can expect reprisals and even arrests in critical reports.
The island of Cyprus lies in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and is about 50 km from the Turkish mainland in the north and 100 km from Syria in the east. With an area of 9 251 km2, Cyprus is the third largest Mediterranean island (after Sicily and Sardinia).
The island is characterised by two mountain ranges, between which lies a wide plain (Messaria). In the north the Kyrenia mountains (also called Pentadaktylos) runs from west to east approximately parallel to the coast. The highest peak here is the Kyparisso, at 1 024 metres. The mountains drop steeply into the sea towards the north coast of Cyprus.
In the southwest of the island lies the Troodos mountain range, which is of volcanic origin. The Olympos in the Troodos mountains is with 1 951 m the highest mountain of Cyprus. To the west and south the mountains change into hilly country, then a coastal plain follows. In the centre of the island between Kyrenia and Troodos mountains lies the plain Messaria, the main cultivation and settlement area. Most of the rivers on the island dry up in the summer months. The longest river is the Pedias. In addition to some natural freshwater lakes, there are artificial reservoirs that serve as drinking water reservoirs.
The capital of both states is Nicosia, which lies in the interior of the island and through whose old town runs the border between the Turkish north and the Greek south.
Since 1974 the northern part of Cyprus has been occupied by Turkish troops. In 1983 the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” was proclaimed here, but it is only recognized by Turkey as an independent state. The Greek-Cypriot “Republic of Cyprus” in the south of the island is the official representative of the island of Cyprus under international law. Between the two parts of the country lies an uninhabited buffer zone guarded by UN troops.
According to the constitution of 1960, the Republic of Cyprus is a presidential democracy. The head of state is the president, who is also the head of government (since February 2013 Nikos Anastasiadis) and is elected by the people every five years. The president appoints the ministers. According to the Constitution, the office of Vice-President must be occupied by a Cypriot of Turkish origin and has been vacant since 1974. The legislative power lies with the Parliament (Vouli ton Antiprosópon), the term of office of the 80 deputies is five years. The 24 seats for Turkish Cypriots are also vacant. Important parties are the Conservative Democratic Collection (DISY), the Communist Party for the Development of the Working People (AKEL) and the Democratic Party (DIKO).
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has its own government and parliament (50 seats). The term of office of the President elected by the people (since April 2010 Derviş Eroğlu) is five years. Cyprus is divided into six districts, one of which is in the north of Turkey.
After the division of the island in 1974, a large part of the agriculturally important regions in the Messaria plain came under Turkish rule, as did the most important industrial plants and the important seaport Famagusta. But the economy of the Republic of Cyprus was able to stabilize quickly. However, the financial crisis did not leave the Republic of Cyprus unscathed. The government asked the EU for emergency loans in 2012. A banking crisis occurred in spring 2013.
Around 17 % of the total land area is agricultural land, which largely has to be artificially irrigated. A large part of it lies in the Messaria plain, which belongs predominantly to the Turkish part of the country. The most important crops are potatoes, citrus fruits, barley, grapes, olives and various vegetables.
In the Republic of Cyprus, about 2 % of all employed persons are employed in agriculture. Livestock breeding is important (poultry, pigs, sheep, goats, dairy cows).
Mineral resources include copper (mined in prehistoric times), chromium, pyrite, asbestos and clay. Most of the deposits are now depleted, so that mining is of little importance. The industry concentrates on the processing of food and beverages, the production of textiles, the chemical and metal industry and the production of wood products.
At 81%, services account for the largest share of the Republic of Cyprus’s gross domestic product (GDP). The tourism sector (about 2.5 million visitors in 2012) is the most important source of income. The Republic of Cyprus is an attractive financial centre with a bridge function to the Middle East and Russia. It has established itself as an important commercial centre. The Republic has one of the largest merchant fleets in the world.
The Republic of Cyprus exports mainly citrus fruits, potatoes, pharmaceutical products, cement, clothing and cigarettes. The main imports are food, beverages and tobacco, crude oil and lubricants, intermediate products, machinery and vehicles. The most important foreign trade partners are Greece, Great Britain and Germany in exports and Greece, Israel and Great Britain in imports.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus exports mainly citrus fruits, potatoes and textiles, and imports mainly food, minerals, chemical products and machinery. Turkey is the most important donor and trading partner.
The road network in the southern part of the island covers around 12,280 km, of which about 8,000 km are paved. The main ports are Larnaka and Limassol. In the northern part of the country there are about 2 350 km of roads, of which about 1 370 km are paved. The most important ports are Famagusta and Kyrenia. There are international airports in the southern part of the country in Larnaka and Paphos; the most important airport in the northern part is Ercan Airport. Currency in the Republic of Cyprus is the Euro (= 100 Cent), in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus the New Turkish Lira (= 100 New Kurus).