Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and Sardinia), with an area of 9.251 sq. km (3.572 sq. miles).   It is located at the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean, at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The population of Cyprus is estimated at 885.600 (December 2008) of whom 668.700 belong to the Greek Cypriot community (75,5%), 88.700 (10,0%) to the Turkish Cypriot community and 128.200 (14,5%) are foreign nationals residing in Cyprus.

Cyprus, officially known as the Republic of Cyprus, was founded in 1960 following independence from Great Britain.

The capital of the island is Lefkosia (Nicosia), the last remaining divided capital city in the world, since Turkish military invasion in 1974, with a population of 234.200 in the sector controlled by the Cyprus government. It is situated roughly in the centre of the island and is the seat of government as well as the main business centre.

The second largest town is Lemesos (Limassol) on the south coast with a population of around 185.100. Since 1974 it has become the island’s chief sea port, an industrial centre and an important tourist resort.

Larnaka, also on the south coast of the island, has a population of 82.700 and is the country’s second commercial sea port and an important tourist resort. The Larnaka International Airport is located to the south of the city.

Finally, Pafos, on the south-west coast, with a population of 55.900, is a fast-developing tourist resort, home to the island’s second international airport and an attractive fishing harbour.

The towns of Ammochostos (Famagusta), Kyrenia and Morfou have been under military occupation by Turkey since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. The Greek Cypriot inhabitants of these towns were forced to flee to the government-controlled area. In their homes and properties the Turkish authorities installed illegal settlers, mostly from Anatolia, Turkey.

The language of the Greek Cypriot community is Greek and the community adheres to the Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus.  However, English is widely spoken in Cyprus and is regularly used in commerce and government. Under the Constitution of 1960, the Armenian, Maronite and Latin communities had to choose to belong either to the Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot community. These groups, which belong to other Christian denominations and constitute 1% of the population, opted to be part of the Greek Cypriot community.

The language of the Turkish Cypriot community is Turkish and the community adheres to Islam.

Source:  Press and Information Office, Republic of Cyprus