Centre d'Information sur les Institutions Européennes

Centre d'Information sur les Institutions Européennes (CIIE)


  • Accession to the EU : 2004
  • Accession to the Council of Europe: 1961
  • Surface area: 9 251 km2
  • Population: 858 000 (2014)
  • Capital city: Nicosia (200 500 inhabitants)
  • Official languages: Greek and Turkish
  • Main religion: Orthodox
  • Currency: Euro (since January 2008)
  • Political system: Republic
  • Head of state: President Níkos Anastasiádis since February 24, 2013
  • Head of government:
  • International code: + 357
  • National holiday: October 1
  • The Cyprian members of the European Parliament

A province of the Ottoman Empire since the 16th century, in 1878 Cyprus came under the supervision of Great Britain, who annexed it in 1914. The island officially became a colony of the British Empire in 1925.

Temple of Apollon, Kourion © Tourist office of Cyprus

  • 1931 First popular uprising against the British occupation. The Greek Cypriots demand Enosis (the attachment of the island to Greece). The church then takes up this federative cause, with Archbishop Makarios III leading the anti-British opposition movement.
  • 1955-1959 Armed struggle by the National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters against the British. Conflicts arise between the Greek and Turkish communities.
  • 1960 Proclamation of independence, establishing the Republic of Cyprus, in which Greeks and Turks would share the power.
  • 1961 Cyprus joins the Council of Europe.
  • 1962 Conflicts between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish minority lead to the UN intervention.
  • 1974 President Makarios III is overthrown by the Colonels in power in Greece. As a response to this coup, and in order to defend the status quo existing since independence, the Turkish army lands in the north of the island and occupies 37% of the territory. The island is divided into two zones, between which the UN forces keep the peace.
  • 1983 In conflict with the Republic of Cyprus, the Turkish community in the North proclaims the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (recognised only by Turkey).
  • 1990 The Republic of Cyprus submits its application to join the European Economic Community.
  • 1999 With the possibility of Cyrpus becoming a member of the UN, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan (mandated by a resolution from the Security Council) attempts to impose a solution on both sides of the island in order to create a unified State.
  • 2004 The Greek Cypriots reject the unification plan for the island during a referendum organised in both parts of the island.
  • 2004 May 1: Cyprus joins the European Union.
  • 2008 Cyprus joins the Eurozone.
  • 2008 The communist candidate wins the presidential election in Cyprus on February 24th. 
Built on the site of a town dating from the 2nd millennium BC, Nicosia only became the capital of the island during the 11th century, under the reign of the Frankish Lusignan dynasty. Nicosia has been divided since 1974 by the “green line”, a demarcation line between the Turkish and Greek zones. Consequently, it is the only European capital to be cut in half. In the North, the Turkish town, with its peaceful provincial charm, includes most of the monuments from the Frankish period, such as the Cathedral of Saint- Sophia, which has today become a mosque. The Greek part has retained its old districts, surrounded by Venetian ramparts dating from the 16th century, but has also become a major modern and dynamic economic and political center. Numerous historical and religious monuments (the cathedral, the mosque and Venetian buildings) are located in the old town, inside the walls, whose three main gates are now key landmarks. The richness of Nicosia’s cultural heritage reflects the various influences during the history of the island. Nicosia also boasts a number of museums, including the Museum of Cyprusm which is home to ceramics from the Neolithic period, the Byzantine Museum, which has a superb collection of icons, and the Archaeological Museum and its maze of galleries.
Door of Famagusta, Nicosia © Tourist office of Cyprus

Located 19 km to the west of Limassol, the Kourion Theatre is located in the heart of an ancient city-state of antiquity, on the island’s most important archaeological site. The excavations, which continue today, are constantly unearthing new discoveries, and bear witness to this rich heritage. Facing the sea, this Greco-Roman theatre was built in the 2nd century BC and then enlarged by the Romans in the 2nd century AD for use as a colloseum, in which fights against wild animals took place. In its day, the theatre could welcome 3500 spectators. Nearby, we find the ruins of an early Christian basilica which was probably the Cathedral of Kourion. Beautiful mosaic floors can be admired in the private villa of Eustolios, the house of Achilles and that of the gladiators (other remains from this ancient city). Today, the theatre has been fully restored and theatrical and musical events are held there. It attracts lovers of the ancient tragedies, who gather there during the Kourion Theatre Festival in July, a festival in which all the glory of Greek tragedy can be relived each evening in a setting worthy of these great works.

Kourion Theatre © Tourist office of Cyprus

The Greek Orthodox festival of Kataklysmos is the most original festival on the island, as it is celebrated only on Cyprus. It is held on White Monday. The term “Kataklysmos” (which means flood), recalls the biblical story of Noah’s Ark. It is also associated with Greek mythology through the character of Deukalion, the King of Thessaly. His justice was so great that Zeus wanted to spare him when he decided to drown the wicked human race. Deukalion built a wooden box in which he took refuge with his wife. When the waters receded, they found themselves deposited on the summit of Mount Parnassus, and were given the task of repopulating the earth with worthier people. Held in the main coastal towns, and chiefly in Larnaka, the Kataklysmos Festival involves a happy procession down to the sea. Everyone then throws water over one another, symbolising the purification of the body and soul. This ancient tradition, recalling the mythical origins of the festival, has also been joined by a whole series of cultural events. For five days, maritime sporting competitions are held along with singing contests (tchattista in which several groups compete by improvising strophes), traditional dancing and various concerts.
© Tourist office of Cyprus
Cyprus derives its main revenue from tourist activities. Although the total population is 794,000 inhabitants, each year the island attracts almost 2.7 million tourists.
Entirely dependent upon rainfall and suffering major droughts, Cyprus has always had a water problem. Following the construction of several dams, a water desalination program today makes it possible to produce 45 million cubic meters of drinking water per year.
The copper deposits
The copper deposits discovered in 2500 BC made the island famous back in antiquity. It was this mineral, known as Kypros in Greek, that gave the island its name.
Cyprus is also the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love.
Aphrodite © Tourist office of Cyprus


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