Population: 775,927 (July 2004 est.).
Religions: Greek Orthodox 78%, Muslim 18%, Maronite, Armenian Apostolic, and other 4%.
Ethnic groups: Greek 77%, Turkish 18%, other 5% (2001).
Language: Greek, Turkish, English.
Country name: Republic of Cyprus (the Turkish Cypriot area refers to itself as the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus").
Government type: republic.
Note: a disaggregation of the two ethnic communities inhabiting the island began following the outbreak of communal strife in 1963; this separation was further solidified after the Turkish intervention in July 1974 after a Greek junta-based coup attempt gave the Turkish Cypriots de facto control in the north; Greek Cypriots control the only internationally recognized government; on 15 November 1983 Turkish Cypriot "President" Rauf DENKTASH declared independence and the formation of a "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC), recognized only by Turkey; both sides publicly support a settlement based on a federation (Greek Cypriot position) or confederation (Turkish Cypriot position).
Independence: 16 August 1960 (from UK); note - Turkish Cypriot area proclaimed self-rule on 13 February 1975.
Administrative divisions: 6 districts; Famagusta, Kyrenia, Larnaca, Limassol, Nicosia, Paphos; note - Turkish Cypriot area's administrative divisions include Kyrenia, all but a small part of Famagusta, and small parts of Lefkosia (Nicosia) and Larnaca.
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and Sardinia).
Terrain: central plain with mountains to north and south; scattered but significant plains along southern coast.
Total area: 9,250 km˛ (of which 3,355 km˛ are in the Turkish Cypriot area).
Coastline: 648 km.
Highest point: Olympus 1,951 m.
Climate: temperate; Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool winters.
Environment - current issues: water resource problems (no natural reservoir catchments, seasonal disparity in rainfall, sea water intrusion to island's largest aquifer, increased salination in the north); water pollution from sewage and industrial wastes; coastal degradation; loss of wildlife habitats from urbanization .
Ports and harbors: Famagusta, Kyrenia, Larnaca, Limassol, Paphos, Vasilikos.
In 1983, the Turkish-held area declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," but it is recognized only by Turkey. The latest two-year round of UN-brokered direct talks - between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to reach an agreement to reunite the divided island - ended when the Greek Cypriots rejected the UN unity plan in an April 2004 referendum.
Although only the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot-controlled "Republic of Cyprus" joined the EU on 1 May 2004, every Cypriot carrying a Cyprus passport have the status of a European citizen. However, Nicosia continues to oppose EU efforts to establish direct trade and economic links to northern Cyprus as a way of rewarding the Turkish Cypriot community for voting in favor of the UN unity plan.
Independence from the UK was approved in 1960, with constitutional guarantees by the Greek Cypriot majority to the Turkish Cypriot minority. In 1974, a Greek-sponsored attempt to seize the government was met by military intervention from Turkey, which soon controlled almost 40% of the island.
The Greek Cypriot economy is prosperous but highly susceptible to external shocks. Erratic growth rates over the past decade reflect the economy's vulnerability to swings in tourist arrivals, caused by political instability in the region and fluctuations in economic conditions in Western Europe. Economic policy is focused on meeting the criteria for admission to the EU. EU-driven tax reforms in 2003 have introduced fiscal imbalances, which, coupled with a sluggish tourism sector, have resulted in growing fiscal deficits. As in the Turkish sector, water shortages are a perennial problem; a few desalination plants are now on-line. After 10 years of drought, the country received substantial rainfall from 2001-03, alleviating immediate concerns. The Turkish Cypriot economy has roughly one-third of the per capita GDP of the south. Because it is recognized only by Turkey, it has had much difficulty arranging foreign financing and investment. It remains heavily dependent on agriculture and government service, which together employ about half of the work force. To compensate for the economy's weakness, Turkey provides grants and loans to support economic development. Ankara provided $200 million in 2002 and pledged $450 million for the 2003-05 period. Future events throughout the island will be highly influenced by the outcome of negotiations on the UN-sponsored agreement to unite the Greek and Turkish areas.
Currency: Greek Cypriot area: Cypriot pound (CYP); Turkish Cypriot area: Turkish lira (TRL).
Natural resources: copper, pyrites, asbestos, gypsum, timber, salt, marble, clay earth pigment.
Industries: food, beverages, textiles, chemicals, metal products, tourism, wood products.