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Focus CYPRUS MARKET REPORT


After the outbreak of the First World War Great Britain formally annexed the island in 1914 and a year later offered Cyprus to Constantine I of Greece on the condition Greece joined the war and supported Britain. Greece declined and in 1925 Cyprus was declared a British Crown Colony and it remained as such until it was granted independence in 1960 becoming a member of the Commonwealth the following year. In 1974 following some 11 years of violence and to prevent an attempted coup by Greek Cypriot nationalists (Enosis), Turkey invaded and occupied the northern portion of the island. This led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Cypriots of both races and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot political entity in the north. These events and the resulting political situation are matters of ongoing dispute.


Cyprus is now de facto partitioned into two main parts - the area under the control of the Republic of Cyprus comprising of about 59 per cent of the area and the Turkish area in the north, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) covering about 36 per cent of the island’s area and currently recognised only by Turkey. In 2003 the borders between north and south were opened – but are still controlled - and it is now easy to travel between the two parts of the island.


The accession of Cyprus as a full member of the EU as of May 2004 was seen as an important milestone and the Cypriots (at least in the Republic of Cyprus) are among the most prosperous people in the Mediterranean region. Membership of the EU has helped this prosperity enormously. Internationally Cyprus is also a ‘bridge’ between three continents and has an educated population, good airline connections and telecommunications. The Republic of Cyprus adopted the Euro as its national currency in 2008 whilst Northern Cyprus uses the Turkish Lira currency even though the Euro is widely accepted.


Over the last 20 years, for the whole country, the economy has shifted from agriculture and manufacturing to services. Today the services sector, including tourism, contributes to over 78 per cent to the GDP and employs 72 per cent of the labour force. GDP fell significantly in 2009 due to the global economic crisis although it is expected to return to normal growth this year. Unemployment stands at around 7.3 per cent. The island has few proven natural resources although oil has recently been discovered in the sea bed between Cyprus and Egypt and talks are underway to explore.


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