Cyprus Country Facts

Cyprus Country Facts

Area: 9,250 sq km (3,572 sq miles)

Population: 754,064

Capital city: Nicosia (Lefkosia/Lefkosa) (population: 195,000)

People: Greek Cypriot (78%), Turkish Cypriot (18%), Maronites, Latins (4%)

Languages: Greek, Turkish, English

Religions: Greek Orthodox (78%), Muslim (18%), Maronite, Armenian Apostolic, and other (4%)

Currency: Euro (Turkish Lira in the northern part of Cyprus)

Major political parties: Restorative Party of the Working People (AKEL), Democratic Rally (DESY), Democratic Party (DEKO), The European Party (EVROKO), Social Democratic Party (EDEK), United Democrats Movement (EDI)
Political parties in the northern part of Cyprus: National Unity Party (UBP); Democratic Party (DP); Communal Democracy Party (TDP); Republican Turkish Party (CTP); Freedom and Reform Party (ORP).
Government: Presidential Republic. The President serves a 5-year term, and exercises executive power through a Council of Ministers appointed by him. The Legislature comprises of one 80-member House of Representatives, elected for a 5-year term, although 24 seats reserved for Turkish Cypriot MPs are currently vacant.

Head of State: President Demetris Christofias

Foreign Minister: Marcos Kyprianou

Membership of international groups/organisations: UN Council of Europe, Commonwealth, OSCE, European Union, IAEA, IBRD, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol.

The UK does not recognise the self-declared ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ (‘TRNC’ in the northern part of the island. The ‘TRNC’ is not internationally recognised, except by Turkey. Throughout this document, the ‘TRNC’ is either referred to as such, or simply as the northern part of Cyprus.


Missing people

There are many people still missing from both communities in Cyprus following the events of the 1960s and 1970s. The UK government is encouraged by the progress that is being made by the Committee for Missing Persons in Cyprus in the recovery and identification of missing persons and by the collaborative approach that has been taken by the two communities.

Why can’t I fly direct to the northern part of Cyprus?

It is not possible to fly directly from the UK to the northern part of Cyprus. Under the terms of the International Convention on Civil Aviation of 1944 (Chicago Convention), flights can only operate legally to the international airports designated by the Republic of Cyprus. There are no such airports in the northern part of Cyprus. Under these circumstances, the UK Government has decided that the approval of direct flights by any airline from the UK to the northern part of Cyprus would be incompatible with the UK’s international obligations under the Chicago Convention, and with UK domestic legal obligations.

Crossing the ‘Green Line’

A buffer zone, known as the ‘Green Line’, was established following the hostilities in 1974, and is patrolled by UN peace keeping forces. It divides the island from the coast north west of Morphou through Nicosia to Famagusta. It is possible to visit the northern part of Cyprus by using any one of the official crossing points on the ‘Green Line’. There are no longer any restrictions on how long you can stay in the northern part of Cyprus if you cross over.

The crossing points are located as follows:

  • Ledra Palace checkpoint in central Nicosia (Pedestrians Only)
  • Ledra Street in central Nicosia (Pedestrians only)
  • Agios Dometios in Nicosia
  • Two in the Eastern Sovereign Base Area: (Black Knight – Nr Ayios Nikolaos) and Pergamos (nr Dhekelia)
  • Astromeritis (near Morphou, and 30kms west of Nicosia)

You may take a hired car through the checkpoints, except at Ledra Palace and Ledra Street, which are for pedestrians only. If you plan to take a hired car through the checkpoints,you should check first with the hire car company that they are content for you to do so, and whether you need to purchase additional insurance, available at the checkpoint, before crossing.

When passing through the crossing points you will need your passport. A separate sheet will be provided on which you will need to enter your passport details in order to pass through the crossing point.

Can I purchase property in Cyprus?

There are risks involved with purchasing property on the island of Cyprus. Many British nationals who buy property face problems due to misleading advertising, or because they do not have title deeds, or they have purchased off plan and the property has not been completed, or their property or neighbouring properties have been constructed illegally or taxes have been charged incorrectly. In addition, both Cypriot and foreign owners of around 100,000 properties have not been able to obtain their title deeds. Some people have been trying to obtain them for over 30 years. There are many cases of people without title deeds finding it difficult to sell their property, or whose developer has imposed a sales fee, high property taxes or service charges. As developers are able to take out mortgages on property for which they hold the title deeds, there is also a risk that a developer could go bankrupt with an outstanding mortgage on the property, rendering it liable to repossession by the mortgage holder.

The process of achieving legal redress in Cyprus can be very protracted compared to the UK. You are strongly advised to proceed with caution and to seek qualified legal advice from a source that is independent from anyone else involved in the transaction, including the seller, before purchasing property anywhere in Cyprus. You should also note that the Cyprus legal system is not the same as that in the UK.

The ownership of many properties is disputed in northern Cyprus, with many thousands of claims to ownership of properties from people displaced during the events of 1974. Purchase of these properties could have serious financial and legal implications. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in a number of cases that owners of property in northern Cyprus prior to 1974 continue to be regarded as the legal owners of that property. Purchasers could face legal proceedings in the courts of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as attempts to enforce judgements from these courts elsewhere in the EU, including the UK. Property owners and potential purchasers should also consider that a future settlement of the Cyprus problem could have serious consequences for property they purchase (including the possible restitution of the property to its original owners). In particular, prospective purchasers should consider the implications of any future settlement on land / property:

  • in the north that was Greek Cypriot owned
  • that was subsequently classified as exchange land / property by the Turkish Cypriot +authorities+.

The leaders of both communities started settlement negotiations in September 2008. Property issues forms a key part of these negotiations. Until those negotiations are concluded and a comprehensive settlement agreed, the issues and risks identified above will continue to apply.

On 20 October 2006 a criminal code amendment relating to property came into effect. Under the amendment, buying, selling, renting, promoting or mortgaging a property without the permission of the owner (the person whose ownership is registered with the Republic of Cyprus Land Registry, including Greek Cypriots displaced from northern Cyprus in 1974), is a criminal offence. This also applies to agreeing to sell, buy or rent a property without the owner’s permission. The maximum prison sentence is seven years. Furthermore, the amendment to the law states that any attempt to undertake such a transaction is a criminal offence and could result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years. This law is not retrospective, so will not criminalise transactions that took place before 20 October 2006. Documents relating to the purchase of property in northern Cyprus will be presumed by the Cypriot authorities to relate to the illegal transfer of Greek Cypriot property and may be subject to confiscation when crossing the Green Line. Anyone in possession of these documents may be asked to make a statement to the Cypriot authorities and may face criminal proceedings under the 20 October 2006 amendment. Any enquiries about the full implications and scope of this legislation should be made to the Republic of Cyprus High Commission in London (tel: +44 (0)20 7321 4100 +44 (0)20 7321 4100

If you have purchased a property and are encountering difficulties, you should seek qualified independent legal advice on your rights and methods of redress. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not offer legal advice or become involved with private property disputes, although we may be able to direct British nationals to organisations who may be able to help.

The website of the British High Commission in Nicosia contains information about purchasing property in Cyprus, including frequently asked questions, and information for people who are experiencing difficulties with a property purchase.

Time share and property salespersons tout for business in Cyprus, especially in the Paphos area. You should read the fine print very carefully and seek legal advice before signing any kind of contract. Under Cyprus law, purchasers of time shares are entitled to a 15-day ‘cooling off’ period during which they should receive a full refund of any money paid if they change their mind.