Population, society and rights
According to the official statistics of the Republic of Cyprus, there are just over a million residents on the island, of which 88% Greek Cypriot and 18% Turkish Cypriot, with the remaining 2% belonging to other minorities. Following the division of the island, a policy of forced transfer of the population began, which led the two Greek and Turkish components, which once lived mixed together, to concentrate respectively in the south and in the north. The religious fragmentation also corresponds to territorial separation, with a mainly Sunni Muslim north and a predominantly Greek Orthodox south. On the island there are also an Armenian-Gregorian minority, a Maronite (Archieparchy of Cyprus) and a Catholic of the Latin rite. Although religion does not play a relevant political role. For Cyprus society, please check homosociety.com.
Based on the bicommunal constitutional architecture, the official languages spoken in Cyprus are Greek and Turkish. English however remains used by a large part of the population, as a result of the British presence on the island.
Thanks to the significant investments of the government, Cyprus has a very high level of education: this makes the country, compared to other EU member states, the one with the highest percentage of people of working age who enjoy good educational qualifications. Despite government efforts, Cyprus remains a transit country, a stop in the illegal trafficking of human beings. In the northern part administered by the Turkish Cypriots, Freedom House reports show substantial respect for civil and political rights, despite the persistence of problems such as corruption.
The ‘green line’ that divides the island is unfortunately also a fundamental element. If the indices of democracy confirm that Cyprus is a free state, it should be remembered that the last European wall built for war reasons stands in Nicosia, the capital of the Republic of Cyprus and only in April 2008 was a breach opened and it was Ledra Street pedestrian crossing was inaugurated. Today the gates have increased, but there are still restrictions on the passage, especially for foreign visitors.
Economy and energy
The Republic of Cyprus has suffered from the global economic crisis since the end of 2008. Both tourist flows and GDP values had returned to positive values starting from 2010, allowing in 2011 a modest recovery of growth (0.5%). The European economic crisis and the reduction in public spending, however, led to a new contraction of GDP, which in 2014 marked a negative value. Due to the strong economic links with Greece and the exposure to Greek debt, the Cypriot banking sector was then heavily affected by the crisis in the Greek country. To deal with this situation and implement the bailout of the main national banking institutions, the government of Nicosia, after turning to Russia and China, requested in June 2012 the funds made available by the European Financial Stability Facility.
In the medium term, one of the sectors that could support the country’s economic growth is energy. Following the explorations of Cypriot territorial waters, significant natural gas fields have been discovered. However, the exploitation of the fields has generated a dangerous dispute with Turkey which, not recognizing Nicosia’s right to initiate the ‘unilateral’ exploitation of offshore fields to the detriment of Turkish Cypriot interests, has threatened retaliation, including military ones in the event that it does not proceed to broader measures to manage the division of the island.
On the other hand, the fact that the gas fields in question straddle the exclusive economic zone of Israel and that the similar energy exploitation plans of Tel Aviv are contested by Egypt and Lebanon contributes to raising the level of alarm and, of consequently, to complicate the plans of Nicosia.