Cyprus: its past and present
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Eastern Mediterranean, after Sardinia and Sicily. It is located 380 kilometers east of Greece (The island of Rhodes), 100 kilometers south Turkey and 120 kilometers west of Syria. Cyprus is the easternmost country of South Europe and the nearest to South-west Asia. Its historical, cultural and economic ties with Europe and especially with Greece have established Cyprus an inseparable part of West Europe.
The Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960 on the basis of the Zurich and London Agreements which provided for independence from the British colonial administration but gave disproportional privileges and rights to the Turkish Cypriot community of 18%. In the Council of Ministers the Public Service and the House of Representatives, the Greek Cypriot were represented by 70% and the Turkish Cypriot by 30%, while the Turkish Cypriot Vice President of the Republic had veto right in all decisions. In 1963 when problems arouse obstructing the functioning of the state and proposals were made for improvements to the Constitution, the Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the Government and Parliament and with the military support of Turkey started promoting a partition plan. In the summer of 1964 the Turkish air force bombed areas in the north of Cyprus and in 1974, following a coup by the Greek military junta, Turkey invaded the island, occupying 36% of its territory. In 1983 the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state made a declaration of Independence, calling the north of Cyprus the ‘Turkish Republic of North Cyprus’. The declaration was condemned by the UN Security Council which asked for its reversal. The pseudo-state is only recognized by Turkey.
Before the Turkish invasion in Cyprus in 1974, the population of Cyprus comprised of Greek Cypriots (82%) of Turkish Cypriots (18%). The Greek Cypriot community also included other religious minorities, including Maronites, Latins and Armenians. The Turkish Cypriot community included a minority of Muslim gypsies.
Cyprus depends mainly on tourism and the services sector. Approximately 2.4 million tourists are attracted to Cyprus each year. Per capita income is 21,381 Euros. Since 2008 Cyprus introduced the Euro as its currency, adopting the monetary system of most EU member states.
The majority of Greek Cypriots are Greek Orthodox Christians, and Turkish Cypriots are Moslems. Other small communities are the Jews, the Catholics, the Maronites and the Armenians.
The education in Cyprus is based on the values of Greek education of freedom, democracy and justice. Public education in Cyprus is provided in the three levels of which primary education is obligatory. The other two are:
The Secondary which includes, the Technical and Professional Level
The third degree Level, which is academic education.
Apart from the public schools, private schools also function, in the levels of obligatory and secondary education. These schools usually follow foreign educational systems, such as English and French. Moreover, special schools for children with special needs, with intellectual delay, children with problems of behavior operate in Cyprus.