At the eastern end of the Mediterranean lies the beautiful but troubled island of Cyprus. On the surface the island would appear to be European in character, but it also has ancient roots, which often gives it a different feel.
Nowhere is this complexity more apparent than in the island’s capital of Lefkosa (Nicosia). The skyline of this Mediterranean city speaks for itself – the juxtaposition of the minaret of a mosque and the dome of an Orthodox Church is a reminder of the island’s tragic division between Turkish and Greek Cypriots.
Recent History of Cyprus
Cyprus has been divided between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots since 1974 when Greece tried to impose political union with Cyprus by force. Turkey responded by invading northern Cyprus. Within three weeks the Turks had occupied most of the northern part of the island. Some 170,000 Greek Cypriots were forced to flee to the south. Approximately 45,000 Turkish Cypriots refugees migrated north, to be joined in later years by some 114,000 Turkish settlers from Anatolia on the Turkish mainland.
In 1983 the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was established under Rauf Denktash, who remains the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community to this day. The TRNC is officially recognised only by Turkey. The southern Cypriot Republic is widely accepted internationally as the legitimate government of Cyprus. Because of its diplomatic isolation the economy of northern Cyprus has suffered badly, resulting in the emigration of 54,000 Turkish Cypriots.
2003 in Cyprus
2003 was a significant year for Cyprus, with the acceptance of the southern Republic into the European Union. The United Nations has also proposed a peace plan for the reunification of the island. In northern Cyprus these events led to unprecedented demonstrations, with Turkish Cypriots taking to the streets by the thousands to demand a peaceful reunification of Cyprus and the acceptance of the TRNC into the EU. For more information on the TRNC, see the website www.trncwashdc.org.
The Turkish Cypriots are a warm, hospitable people closer in resemblance and culture to their Greek Cypriot neighbours than their Turkish cousins. The Cypriot Muslims are moderate Sunnis of whom only about 10 per cent regularly attend prayer times at local mosques. The highly secularized Turkish Cypriots long to come out of international isolation and into the economic prosperity enjoyed by the south.
Pray for the Muslims in Cyprus:
* Pray that the historic barriers to Christianity will be broken down, and for a spiritual awakening to take place among the Turkish Cypriots that leads them to the only real hope for their future lives.
* Pray for the reconciliation of the Turkish and Greek Cypriots. This is a historic opportunity for the Christian south to embrace the Muslim north in the true spirit of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 5:18).
* Pray for the 20 known Turkish believers in the TRNC, that they will experience growth in numbers and have an impact on families and the community.
* Pray that more missionary labourers may live among the Turkish Cypriots, as there is very little focused outreach to them.
Background on Cyprus (World Factbook)
A former British colony, Cyprus became independent in 1960 following years of resistance to British rule. Tensions between the Greek Cypriot majority and Turkish Cypriot minority came to a head in December 1963, when violence broke out in the capital of Nicosia. Despite the deployment of UN peacekeepers in 1964, sporadic intercommunal violence continued forcing most Turkish Cypriots into enclaves throughout the island.
In 1974, a Greek Government-sponsored attempt to seize control of Cyprus was met by military intervention from Turkey, which soon controlled more than a third of the island. 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 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 settlement plan in an April 2004 referendum. The entire island entered the EU on 1 May 2004, although the EU acquis – the body of common rights and obligations – applies only to the areas under direct Republic of Cyprus control, and is suspended in the areas administered by Turkish Cypriots.
At present, every Cypriot carrying a Cyprus passport has the status of a European citizen; however, EU laws do not apply to north Cyprus. Nicosia continues to oppose EU efforts to establish direct trade and economic links to north Cyprus as a way of encouraging the Turkish Cypriot community to continue to support reunification.
Economy of Cyprus
The area of the Republic of Cyprus under government control has a market economy dominated by the service sector, which accounts for 76% of GDP. Tourism and financial services are the most important sectors; erratic growth rates over the past decade reflect the economy’s reliance on tourism, which often fluctuates with political instability in the region and economic conditions in Western Europe. Nevertheless, the economy in the area under government control grows well above the EU average. The Turkish Cypriot economy has roughly 45% of the per capita GDP of the south, and economic growth tends to be volatile, given the north’s relative isolation, bloated public sector, reliance on the Turkish lira, and small market size.
Population: 1,138,071 (July 2012 est.) World rank #160
Life Expectancy at Birth: 78 years. World rank #56
Ethnic groups: Greek 77%, Turkish 18%, other 5%
Religions: Greek Orthodox 78%, Muslim 18%, Maronite, Armenian Apostolic, and other 4%
Languages: Greek, Turkish, English
Literacy: 97.6% — Male: 98.9%, Female: 96.3%
School life expectancy. 14 years
North Cyprus – Video
This video is somewhat political (most are) and is linked here to give you an idea into the argument and problems on this lovely, but tiny island of Cyprus.