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Official name

Republic of Cyprus


9.251 kmē - about 37% of the Republic's territory remains under Turkish control. 1.8% forms part of the buffer zone along the cease-fire line, 5% is covered by two UK sovereign base areas.


According to the Cypriot government the total population living in territories under its control is 640.000 (1998), and 88.000 Turkish Cypriots live in the north (Source: Department of Statistics and Research). According to Turkish Cypriot sources (as reported in Cyprus Diary 2000) the population in the north is estimated at around 200.000, of which 107. 000 are Turkish Cypriots and the remaining are Turks originating from mainland Turkey (30.000 Turkish military stationed in the island not included).


69% urban population, 31% rural population

Capital city

Nicosia, population 195.300 Other cities: Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos, Kyrenia , Famagusta and Morphou

Official Languages

Greek and Turkish


Greek Orthodox, Moslem, Armenian, Roman Catholic, Maronite.


November 2001: Cyprus Pounds = 100 cents = 1.74 Euro


1999: EUR 13.000 at current prices source EUROSTAT not including the northern part

Country information

The Cyprus question - History

7000 B.C. first settlers came to the island. During the Copper Stone Age (3700 – 2500 B.C.) copper was worked for the first time in Cyprus. In the Middle Bronze Age (1900 – 1650 B.C.) trade developed and Cypriot seafarers ranged as far as Egypt, Syria and Babylon as well as Crete and Sicily. Cyprus became a major exporter of copper giving thus the name to the island. During the late Bronze Age (1600 – 1050 B.C.) economic and cultural growth coincided with the Minoan Crete culture which became the basic root of European civilisation. In the beginning of the Iron Age (1050 – 600 B.C.) developments in Greece and Cyprus were parallel although Cyprus had retained close cultural and commercial ties with the Orient, a fact which distinguishes it from most of the other areas characterised by a common Greek culture.

Cyprus was not only governed by Greeks and Phoenicians during the coming period but also by others like the Assyrians, the Egyptians and the Persians so that it became a multi-ethnic culture. During the Hellenistic period (325 B.D. – 50 B.D.) and the Roman period (50 – 395 A.D.) Cyprus belonged to whichever empire was in power in the Mediterranean.

With the Byzantine era (from 395 on) the entire island had been christianised. The rise of the Arab Umayad Dynasty made Cyprus a base for their fleets for their attacks against Byzantnians but it never had Cyprus really under control. At the time of the Crusades Cyprus got only involved by chance when Richard the Lionheart freed his future wife from the self-appointed "Emperor of Cyprus" Isaak Komemnos in 1191. Richard sold the island to the Templars but in the end the head of a French noble family, Guy de Lusignan, became the new owner of Cyprus. He invited nobles who had lost their homes in Palestine to the Muslims to settle in Cyprus. After the fall of Akko Cyprus remained the head of trade in the eastern Mediterranean, and became particularly important for the Italian city states of Venice and Genoa.

Under the Lusignan dynasty which lasted for about 3 centuries the island became one of the world’s richest countries. Palaces and gothic chambers sprung up in the country. Nevertheless most native Cypriots were nothing but bondsmen, the Greek Orthodox Church was suppressed. In 1373 the Genoese conquered and plundered Famagusta. Cyprus was forced to pay tribute to them. Behind that was the power struggle between Venice and Genoa for control over the lucrative trade links in the eastern Mediterranean. In 1426 the Muslim Mameluks took Nicosia and other cities. From then on Cyprus had to pay tribute to Egypt as well. Under pressure the last ruler of Cyprus, Catarina Cornaro, ceded Cyprus to the Republic of Venice in 1489. With the expansion of the Ottoman Empire one after the other Venetian possessions in the Mediterranean fell to the Sultan. In 1570 at the height of the power of the Ottomans Sultan Selim II conquered Cyprus.

Many inhabitants welcomed the new rulers who reduced harsh Venetian taxes and abolished the feudal system; bondsmen became free peasants on their own land, which they were permitted to buy at advantageous terms and the Greek Orthodox Church got restored their rights and privileges with the Millet system. From 1660 the archbishop was, with the dragoman, also a Christian, the official representative of the Greek Orthodox Christians.

The Ottomans brought about 20 000 Muslim colonists on the island. Cities and villages populated by Christians and Muslims came into being. The Catholic churches and cathedrals were turned into mosques for the new immigrants and soldiers. The property of the Greek Orthodox Church was not touched. Cut off from the European trade routes, the once flourishing island sank into insignificance and economic stagnation, and the exploitation of the island’s inhabitants increased again with heavy tax burdens. Christians had to pay higher taxes which caused entire village communities to convert to Islam. Others found a compromise in practising Islam in public and were registered as Muslims, but in practice they remained Christians. They were called "linopamaki" (made up of the words for "linen and cotton") which expressed their dual status on into the early 20th century when nationalism rendered it impossible.

In 1815 a European diplomat reported that Cyprus was formally governed by a bey but in reality by the archbishop. Reports exist of Christians and Muslims uniting to rise up in arms against the almighty troika consisting of the archbishop, the dragoman and the bey. The reign of the clergy as a "state within the state" did come to a violent end in 1821. The government at the time seized the beginning of the Greek struggle against the Ottomans as a welcome opportunity to get rid of his rival Archbishop together with other people.

With the decline of the Ottoman empire the Great Powers of Europe became concerned about the situation of the Sublime Port and the drive of the Russians to the Mediterranean. Britain saw her trade routes (India) threatened. In 1878 London concluded a military treaty with Turkey – called Convention of Defensive Alliance. It was designed to stop Russian expansion. It assigned the island of Cyprus to be occupied and administered by Great Britain and ended 300 years of Ottoman rule. Cyprus became again strategically important now as a permanent base for the British fleet. It secured the sea route to India via the Suez Canal, which had been opened in 1869. But in 1882 Britain got Alexandria in Egypt, which was in a better strategic position. This reduced British ambitions to invest more in Cyprus. Although the Cypriots had welcomed the change in the hope of avoiding the burden of Ottoman taxes they now had to finance the interest on the lease that had been negotiated between London and Istanbul with their taxes.

The British introduced their colonial administration in the usual form of a "legislative council" where the inhabitants of the island were represented. 9 Greek and 3 Turkish Cypriots were represented together with 6 British who had a veto together with the Turkish Cypriots. In 1914 Great Britain annexed the island after Turkey entered the war on Germany’s side. In 1925 Cyprus was declared a British Crown Colony. Taxation and the British refusal to consider "enosis" - union with Greece - led to a rebellion of Greek Cypriots in 1931. The house of the British governor went up in flames. As a result the instigators were deported and all political parties banned.

Newer History

After the Second World War where 25 000 Cypriots fought on the Allied side, "enosis" arose again amongst Greek Cypriots. The Turkish Cypriots who made up for about 18% of the population preferred partition if the British left. In 1955 the "National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA)" started fighting for independence.

In 1960 Cyprus became an independent state. The agreements provided for a division of power along communal lines. This played into the hands of nationalism. Politicians, lacking experience of democratic culture, made little efforts to establish consensus. The outcome was a political crisis, which spilled over into fighting on the streets in 1963. Finally the Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the common institutions in 1964. The United Nations sent for the first time forces – UNFICYP – to the island which are still there.

In 1967 a military junta took over power in Athens. Its leaders discussed with Turkey proposals to get rid of president Makarios by dividing the island but the junta did not agree on the Turkish demand for two military bases and 10 % of the island territory. As a consequence President Makarios relied even more heavily on the leftist party, Akel, at home and the Soviet Union, internationally. The junta finally staged a coup in 1974 but Makarios escaped. Turkish troops landed in Cyprus. The Greek junta collapsed. Talks started in Geneva. In a second military operation Turkey seized one third of the island, leaving 200 000 refugees unable to return to their homes. The Greek coup and the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus created international outrage. Since then various efforts of the UN to come to a peace agreement failed. The country became divided. Nicosia, the capital, still has a wall like Berlin once had.

Reports on drugs situation

No documents were available at the time of report's publication.

documents in English     documents in national language

Disclaimer © European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2002
The texts, reports and publications in this section have been provided by the candidate countries' national focal points. The findings, conclusions and interpretations in these documents are those of the authors alone and do not represent the policy of the EMCDDA, its partners, any EU Member State or any agency or institution of the European Union or European Communities.

Related Websites
  1. European Commission: Enlargement: Candidate Country: Cyprus - This page provides an introduction to Cyprus' country profile, an overview of of key documents related to enlargement, press releases and interesting links.

documents in English     documents in national language     bilingual websites

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