Background: 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 Cypriot-occupied area declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC"), but it is recognized only by Turkey. The election of a new Cypriot president in 2008 served as the impetus for the UN to encourage both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to reopen unification negotiations. In September 2008, the leaders of the two communities started negotiations under UN auspices aimed at reuniting the divided island. 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 the internationally recognized government, and is suspended in the areas administered by Turkish Cypriots. However, individual Turkish Cypriots able to document their eligibility for Republic of Cyprus citizenship legally enjoy the same rights accorded to other citizens of European Union states.
Location: Middle East, island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Turkey
Area land: 9,241 sq km
Area water: 10 sq km
Coastline: 648 km
Country name conventional long form: Republic of Cyprus
Country name conventional short form: Cyprus
Country name former: Republic of Cyprus
Population: 1,120,489 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.2% (male 93,280/female 88,022); 15-64 years: 73.4% (male 427,752/female 394,578); 65 years and over: 10.4% (male 50,761/female 66,096) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 1.617% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 11.41 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 6.45 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 11.21 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1.08 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female; total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 9.38 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 11.23 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 7.43 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.82 years; male: 75.04 years; female: 80.74 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 1.45 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2003 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: fewer than 1,000 (2007 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA;
Nationality: noun: Cypriot(s); adjective: Cypriot;
Ethnic groups: Greek 77%, Turkish 18%, other 5% (2001);
Religions: Greek Orthodox 78%, Muslim 18%, other (includes Maronite and Armenian Apostolic) 4%;
Languages: Greek (official), Turkish (official), English;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 97.6%; male: 98.9%; female: 96.3% (2001 census);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $23.18 billion (2010 est.); $23.04 billion (2009 est.); $23.45 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $22.75 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 0.6% (2010 est.); -1.8% (2009 est.); 3.6% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $21,000 (2010 est.); $21,300 (2009 est.); $22,000 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2.1%; industry: 18.6%; services: 79.3% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: NA%;
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%; highest 10%: NA%;
Labor force: 400,000 (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 8.5%; industry: 20.5%; services: 71% (2006 est.);
Unemployment rate: 5.6% (2010 est.); 4.3% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues:: $9.308 billion; expenditures:: $10.61 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: tourism, food and beverage processing, cement and gypsum production, ship repair and refurbishment, textiles, light chemicals, metal products, wood, paper, stone, and clay products;
Industrial production growth rate: 0.1% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 4.502 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 4.277 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2010 est.);
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2010 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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Temporarily relieved by an E.U. bailout, Cyprus must scramble to develop its gas industry if it wants to stay out of bankruptcy in the future.
Developments in natural-gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean should prove to have significant bearing on energy security and geopolitics in the region.
Based on examples of media mania about Islam, one may have the impression that the future of American relations with the Muslim world depends on the outcome of the 2008 elections.
Today, the Mediterranean is on the frontlines of a global struggle for peace and development. I would like to stress from the Greek point of view, the core challenge: ending the problem of Cyprus.