Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, with an area of 9,251 square kilometres. It is strategically located in the Eastern Mediterranean at the meeting place of Europe, Asia and Africa. The total population is estimated at 1.1 million, approximately 840,000 of whom live in the area controlled by the Republic of Cyprus according to the 2011 census. Up to date information for the occupied area is unavailable.

The island was invaded in 1974 by the Turkish army and about one third of the territory remains under Turkish occupation. The so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognised only by Turkey, and all references in this article to Cyprus relate to the legitimate government of the Republic of Cyprus. While political uncertainty continues to surround “the Cyprus problem”, efforts continue at a political level to secure a satisfactory resolution, day-to-day life is unaffected by the issue.

Cyprus is ideally placed as an international business and financial centre. Apart from its strategic geographical location, relaxed way of life and attractive climate, it offers an excellent commercial infrastructure, a highly educated English-speaking labour force, a business-friendly environment, particularly in the area of taxation, a high standard of living and a low crime rate. Living costs are moderate, and good airline connections and telecommunications and increasing alignment with the European position in matters of culture and trade make it an effective bridge between West and East. Its time zone is 7 hours ahead of New York, 2 hours ahead of London, 1 hour behind Moscow and 5 hours behind Beijing. The official languages are Greek and Turkish, but English is the lingua franca of business.

Cyprus is an independent, sovereign republic with a presidential system of government and a written constitution which safeguards the rule of law, political stability, human rights and the ownership of private property. It has been a member of the European Union since 1 May 2004 and on 1 January 2008 it adopted the euro as its currency.

In preparation for EU membership Cyprus made significant structural and economic reforms that transformed its economic landscape and created a modern, open and dynamic business environment. Since accession, it has successfully faced the challenge of European integration, and has established itself as the natural portal for inward and outward investment between the EU and the rest of the world, particularly the rapidly-growing economies of Russia, Eastern Europe, India and China. Cyprus is a member of the Commonwealth, the Council of Europe, the IMF, the UN, the World Bank and the WTO and a founding member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. In the ICT sector it is a member of the CEPT, the ETSI and the ITU.

Cyprus has an open, free-market, service-based economy with some light manufacturing. According to the International Monetary Fund, in 2012 GDP per capita was USD 27,086, thirty-seventh in the world and on a par with Malta and the Czech Republic. The United Nations Human Development Index for 2012 ranks Cyprus thirty-first in the world as regards quality of life.