The history of Cyprus is one of the oldest in the world. The first signs of civilization are traced in archaeological excavations and researches dating back 11.000 years to the 9th millennium BC.
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean covering an area of 9.251 sq. kms.
Nicosia is the capital of the island, located in the south region and controlled by the Cyprus Government. It is the only divided capital in the world.
The Cyprus legal system is based on the same principles as those applicable in the United Kingdom and all statutes regulating business matters and procedures are based essentially on English Law. Most members of the Cyprus Judiciary and many leading lawyers are English trained barristers. The majority of laws are translated into English.
The strategic location of Cyprus, its favourable tax environment, educated work force, excellent telecommunications and modern banking and legal infrastructure make the country an ideal business bridge for the European Union and the Middle East.
On foreign policy issues the Cyprus government aligns itself with the European Union position on Common Foreign and Security Policy. Although Cyprus has long identified with the West, it has also developed close relations with the Arab world, Latin American countries and the African continent.
Cyprus is a member of the European Union and of many international organizations including:
World Trade Organisation (WTO) (1995);
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) (1975);
The Commonwealth (1961);
The Council of Europe (CoE) (1961);
The United Nations (UN) (1960) and its specialised agencies;
The World Bank;
The International Monetary Fund.
Strategically situated at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, Cyprus is becoming an even more important regional business centre as well as an international communications and transport hub. With its modern infrastructure, sound legal system, tax incentives, low crime rate and well educated labour force, Cyprus is a favourable regional operations platform for European companies.
Since its accession to the EU, Cyprus has undergone significant structural reforms that have transformed its economic landscape. Trade and interest rates have been relaxed, while price controls and investment restrictions have been lifted.
Cyprus has developed into an international banking and business centre with many International Banking Units and over 1.000 fully fledged overseas companies operating on the island. Since May 1st 2004, the date when Cyprus became a member of the European Union, all banks licensed by the competent authorities of European Union countries have been allowed to establish branches in Cyprus or to provide banking services on a cross border basis without requiring a license from the Central Bank of Cyprus. Cyprus is also an important shipping centre and currently holds in its registry one of the leading merchant fleets in the world.