Three out of ten women gain employment. The equal pay principle is implemented only for government employment. The previously common system of home remarriage is in decline. The authorities are concerned about the falling birth rates and are trying in various ways to encourage families to have more children.
The service industries (trade, tourism, administration) dominate the country’s business. After a temporary decline in tourism in the 1970s, tourism has grown sharply and is an important source of income. The merchant fleet, which is one of the world’s largest, also generates significant revenue. After joining the EU in 2004, a large financial sector grew and the country also experienced a great growth in the real estate industry.
Greek Cypriots have long had the strongest economic development and GDP per capita is significantly higher in the Greek than the Turkish part.
The international financial crisis of 2008-09 hit Cyprus hard and the Greek Cypriot economy quickly developed into one of the eurozone’s crisis economies with growing budget deficits and a growing banking crisis. In 2011, Cyprus was forced into extensive savings packages and in 2013 the country was given emergency loans to cover its financial deficit from the EU and the IMF. Cyprus’ return was to reduce the budget deficit, raise taxes and further clean up the financial sector. Despite these measures, the country’s economic crisis continued until 2015, when some recovery was seen, mainly the tourism industry that showed economic growth. In 2016, the positive economic development continued and in April 2016 the country was able to leave the financial support program.
In the north, economic development has been slower. This is explained as a result of Greek Cypriot economic blockade. Cyprus has strong trade deficits, due to, among other things, heavy oil imports. When the border was partially opened between the two parts in 2003, the Turkish Cypriot part experienced a certain economic upturn and parts of the population began to commute to the Greek Cypriot part. At the end of the 1990s, economic growth slowed down and the Turkish Cypriot economy is still dependent on Turkey’s financial assistance.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing
About 14 percent of the country’s area is usable land, of which a full 21 percent is irrigated (2009). Agriculture, along with fishing and forestry, employs about 4 percent of the workforce.
The main agricultural areas are the Mesaoria and Morfous plains on the north central part of the island, where Nicosia is also located. However, scarce water resources limit productivity. About 1/5 of the arable land is irrigated. The main crops in the Greek part are potatoes, grapes, citrus fruits and cereals (wheat, barley), while citrus fruits, potatoes, cereals and locust beans are important in the Turkish part. Of the total land area, 19 percent is pasture, and the main livestock are sheep, goats and pigs. Agriculture plays a greater role in northern Cyprus, where most of the citrus and vegetable crops are also located, than in southern Cyprus, where business is more diverse. About 19 percent of the country’s area is covered by forest (2010). This proportion has grown sharply in the south as a result of extensive planting programs.
Although Cyprus is an island, fishing is insignificant as the waters around the island are poor in fish.
Raw material resources and energy supply
Mineral extraction (mainly asbestos and copper) dates back to Cyprus. Asbestos extraction in the eastern Troodos Mountains ceased in 1992, and copper extraction is planned to resume (2012) after being economically indefensible for a period of twenty years. Chromite and sulphide minerals, diabases and industrial minerals are also extracted. Imported oil is the dominant source of energy. Larnaca has an oil port with a refinery. In 2011, the development of a new gas field began south of the island.
The electricity supply is made using oil-based thermal power plants, located in the southern part. These also supply the northern part, and in exchange you get water. Cyprus is a world leader in the use of solar water for heating. However, lack of water supply is a growing problem as the population grows and the annual rainfall tends to decrease. Over a hundred ponds are found on the island.
Cyprus has never had a large industrial sector. Prior to 1974, most of the industry was in the north, and during the division these industrial plants came under Turkish control. Since then, however, the southern part has been heavily industrialized, and the industrial center of gravity has completely shifted south. The majority of manufacturing companies are small, and the main products are cement, wine, beer, shoes, cigarettes and bricks. The food industry is traditionally very important. The construction industry in the southern part has been strongly stimulated by the industrial expansion and by the construction of new tourist centers, airports and ports.
Cyprus’s main trading partner is the former colonial power of the United Kingdom. Otherwise, significant exports go to the Middle East, Greece and Turkey, and much of the imports come from EU countries and the Middle East. According to Countryaah, a significant element of foreign trade is the re-export of goods stored in the island’s ports. Otherwise, clothing and agricultural products are the most important export goods, while machinery, transport equipment, crude oil and oil products and consumer goods dominate imports. Citrus fruits, potatoes and locust beans are mainly exported from the northern part of Cyprus. The main trading partner of the Turkish Cypriot region is Turkey.
Tourism and gastronomy
Tourism developed during the 1960s and then mainly in the northern parts of the island. The major tourist expansion came only after the end of the civil war in 1974 and took place mainly in the southern parts. The country was visited in 1973 by 264,000 tourists; now the annual figure is up to just over 2 million. Due to its past as a British colony, Cyprus is still an attractive destination for English-speaking visitors. Cyprus is a prominent swimming and entertainment destination with major tourist resorts on the south coast such as Ayia Napa and the cities of Larnaca and Limassol.
Turkish-influenced cuisine dominates the island, which for so many centuries was completely under Turkish rule. There is no direct opposite to Greek cuisine now; Like all islands in the eastern Mediterranean, whether Greek or Turkish, the olive oil, citrus fruits, herbs, lamb and mutton, as well as mutton and yoghurt are the main roles in the pots. And of course, the fish, which is grilled brushed with olive oil and lemon juice and provided with a thyme sprig in the stomach. Octopus, mullet, mackerel and swordfish are common. The food attitude is simple in the sense that the raw materials are so delicious that they do not need to be constructed; bread, salad with sheep cheese and olives, grilled lamb and yogurt with honey, maybe a very sweet pastry like baklava to the black, sweet coffee – this is to recommend rather than the “tourist traps” sometimes fateful attempts to serve Italian or French food.