Cyprus is an island country, the third largest in the Mediterranean. It lies in Western Asia, southeast of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, northwest of Israel and north of Egypt. The northern third of the island is inhabited by Turkish Cypriots and the southern two-thirds by Greek Cypriots. The successful diversification of its largely agrarian economy is now based on services led by a significant tourism sector followed by light manufacturing. It has recently become an important financial hub for investors.
Cyprus has a population of 1,17 million. Economically, the wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services are the leading sector followed by public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities, with financial and insurance activities of a lesser extent. Intra-EU trade accounts for 45% of the small country’s exports, mainly with Greece at 12% and the United Kingdom at 8%. Almost three-quarters of imports are from EU Member States, led by Greece at 21%, Germany at 17%, followed by Italy with 7%.
The state system in Cyprus is free and funded by taxes. Education is therefore from preschool up to and including higher education. The Cyprus Guaranteed Minimum Income and Social Benefits Law was passed in 2014 and cover all EU citizens and long-term residents with legal status. It intends to guarantee a basic standard of living and shelter those with a higher risk of poverty. The pension programs benefit those legal residents who have lived in the country for 20 years after the age of 40 and 35 years after the age of 18.
The country’s health care system has a public funded by payroll, earnings taxes, and employer contributions, and a public sector for the employed, self-employed, and certain civil servants.
Being a small island, Cyprus’s diverse attractions, scenery and activities can be easily accessed by its excellent road system. The narrow coastal strip in the south hosts the main towns, each with popular beaches, a historic old town and promenade. Insight into Greek mythology is among the historical attractions throughout the island, as are opportunities to meander through vineyards, churches, monasteries, hilly outlooks and of course cruise the waters or dip into the Mediterranean.
Multi-cultural and historical attractions are Byzantine churches, Crusader castles, Ottoman mosques and British colonial architecture, prehistoric and ancient villages. The painted churches of the Troodos Mountains are a UNESCO World Heritage site as is the archaeological site of the Tombs of the Kings in Pafos. On the environmental front, Lara Beach on the Akamas Peninsula is home to a turtle hatchery. As one of the few remaining havens for green and loggerhead turtles to nest, it is also unspoilt and relatively unpopulated.
Cyprus is currently in the process of joining the Schengen area. Cyprus in its entirety is a member of the European Union despite joining as a de facto divided island. Turkish Cypriots are EU citizens if eligible for or in possession of EU travel documents. Cyprus is therefore among the countries that the nationals of the 62 countries currently enjoying the travel benefits under the visa-free policy will need ETIAS approval to enter.
The EU Commission proposed the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) as a means to secure European countries against rising terrorist activity and uncontrolled immigration. ETIAS will identify potential risks to the security and safety of European citizens by screening potential visitors before they arrive at the borders posts.
Nationals over the age of 18 from the 62 countries currently benefitting from the visa liberation policy will complete an application online and pay the 7 Euro fee to before travelling to Europe. The authorisation is electronically attached to the passport within minutes and is valid either until the passport expires or 3 years.
The Cypriot community in Australia is the second largest outside of Cyprus, numbering over 80,000. They arrived over the years as early migrants or as refugees of the 1974 Turkish invasion. The first of the migrants were attracted by the 1850 gold rushes and by the 1890s they had established a great many retail businesses in the country. After the Second World War, Australia saw the arrival of many Turkish-Cypriots with British passports, and the migration numbers from Cyprus continued to rise thereafter.
Bilateral agreements between Australia and Cyprus include Police Cooperation, Education and Research Agreement, Air Services Agreement and Social Security. Australia’s trade and investment priorities include promoting mutually beneficial investment. The High Commission facilitates Australian businesses to establish operations in Cyprus and supports Australian tertiary institutions in linking with Cypriot institutions to enhance business synergies, research collaboration and educational links.
Following Cyprus’ inclusion in the EU, the recent financial crisis, and growth in Australia-Asia trade, two-way trade between Cyprus and Australia has declined steadily. Australian markets in Cyprus include wine, processed foodstuffs, cooling equipment, pleasure boating products, mining, and beauty products and pharmaceutical. Renewed interest in renewable energy, water and mining markets in Cyprus is evident.
Since Australians currently benefit from the visa liberation policy, they will require a valid ETIAS prior to travelling to Cyprus once ETIAS is rolled out in 2021. ETIAS is similar to Australia’s ETA, Electronic Travel Authorisation, and the process will be as inexpensive and fast.