Excerpt: Cyprus

Divided outpost in the east


Being small, it seems, need not be a disadvantage for
a country in Europe. Countries like Luxembourg and
Switzerland are in dazzling economic shape. As is
Cyprus, the “island of Aphrodite” in the eastern Mediterranean.
The country is regarded as a shining model
among the countries that joined the EU in 2004, and it
reports the highest GDP of all of them. In 2007 Cyprus’
per capita GDP was close to 92 per cent of the EU-27
average.31 The economy is growing at a rate in excess of
four per cent, the unemployment are is one of the lowest
in the EU, and educational levels are high. Cyprus is
significantly better off than neighbouring Greece. Even
though the population of Cyprus is significantly younger
than the Greek population — half of the island’s population
are under 35 years of age — youth unemployment,
ten per cent, is far below the European average and
only half as high as in the Greek region with the lowest
unemployment rate.


Cyprus, the third-largest island in the Mediterranean,
is the easternmost country in the EU and is
located at roughly the same longitude as the town of
Dnipropetrovsk in central Ukraine or central Turkey.
Traditionally, the country has had closer links to the
eastern Mediterranean than to western Europe, and
today the Lebanese capital Beirut can be reached from
Cyprus by air in only 20 minutes time. But the country
also has strong historical ties with the West. In 1878
the British leased the island from the Ottoman Empire,
annexed it outright in 1914, and made it a Crown Colony
in 1925. This the reason why today people there drive
on the left-hand side of the road, and why Cyprus has a
good education system and good infrastructure, from
roads to port facilities.




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