There are two ethnic and linguistic communities in the Republic of Cyprus: Greek and Turkish, with two official languages. English is also used extensively.

The population of Cyprus is estimated at 750 thousand in mid-1996, of whom 82 per cent belong to the Greek Cypriot Community and 18 per cent to the Turkish Cypriot Community.

The Greek speaking community is overwhelmingly Christian and almost all Greek Cypriots adhere to the Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus. According to the Constitution of 1960, the religious minorities of Armenians, Maronites and Latins opted to belong to the Greek Cypriot Community. Most of the Turks are Muslims.

Cyprus is the third largest Mediterranean island with an area of 9,251 km2.


The government's general development plan includes sections on the various cultural fields (arts, letters. libraries, etc.). The concept of democratization of culture and cultural relations with foreign countries seems to form the basis for an overall cultural development plan.


2.1 Public and semi-public bodies

The main administrative responsibility for cultural affairs lies with the Ministry of Education and is implemented by its Cultural Services. The Cultural Services include the following Advisory Committees: Plastic Arts, Monuments, Letters, Book Promotion, Theatre, Folk Dances, and ad hoc committees which are occasionally established for special prizes and awards in the cultural fields. The main fields of interest include the following: community and mobile libraries, literature and book promotion, plastic arts, theatre, music, dance, lectures, assistance to societies and institutions, monuments, cultural cooperation with other countries, folk culture, cinema, festivals, cultural animation in refugee settlements.

A Co-ordination Committee for cultural matters was established in 1973 under the aegis of the Ministry of Education.

Other ministries concerned with the cultural affairs include the Ministry to the President (sport, broadcasting, theatre, press, films), the Ministry of Communications and Works' Department of Antiquities (museums, archaeological cultural heritage, archaeological research), the Ministry of Commerce and Industry's Handicraft Centre and Tourism Organisation (folklore, tourism, handicrafts), the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance (youth centres), the Ministry of the Interior (broadcasting, press, films, town planning and housing, environment, socio-cultural development on the regional and local level).

Regional administration is the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior, coordinated by District Officers. In various degrees, all municipalities implement cultural programmes that include the running of libraries and galleries, lecture and concert halls, and organization of cultural events. Thus, the Municipality of Nicosia organizes a yearly cultural festival and, in cooperation with the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, runs a People's University. The Limassol Municipality organizes an International Cultural Festival. The Municipalities of Larnaca, Paphos, Paralimni, Ayia Napa, and Strovolos also organize their own festivals.

The Cultural Service of the Ministry of Education, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, and the Cyprus Theatre Organisation are joint organizers of the festival 'Cultural September', aspiring to a variety of quality art events covering different forms of art (music, theatre, etc).

The Union of Cyprus Municipalities coordinates municipal affairs, including cultural activities. There is also a Standing Committee of the Mayors of all the towns at the local level.

In the rural areas, the local councils are responsible for the running of libraries in the communities where such libraries exist.

2.2 Facilities and institutions

The Archbishop Makarios III Foundation runs its own Cultural Centre with an Art Gallery and a Byzantine Museum.

The Cyprus Centre of the ITI promotes the objectives of the International Theatre Institute in Cyprus.

The Cyprus Chamber of Fine Arts, a member of the International Association of Art (IAA), has a task of art promotion.

The Cyprus Handicraft Centre strives to preserve and revive the folklore tradition in handicrafts.

The Cyprus Theatre Organization is responsible for the promotion of theatre. It has its own theatre companies (main stage and children's stage) and it assists private theatre groups, both professional and amateur.

The Cyprus Tourism Organization is responsible for tourism, including cultural tourism.

The Free Open Universities in Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos organize cultural programme between Cyprus and Greece.

The Scientific Research Centre of the Ministry of Education carries out systematic research in Cyprus history, traditional civilization, language, and other topics.

The Society of Cypriot Studies conducts systematic research and issues publications on various Cyprus topics.


3.1 Financing of cultural activities

Public bodies receive their funds from the government. Semi-public bodies, municipalities and local councils (rural) have their own sources (taxation, licence fees, tickets, etc.) but also receive subsidies from the government.

The Cultural Services budget is intended exclusively to finance of cultural development. Some banks and foundations have special but limited funds for this purpose. The Cultural Services have established various ways of aiding artistic and literary creation (literary prizes, purchase of books and works of art, book and art exhibitions both in Cyprus and abroad, financial aid to individual writers and artists for exhibitions or cultural visits abroad, subsidies to artistic and literary associations). The Cultural Services have opened cultural centres in the rural areas as well, such as Kalopanayiotis, Pedhoulas, Kaminaria, Droushia, Vasa, Monagri, etc.

There exist private cultural associations in towns and rural areas with funds from their members and private donations and subsidies from the Cultural Services. The private Leventis Foundation and the Pieriedes Foundation promote activities such as exhibitions and publications in the areas of history and archaeology. They also grant scholarships to scientists for further training abroad. In addition, the culture foundations of the Bank of Cyprus and the People's Bank give grants for exhibitions and lectures in the areas of the visual arts, literature, history and archaeology, and also publish catalogues.

3.2 Legislation



4.1 Cultural heritage

The Department of Antiquities is responsible for the discovery, maintenance, protection, and presentation of the cultural heritage of the Cyprus Republic. The activities of the Department cover excavations, maintenance and protection of existing and recently excavated monuments and antiquities, and their presentation to the general public for pleasure and education. The Department is also responsible for the reconstruction and maintenance of ancient theatres, sanctuaries, castles, churches, sculptures, icons, and other items of religious and popular art from the Neolithic times to 1900 A.D.

There is an archaeological museum in Nicosia, known as the Cyprus Museum, with a rich and representative selection of Cypriot antiquities. There are also district archaeological museums in all towns and two archaeological collections at Episkopi (Limassol) for the antiquities of Kourion and at Kouklia (Paphos) for the antiquities of Paleapaphos.

In 1986, five Byzantine Churches situated on the Troodos range - Agios Nicolaos tis Stegis, Agios Ioannis Lambadistis, Panagia tou Arakos, Panayia tis Podithou and Stavros tou Agiasmati - were placed on UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List.

4.2 Cultural education and training


4.3 Performing arts

The Cyprus Theatre Organization (THOC) was founded in 1971 and aims at promoting theatrical arts in Cyprus. Theatre flourished in Cyprus in ancient times, as witnessed by the theatres of Salamis, Soli, Kourion and Paphos.

The THOC runs two types of productions. Most common are children's plays at the municipal theatre of Nicosia and in the main towns and villages on the island. It has also given performances abroad and has participated in international festivals.

There are also Cyprus Centre of the International Theatre Institute, Cyprus Actors Association and Playwrights Society of Cyprus.

4.4 Visual and fine arts

Each year a number of works by Cypriot artists are selected for purchase by a special committee to enrich the state's art collection. Exhibitions are organized by the Cultural Services for Cypriot artists in Cyprus and abroad, and for foreign artists wishing to exhibit in Cyprus.

4.5 Literature and literary production

There are three types of literary prizes awarded by the Ministry of Education: Education Ministry Literary Prizes, Children's Literature Awards, and New Writers' Awards. The Ministry also gives annual grants to some seventy cultural and professional associations.

The library system includes touring and municipal libraries. There are five touring libraries in operation serving 230 communities, and over 100 municipal libraries established by the Cultural Services.

4.6 Music

There are two important orchestras: the State Youth Orchestra and the State String Orchestra. They give 20-28 concerts annually and employ a considerable number of Cypriot musicians.


5.1 Book publishing

There are only a few private publishing houses. The rule is that writers are publishers of their books, but the Cultural Services allocate a certain amount to purchase some of the most representative books.

Governmental or semi-governmental bodies issue their own publications.

Each year copies of books by Cypriot writers are bought to support literature on the island. These books are sent abroad to libraries and universities. The Cultural Services also stage book fairs in Cyprus and abroad.

5.2 Press

There is relatively well-developed press in Cyprus with dailies, weeklies and periodicals of varying frequency, expressing a broad spectrum of ideologies and covering a wide variety of subjects.

In 1991, there were ten Greek language and one English language daily papers. As far as it concerns the "Turkish Republic North Cyprus" there were ten daily papers in 1990, three owned by pro-Denktas business magnate Asil Nadir, three affiliated with parties, and four independents, including one that focused on financial matters. There was no law regulating media behaviour or ethics.

There are no restrictions attached to the publication of newspapers, and there is no censorship.

On 2 August 1989, the House of Representatives passed the Press Law which amends and unifies laws concerning the publishing, circulation and sale of newspapers and other publications, the registering of books, the possession of printing presses, the establishment of printing offices, and other related matters.

5.3 Broadcasting and sound recording industry

The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation is a semi-state organization under the jurisdiction of the Ministry to the President. It is in charge of radio and television programmes, film productions, publications, L.P. records, and artistic competitions.

The law regulating the setting up and operation of private radio stations was passed by the House of Representatives in June 1990. Parliament approved and the president signed legislation to make municipalities, companies, and individuals eligible to establish private radio stations. A new relationship with the Greek media, allowing Cypriot television to broadcast Greek programs, was established in 1990, although it was seen as threatening to the financially weak Cyprus Broadcast Corporation.

As far as it concerns the Turkish Cypriot media politics, the state-controlled radio and television was 80 per cent fed from Turkish national television in 1990.

In 1994, there were 1.990,000 TV households.

Because of its geographic position, Cyprus serves as a relay station for the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the Eastern Mediterranean and relays the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) World Service and Arabic Service.

5.4 Cinema and film industry

Because of the small size of its population, it is difficult for Cyprus to maintain a local film industry. However, an effort has been made in this direction with the help of the Advisory Committee for the Cinema, set up by the Government.

Although there have been some notable feature films, the majority of films produced in Cyprus are documentaries, of which the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) and its experts have produced many good examples.


There is only occasional training of cultural development personnel.

Art teaching includes visual arts, music and drama.


The Cultural Services and the Directorate for Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are responsible for the implementation and signing of cultural agreements.

Cyprus is a member of Unesco and signatory to the European Cultural Convention (Council of Europe). As a member of the Commonwealth, it also participates in that organization's cultural activities.

There are only a few bilateral cultural agreements.


8.1 Ministries, authorities and academies

Cultural Services
Ministry of Education and the Arts
Tel.: 30-2571, 30-2442, 30-3337

Cyprus National Commission for UNESCO
c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Communications and Works
Tel.: 30-2199, 30-2278

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tel.: 30-2101, 30-2122

Ministry of Interior
Tel.: 30-2100, 30-2105

Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Tel.: 30-2422, 30-2278

8.2 Central cultural institutions

Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation
Ministry of Interior

Cyprus Centre of ITI
Eleftheroupoleos str. 6
Ap. 12

Cyprus Chamber of Fine Arts
P.O.B. 4936

Cyprus Handicraft Centre
Athalassa Ave. 186

Cyprus Historical Museum and Archive
Kimon str. 10, Engomi

8.3 Associations

Pancyprian Organisation of Architectural Heritage
P.O.B. 5380

Archbishop Makarios III Foundation
Archbishop Kyprianos Sq.

Co-ordinating Committee
of Scientific and Cultural Associations
N. Mylonas str. 30

Cultural Foundation of the Bank of Cyprus
P.O.B. 1472

Cyprus Association of Arts and Communications
Thevon 4
Nicosia 132

Cyprus Theatre Organization
Delfon 12
3rd floor
Nicosia 163

Cyprus Tourism Organization
P.O.B. 4535

Pancyprian Cultural Society
Kimon str. 10
Nicosia 132

The Society of Cypriot Studies
P.O.B. 1436

Cyprus Association of Librarians
P.O.B. 5380

Cine-Cyprus Film Archive
P.O.B. 5314

Union of Cypriot Journalists
P.O.B. 1556

Playwrights Society of Cyprus
You Eftychiou 16, Archaggelos

Cyprus Actors Association
P.O.B. 2054

Cypriot Composers Association
J. Clerides str. 8, ap. 1

Union of Cypriot Writers
Gladstone Str. 31


Cultural Policy and Cultural Administration in Europe: 42 outlines. Vienna, Österreichische Kulturdokumentation, Internationales Archiv für Kulturanalysen, 1996, p. 41

Georghiou, Christakis. The Cypriot Theatre and Cultural Identity. Cyprus To-day, Vol. XXIX, January - March, 1991, No. 1, pp. 5-11.

Handbook of Cultural Affairs in Europe. Baden-Baden, Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft 1995, pp. 205-211.

Panayiotou, Nicos. Festivals in Cyprus. Cyprus To-day, Vol. XXX, October-December 1991, No. 4, pp. 2-11.

Situation and Trends in Cultural Policy in Member States of Europe: Cyprus, World Conference on Cultural Policies, Mexico-City, 26 July - 6 August 1982. Paris, UNESCO, 1982, pp. 18-23.

The Almanac of Cyprus 1992. Press and Information Office Nicosia, 1991, 385 pp.

The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1997. Mahwah, New Jersey, World Almanac Books, 1997.


* This monograph is based on a selection of data from the Cultural Policies Data Bank and on documents collected by the Documentation Centre for Cultural Development and Cooperation, Culturelink. The original draft, written by Tomislav Car, has been revised in 1995 by the Ministry of Education, Cultural Services, Republic of Cyprus. It has also been revised in 1997 by Daniela Angelina Jelincic.

1. Addresses have been selected and revised by Pavle Schramadei and Daniela Angelina Jelincic in 1997.