Update this article: Export
How to cite:
Pissourios, I.; Serghides, C. (2023): Country Profile of Cyprus. Hannover. = ARL Country Profiles. https://www.arl-international.com/knowledge/country-profiles/cyprus/rev/3732. (date of access).



Cyprus (Κύπρος), officially the Republic of Cyprus (Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία), is the third largest island in the Mediterranean with an area of 9,251 km². It lies 380 km north of Egypt, 105 km west of Syria, 75 km south of Turkey and 770 km southeast of the Greek mainland. The island has multiple mountain chains and large interior plains, as well as 648 km of coastline. The Troodos Mountains cover most of the southern and western portions of the island and account for roughly half its area. Many rivers and other watercourses cross the plains, but none of them have water all year round.

The main cities of Cyprus, ordered by population size according to the 1973 census, are: Nicosia (Λευκωσία), which is the capital of the Republic of Cyprus, Limassol (Λεμεσός), Famagusta (Αμμόχωστος), Larnaca (Λάρνακα), Pafos/Paphos (Πάφος), and Kyrenia (Κερύνεια). Except for Nicosia, which is located in the geographical centre of the island, all other cities are coastal.

Due to the Turkish army’s invasion and occupation of nearly two-fifths of the country, Cyprus has been forcibly divided since 1974, with the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriot population forced to live in the south of the island, the Turkish Cypriot population in the northern part of the island, and UN peacekeepers maintaining a buffer zone. Kyrenia, Famagusta, and the northern half of Nicosia are occupied by Turkey and thus not controlled by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. Limassol, Larnaca, Pafos, and the southern part of Nicosia remain free. Furthermore, there are two British Overseas Territories on the island, Akrotiri (Ακρωτήρι) and Dhekelia (Δεκέλεια); they are administered as United Kingdom Base Areas (Βρετανικές Βάσεις).



According to the preliminary results of the 2021 census, the territory controlled by the government has a population of 918,100. The population recorded in the District of Nicosia is 351,600, constituting 38% of the total population. The country has a population density of 166 inhabitants/km² and a predominantly urban settlement structure, since two-thirds of the population live in urban areas. This imbalance in the territorial distribution of the population has remained constant over the last three decades.

With regards to the demography of Cyprus, in 2021 the proportion of children below 15 was 15.9%, while the proportion of people aged over 65 was 16.7%, demonstrating that the population is ageing. The average household size has gradually decreased: 2.6 people per household in 2021, compared to 2.8 people in the 2011 census. Life expectancy at birth was estimated at 80.1 years for males and 84.2 years for females in 2019. Infant mortality is at a very low level, estimated at 2.6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2019 (Statistical Service of Cyprus 2022a; 2022b). Regarding the nationality of the population, according to the 2011 census (detailed 2021 data are not available yet), 79.4% of residents in Cyprus hold Cypriot citizenship, while 12.6% are citizens of other EU countries and another 7.6% are citizens of non-EU countries (0.4% are of undetermined nationality). Citizens of Greece, the UK, Romania, Bulgaria and the Philippines comprise the largest share of foreign nationals (Statistical Service of Cyprus 2011).

Cyprus has two official languages: Greek and Turkish. English is widely used throughout the island as a common language.



The Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960 as an independent and sovereign republic with a presidential system of government. Under the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, the executive power is ensured and exercised jointly by the Greek Cypriot President and the Turkish Cypriot Vice President of the Republic, through a Council of Ministers appointed by them (seven and three ministers respectively). In 1964, the Turkish Cypriot Vice President and the three Turkish Cypriot ministers withdrew from government, since when the government has been functioning by necessity only with Greek Cypriots in all ministries, which have subsequently increased to eleven. The post of Vice President remains vacant.

Cyprus became an EU member on 1 May 2004. Despite joining the EU as a partly occupied island, the whole of Cyprus is EU territory. Turkish Cypriots who have, or are eligible for, EU travel documents are EU citizens. However, EU law is suspended in areas where the Government of the Republic does not exercise effective control.

General information

Name of country Republic of Cyprus
Capital, population of capital (2021) Nicosia, 256,400 (Statistical Service of Cyprus)
Surface area 9,250 km² (World Bank)
Total population (2020) 1,237,537 (World Bank)
Population growth rate (2010-2020) 9.55% (World Bank)
Population density (2020) 138.6 inhabitants/km² (World Bank)
Degree of urbanisation (2015) 47.16% densely populated areas (European Commission)
Human development index (2021) 0.896 (Human Development Reports)
GDP (2019) EUR 20,601 million (World Bank)
GDP per capita (2019) EUR 23,358 (World Bank)
GDP growth (2014-2019) 29.93% (World Bank)
Unemployment rate (2019) 7.15% (World Bank)
Land use (2018) 9.5% built-up land
47.54% agricultural land
20.57% forests and shrubland
21.87% nature
0.52% inland waters
(European Environment Agency)
Sectoral structure (2017) 85.5% services and administration
12.5% industry and construction
2.0% agriculture and forestry
(Central Intelligence Agency)

To ensure comparability between all country profiles, the tables were prepared by the ARL.

Administrative structure and system of governance

Central administration (Government of Cyprus)

Due to the withdrawal of the Turkish Cypriot members of the government in 1964, including the Vice President, the President exercises the executive power on the national level through a Council of Ministers, which are appointed directly by the President alone. With the exception of the protected and explicit powers of the President, the ministers exercise the state’s administrative power. Furthermore, the President has the power to appoint four deputy ministers, as well as the independent state officials described in the Constitution and the laws. Ministries and deputy ministries are structured into various government departments, directorates, services and offices to which ministers often transfer their administrative powers and duties.

District administration

Although there are no regions as such, the national territory is divided into six Districts (Επαρχία). In each District there is a District Administration Office (Επαρχιακή Διοίκηση), headed by a District Officer (Έπαρχος), who is a senior public servant of the Ministry of the Interior, acting as a coordinator and liaison officer for the activities of all the ministries in the specific District. In this respect, Districts comprise part of the non-federal central administration and each District Officer is responsible for applying government policy at the district level, as well as for supervising and supporting the functioning of the Communities (Union of Cyprus Municipalities 2022). In addition, some governmental departments keep Divisional Offices in the main towns of the Districts to handle decentralised affairs.

Local administration

Cyprus is also organised in Municipalities (Δήμος) and Communities (Κοινότητα), which comprise local authorities. Local autonomous self-administration is regulated by the Laws for Municipalities and Communities and references incorporated in other relevant laws. Currently, the government-controlled free area of Cyprus is organised in 30 Municipalities (covering urban and/or semi-urban areas) and 349 Communities (mainly in rural areas) (Ministry of the Interior 2022). Since the Turkish invasion of 1974 and the subsequent occupation of the northern part of Cyprus, nine Μunicipalities and several Communities, not included in the above-mentioned numbers although still retaining their legal status, have been temporarily relocated to the free areas. Although the Constitution guarantees self-government, it does not indicate local competences. However, national laws allocate administrative responsibilities to local authorities.

Municipalities: The Municipal Law (ο Περί Δήμων Νόμος) governs the establishment and operation of Municipalities. The main responsibilities of Municipalities include: the construction, maintenance and lighting of streets; the collection, disposal and treatment of waste; the protection and improvement of the environment and the good appearance of the municipal areas; the construction, development and maintenance of municipal gardens and parks; and the protection of public health. The Municipality also has the authority to promote, depending on its finances, a vast range of activities and events including in the arts, education, sport and social services. In addition to the Municipalities Law, there are several laws giving Municipalities (but not all of them) important powers other than those already mentioned (Union of Cyprus Municipalities 2022).

The main sources of revenue for Municipalities are municipal taxes, fees and duties, as well as state subsidies. Taxes, duties and fees represent the major source of revenue while state grants and subsidies amount to only a small percentage of the income. The central government, however, usually finances major infrastructure projects undertaken by the Municipalities, but this is dependent very much on each individual project. The annual budgets of the Municipalities are submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval and the Auditor General of the Republic audits their accounts annually. Municipal loans also need to be approved by the Council of Ministers (Union of Cyprus Municipalities 2022).

Mayors are elected directly by the citizens on a separate ballot for a term of five years and are the executive authority of the Municipalities. Municipal Councils, which are the policy-making bodies of the Municipalities, are elected directly by the citizens for a term of five years, but separately from the Mayor. The Council appoints the members of the Administrative Committee. The latter’s duties include preparing the Municipality’s budgets and annual financial statements, providing support and advice to the Mayor in the execution of the latter’s duties, coordinating the work of other committees appointed by the Council and carrying out any other duties entrusted to it by the Council or the Mayor. The Council may also set up ad-hoc or standing committees, which have an advisory role (Union of Cyprus Municipalities 2022).

Communities: The Communities Law (ο Περί Κοινοτήτων Νόμος) governs the creation and functioning of the Communities in Cyprus. Any Community may become a Municipality by local referendum, subject to the approval of the Council of Ministers, provided it has a population of more than 5,000 or has the economic resources to function as a Municipality. The responsibilities of Communities are generally similar to those of the Municipalities, including: cleaning and public hygiene; maintaining the roads within their boundaries; street lighting; issuing building permits in the territory of Communities with the power to maintain technical services; waste disposal, sewage management and treatment; and water supply and management. The revenue of Communities consists of state subsidies as well as taxes and fees collected from the residents of the area. With the exception of some Communities, which are financially better off, the Central Government provides essential administrative and technical assistance, as well as most of the necessary services to most Communities through its District Offices (Union of Cyprus Municipalities 2022).

Reform of local administration: Since 2018, the government has been attempting to reform the system of local administration by introducing a new system of provincial clusters. The overall aim of the reform is to grant more competences and funds to the local authorities. The reform is structured around three main issues. First, to cluster together the services that Communities provide, which would lead to a more efficient and cost-effective structure. Second, the integration of smaller Municipalities into bigger ones. Third, the management of the water reserves, solid waste and sewage system by District Councils (European Committee of the Regions 2022).

Cyprus is an independent, sovereign Republic with a presidential system. The Constitution provides for a clear separation of powers: executive power is exercised by the President through the Council of Ministers, legislative power is exercised by the House of Representatives, and judicial power lies with the courts of the Republic. There are also a number of independent officers and bodies.

The President, the Council of Ministers and the District Officers (executive power)

The President of the Republic is the head of state who takes precedence over all other persons in the Republic and is elected directly, by universal suffrage and a secret ballot, for a five-year term. The executive power of the President is ensured and exercised through the Council of Ministers, which is appointed by the President (as well as the Vice President, however that position has been vacant since 1964). The ministers may be chosen from outside the House of Representatives.

Amongst the most significant powers vested in the President of the Republic are the power to enter the legislation passed by the House of Representatives into force or the right to a final veto on laws passed by the House concerning matters pertaining to foreign affairs, defence and security, the right to return such laws to the legislature, as well as the right to refer them to the Supreme Court for a constitutional review. In addition, the President convenes the meetings of the Council of Ministers and sets the agenda for such meetings, and also has the right to a final veto on its decisions concerning foreign affairs, defence and security, and the right to return such decisions to the Council of Ministers (Presidency 2022).

The eleven Ministries of the Republic are:

There are also four Deputy Ministries:


The House of Representatives (legislative power)

The directly elected House of Representatives (Βουλή των Αντιπροσώπων), i.e. the Parliament, has at present 56 seats. Another 24 seats are reserved for members from the Turkish Cypriot community, which withdrew unilaterally in 1964. In addition, there are three observer members representing the Armenian, Latin and Maronite minorities. The main functions of Parliament include (House οf Representatives 2021; 2022):

  • Voting on legislation, which can be introduced by government ministers, individual members or political groups in Parliament.
  • Considering the annual state budget for approval.
  • Exercising control over the activities of the government through indirect ways and means (e.g. addressing questions to the competent ministries and entering matters for debate in plenary).
  • Amending the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the state.

The first-instance courts and the Supreme Court (judiciary power)

Under the Constitution of Cyprus, the judiciary is established as a separate and autonomous power. The courts are organised on a two-tier system:

  1. The first instance courts. The principal first instance courts are the District Courts (Επαρχιακό Δικαστήριο), operating in every District of the Republic and handling criminal, civil, and admiralty matters. There are other first instance courts too, including: the Assize Court (Κακουργιοδικείο), the Administrative Court (Διοικητικό Δικαστήριο), the Military Court (Στρατοδικείο), the Industrial Disputes Court (Δικαστήριο Εργατικών Διαφορών), the Rent Control Courts (Δικαστήριο Ελέγχου Ενοικιάσεων), the Family Court (Οικογενειακό Δικαστήριο), and the International Protection Administrative Court (Διοικητικό Δικαστήριο Διεθνούς Προστασίας) (Supreme Court 2022a).
  2. The Supreme Court (Ανώτατο Δικαστήριο). The Supreme Court is the highest court in the Republic. It is composed of 13 judges, which are appointed by the President of the Republic. The main mission of the Supreme Court is to hear and determine all appeals from lower courts in civil and criminal matters. The Supreme Court also has exclusive jurisdiction to review administrative decisions, issue prerogative writs, hear and determine petitions concerning electoral laws, to examine the constitutionality of any law, and in other matters (Supreme Court 2022b)

Independent officers and bodies

There are also a number of independent officers and bodies, which do not come under any ministry (see CYPRUSNeT 2005 for a detailed explanation of all independent officers and bodies). These include:

  • The Commissioner for Administration and the Protection of Human Rights (Επίτροπος Διοικήσεως και Προστασίας Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων), whose basic function is to review, after the submission of a complaint, an action of the administration.
  • The Auditor General (Γενικός Ελεγκτής), who is responsible for the control of all disbursements and receipts and the audit and inspection of all accounts of money and other assets administered and of liabilities incurred by or under the authority of the Republic.
  • The Law Commissioner (Επίτροπος Νομοθεσίας), whose basic function is to keep the legislation constantly under review and to make recommendations to the government and the House of Representatives with regards to modernisation and harmonisation issues.
Figure 1: Administrative structure of Cyprus

Figure 1: Administrative structure of Cyprus

Figure 2: System of powers of Cyprus

Figure 2: System of powers of Cyprus

Spatial planning system

A brief historical overview

The genesis of spatial planning in Cyprus dates back to 1946, when the government adopted the Roads and Buildings Regulations Law (ο Περί Ρυθμίσεως Οδών και Οικοδομών Νόμος). Although the main incentive was to improve sanitary building conditions and arrange roads and the division of land into building plots, the government delegated to the local authorities the initiative to publish, under the approval of the governor, land use zones. In 1951, the government established the Town Planning and Housing Department (Τμήμα Πολεοδομίας και Οικήσεως), appertained to the Ministry of the Interior. The department mainly had an advisory character and supported the authorities and other departments and/or public services with guidance on spatial matters. With the independence of Cyprus in 1960, the government began to work on new planning legislation, which was introduced in the House of Representatives in 1967, but required a full five years of debate to eventually be approved as the Town and Country Planning Law of 1972 (ο Περί Πολεοδομίας και Χωροταξίας Νόμος) (referred to hereafter as the Law). During the same period, the preparation of several spatial plans began. The Turkish invasion and the division of Cyprus in 1974 suspended the implementation of planning and, as a result, the Law was also suspended, together with the production of new plans. The Law was reactivated in 1990 and has been in force ever since (Ioannides 2019; Department of Town Planning and Housing 2022).

The legal framework

The Town and Country Planning Law was established under the Constitution of Cyprus, which stipulates that every person has the right to acquire, own, possess, enjoy or dispose of any immovable property. However, restrictions and limitations may apply to this right, which are absolutely necessary, inter alia, in the interest of town and country planning.

The Town and Country Planning Law, as the main planning legislation, defines:

  • The authority for the control of development.
  • The types of spatial plan that can be prepared, as well as their content, the procedure for their preparation/amendment/revision, and the parties and agencies involved.
  • The available instruments for controlling development.
  • The framework for the expropriation of immovable property and the just compensation of the owners.
  • The framework for the introduction of betterment fees (the specific provision has not been applied yet due to implementation concerns).

In addition, the Law empowers the Minister of the Interior to issue Orders (Διάταγμα) and Directions (Εντολή), which are considered necessary or desirable for the sound implementation of the Law. Examples of such Orders and Directions are:

  • The General Development Order (Γενικό Διάταγμα Ανάπτυξης), which deals with minor works and non-material changes of use, for which the minister has already granted planning permission. Similarly, Special Development Orders (Ειδικό Διάταγμα Ανάπτυξης) apply to specific types of development (e.g. greenhouses, industrial buildings, etc.).
  • The White Zone Orders (Διάταγμα Λευκής Ζώνης), which are published for specific areas in which the existing uses should generally remain unchanged and further building should be limited generally to that essential to the needs of the area.
  • Various Directions concerning matters related to appropriate access; the calculation of floor area ratios, building coverage and other metrics; the development of social housing; the provision of parking spaces; the development of the infrastructure, etc.

Preparation of plans

The Law indicates the following four types of spatial plan, referred to below as Development Plans (Σχέδιο Ανάπτυξης):

  • The Island Plan (Σχέδιο για τη Νήσο), which is a regional plan for the whole island of Cyprus. This type of plan has been inactive since 1974 (further discussion on the issue is provided below).
  • The Local Plans (Τοπικό Σχέδιο), which are prepared for major urban complexes and other areas of unified identity.
  • The Area Schemes (Σχέδιο Περιοχής), which comprise detailed plans for a part of a Local Plan.
  • The Policy Statement for the Countryside (Δήλωση Πολιτικής για την Ύπαιθρο), which is the Development Plan prepared for the rural areas not covered by a Local Plan.

According to the Law, the authority for the preparation of all the above plans is the Minister of the Interior (or any delegated authority), with the exception of the Island Plan, for which the Minister of Finance is the competent authority.

In addition, the Council of Ministers established the Planning Board (Πολεοδομικό Συμβούλιο), which consists of members from the private sector, the Municipalities Union, the Communities Union, the Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber, the Director of the Town Planning and Housing Department and General Directors of other ministries. The Planning Board is delegated the tasks of preparing, reviewing and amending the various Local Plans and Area Schemes, under the reservation of their submission to the Minister of the Interior for final approval. The Planning Board receives technical support from the Town Planning and Housing Department.

Implementation of planning (development control)

The Minister of the Interior is the planning authority for the control and enforcement of development. However, the Minister transferred his powers to the Director of the Department of Town Planning and Housing and to the Divisional Offices of the same department, as well as to the municipal authorities of the four main towns (Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, and Pafos) of the country’s free areas.

According to the Law, it is unlawful to commence any development unless the planning authority grants planning permission (Πολεοδομική Άδεια) authorising the development. The planning authority may refuse to grant planning permission for any development, or may grant permission unconditionally or subject to conditions. In arriving at any planning decision, the planning authority shall take into account any provision included in any Development Plan in force, as well as any other material consideration. When deciding a planning application, the planning authority consults with several other government departments and bodies, depending on the nature and the characteristics of the proposed development.

Planning applications that depart from the provisions of the Development Plan in force can acquire planning permission only through the Council of Ministers. This is feasible only in extraordinary and justified cases, for the public interest or other special cases, which have been determined by the relevant regulations. These applications are assessed by the Board for the Examination of Deviating Applications (Συμβούλιο Μελέτης Παρεκκλίσεων), which forwards its opinion to the Council of Ministers.

The development plans


The Island Plan

The Island Plan comprises a regional plan for the whole island of Cyprus. It indicates the general policy to be followed in promoting and controlling development and the government’s intentions relating to the use of space. It may also include the siting of parts of the population, industry, commerce and tourism; transport planning; the definition of areas of special social, historic, architectural or cultural interest or natural beauty, as well as other matters of supra-local importance.

According to the Law, the Island Plan shall be kept under constant review by the Minister of Finance and shall be the subject of a report (including proposals for amendments) to the Council of Ministers at intervals of not greater than one year. The Island Plan shall be amended as the Council of Ministers may from time to time decide. 

The Local Plan

The Local Plans are usually prepared for major urban complexes. For example, Local Plans have been prepared for all major urban agglomerations. Local Plans may also be prepared for areas of unified and special identity. The Local Plan for Akamas Peninsula (an area of special ecological importance with a number of small villages) that is currently being prepared is such an example.

The purpose of a Local Plan is to secure orderly development in the interests of the health, amenity, convenience and general welfare of the community. It must indicate the general principles upon which development will be promoted and controlled; guide the selection of, or define, sites for particular purposes; protect features or areas of social, historical or architectural importance; safeguard routes for highways, pipelines and other services; and indicate the stages by which development should be carried out.

To serve the above aims, Local Plans include a written statement and a set of maps. The main maps are: (a) the Planning Zones Map (Χάρτης Πολεοδομικών Ζωνών), which indicates the zone to which each plot belongs, along with the maximum floor area ratio, the maximum coverage ratio, and the maximum number of floors and height of buildings which may be developed in each zone; (b) the Land Use Map (Χάρτης Χρήσεων Γης), which indicates the preferred uses that should be developed in every zone; and (c) the Road Network Map (Χάρτης Οδικού Δικτύου), which indicates the design and the ordering of the road network, along with the main pedestrian and cycle routes. The policy statement includes provisions for matters relating to, inter alia, the distances between buildings, roads and plot boundaries; the coverage proportion; the plot ratio; the number of floors; the height of buildings; the minimum size of building sites and houses; the extent of immovable property to be laid out for the parking of vehicles and other issues. It also includes provisions for granting the public sites for new roads, public open spaces and community services, and for the creation of public parking places.

The Minister of the Interior has entrusted the preparation of the Local Plans to the Planning Board, but remains the authority of final approval. However, any local authority may prepare and submit to the Minister a Local Plan for its area. The Minister may decline it, or may adopt it, with or without modification, provided that all the required public consultations have been held during its preparation. Regarding public participation, the Minister must take into account the views or suggestions of any interested party (person, body or authority) falling within the area of the Local Plan, which are presented at a public hearing. In addition, all local authorities, as well as the relevant governmental and other bodies, present their views to the Planning Council. It is worth mentioning that the provisions of the environmental legislation (see Directive 2001/42/EC and the relevant Cyprus legislation for Strategic Environmental Assessments) must also be followed, including those on public consultation and public hearings.

After preparing or amending any Local Plan, the Minister publishes it and the plan becomes operational. Within four months of its publication, individuals may make reasoned objections on specific grounds to the Minister. The Minister examines the objections, through the Planning Council, and submits the Local Plan and these objections, together with the Minister’s own observations and recommendations, to the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers may approve the Local Plan, with or without modifications, or refuse to approve it, as they deem fit. Once a Local Plan is approved, it is published and enters fully into force. 

The Minister shall revise each Local Plan within approximately five years after its publication. The revision process starts with a report published by the Minister, which includes findings regarding the implementation of the objectives, provisions and positions of each Local Plan and remarks regarding which upgrowths are affecting its implementation. It also includes the general directions and policies that the Minister deems desirable in cases of potential amendments to the Local Plan.

The Area Scheme

Area Schemes comprise detailed plans for an area. If such an area is a part of a Local Plan, the Area Scheme becomes part of the latter. Area Schemes have been published for the city centres of Nicosia and Limassol, for the old core of Strovolos, and for a coastal area in Larnaca, which was going through a transformation phase after the relocation of the existing oil refineries. The structure, content, aims and procedures related to the publication of an Area Scheme are identical to those for the Local Plans.

Policy Statement for the Countryside

The Policy Statement for the Countryside is the Development Plan prepared for the rural areas not covered by a Local Plan. The objectives and structure of this Development Plan, as well as the procedure for its publication and objections, are similar to those of the Local Plan, with two exceptions:

  1. The set of policies (i.e. the textual part of the plan) is accompanied by only one type of map – the Planning Zones Map – although a separate Planning Zones Map is prepared for each Community. The textual part of the Policy Statement for the Countryside is common to all included Communities. 
  2. Apart from the objections between the first publication and the amendment of this Development Plan, the Law does not provide for anything further with regards to public participation.

The Minister of the Interior shall revise any part of the Policy Statement for the Countryside within five years after its publication. The revision process starts with a report that includes such proposals for amending it as the Minister considers desirable. In practice, following preparatory activities, presentations are held to Community representatives and other members of various ad hoc consulting committees established by the Minister. Open community assemblies/meetings are held by each local authority to discuss and formulate recommendations. The recommendations of the local authorities are made available to the public and are submitted to the Minister and to the relevant committee to be evaluated. Once agreed, the preliminary provisions of any part of the Statement are submitted for the Strategic Environmental Assessment and subsequently published by the Minister with or without alterations, after which they come into effect.

Objections to the plan are considered by an ad hoc consulting committee, which then reports to the Minister who shall make a decision. The Minister examines the objections and submits the Policy Statement and these objections, together with the Minister’s own observations and recommendations, to the Council of Ministers. The latter has the power to ratify the Policy Statement as it is, or to modify it as the Council deems fit prior to publishing it, upon which it enters into force.

Hierarchy and interdependencies of the Development Plans

The initial version of the 1972 Law included only three types of Development Plan (instead of the four today): the Island Plan, the Local Plan, and the Area Scheme. The Island Plan was at the top of the hierarchy, corresponding to a regional scale of planning at a national level. Local Plans had (and still have) a local perspective and shall respect the objectives and provisions of the Island Plan, while Area Schemes comprise detailed plans for a part of a Local Plan.

The Council of Ministers adopted the first Island Plan in May 1974, just two months before the Turkish invasion, which led to the military occupation of the northern part of Cyprus and froze the implementation of the Plan and consequently of the Law, with dramatic implications on the natural and human-made environment. A national-level strategic spatial plan for the Island (or, at least, for the country’s free areas) has not yet been officially adopted and implemented, although scientific, environmental and professional institutions and bodies have repeatedly declared a need for it. The freezing of the Island Plan, together with the need for spatial planning of the areas where a Local plan would not have been prepared, led to the birth of a new type of Development Plan: the Policy Statement for the Countryside, which was included in the Law in 1990. Due to the lack of an Island Plan to give direction to lower-order plans, all other Development Plans are aligned with the Strategic Programmes of the Ministries, as well as the relevant international and European conventions, guidelines and directives.

Last but not least, according to the Law, where two or more Development Plans exist for the same area at the same time, in case of conflict between the apparent intentions embodied in those plans, the provisions of the plan on the larger scale shall prevail.

Figure 3: Planning system of Cyprus

Figure 3: Planning system of Cyprus

Important stakeholders

Institution/stakeholder/authority (including webpage) Special interest/competences/administrative area
Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Is a consultee from the preliminary stages of the preparation, review or amendment of the Development Plans.
Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber Is a consultee from the preliminary stages of the preparation, review or amendment of the Development Plans. Member of the Planning Board. Member of the Board for the Examination of Deviating Applications. Member of the Committee for the environmental impact assessment of certain plans and programmes. Member of the Committee for the environmental impact assessment of certain projects.
Cyprus University of Technology Is a consultee from the preliminary stages of the preparation, review or amendment of the Development Plans. Member of the Committee for the environmental impact assessment of certain plans and programmes.
Committees for the environmental impact assessment of certain plans and programmes Taking into account the views submitted by the public, the Committees formulate its suggestions for the Environmental Authority. The role of the Committees is advisory to the Environmental Authority, which has the ultimate responsibility for the preparation of the relevant opinion.
Committee for the environmental impact assessment of certain projects
Director, Environment Department The Director of the Environment Department is consulted by the planning authority when a Development Plan or a planning application falls into certain categories referred to in the environmental legislation, or relates to a conservation or protection zone or a place of community importance (Natura 2000). As the ‘Environmental Authority’, the Director of the Environment Department determines in the initial stages of the preparation or amendment of a Development Plan whether a Strategic Environmental Assessment Study (SEA) or an Environmental Impact Assessment for certain projects is needed. The Director of the Environment Department expresses an opinion on the relevant Environmental Impact Assessments with the advice of the Committee for the environmental impact assessment of certain plans and programmes and of the Committee for the environmental impact assessment of certain projects respectively.
Director, Town Planning and Housing Department Provides technical support for all the phases and stages for the implementation of the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Law. Acts as the delegated planning authority (development control and enforcement of major and/or important applications). Coordinates and consults with other authorities for spatial matters. Is a consultee on relevant applications to the Board for the Examination of Deviating Applications and participates in relevant public hearings. Member of the Committee of the environmental impact assessment for certain projects and of others related to spatial and housing committees. Member of the Planning Board.
District Officers Is a consultee from the preliminary stages of the preparation, review or amendment of the Development Plans. Is consulted by the Board for the Examination of Deviating Applications on relevant applications (except in municipality territory). Expresses views on the amendments to the Policy Statement for the Countryside.
Divisional Officers of the Town Planning and Housing Department Delegated planning authority (development control and enforcement for planning applications in the corresponding District, except those delegated elsewhere). Coordinates and consults other authorities for District spatial matters. Is a consultee from the preliminary stages of the preparation, review or amendment of the Development Plans.
General Director of the Ministry of Finance They are consultees from the preliminary stages of the preparation, review or amendment of the Development Plans. Member of the Planning Board. Member of the Committee for the environmental impact assessment of certain plans and programmes.
Directorate General Growth, Ministry of Finance
The government and other authorities, boards, commissioners, directorates, departments, ministries, organisations, services, and corporations dealing with matters relevant to planning: Agriculture, Antiquities, Civil Aviation, Civil Defence, Transport, Communications and Public Works, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Education and Culture, Electricity Transmission, Energy Service, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Environment and Wildlife, Fire Service, Fisheries and Marine Search, Forests, Geological Survey, Justice and Public Order, Labour Inspection, Land Consolidation, Land Development, Lands and Surveys, Medical Services and Public Health, Mines and Quarries, Meteorology, Police, Ports Authority, Sewerage Boards, Statistical Service, Sports, Veterinary Services, Water Development, Water Supply Boards. They are consultees from the preliminary stages of the preparation, review or amendment of the Development Plans and/or consultees for planning authorities or the Board for the Examination of Deviating Applications for major planning applications or those with a significant impact on matters under their domain. Members of various committees.
Federation of Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Is a consultee for the planning authority in cases where a Development Plan or a planning application falls into or affects a zone of special protection based on the provisions of the Protection and Management of Wild Birds and Game Law. Member of the Committee for the environmental impact assessment of certain projects.
Minister/Ministry of Finance The planning authority for the preparation, review and amendment of the Island Plan.
Minister/Ministry of the Interior The planning authority for spatial planning and development control, including enforcement, compensation matters and listed buildings or areas. Issues Orders and Directions for the sound implementation of the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Law. Member of the Committee for the environmental impact assessment of certain plans and programmes.
Municipal Councils Present their views for the preparation or amendment of Local Plans or Area Schemes. Delegated planning authority (for development control and enforcement for main towns and central municipalities).  They also advise the planning authorities and the Board for the Examination of Deviating Applications on a range of nuisance issues, accident or public health hazards, and/or planning applications affecting their catchment area which are incompatible with other uses and functions.
Municipalities Union Member of the Planning Board.
Various individuals of known reputation and reliability, with knowledge of spatial planning, environment and development matters. Four such individuals are members of the Planning Board, while two are members of the Board for the Examination of Deviating Applications.
Planning Board Delegated to prepare, review, examine objections and propose amendments for Local Plans and Area Schemes. It It is a consultee for some Ministerial Directions and is also a consultee for the Board for the Examination of Deviating Applications where an application affects the general strategy of the Development Plans.  Participates in relevant public hearings.
University of Cyprus Is a consultee from the preliminary stages of the preparation, review or amendment of the Development Plans. Member of the Committee for the environmental impact assessment of certain plans and programmes.

Fact sheets

List of references

Central Intelligence Agency (2017): GDP – composition, by sector of origin. Available at: https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/field/gdp-composition-by-sector-of-origin/ (18 January 2023).

CYPRUSNeT (2005): Independent Officers / Bodies in Cyprus. Available at: https://www.cyprusnet.com/article/independent-officers-bodies-in-cyprus.html (14 September 2022).

Cyprus Profile (2021): Bouncing back to pre-pandemic growth. Available at: https://www.cyprusprofile.com/page/economy?lang=en (14 September 2022).

Department of Town Planning and Housing (2022): Historical Background. Available at: http://www.moi.gov.cy/moi/tph/tph.nsf/history_el/history_el?opendocument (14 September 2022).

Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in the Hague (2022): Cyprus profile. Available at: http://www.mfa.gov.cy/mfa/Embassies/embassy_thehague.nsf/ecsw08_en/ecsw08_en?OpenDocument (14 September 2022).

European Commission (2015): Global Human Settlement Layer. Available at: https://ghsl.jrc.ec.europa.eu/CFS.php (18 January 2023).

European Committee of the Regions (2022): Division of Powers: Cyprus. https://portal.cor.europa.eu/divisionpowers/Pages/Cyprus-Introduction.aspx (14 September 2022).

European Environment Agency (2018): Land cover country fact sheets 2000-2018. Available at: https://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/landuse/land-cover-country-fact-sheets (18 January 2023).

House of Representatives (2022): The political role and the responsibilities of the House. Available at: http://www.parliament.cy/en/general-information/the-political-role-and-the-responsibilities-of-the-house- (14 September 2022).

House οf Representatives (2021): Factsheet. Available at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/239448/NewFactsheet%20-%20RelNatParl_Cyprus_13092021.pdf (14 September 2022).

Human Development Reports (2021): Human Development Index. Available at: https://hdr.undp.org/data-center/human-development-index#/indicies/HDI (18 January 2023). 

Ioannides K. (2018): A brief review of the evolution of planning in Cyprus from the end of World War II to the present. In: Patsavos, N.; Pissourios, I. A. (eds.): The Cypriot City Paradigm: Urbanity Issues in Design and Planning. (GR/ENG bilingual edition). Athens. = DOMES, [CK|PG1] 48-73.

Just About Cyprus (2021): Cyprus geography. Available at: https://www.justaboutcyprus.com/geography/ (14 September 2022).

Ministry of Finance (2022): Main economic indicators. Republic of Cyprus. Available at: http://mof.gov.cy/en/economic-indicators/macroeconomics/main-economic-indicators (14 September 2022).

Ministry of the Interior (2022): Local Administration. Available at: http://www.moi.gov.cy/moi/moiup/moi.nsf/page51_gr/page51_gr?OpenDocument (14 September 2022).

Nations Online Project (2022): Map of Cyprus, Mediterranean Sea. Available at: https://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/map/cyprus_map2.htm (14 September 2022).

Presidency (2022): Office and Competences. Official website of the Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus. Available at: https://www.presidency.gov.cy/cypresidency/cypresidency.nsf/presidency_en/presidency_en?OpenDocument (14 September 2022).

Statistical Service of Cyprus (2011): Population census 2011. Vol 1: General demographic characteristics, migration and labour force. Available at: https://library.cystat.gov.cy/Documents/Publication/POPULATION_CENSUS-2011_VolI-EL-261015.pdf (14 September 2022).

Statistical Service of Cyprus (2022a): Census of population and housing 2021. Preliminary results. (Press release). Available at: https://www.census2021.cystat.gov.cy/Announements/18%20May%202022%20CENSUS%20OF%20POPULATION%20-%20PRELIMINARY%20RESULTS.pdf (14 September 2022).

Statistical Service of Cyprus (2022b): Labour Force Survey (LFS): 1st quarter 2022. (Press release). Available at: https://www.pio.gov.cy/en/press-releases-article.html?id=28286#flat (14 September 2022).

Supreme Court (2022a): Courts structure. Available at: http://www.supremecourt.gov.cy/judicial/sc.nsf/home_en/home_en?opendocument# (14 September 2022).

Supreme Court (2022b): Supreme Court. Available at: http://www.supremecourt.gov.cy/judicial/sc.nsf/DMLScourt_en/DMLScourt_en?opendocument (14 September 2022).

The National Accounts Section of the United Nations Statistics Division (2021): Cyprus. Gross Domestic Product. Available at: https://unstats.un.org/unsd/snaama/countryprofile (14 September 2022).

UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) (2020): Human Development Report 2020: The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene. New York. Available at: https://hdr.undp.org/content/human-development-report-2021-22 (14 September 2022).

Union of Cyprus Municipalities (2022): Local Governance System in Cyprus. Available at: https://ucm.org.cy/en/the-union/local-authorities/#toggle-id-3 (14 September 2022).

World Bank (2020): World Development Indicators. Available at: https://databank.worldbank.org/source/world-development-indicators/Type/TABLE/preview/on# (18 January 2023).