Geopolitically, the island is divided into four main segments. The Republic of Cyprus, the internationally recognized government, occupies the southern
three-fifths of the island. Turkey occupies the northern third of the island which it calls the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus; a de facto independent state recognised only by Turkey. The United Nations-controlled Green Line is a buffer zone that separates the two. Lastly, two bases under British sovereignty, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, are located on the
southern island shore.
of areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus
Republic of Cyprus is bordering all three UN zone segments; 1) at
Kokkina; 2) the main zone and 3) east of Dhekelia. The territory is
divided in two parts by the Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA); whereof
the eastern part is making a fragment. Four Cypriot exclaves are located
completely surrounded by ESBA territory and are therefore British
of areas controlled by the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC)
Turkish Republic of
and Population of the UK Sovereign Base Areas 1), 3)
Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, usually referred
to as Western Sovereign Base Area (WSBA) and Eastern Sovereign Base Area
(ESBA), are those parts of the island which have remained under British
jurisdiction since the creation of an independent Republic of Cyprus in
1960. Under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, HMG retained sovereignty
over the SBAs, a total of 253,8 km˛ (123 km at Akrotiri and 130,8 at
Dhekelia). However, HMG does not own most of the land. About 60% is
privately owned and intensively farmed. Only 20% is MOD-owned land, with
the remaining 20% being SBA Crown land (including forests, roads, rivers
and Akrotiri Salt Lake (7%)).
The SBAs were retained in 1960 as military bases under British
sovereignty, not as ordinary colonial territories.
This is the basic philosophy of their administration as declared by Her Majesty's Government in 'Appendix O' to the 1960 treaty with Cyprus, which provided that the British government intended:
not to develop the Sovereign Base Areas for other than military
– not to set up and administer "colonies";
– not to create customs posts or other frontier barriers between the Sovereign Base Areas and the
– not to set up or permit the establishment of civilian commercial or industrial enterprises except insofar as these are connected with military requirements, and not otherwise to impair the economic commercial or industrial unity and life of the
– not to establish commercial or civilian seaports or airports;
– not to allow new settlement of people in the Sovereign Base Areas other than for temporary
– not to expropriate private property within the Sovereign Base Areas except for military purposes on payment of fair
The bases have their own legal system, distinct from the United Kingdom and Cyprus. This consists of the laws of the Colony of Cyprus as at August 1960, amended as necessary. The laws of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are kept, as far as possible, the same as the laws of Cyprus. The Court of the Sovereign Base Areas is concerned with non-military offences committed by any person within Akrotiri and Dhekelia, and law and order is maintained by the Sovereign Base Areas Police, while military law is upheld by the Cyprus Joint Police Unit.
boundaries of the SBAs were drawn to include the major military
installations on the ground and to exclude villages and towns. There are
four Republican exclaves within the Dhekelia SBA – Ormidhia,
Xylotymbou, EAC Refugee Settlement
and Dhekelia power station. However, as a result of the coup of 1974 and
other developments over the years, about 7,000 Cypriots now live in the
SBAs ('temporary purposes').
In addition, approximately 7,800 military and UK-based civilian
personnel and their dependants work or live on the Bases.
total of SBA residents was in 2011 approximately 15,700 persons: 7,700
Cypriots, 3,900 Service and UKBC personnel, of whom 3,600 live in the
SBAs, and nearly 5,000 dependants, of whom over 4,400 live in the SBAs.
There are also nearly 2,700 locally employed civilians.
of areas controlled by the United Nations 2)
Cyprus has been divided into a Turkish-Cypriot northern region and a Greek-Cypriot southern region since 1974. UNFICYP is responsible for the area that separates the two sides, or the Buffer Zone.
The United Nation Force administrates and issues Permits for Construction in the Buffer Zone, Permits for Farming in the Buffer Zone and Permits for Short-Term Access (An Access Permit is necessary if someone needs to enter the buffer zone in an official capacity not related to working or farming on a specific plot.)
The zone - also called ‘the Green Line’ - extends approximately 180 kilometers across the island.
The zone consists actually from three segments (around Kokkina; 7 km˛,
main segment about 290 km˛ and eastern segment; about 40 km˛). In some places in old Nicosia it is only a few meters wide. In other places it is a few kilometers wide. Its northern and southern limits are the lines where the belligerents stood following the ceasefire of 16 August 1974, as recorded by UNFICYP.
In the eastern part of the island, the Buffer Zone is interrupted by the British Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia, where the UN does not operate. Another area the UN does not control is Varosha, the former resort town near Famagusta, now under the control of the Turkish military.
In line with UNFICYP’s mandate to work toward a return to normal conditions, parts of the buffer zone are farmed and/or inhabited. There are several villages or special areas (called Civil Use Areas) within the buffer zone, where more than 10,000 people live and/or work. Civilians may enter these areas freely. Elsewhere in the buffer zone, civilian movement or activity requires specific authorization from UNFICYP. Located in the eastern region of the buffer zone, Pyla is the only village where Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots live side by side.
Other areas are largely untouched by human activity. Remnants of old villages, shops and other reminders of lives once lived are scattered throughout the zone. In old Nicosia, ‘new’ cars from the 1970s sit in an underground garage once owned by a car dealer.
UNFICYP is one of the longest-running UN Peacekeeping missions. It was set up in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island and bring about a return to normal conditions.
The Mission’s responsibilities expanded in 1974, following a coup d’etat by elements favouring union with Greece and a subsequent military intervention by Turkey, whose troops established control over the northern part of the island.
Since a de facto ceasefire in August 1974, UNFICYP has supervised the ceasefire lines; provided humanitarian assistance; and maintained a buffer zone between the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot forces in the north and the Greek Cypriot forces in the south. UNFICYP’s Chief of Mission also serves as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus and in that capacity leads efforts to assist the parties in reaching a comprehensive settlement.
The Civil Affairs Section of UNFICYP was established in 1998 to reflect the increasingly civilian nature of the issues confronting the mission. With a military status quo, a longstanding ceasefire and the establishment of a UN-controlled buffer zone between the opposing forces, normal civilian activities resumed throughout the island and, in recent years, increasingly in the buffer zone.
The roots of the civil affairs function of UNFICYP can be traced back to the original mandate authorized by Security Council Resolution 186 (1964), in particular, the provision that the Force contribute to “a return to normal conditions” on the island. After the events of 1974 and the resulting displacement of large numbers of the population, UNFICYP was mandated to provide humanitarian assistance to the population all across the island (Security Council Resolutions 359 and 365 and General Assembly Resolution 3212, all of 1974).
Since April 2003, a number of crossing points have opened up between the north and the south: two in the British Sovereign Base Area at Pergamos and Strovilia, three in Nicosia at Ayios Demotios/Metehan, Ledra Palace and Ledra Street and one west of Nicosia toward the Troodos mountains, at Astromeritis/Zodhia.