Facts about Cyprus

Area: 9,251 sq km
Capital: Nicosia
Language: Greek, Turkish
Currency: Euro
  Turkish Lira
Population: 784,301
Coastline: 648 sq km

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Religion in Cyprus

Cyprus as whole is comprised of many different religions, yet, in terms of majorities there are only two. In the southern part for the most part the majority (78 %) are considered as being followers of the Greek Orthodox Church and its faith. In the north the majority of the population can be considered as being Muslims and thus followers of Islam (18 %). The rest (4 %) are the smaller religious groups of the Anglicans, Roman and Latin Christians, Maronites, Armenian Orthodox, Greek Evangelics, Jews and others.

The Greek Cypriots make a part of The Eastern Orthodox Communion and the Greek Orthodoxy means ‘the right belief’ and do not recognize the Catholic Pope but instead only a Patriarch of Constantinople as their leader. It represents a body of Christians whose origins extend directly back to Jesus and his Apostles via unbroken Apostolic Succession. Its doctrines and foundation were attributed to Saint Barnabas, Paul and Mark (45 A.D.). However, after thousand years of the existence the differences made clear between the Western and Eastern Roman Empire and led into the Great Schism in 1054 AD, splitting the Roman Catholics from the Eastern Orthodox. From Greece, it was rapidly spread throughout Cyprus, the proof of which is the number of Orthodox churches scattered over the island, in North Cyprus most of them converted to mosques or museums. There is still the Apostolos Andreas Monastery in North Cyprus visited by Greek Cypriots twice a year. In return, following the agreement reached by the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots, it allows both island and foreign Muslims to make a pilgrimage to Hala Sultan Tekke in South Cyprus. Most of the orthodox religious feasts in South Cyprus are overlapped with the public holidays.

In the north part of Cyprus Islam is considered as the main religion. Most of the Turkish Cypriots living in the North and in the South are Muslims and followers of Islam. However, they are far from being considered as strict followers of Islam. Visitors to the Island are often surprised by the way they lead their lives since preconceptions of Islamic societies often lead to misconceptions of Cyprus and more specifically the North which is often referred to as an Islamic State. As in Turkey the secular nature of both societies has led to the separation of church from state (or in this case mosque from state). But it is worth noting that while Turkish Cypriots normally do not attend mosque or wear religious attire they observe religious holidays.

Anglican Church

The term ‘Anglican’ is associated with the people and churches that follow the established religious traditions developed by the Church of England. However, the categorization of Catholic and Protestant affiliation is often rather confusing. While many Anglicans consider themselves following the Protestant tradition, many others, especially Anglo-Catholics, do not regard themselves as being Protestants. Anglo-Catholic people use many traditional Catholic practices and are bound to the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Anglican Church is considered both Catholic (stressing its linkage with the ancient Church) and Reformed/Protestant (as this Church rejects the teaching of Roman Catholic Church and do not accept the authority of the Pope and thus became known as Protestant). However, the development of Anglican Church as a distinctive Church is deeply rooted with the Protestant Reformation.

Latin Catholic Church of Cyprus

The Christian Church, whose visible head is the Pope, currently Benedict XIV., follows the teaching of “one holy catholic and apostolic Church by Jesus Christ”. Worldwide the Church is hierarchically divided into jurisdictional areas usually having the territorial basis and the typical form of these is what is usually called in the Latin Church a diocese, in the East an eparchy, headed by a bishop or eparch known in the Latin Church as a diocesan Bishop.

Maronite Church

Also called Arabic Christians, Maronites came to Cyprus from Lebanon, where the community is much bigger. Acknowledging the supremacy of pope, however the Maronites have always been culturally similar to the Greek Orthodox Majority. What is left of the Kormakiti Maronite community now lives in the village, officially renamed Korucam in the Kyrenia range and there are also other minorities in the island.

Armenian Orthodoxy

The church agrees in faith with the Copts and Jacobites, however it does not make communion with them. Armenians made Cyprus their homeland mainly during 1915-20. During the 1974 Turkish invasion the Armenian community lost its monasteries, schools as well as churches and other properties. To retain their identity, Armenians established their churches and schools that were built near to each other.

Greek Evangelic Church

Apart from Greek Orthodoxy, in Cyprus is housed also Greek Evangelic Church.

There are many fellowships housed in Cyprus that are of international coverage.

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