Cyprus’ history spans more than 10,000 years since its first settlement. Previously occupied by major powers like the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, and by Alexander the Great, Cyprus has become a renowned EU-country, attracting many investment immigrants from around the world.
Let Property Experts Cyprus take you on a tour through the island’s history and what this means for your real estate investment on the island.
Cyprus History – The Basics
The “Jewel of the Mediterranean” is also called “Kípros” in Greek and “Kıbrıs” in Turkish. Since ancient times, Cyprus has been known for its mineral wealth, superb wines, mild weather, and natural beauty including 57 Blue Flag beaches.
In terms of minerals, copper as a major industrial metal, is common in Cyprus. Did you know that the world’s oldest mine, Skouriotissa Mines, is the only mining activity today in Cyprus, harvesting copper? Copper has been mined in Cyprus since the Roman era. In fact, the Latin name for copper “aes cyprium”, which means “metal of Cyprus” later transformed into “cuprum”, which then turned into “copper” in English, “cuivre” in French, and “Kupfer” in German.
It is a major industrial metal because of its high ductility, malleability, thermal and electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion.
During the Copper and Bronze Ages, Cyprus was one of the wealthiest countries in the world. While these golden days may have passed, Cyprus attracts many investment immigrants, entrepreneurs, and HNWI with a manifold of attractive investment projects and business opportunities.
After various occupations, Cyprus was part of the British Empire between 1914 to 1925 and remained a Crown colony as the Republic of Cyprus until 1960. To date, the two countries maintain excellent relations. As a relic, the famous red telephone booths can still be seen around the island.
The Cypriot legal system is founded on English law, which is relevant for investors, real estate buyers, and entrepreneurs. Besides, the Cypriot legislation was aligned with EU norms. Further British influences are that English is widely spoken in Cyprus today, and cars drive on the left side of the road.
Unfortunately, Cyprus was invaded again in 1974 by the Turkish, and thus violating the UN Charter. Their goal was to push out the right-wing Greeks so that the Turkish Cypriots could live in peace.
In the process, hundreds of thousands Greek Cypriots were forcibly removed from the occupied northern part of the island. The population growth and education suffered, and cultural heritage was destroyed. Later in the same year, an agreement of coexistence was formed.
Nicosia – The Divided Capital
Nicosia has been the capital of Cyprus since the 10th century. Today, Nicosia has a population of around 200,000. There is a UN buffer zone that divides the city, with northern Turkish Cypriots and southern Greek Cypriots living together peacefully. It remains the only divided capital in the world. Cypriots and EU-nationals can easily cross over “the green line” easily to visit restaurants and shops on either side.
Cultural Influences in Cyprus
Over the years, the various occupation forces have shaped the Cypriot culture, food, and way of life.
Today’s cuisine is influenced by Greek, Turkish, Arabic, African and European ingredients and culinary traditions. Seafood, grilled meats and sausages, halloumi cheese, olives, pita bread, lamb and stews are particularly popular dishes on the island.
Cyprus has also been influenced by mostly Russian, Chinese, Middle Eastern and Israel investors, who have brought capital to the island, and invested in large scale commercial and residential property development projects. In terms of the general workforce, especially in the house keeping and agriculture industry, legal immigrants from the Middle East, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam shape Cyprus’ society today.
Cyprus is a multicultural, multi-religious and multilingual country. Around 78% of the country’s population are Orthodox, about 18% are Muslim, and the remaining 4% follow other religions.
The culture is mainly shaped by Turkish and Greek influences based on the divided parts. In the northern part of the island, the Islamic culture is prevalent with its own newspapers, Turkish names for places like streets, parks, and more.
As a result of the many foreign influences and strategic location between Europe and Asia, the island has become an international business and trade hub, where English is widely spoken. However, Turkish and Greek are the official languages of Cyprus.
The Central Bank of Cyprus issues Euros, and in the northern, occupied part, Turkish Lira is circulated.
In the face of the global Covid-pandemic, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, as well as a global recession and inflation, more and more foreigners (especially Israelis, Lebanese, Russians, Chinese) invest in Cyprus. These groups often invest in buy-to-let apartments and houses (long-term rentals) due to the situations in their home countries. Click here to read the full Cyprus real estate market report.
The business environment is very welcoming and Cyprus easily connects to the world via the Mediterranean sea, which is why Cyprus has a large shipping industry. Also Cyprus is the closest EU country for cargo ships coming through the Suez canal. Besides, there are many direct, short and affordable flight connections to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, and the Middle East.
Economy of Cyprus
The Cypriot GDP is at 27.6 billion USD in 2023, and is estimated to reach 34.4 billion USD by 2027. Its main economic drivers are the services sector (hospitality/tourism), export/trade, real estate/construction, the shipping industry, and agriculture.
|Sector||GDP (2023)||Share of GDP (2023)|
|Services Sector||17.7 billion USD||64%|
|Exports/Trade||5.2 billion USD||19%|
|Real Estate/Construction||3 billion USD||11%|
|Shipping Industry||1.1 billion USD||4%|
|Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing||0.6 billion USD||2%|
At the same time, Cyprus’ Government debt of the nominal GDP continues to significantly decline, reaching 86% in 2022.
What’s special about Cyprus’ 1.2 million population (2021) is that the population is growing at about 0.5% per year, and not stagnating or decreasing like in many other European countries.
One of the impacts of this socio-economic imbalance is on the real estate market in Cyprus, whereby local demand is expected to stagnate due to lower disposable household income (higher interest, inflation). At the same time, foreign HNWIs, entrepreneurs, digital nomads, expats, and retirees are likely to take advantage of the market and invest in Cypriot real estate.
While the 2021 Cyprus census data is still being evaluated, we have put together an overview of popular Cypriot districts among foreign nationals and added official data from the news, the Cypriot Government, and further sources.
|Foreigners||Total around 193,300|
|Other (incl. Chinese, Ukrainians, Belorussians)||116,700|
Since 2022, more than 20,000 Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Russians moved to Cyprus because of the war in their home countries. They typically relocate more and more to Larnaca district, which is booming due to its proximity to the airport, development projects like the Larnaca Marina (the most expensive development project in Cyprus) as well as (still) affordable real estate.
Overall, in 2022, around 193,300 foreigners permanently reside in Cyprus (16% of the country’s population). They are often HNWIs, investors, entrepreneurs, or retirees taking advantage of the attractive residency program and excellent living conditions including favorable tax regulations, and living cost arbitrage leverage.
Foreigners in Cyprus Districts
Paphos real estate and the district’s many beautiful beaches attract many foreigners. In fact, it is the most popular district among the international expat community and real estate buyers. The district is favored by British holidaymakers and retirees, as well as Chinese, Russians, and Israelis.
Besides, Russians are particularly fond of Limassol district. The luxurious Limassol properties and many development projects, skyscrapers, and casinos attract wealthy Russian citizens. The district and city are therefore sometimes also referred to as “Limassolgrad”. In fact, Russian-born investors are in the process of establishing a political party in this district.
Among Germans, Larnaca city and district are most popular. They particularly value attractive Larnaca real estate and engaging community life without as many tourists as other districts like Famagusta. Did you know that Famagusta real estate revolves around holiday homes as it is the island’s main holiday region (but least populated district with permanent residents)? Besides, Larnaca with its many new development projects attracts a large community of Israeli investors.
Nicosia as the capital city is the most populated district and business hub of the island, attracting the largest amount of the local and international workforce. However, while international investors buy investment properties in Nicosia, it is the district with the fewest foreigners living there.
In fact, Cyprus is a popular “headquartering” destination for businesses, which attracts capital and expats, while boosting the economy, including the real estate market. By mid-2022, more than 4,500 families applied to be relocated to Cyprus as part of the “headquartering initiative”. Their companies require offices, and the expats and their families require apartments or houses.
Cypriot Residency by Investment Program
Overall, the Cypriot Residency by Investment (RBI) program is one of the most attractive and popular ones, starting from a 300,000 EUR real estate investment plus additional costs (lawyer, VAT, etc.)
In 2021, more than 3,000 foreigners purchased real estate in Cyprus and thus gained lifetime residency rights. Non-EU investors, digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and retirees from around the world enjoy a large variety of benefits with this program. In addition, the spouse, parents, and children can be included in the program.
When renting out the investment property, an ROI of around 7% per year can be expected in Cyprus under normal conditions. From 2021, there is also the possibility to invest in first second-hand commercial real estate. However, commercial and residential real estate investments may not be combined.
Cyprus History – The Takeaway
To sum it up, Cyprus’ history of more than 10,000 years has many influences on today’s culture, business, real estate, and more. From law to language, food, education, and trade – its diverse history has made Cyprus the thriving business and expat hub it is today.
- Paphos: most popular among foreigners, esp. British, Chinese, Russians, Israelis
- Limassol: Russian favorite
- Larnaca: German hub, new: Israelis
- Famagusta: island’s main holiday region
- Nicosia: business hub, largely local real estate market
Join the more than 3,000 foreigners every year who gain permanent residency in Cyprus through the popular residency by real estate investment program, which offer top value for money.