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Cyprus, officially known as the Republic of Cyprus, is a beautiful Eurasian island country with a total land area of 3,572 square miles. Located in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, the country is east of Greece, north of Egypt, west of Syria, Lebanon and Israel, and south of Turkey. Cyprus is the third-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and the Republic of Cyprus is split into two de facto regions: the area under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, comprising 59% of the island’s total land area, and the Turkish controlled area in the north, which calls itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, comprising the remainder of area, and only recognized officially by Turkey.
As of the last census, the population of Cyprus was 839,000. Ethnic Greek Cypriots account for the majority of the population (80%), while Turkish Cypriots (18%) and smaller numbers of Maronites, Armenians and Latin Catholics comprise the remainder. Cyprus has two official languages, Greek and Turkish, and a few other languages, including Armenian, Cypriot, Maronite and Arabic, which are recognized as minority languages. The Greek Orthododox Church is the religious denomination of almost the entire population of Greek Cypriots, while the majority of Turkish Cypriots are adherents of Sunni Islam. Alongside Greece, Poland, Malta and Romania, Cyprus is one of the most religious countries in the world.
Education in Cyprus
After Denmark and Sweden, the country of Cyprus, when compared to other developed countries in the European Union, spends the greatest percentage of its GDP (7 percent) on education. This generous spending, coupled with the above-average competence of its teachers, makes Cyprus’ education system one of the best in the world.
In Cyprus the education system is overseen and administered by the national government and includes three distinct levels: primary education, secondary education and higher education.
Primary and secondary schooling is compulsory under the Cypriot educational system. Primary school begins at age 6 in grade one and culminates at age 13 or 14 in grade 8. Students in Cypriot primary schools, beginning in grades 1 and 2, are instructed initially in the basics: reading, writing arithmetic and art. These subjects are gradually supplemented in the later grades by courses in natural science, history, geography, language arts, mathematics, music and physical education.
Secondary education in Cyprus is largely academic, with advanced classes in many of the subjects listed above, as well as in physics, chemistry, biology and government. Students who successfully complete the four years of compulsory education are awarded a diploma and are eligible to enroll in one of the country’s universities or vocational institutions.
Although a diploma is required for any student wishing to enroll at the university level, secondary school grades are virtually ignored by admission officers, much like they are in Greece and Turkey. Instead students must take and pass a rigid, university-administered entrance exam prior to admittance. Students who do manage to pass this test can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in almost every major academic field, leading to Bachelor and Master’s degrees respectively.