By Simon Brandon
The Republic of Cyprus gained independence from the UK in 1960 and, following invasion by Turkey in 1974, was divided between the Turkish north and Greek Cypriot south. The latter is run by the internationally recognised government of Cyprus, and today more than a fifth of its residents come from overseas.
Beyond its beaches and ancient ruins the country offers a lifeline to Britons hoping to maintain EU citizenship following Brexit — if they have the cash.
For those with the means, Cyprus offers UK citizens a way to retain the benefits of an EU passport after Brexit. In exchange for purchasing a property in the republic worth at least €2m, plus a “donation” of €150,000, UK nationals could, after six months, receive a full Cypriot passport and the EU citizenship it confers. Cypriot citizenship covers the applicant’s family and is valid for life. The scheme is controversial. Last week, the Cypriot government said it would revoke the citizenship of 26 "high-risk" individuals who had used the scheme including Jho Low, the Malaysian financier accused of misappropriating more than $2.7bn from the 1MDB state fund.
That €2m should go much further for UK buyers in Cyprus than at home. According to Numbeo, the price-comparison site, residential property in the republic costs less than half the UK average.
Renting is, on average, nearly a third cheaper than in the UK. This compares with Malta — which also offers an EU citizenship programme — where property prices are 40 per cent lower than in the UK and rents are around 5 per cent higher.
Cyprus abolished inheritance tax 19 years ago, which means expats can leave the pricey residential properties they have bought — whether to obtain a Cypriot passport or not — entirely to their offspring. Another fiscal advantage is the 35 per cent income tax rate for higher earners, which is lower than the EU average of 39.4 per cent.
Entrepreneurs, meanwhile, will note Cyprus’s 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate, which compares with an EU average of 19.8 per cent.
Tucked away in the eastern Mediterranean, the island enjoys a subtropical climate with long, dry summers and mild winters. Ringed by clear, blue water, Cyprus has many world-class beaches, including Makronissos Beach, a quiet crescent of bright sand on the south-east coast.
Cyprus has a ski centre, too, in the Troodos Mountains in the island’s western interior.
Beyond the modern hotels and resorts, Cyprus is speckled with remnants of its ancient history. The impressive and extensive remains of the once-powerful city kingdom of Kourion, which was destroyed by an earthquake in the fourth century AD, lie a few miles west of the city of Limassol.
Paphos Archaeological Park, part of a Unesco World Heritage Site on the south-west coast, is a treasure trove for history lovers. It is famous for its villas and their well-preserved mosaic floors, as well as the Tombs of the Kings, a necropolis dating back to the fourth century BC.