The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (abbr. SBA; Greek: Περιοχές Κυρίαρχων Βάσεων Ακρωτηρίου και Δεκέλιας, Periochés Kyríarchon Váseon Akrotiríou kai Dekélias; Turkish: Egemen Üs Bölgeleri Ağrotur ve Dikelya) is a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus. The areas, which include British military bases and installations, as well as other land, were retained by the British under the 1960 treaty of independence, signed by the United Kingdom, Greece, Turkey and representatives from the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, which granted independence to the Crown colony of Cyprus. The territory serves an important role as a station for signals intelligence and provides a vital strategic part of the United Kingdom communications gathering and monitoring network in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
The territory is composed of two Base Areas. One is Akrotiri (Greek: Ακρωτήρι pronounced [akroˈtiri]; Turkish: Ağrotur Turkish pronunciation: [ˈaːɾotuɾ]), or the Western Sovereign Base Area (WSBA), which includes two main bases at RAF Akrotiri and Episkopi, plus all of Akrotiri Village's district (including Limassol Salt Lake) and parts of eleven other village districts. The other area is Dhekelia Cantonment (Δεκέλεια Greek pronunciation: [ðeˈceʎa]; Dikelya), or the Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA), which includes a base at Ayios Nikolaos plus parts of twelve village districts.
Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Anthem: "God Save the Queen"
Location of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (red)
Location of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (pink)
on Cyprus (pink, grey and beige)
|Status||British Overseas Territory|
|Largest civilian settlement||Akrotiri|
|Major-General James Illingworth OBE ex officio|
|Alan Duncan MP|
|Legislature||Parliament of the United Kingdom|
HM Privy Council
17 February 1959
(Prospective; London Conference 1959)
29 July 1960
(Prospective; Cyprus Act 1960)
3 August 1960
(Prospective; The SBA Order in Council 1960 (S.I. 1960/1369))
16 August 1960
(Act and Order appointed day)
(Treaty of Establishment)
|254 km2 (98 sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (EET)|
• Summer (DST)
The Sovereign Base Areas were created in 1960 by the London and Zurich Agreements, when Cyprus achieved independence from the British Empire. The United Kingdom desired to retain sovereignty over these areas, as this guaranteed the use of UK military bases on Cyprus, including RAF Akrotiri, and a garrison of the British Army. The importance of the bases to the British is based on the strategic location of the island, at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, close to the Suez Canal and the Middle East; the ability to use the RAF base as staging post for military aircraft; and for training.
In 1974, following a military coup by the Cypriot National Guard attempting to achieve enosis (union with Greece), Turkey invaded the north of Cyprus, leading to the establishment of the internationally unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This did not affect the status of the bases. Greek Cypriots fleeing from the Turkish forces were permitted to travel through the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area and were given humanitarian aid, with those from Achna setting up a new village (Dasaki Achnas or Achna Forest) which is still in the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area. The Turkish advance halted when it reached the edge of the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area to avoid military conflict with the United Kingdom. In the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area a tented refugee camp was set up at "Happy Valley" (part of the Episkopi Cantonment) to house Turkish Cypriots fleeing from Limassol and the villages surrounding the Area, until in 1975 they were flown out of RAF Akrotiri via Turkey to northern Cyprus. Some Greek Cypriot refugees remain housed on land in the parts of Trachoni and Kolossi villages that fall within the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area.
In July 2001, protests were held at the bases by local Cypriots, unhappy with British plans to construct radio masts at the bases as part of an upgrade of British military communication posts around the world. Locals claimed the masts would endanger local lives and cause cancer, as well as have a negative impact on wildlife in the area. The British and Cypriot governments jointly commissioned health research from the University of Bristol and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Cyprus, and that research project reported in 2005 that there was no evidence of health problems being caused by electromagnetic fields from the antennas. The Sovereign Base Areas Administration has carried out assessments and surveys into the effects on wildlife, which have fed into an "Akrotiri Peninsula Environmental Management Plan", published in September 2012.
The United Kingdom has shown no intention of ceding the Sovereign Base Areas in their entirety to Cypriot control, although it has offered to cede 117 square kilometres (45 sq mi) of farmland as part of the rejected Annan Plan for Cyprus. As of 2010, around 3,000 troops of British Forces Cyprus are based at Akrotiri and Dhekelia. Ayios Nikolaos Station, in the ESBA, is an ELINT (electronic intelligence) listening station of the UKUSA Agreement intelligence network.
The election of left-wing Demetris Christofias as Cypriot president in February 2008 prompted concern in the United Kingdom. Christofias pledged to remove all foreign military forces from the island as part of a future settlement of the Cyprus dispute, calling the British presence on the island a "colonial bloodstain".
On 29 August 2013, during the Syrian civil war, some Cypriot and British media sources speculated that long-range ballistic missiles, fired from Syria in retaliation for proposed British involvement in military intervention against the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, could hit Cyprus, and could potentially deliver chemical weapons. In some Cypriot media it was stated that the proposed interdiction of the Syrian civil war, utilising Akrotiri and Dhekelia, could recklessly endanger the Cypriot populations near to those bases. Two days earlier, on 27 August 2013, Cypriot foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides had moved to calm Cypriot concerns, saying that the British bases were unlikely to play a major part in any intervention.
In January 2010, a newspaper article appeared in the British press claiming that as a result of budgetary constraints arising from the Great Recession, the British Ministry of Defence drew up controversial plans to withdraw the United Kingdom's 3,000 strong garrison and end the use of Cyprus as a staging point for ground forces. The Labour government under whom the proposal appeared was replaced by the Cameron–Clegg coalition and their defence review did not mention the issue.
On 15 December 2012 in a written statement to the lower house the Secretary of State for Defence of the UK government (Philip Hammond) revealed the findings of a report on the SBA military bases following the completion of a review of their operations by Lord Ashcroft:
The Sovereign Base areas are in a region of geo-political importance and high priority for the United Kingdom's long term national security interests ... Our military personnel, United Kingdom civilians and locally employed personnel in the Sovereign Base Areas make a major contribution to the national security of the United Kingdom and will continue to do so in the future.
The SBAs were retained in 1960 to keep military bases in areas under British sovereignty, along with the rights retained to use other sites in what became the territory of the Republic. That makes them different from the other remaining British Overseas Territories, except for the British Indian Ocean Territory which was similarly carved out of a former colony as a site for a military base, although in that case the base was to be used by the United States and the inhabitants (Chagossians) were all removed.
The basic philosophy of their administration was declared by the British government in Appendix O to the 1960 treaty with Cyprus, which provided that the British government intended:
Appendix O also provides that various ancient monuments in the SBAs (in particular the site and remains of Kourion, the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates near Kourion, the Stadium of Curium and the Church and remains of the Holy Monastery of St Nicholas of the Cats) should be administered by the Republic of Cyprus. The Cypriot government issues licences for antiquity excavation in the SBAs subject to British consent, and any movable antiquities found in excavations or otherwise discovered become Cypriot state property.
According to the British Ministry of Defence:
Because the SBAs are primarily required as military bases and not ordinary dependent territories, the Administration reports to the Ministry of Defence in London. It has no formal connection with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the British High Commission in Nicosia, although there are close informal links with both offices on policy matters.
The territory is administered by an Administrator who is also the Commander of British Forces Cyprus, which as of February 2017 has been Major-General James Illingworth. The Administrator is officially appointed by the British monarch on the advice of the Ministry of Defence. The Administrator has all the executive and legislative authority of a governor of an overseas territory. A Chief Officer is appointed, and is responsible to the Administrator for the day-to-day running of the civil government, with subordinate Area Officers responsible for the civil administration of the two areas. No elections are held in the territory, although British citizens are normally entitled to vote in United Kingdom elections (as British Forces or overseas electors).
The areas have their own legal system, distinct from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Cyprus. This consists of the laws of the Colony of Cyprus as of August 1960, amended as necessary. The laws of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are closely aligned with, and in some cases identical to, the laws operating within the Republic 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 offences involving British Forces Cyprus and military law are dealt with by the Cyprus Joint Police Unit. Fire and Rescue services are provided by the Defence Fire and Risk Management Organisation through stations at Episkopi, Akrotiri, Dhekelia and Ayios Nikolayos. The Defence Medical Services provide emergency ambulance cover based from medical centres in the main bases. All emergency services are accessible from any telephone using the Europe-wide emergency number 112.
Akrotiri and Dhekelia cover 3% of the land area of Cyprus, a total of 254 km2 (98 sq mi) (split 123 km2 (47 sq mi) (48.5%) at Akrotiri and 131 km2 (51 sq mi) (51.5%) at Dhekelia). 60% of the land is privately owned as freeholds by Cypriot citizens; the other 40% is controlled by the Ministry of Defence as the Crown leasehold land. In January 2014, an agreement between the Cypriot and UK governments was signed, ensuring that residents and property owners in the British Bases will enjoy equal rights for the development of property. In addition to Akrotiri and Dhekelia, the Treaty of Establishment also provided for the continued use by the British Ministry of Defence and the British Armed Forces of certain facilities within the Republic of Cyprus, known as Retained Sites.
Akrotiri is located in the south of the island, near the city of Limassol (or Lemesos). Dhekelia is in the southeast, near Larnaca. Both areas include military bases, as well as farmland and some residential land. Akrotiri is surrounded by territory controlled by the Republic of Cyprus, but Dhekelia also borders on the United Nations (UN) buffer zone and the area controlled by the Turkish forces.
Ayia Napa lies to the east of Dhekelia. The villages of Xylotympou and Ormideia, also in the Republic of Cyprus, are enclaves surrounded by Dhekelia. The Dhekelia Power Station, divided by a British road into two parts, also belongs to the Republic of Cyprus. The northern part is an enclave, like the two villages, whereas the southern part is located by the sea, and therefore not an enclave, though it has no territorial waters of its own.
Cyprus is an important migration flyway for birds between Africa and Europe and millions of birds are killed yearly as they migrate over the island. To protect resident and migratory birds, BirdLife Cyprus and the RSPB survey areas of illegal trapping. More than 150 species of birds, over half of conservation concern, have been trapped in nets, or on limesticks, and it is estimated that organised crime gangs earn over 15 million Euros yearly. The dead birds are sold to provide the main ingredient for ambelopoulia in the Republic of Cyprus; an illegal delicacy served to restaurant diners. The 2015 survey estimated a maximum 19 km (12 mi) of mist nets across both the Republic and the British Territories, and more than 5,300 limesticks removed, mainly in the Republic. It is estimated that over 2 million birds were killed in 2015 including over 800,000 on British Territories. Employing measures such as covert camera surveillance (including a drone), exclusion zones and impounding vehicles, trapping activity at Dhekelia fell by 72%. In 2016 an estimated 800,000 birds were killed at Dhekelia and in the following year trapping activity fell by 72% and bird deaths to an estimated 180,000.
The beaches in the British Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) are important nesting sites for the endangered green Chelonia mydas and loggerhead Caretta caretta turtles. The SBA Environment Department, assisted by a large volunteer effort, has monitored turtle nesting success on SBA beaches since 1990. Disturbance to nesting turtles is an issue in some areas due to activities such as camping, driving on beaches and illegal fishing. Sea turtles in Cyprus are protected as priority species under the Protection and Management of Nature and Wildlife Ordinance (implementing the provisions of the Habitats Directive), enacted in 2007.
In December 2015, five Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) were designated in the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas. The five SACs designated are Akrotiri, Episkopi, Cape Pyla, Dhekelia and Agios Nikolaos. The designations were made under the Protection and Management of Nature and Wildlife Ordinance and will support the existing network (NATURA 2000) of SACs in Cyprus and across Europe.
When the areas were being established, the boundaries were deliberately drawn to avoid centres of population. Approximately 15,700 people live in the areas. About 7,700 native Cypriots work in the areas themselves, or on farmland within the boundaries of the areas. The British military and their families make up the rest of the population.
Persons related to the territory may in theory be eligible to claim the British Overseas Territories citizenship (BOTC status) through a personal connection to the areas (i.e., birth on the territory before 1983, or born after 1983 to a parent who were born on the territory before 1983); but unlike most other British Overseas Territories, there is no provision in the 2002 amendment of the British Nationality Act 1981 by which British citizenship (with the right of abode in the United Kingdom) can either be claimed through automatic entitlement or be applied for by means of registration, from or through a sole personal connection to the Base Areas. (In comparison, the 2002 act bestowed British citizenship on all other BOTCs.) Hence non-British and non-military personnel with the connection to the territory can only live and work in the UK through their EU (Cypriot) citizenship and not through their BOTC status.
Under the terms of the 1960 agreement with Cyprus establishing the Sovereign Base Areas, the United Kingdom is committed not to use the areas for civilian purposes. This was stated in 2002 as the primary reason for the exclusion of the areas from the scope of the British Overseas Territories Act 2002.
There are no economic statistics gathered for Akrotiri and Dhekelia. The main economic activities are the provision of services to the military, as well as limited agriculture. When the territory under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus switched currencies from the Cypriot pound to the euro on 1 January 2008, Akrotiri and Dhekelia followed suit making the Sovereign Base Areas the only territory under British sovereignty to officially use the euro.
BFBS Radio 1 and 2 are broadcast on FM and can be widely received across Cyprus. BFBS Television is now only available to entitled viewers via satellite, having been confined to the SBAs or encrypted in 1997 for copyright reasons, before BFBS switched off its analogue transmitters in 2009. The British East Mediterranean Relay Station is situated locally.
Cypriot motorways pass through both areas. There is no public airport within the areas, but the RAF Akrotiri airbase is located there, which has a runway suitable for long distance flights, but not used for public flights.
The Base Areas form part of the Republic of Cyprus telephone numbering plan, using the international prefix +357. Landline numbers are in the same eight-digit format, with the last four digits being the extension number. Numbers in Dhekelia begin with the digits 2474, while those in Akrotiri begin with the digits 2527.
The bases are issued different amateur radio call signs from the Republic of Cyprus. Amateur radio stations on the bases use the International Telecommunication Union prefix of "ZC4", which is assigned to Great Britain. There are about 52 amateurs licensed in this manner.
Amateur radio direction finding identified RAF Akrotiri as the location of the powerful but now defunct shortwave numbers station "Lincolnshire Poacher". Several curtain antennas there have been identified as being used for these transmissions.
Service Children's Education oversees education for children of personnel and MoD employees. The Eastern Sovereign Base Area is served by Dhekelia Primary School and Ayios Nikolaos Primary School, which are feeders for King Richard School. The Western Sovereign Base Area is served by Episkopi Primary School and Akrotiri Primary School, which are feeders for St. John's School.
An administrator (administrator of the government, officer administering the government) in the constitutional practice of some countries in the Commonwealth is a person who fulfils a role similar to that of a governor or a governor-general.Akrotiri (village)
Akrotiri (Greek: Ακρωτήρι, literally Cape, Turkish: Ağrotur) is a village within the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area, which forms part of the British Overseas Territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia. It is the only village in the Western SBA with a significant non-military population.
The village contains two small churches dedicated to St. Cross and St. George. To the south is a site called Kourion (Greek: Κούριον) containing the ruins of an ancient settlement. Of the place Stefano Lusignan in his Description de toute l'isle de Cypre (Paris, 1580) says: "Cury est une ville antique, située au milieu du Promontoire des chats." ("Kouria is an ancient town situated in the middle of the Headland of Cats.")British Forces Cyprus
British Forces Cyprus (BFC) is the name given to the British Armed Forces stationed in the UK Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia on the island of Cyprus and at a number of related 'retained sites' in the Republic of Cyprus. The United Kingdom retains a military presence on the island in order to keep a strategic location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, for use as a staging point for forces sent to locations in the Middle East and Asia. BFC is a tri-service command, with all three services based on the island reporting to it. At present, there are approximately 3,500 personnel serving in Cyprus.Catholic Church in Cyprus
The Catholic Church in Cyprus is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome.Cypriot cuisine
Cypriot cuisine is the cuisine of Cyprus and is closely related to Greek and Turkish cuisine; it has also been influenced by Byzantine, French, Italian, Catalan, Ottoman and Middle Eastern cuisines.Dasaki Stadium
Dasaki Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Dasaki Achnas, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Cyprus. It is currently used mostly for football matches and is the home ground of Ethnikos Achna FC. The stadium holds 7,000 people and was built in 1997. It is located just south of the border with Northern Cyprus near the abandoned village of Achna.Dhekelia Cantonment
Dhekelia Cantonment is an area of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus, administered as a Sovereign Base Area. It is located in the Eastern Sovereign Base Area, one of the two areas which comprise the territory. It is the larger of the British military bases on the island, and it is also the location of Alexander Barracks, which is home to 2nd Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment. In Autumn 2017 the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment deployed to Dhekelia replacing 2nd Battalion, The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.It forms part of British Forces Cyprus.Episkopi Cantonment
Episkopi Cantonment (Greek: Επισκοπή, Turkish: Episkopi Cantonment) is the capital of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus, administered as a base. It is located in the middle of the Western Sovereign Base Area, one of the two areas which comprise the territory. Although it is not the largest of the British military bases on the island, it is home to both the civilian and military administration headquarters of the Sovereign Base Areas. Episkopi is the current command centre of British Forces Cyprus.Flag of Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Akrotiri and Dhekelia has no official flag of its own and as a result is represented by the flag of the United Kingdom, the Union Jack. Akrotiri and Dhekelia, officially the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, is a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus that comprises two military bases and their hinterland.Kolossi
Kolossi (Greek: Κολόσσι [locally [koˈlosːi]]; Turkish: Yunus or Goloş) is a village on the outskirts of Limassol, Cyprus. It lies partly in the British Overseas Territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia. Its population in 2011 was 5,651.
Kolossi is known for its medieval castle.LGBT rights in Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the British Overseas Territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia enjoy most of the same rights as non-LGBT people.
Due to Akrotiri and Dhekelia being a sovereign military base, the status of LGBT rights in certain areas is ambiguous and unclear. Same-sex marriage has been legal in the territory since June 2014, under the Overseas Marriage (Armed Forces) Order 2014, but only to British military personnel. In most cases, the laws of Akrotiri and Dhekelia and the United Kingdom do not apply to the c. 7,700 Cypriot civilians. Akrotiri and Dhekelia issues birth and death certificates to civilian residents for instance, but only issues marriage certificates to military personnel and their dependents.List of cities, towns and villages in Cyprus
This is a list of settlements in Cyprus. The English-language name is indicated first, followed by the Greek name in Greek script (if it is different from the English-language name, the Greek name is rendered in the Latin alphabet), followed by the Turkish name. Listed last is a former name or one used in antiquity. Note that even though, prior to the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Turkish names existed for some villages/towns, due to political reasons, most of the villages/towns were given a different Turkish name. The largest cities in Cyprus are Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, Famagusta, Paphos and Kyrenia.Outline of Akrotiri and Dhekelia
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Akrotiri and Dhekelia:
Akrotiri and Dhekelia – British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus, administered as a Sovereign Base Area. It comprises two separate areas, the Eastern Sovereign Base Area and the Western Sovereign Base Area. The bases were retained by the UK following the independence of Cyprus in 1960, because of the strategic location of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea. The Western Sovereign Base Area includes Akrotiri (Greek: Ακρωτήρι; Turkish: Agrotur and Episkopi Cantonment, while the Eastern Sovereign Base Area includes Dhekelia Cantonment (Greek: Δεκέλεια; Turkish: Dikelya) and Ayios Nikolaos.Pergamos, Cyprus
Pergamos (Greek: Πέργαμoς; Turkish: Beyarmudu) is a Turkish Cypriot village in Larnaca District, Cyprus, 4 km north of Pyla, almost surrounded by the British Sovereign Base Area (SBA) at Dhekelia. Pergamos is under the de facto control of Northern Cyprus.
Under Ottoman rule it was in the Caza of Famagusta and initially remained so under British rule. Around 1920 it was moved to Larnaca District.Rugby union in Cyprus
Rugby union in Cyprus is a minor but growing sport.Same-sex marriage in Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Same-sex marriage has been legal in the British Overseas Territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia since 3 June 2014. An ordinance to legalise such marriages was approved by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty in Council on 28 April 2014 and came into effect on 3 June. However, for a same-sex couple to marry in the territory, at least one partner has to serve in the British Armed Forces and their marriage application has to be approved by the base commander. The first same-sex couple to marry in the territory was Sergeant Alastair Smith and Aaron Weston, who married on the British military base on Dhekelia on 10 September 2016.Civil partnerships have also been legal for same-sex couples, if at least one partner is serving in the British Armed Forces, since 7 December 2005.Civilian same-sex couples living in the territory are unable to marry, as they are governed under the laws of Cyprus which does not recognise same-sex marriage. In 1960, when the Republic of Cyprus became independent, the United Kingdom declared that the laws applicable to the civilian population would be as far as possible the same as the laws of Cyprus. In December 2015, civil unions were legalised in Cyprus for both different-sex and same-sex couples.Scouting and Guiding in Cyprus
The Scout and Guide movement in Cyprus is served by
the Cyprus Scouts Association, member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement
the Girl Guides Association of Cyprus, member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts
Scouts of Northern Cyprus (Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk İzcileri) is active in the northern part of Cyprus and has strong ties to the Türkiye İzcilik FederasyonuSovereign Base Areas Police
The Sovereign Base Areas Police is the local civilian police force for the British controlled Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus. Established in August 1960, the force has responsibility for all 15,000 residents of the SBAs, including military personnel. The Cyprus Joint Police Unit (the Royal Navy Police, Royal Military Police and RAF Police), has concurrent jurisdiction over military offences committed by Service personnel within the garrisons and stations and other retained military sites outside the SBAs. Both work in full cooperation with each other and any jurisdiction issues are managed through an agreed Memorandum of Understanding.
The SBA Police consists of a total of 241 officers and 12 civilian employees. There are four British senior officers, with the remainder recruited from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. In addition to its regular policing duties, the SBA Police has responsibility for the operation of Dhekelia Prison.
Although the SBA Police is administered by the Ministry of Defence, it is a separate force from the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP).Trachoni, Limassol
Trachoni (Greek: Τραχώνι) is a large village lying partly in the Limassol District of Cyprus, and partly in the British Overseas Territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia. As of 2011, it had a population of 3,952. Prior to 1974, Trachoni was inhabited both by Greek- and Turkish Cypriots. The Greek Cypriots constituted a majority.