Cyprus is an independent democracy with a presidential system of government in which the President of Cyprus is both the head of state and the head of the government. Executive power is exercised by the government (President and Council of Ministers). Legislative power is exercised by the House of Representatives. The judiciary is independent of executive and legislative power and is exercised by the courts.
The Constitution provides that executive power is exercised jointly by the President and the Vice-President. The main body for the exercise of executive power is the Council of Ministers appointed by the President and the Vice-President.
Legislative authority is exercised by a unicameral House of Representatives. Its members are elected for a five-year term. In 1985 the number of seats was increased to 80, 56 allocated to Greek Cypriot members and 24 reserved for Turkish Cypriot deputies. Following the withdrawal of the Turkish Cypriot members in 1964, the House has been functioning only with the Greek Cypriot members. Since the vacancy of the Vice-President’s office in 1964, the President of the House serves as Acting President of the Republic in the absence or temporary incapacity of the President of the Republic.
The judiciary is independent from the other two branches of the state and autonomous in its sphere of competencies, authority and jurisdiction. The general Courts are the District Courts, operating in each district of the Republic. The Republic also has a Supreme Court. It has jurisdiction to examine the rulings of the lower Courts as well as the constitutionality of any law or any conflict of power or competence which arises between any organisations or authorities of the Republic.
The flag of the Republic of Cyprus was defined in 1960, when Cyprus became an independent sovereign state. The background is white with a copper-coloured silhouette of the map of Cyprus in the centre of the flag above two crossed olive-green-coloured olive branches. The copper colour has a dual symbolism: first, the name of the island is said to derive from an ancient word for copper and second, copper is closely associated with Cyprus since antiquity when the island became a major producer and supplier of this mineral resource. The olive branches are symbols of peace.