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Sovereign Base Areas: Wikis


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Map of Cyprus. Sovereign base areas are in pink, the traditional colour on maps for British possessions.

The Sovereign Base Areas are military bases located on territory in which the United Kingdom is sovereign,[1] but which are separated from the ordinary British territory.

The two current Sovereign Base Areas are located adjacent to the Republic of Cyprus which was formerly governed by the United Kingdom.



Akrotiri and Dhekelia are UK Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) in Cyprus, a former British Crown Colony. British Forces Cyprus are stationed there to defend them, and they contain a British listening post, and the only fully fledged RAF station in the Mediterranean (since Gibraltar does not have any aircraft permanently based there), RAF Akrotiri. In addition to the garrison, the UK makes a contribution to the United Nations force in Cyprus. In total, some 3,500 British personnel are based in Cyprus.

Civilian laws are enacted by the British civilian authorities, but are patterned on those of the Republic of Cyprus. Many Cypriots work in the SBAs, mainly for the British authorities or as farmers, or for a few local businesses. But only those Cypriots with a local connection are permitted to live there, such as those who live in Akrotiri village or in the outskirts of villages neighbouring the bases. Also the villages of Xylotymvou and Ormidhia are exclaves of the Republic of Cyprus surrounded by Dhekelia SBA.

The Sovereign Bases in Cyprus are an overseas territory,[2] but instead of having a Governor, like other such territories, it has an Administrator, who, while appointed by the Queen, is responsible to the Ministry of Defence, not to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Administrator is concurrently Commander British Forces Cyprus. There is a Sovereign Base Area call sign radio prefix, ZC4, which is completely distinct from that of Cyprus, which typically uses 5B. For amateur radio purposes they are considered to be one separate entity.

The SBA covers an area of 98 square miles (250 km2) of Cyprus (47.5 at Akrotiri and 50.5 at Dhekelia), however, the UK government does not own it all. The Ministry of Defence, owns only 20% with 60% privately owned and intensively farmed and the remaining 20% being SBA Crown land (including forests, roads, rivers and Akrotiri Salt Lake).


Three former Sovereign Base Areas were located adjacent to the Irish Free State which was formerly part of the United Kingdom. These ports are now located inside the Republic of Ireland. After the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, three deep-water Treaty Ports, at Berehaven, Queenstown (now Cobh) and Lough Swilly, were retained by the United Kingdom, a condition of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. The ports remained under the control of the UK until Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement in 1938, when they were transferred to Irish sovereignty.

Some in Britain (including Winston Churchill) considered the handover a short-sighted decision, since the supply lines at the Battle of the Atlantic were stretched until the Allies established bases in Iceland following the British occupation in 1940. However, the ports had been neglected by the Admiralty and would not have been ready for war without considerable expenditure of time and money.[3]

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