In a 2002 report, about 96% of the government-controlled area of Cyprus was Greek Orthodox. Nearly 99% of the Turkish Cypriots are Muslim. Other faiths include Maronite, Armenian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestants. Religion holds a significantly more prominent place in Greek Cypriot society than in Turkish Cypriot society, with correspondingly greater cultural and political influence. Under the Cyprus ethnarch Archbishop Makarios III, who was president of Cyprus from 1960 until his death in 1977, the church was the chief instrument of Greek Cypriot nationalism. Makarios' successor as ethnarch, Archbishop Chrysostomos, elected for life, also has played an active role in Greek Cypriot political affairs.
The independence of the Church of Cyprus was recognized by the Council of Ephesus in AD 431 and confirmed by Emperor Zeno in 478. The Church of Cyprus is one of the oldest constituent bodies of the Holy Orthodox Eastern Church, being senior by centuries to the Orthodox Church of Greece, and junior only to the four original patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Virtually all Turkish Cypriots are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi sect.