The third-largest island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus lies off the southern coast of Turkey and the western shore of Syria. Cyprus was the site of early Phoenician and Greek colonies.
For centuries, its rule passed through many hands. It fell to the Turks in 1571, and a large Turkish colony settled on the island. Shortly after the founding of the republic in 1960, serious differences arose between the two communities about the implementation and interpretation of the constitution.
In 1974 Cyprus was divided de facto when the Turkish army occupied the northern third of the island. The Turkish Cypriots subsequently declared independence in 1983 as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus but were recognized only by Turkey.
Read more about Cyprus here.