Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus (Greek: Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία; Turkish:Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti), is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Cyprus is the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean, and a member state of the European Union. It is located south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, northwest of Israel, north ofEgypt and east of Greece.
The earliest known human activity on the island dates to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia, and Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world. Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in two waves in the 2nd millennium BC. At a strategiclocation in the Middle East, it was subsequently occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, from whom the island was seized in 333 BC by Alexander the Great. Subsequent rule by Ptolemaic Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Byzantines, Arab caliphates for a short period, the French Lusignan dynasty and the Venetians, was followed by over three centuries of Ottoman rule between 1571 and 1878 (de jure until 1914).
Cyprus was placed under British administration on 4 June 1878 (formally annexed by Britain on 5 November 1914, in response to the Ottoman government's decision to join World War I on the side of the Central Powers) until it was granted independence in 1960, becoming a member of the Commonwealth in 1961. In 1963, the 11-year intercommunal violence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots started, which almost sparked a war in 1964 between Turkey and Greece. This was avoided through the last minute intermediation of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. Ten years later, on 15 July 1974, the Cypriot coup d'état was staged by elements of the Greek military junta. Turkey, as one of the three "Guarantor States" in Cyprus (together with the United Kingdom and Greece) according to the Treaty of Guarantee (1960), used the coup d'etat as a pretext to invade the northern portion of the island five days later, on 20 July 1974. Turkish forces remained in Cyprus after the cease-fire, resulting in the effective partitioning of the island, an objective of Turkey since 1955. The intercommunal violence, attempted coup by Greek forces and subsequent Turkish invasion led to the displacement of over 150,000 Greek Cypriots and 50,000 Turkish Cypriots.
The Republic of Cyprus has de jure sovereignty over the island of Cyprus and its surrounding waters, according to international law. However, the Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts; the area under the effective control of the Republic, comprising about 59% of the island's area, and the Turkish military controlled area in the north, calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and recognised only by Turkey, covering about 36% of the island's area. The international community considers the northern part of the island as territory of the Republic of Cyprus illegally occupied by Turkish forces.
Cyprus is a major tourist destination in the Mediterranean. With an advanced, high-income economy and a very high Human Development Index the Republic of Cyprus was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement until it joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. On 1 January 2008, the Republic of Cyprus joined the Eurozone.