By legend the birthplace of the ancient Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, Cyprus’s modern history has, in contrast, been dominated by enmity between its Greek and Turkish inhabitants.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a military coup on the island which was backed by the Athens government.
The island was effectively partitioned with the northern third inhabited by Turkish Cypriots and the southern two-thirds by Greek Cypriots. United Nations troops patrol the “Green Line” dividing the two parts. Reunification talks have proceeded slowly.
Cyprus successfully diversified its largely agrarian economy into one based on services – including a large tourism sector – and light manufacturing. More recently it has also developed into an important financial hub, especially for investors from Russia and Eastern Europe.
- REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS
- Capital: Nicosia
- Population 1.1 million (combined)
- Area 9,251 sq km (3,572 sq miles) (combined)
- Major languages Greek, Turkish
- Major religions Christianity, Islam
- Life expectancy 78 years (men), 82 years (women) (UN)
- Currency euro; Turkish lira in the north