Cyprus (pronounced /ˈsaɪprəs/; Greek: Κύπρος, Kýpros, IPA: /ˈcipros/; Turkish: Kıbrıs), – officially the Republic of Cyprus (Greek: Κυπριακή Δημοκρατία, Kypriakī́ Dīmokratía, IPA: /cipriaˈci ðimokraˈtia/; Turkish:Kıbrıs Cumhuriyeti) – is a Eurasian island country in the Eastern Mediterranean, south of Turkey and west of Syria and Lebanon. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of its most popular tourist destinations. An advanced, high-income economy with 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.
The earliest known human activity on the island dates back to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Choirokoitia (also known as Khirokitia), which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the Tombs of the Kings. Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world, and is the site of the earliest known example of feline domestication. As a strategic location in the Middle East, Cyprus has been occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Hittites, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Rashiduns,Umayyads, Lusignans, Venetians and Ottomans. Settled by Mycenean Greeks in the 2nd millennium BC, the island also experienced periods of Greek rule under the Ptolemies and the Byzantines. In 333 B.C., Alexander the Great took over the island from the Persians. It was placed under British administration in 1878 until it was granted independence in 1960, becoming a member of the Commonwealth the following year.
In 1974, following 11 years of intercommunal violence and an attempted coup d’état by Greek Cypriot nationalists, Turkey invaded and occupied the northern portion of the island. The intercommunal violence and subsequent Turkish invasion led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Cypriots and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot political entity in the north. These events and the resulting political situation are matters of ongoing dispute.
The Republic of Cyprus has de jure sovereignty over the entire island of Cyprus and its surrounding waters except small portions, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, that are allocated by treaty to the United Kingdom as sovereign military bases. The Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts, the area under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, comprising about 59% of the island’s area and the Turkish-occupied area in the north, calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, covering about 37% of the island’s area and recognized only by Turkey.
The traditional folk music of Cyprus has several common elements with Greek, Turkish, and Arabic music including Greco-Turkish dances such as the sousta, syrtos, zeibekikos, tatsia, and kartsilamas as well as the Middle Eastern-inspired tsifteteli and arapie. There is also a form of musical poetry known as chattista which is often performed at traditional feasts and celebrations. The art history of Cyprus can be said to stretch back up to 10,000 years, following the discovery of a series of Chalcolithic period carved figures in the villages of Khoirokoitia and Lempa and the island is also the home to numerous examples of high quality religious icon painting from the Middle Ages.
Agricultural products include citrus, vegetables, cereal grains, potatoes, olives, and cotton; in addition, the Greek sector grows deciduous fruits and wine grapes, and the Turkish side, where agriculture is more important, grows tobacco and table grapes. Poultry, hogs, sheep, goats, and some cattle are raised. Fishing is an important industry in the Turkish sector, and the Greek side has a strong manufacturing economy that produces building materials, textiles, chemicals, and metal, wood, paper, stone, and clay products. There is also food and beverage processing, ship repair, and petroleum refining. Mineral resources include copper, pyrites, asbestos, gypsum, and salt. Tourism is important for both areas; financial services are also important in the Greek sector. The Greek sector is considerably more prosperous than the Turkish side, which is heavily dependent on aid from Turkey.