Cyprus is the third-largest island in the Mediterranean and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean, attracting over 2.4 million tourists per year. A former British colony, it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960 and became a Commonwealth republic in 1961. The Republic of Cyprus is a developed country and has been a member of the European Union since 1 May 2004.
In 1974, following a period of violence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and an attempted Greek Cypriot coup d'état sponsored by the Greek military junta of 1967-1974, Turkey invaded and occupied one-third of the island. This led to the displacement of thousands of Cypriots and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot political entity in the north. This event and its resulting political situation is a matter of ongoing dispute.
The Republic of Cyprus, the internationally recognized state, has de jure sovereignty over 97% of the island of Cyprus and all surrounding waters, and the United Kingdom controls the remaining three percent. Cyprus is the mythical birthplace of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, of beauty and love, also known as Kypris or the Cyprian. According to Hesiod's Theogony, the goddess emerged fully grown from the sea where the severed genitals of the god Uranus were cast by his son Kronos, causing the sea to foam (Greek: Aphros). Her birth was famously depicted by the artist Botticelli in The Birth of Venus. The legendary site of Aphrodite's birth is at Petra Tou Romiou ("Aphrodite's Rock"), a large sea stack close to the coastal cliffs near Paphos. Throughout ancient history Cyprus was a flourishing centre for the cultic worship of Aphrodite.
The climate is temperate and Mediterranean with dry summers and variably rainy winters. Summer temperatures range from warm at higher elevations in the Tröodos mountains to hot in the lowlands. Winter temperatures are mild at lower elevations, where snow rarely occurs, but are significantly colder in the mountains, where there is sufficient snow for a seasonal ski facility. Dust storms are frequent throughout the year.
Official Name Republic of Cyprus
Population 793,100, and that number does not include the estimated 115,000 Turks in the north. (154 out of 192)
Capital City Nicosia (pop. 207,000)
Languages Greek (official), English, Turkish
Latitude/Longitude 35° 00'N, 33° 00'E
Currency Greek Area: Cypriot Pound, Turkish Area: Turkish Lira
Religions Greek Orthodox, Muslim
Land Area 9,251sq km (3,372 sq miles) (160 out of 192)
Landforms A narrow band of mountains (the Kyrenia) slices across the north, while in the south, the Troodos Mountains dominate. Mt. Olympus is the highest point, at 6,403 ft., (1,951m). A somewhat fertile plain crosses the center of the island, with Nicosia at the southern end. The only rivers of size include the Pedias and Kariyoti.