country on an island at the E end of the Mediterranean, south of Turkey: colonized by Phoenicians and ancient Greeks; at various times ruled by Persian, Roman, Ptolemaic, Byzantine, & Ottoman Empires: formerly a British territory, it became independent in 1960 & a member of the Commonwealth in 1961: 3,572 sq mi (9,251 sq km); pop. 714,000; cap. Nicosia
An island country in the eastern Mediterranean Sea south of Turkey. Site of an ancient Neolithic culture, the island was settled by Phoenicians c. 800 BC and thereafter fell successively to the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Macedonian Greeks, and finally Romans (58 BC). The Byzantines controlled it from AD 395 until 1191, when it was captured by Richard I of England during the Third Crusade. Venice annexed it in 1489, Turkey conquered it in 1571, and Great Britain annexed it in 1914. Cyprus became independent in 1960, but large-scale fighting between Greek and Turkish Cypriots led to the installment of a UN peacekeeping force in 1964. In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus and established a de facto independent Turkish state in the northern part of the island. Nicosia is the capital of Cyprus and the largest city.