Cyprus is a Mediterranean island off the coasts of Syria and Turkey. It is the third-largest island in the Mediterranean; Sicily and Sardinia are larger. It is slightly larger than Puerto Rico. Geographically, it is part of Asia and in the Middle East, but for political reasons, it is sometimes counted as being part of Europe. There are two states on the island:
- The Republic of Cyprus (internationally recognized) is also part of the European Union. Most of the world considers the whole island to be the Republic of Cyprus. Greek is the most spoken language in the Republic of Cyprus.
- The self declared “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” is the northern part of the island. The only nation that recognizes this as its own country is Turkey. According to the European Court of Human Rights, it should be considered a puppet state under Turkish military occupation.
These states are separated by a buffer zone, which is controlled by the United Nations. In addition to the two countries, there are Akrotiri and Dhekelia, two territories which are under British control, and which are used as military bases.
In its thousands of years of recorded history, many empires have ruled Cyprus. They include Assyria, ancient Egypt Persia, Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, the Byzantines, Arab caliphates for a short period, France, the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire.
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