Cyprus has constantly been a significant trading post between Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and throughout history someone has always wanted to take it from someone else. First the Mycenaeans grabbed it, then the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Assyrians and Persians. Alexander the Great took it off them, and then Ptolemy snatched it from him.
In 1925 Cyprus became a Crown colony of the UK, but by then the Cypriots have had just about enough of being a pawn for empire builders, and agitation for self-determination began. This laid the foundations for today's Greek/Turkish conflict. While many Greek Cypriots wanted to form a union with Greece, the Turkish population was not so keen. By 1950, the Cypriot Orthodox Church and 96% of Greek Cypriots wanted this union. In response, the British drafted a new constitution, which was accepted by the Turkish population but opposed by the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters, who wanted union or nothing. They began a guerrilla war against the British.
In August 1960, Britain granted Cyprus its independence. A Greek Archbishop called Makarios became president, while a Turk, Kükük, was made vice-president. By 1964 Makarios was moving towards stronger links with Greece, and inter communal violence was on the riseOn 15 July 1974 Turkey invated and Greece quickly pulled out. The Turks were not placated and took the northern third of the island, forcing 180,000 Greek Cypriots to flee their homes. In 1983 Turkish Cypriots proclaimed a separate state, naming it the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). No country, apart from Turkey, has recognized this 'state'.
Peace talks have been held sporadically, but Cyprus remains divided. However, Turkey continues to make moves towards full membership of the European Union, and this may force both sides to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The island joined the EU in May 2004, but EU laws only apply to the Republic of Cyprus.