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Formation Date:1960
Land area:9251.00
Government Form:Republic
Head of State:Glafkos Klerides

Independence from the UK was approved in 1960, with constitutional guarantees by the Greek Cypriot majority to the Turkish Cypriot minority. In 1974, a Greek-sponsored attempt to seize the government was met by military intervention from Turkey, which soon controlled almost 40% of the island.

Hostilities between the Cypriot Greek and Turkish communities have required UN peacekeepers since 1964 and led to a formal division of the island in 1974 when Turkey seized its northern end in response to a Greek coup seeking to unify Cyprus with Greece. In 1983, the breakaway state became the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized internationally only by Turkey, which keeps 30,000 troops there. UN-led direct talks between the two sides to reach a comprehensive settlement to the division of the island began in January, 2002.

Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders on Friday, February 13, 2004, accepted Secretary General Kofi Annan’s plan for ending Cypriot decades-long division and pledged to negotiate reunification in time for the islands’s May 1 entry into the European Union.

Unless reunification is achieved, only the Greek Cypriot government will be entitled to enter the soon-to-be-25-nation European Union on May 1. Failure in Cyprus could very well jeopardize the Turkish candidacy to become the first Muslim nation to join Europe; so, Turkey is lending strong support to a resolution of the Cypriot schism.

Cyprus Flag description: white with a copper-colored silhouette of the island (the name Cyprus is derived from the Greek word for copper) above two green crossed olive branches in the center of the flag; the branches symbolize the hope for peace and reconciliation between the Greek and Turkish communities.