The earliest known human activity on the island dates to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia, and Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world. Cyprus was settled by Mycenean Greeks in two waves in the 2nd millennium BC. As a strategic location in the Middle East, it was subsequently occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Persians, from whom the island was seized in 333 BC by Alexander the Great. Subsequent rule by Ptolemaic Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Byzantines, Arab caliphates for a short period, the French Lusignan dynasty, and the Venetians, was followed by over three centuries of Ottoman control. Cyprus was placed under British administration in 1878 until it was granted independence in 1960, becoming a member of the Commonwealth the following year. In 1974, seven years after the inter communal violence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, an attempted coup d'état by Greek Cypriot nationalists and elements of the Greek military junta with the aim of achieving enosis (union of the island with Greece) took place. Turkey used this as a pretext to invade the northern portion of the island. Turkish forces remained after a cease-fire, resulting in the partition of the island; an objective of Turkey since 1955.The inter communal violence and subsequent Turkish invasion led to the displacement of over 150,000 Greek Cypriots and 50,000 Turkish Cypriots, and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriots political entity in the north. These events and the resulting political situation are matters of a continuing dispute.
The Republic of Cyprus has de jure sovereignty over the island of Cyprus and its surrounding waters, except for the British Overseas Territory ofAkrotiri and Dhekelia, administered as Sovereign Base Areas. However, the Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts; the area under the effective control of the Republic, comprising about 59% of the island's area, and the Turkish-controlled area in the north, calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and recognised only by Turkey, covering about 36% of the island's area. The international community considers the northern part of the island as occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkish forces.
Cyprus is a major tourist destination in the Mediterranean. An advanced, high-income economy with a very high Human Development Index, the Republic of Cyprus was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement until it joined the European Union on 1 May 2004. On 1 January 2008, the Republic of Cyprus joined the Euro zone.