|Cyprus occupies an important strategic position in the South-East Mediterranean Sea. For this reason, successive powerful nations conquered it for short or long periods. Thus Cyprus, in its long history which starts in 5800 B.C. with the Neolithic settlement at Khirokitia, enjoyed peace and freedom only for short periods (in the time of Alexander the Great, the Ptolemy and the rise of Byzantium). In 1878, the Turks - who had already conquered Cyprus in 1571 - ceded the island to Great Britain. Between 1955-1959, a four year armed struggle resulted in Great Britain agreeing to hand the power over to representatives of both the Greek-Cypriots and the Turkish-Cypriots (16th August 1960). The new independent state was declared a Republic with a President directly elected by the Geeks (80% of the total population) and a Vice-President elected by the Turks (18%). The Cabinet consists of 10 ministers (7 Greek and 3 Turks), and the Hose of Representatives of 50 members (35 Greeks and 15 Turks), while the Supreme Court is presided over by a foreign President. The peaceful co-existence and the participation of the Turkish-Cypriots in the Government ended with the "inter-communal clashes" in December 1963. Yet both Communities continued living in peace next to each other until the Turkish invasion of July-August 1974. During the twenty years of its existence as an independent state, Cyprus became a member of the U.N. and its various organizations, a member of the Commonwealth and the Council of Europe.|
Source: Department of Postal Services, Republic of Cyprus.