Cyprus is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria, Lebanon, northwest of Israel and north of Egypt. Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and the Republic of Cyprus is a member state of the European Union. The earliest known human activity on the island dates back to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia, which has been declared a World Heritage Site with an "enhanced protection" status in the event of armed conflict by UNESCO, along with the archaeological sites of Paphos and the Painted Churches of the Troodos Region. Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world, and is the site of the earliest known example of feline domestication. At a strategic location in the Middle East, Cyprus has been occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Hittites, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Roman Empire, Arab caliphates for a short period, the Latin kings Lusignans, Venetians, and Ottomans. Settled by Mycenean Greeks in the 2nd millennium BC, the island also experienced long periods of Greek "rule" under the Ptolemaic Egyptians and the Byzantines. In 333 BC, Alexander the Great conquered the island from the Persians. The Ottoman Empire conquered the island in 1571 and it remained under Ottoman control for over three centuries. It 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, following 11 years of intercommunal 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 intercommunal violence and subsequent Turkish invasion led to the displacement of over two hundred thousand Greek Cypriots, and the establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot political entity in the north. These events and the resulting political situation are matters of ongoing dispute. The Republic of Cyprus has de jure sovereignty over the island of Cyprus and its surrounding waters, except for the British military bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia. The Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts; the area under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, 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. Cyprus is the third most populous island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of its most popular tourist destinations. 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 Eurozone.
Paphos - The Tombs of the Kings is a large necropolis lying about two kilometres north-west of Paphos harbour in Cyprus. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The underground tombs, many of which date back to the 4th century BCE, are carved out of solid rock, and are thought to have been the burial sites of Paphitic aristocrats and high officials up to the third century CE (the name comes from the magnificence of the tombs; no kings were in fact buried here). Some of the tombs feature Doric columns and frescoed walls. Archaeological excavations are still being carried out at the site. The tombs are cut into the native rock, and at times imitated the houses of the living. Although the tombs have been known and casually explored for centuries, they were first subjected to systematic excavation in the later 1970s and the 1980s. Part of the importance of the tombs lies in the Paphian habit of including Rhodian amphorae among the offerings in a burial. Through the manufacturing stamps placed on the handles of these amphorae, it is possible to give them a date and, through them, the other material from the same burial. Thus, it is hoped to develop a more secure chronology for archaeological material in the Eastern Mediterranean of the Hellenistic and early Roman periods.
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edited by mobydick74
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