Cyprus's location in the far east of the Mediterranean has made it a key target for neighbouring empires for thousands of years.
Trading route, imperial outpost or colonial military base - occupying forces, from the Hittites to the Romans and the Crusaders to the British, have all had their own uses for Cyprus, some leaving more of a legacy than others.
The island is said to be the birthplace of the ancient goddess of love, Aphrodite, and her cult thrived under Roman rule until eventually being overtaken by Christianity.
Ottoman Empire forces invaded in 1570, holding the island until the early 20th century, giving rise to the minority of Turkish speakers. Attempts by the island's Greek-speaking population to join the Greek rebellion in 1821 were put down, fomenting a hatred of the Ottoman Empire among Greek Cypriots.
At the end of the 19th century, Cyprus was given to Britain as a base and was formally made a British crown colony in 1925.