The Turkish Cypriot state made a unilateral declaration of. Protracted conflict between the Greek Cypriot majority and the Turkish Cypriot minority and an invasion of the island by Turkish troops in 1974 produced an actual, but internationally unrecognised, partition of the island and led to the establishment in 1975 of a de facto Turkish Cypriot state in the northern third of the country. Snakes were widespread in ancient times, giving the island the name Ophiussa, 'the abode of snakes'; they are now relatively rare. Today, Cyprus is a popular tourist destination for European visitors, favoured by honeymooners (as befits the legendary home of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love), birdwatchers attracted by the island's diversity of migratory species and other holidaymakers.
Cyprus lies about 65 km south of Turkey, 100 km west of Syria and 770 km southeast of Greece. The main soil types on the island are the imperfect, gravelly lithosols found in the Troodos and Kyrenia mountains and the agriculturally productive vertisols found in the Mesaoria plain and along the southeastern coast. In 1960 Cyprus became independent from Britain (it had been a crown colony since 192 as the Republic of Cyprus). The rugged island of Cyprus resembles a saucepan, with the handle extending northeastward from the main part.
The summit of the mountain range, Mount Olympus (also called Mount Troodos), reaches a height of 1,951 metres and is the highest point on the island. Settled for more than 10 millennia, Cyprus lies at a cultural, linguistic and historical crossroads between Europe and Asia. Cyprus, in Greek Kípros, in Turkish Kıbrıs, is an island in the eastern Mediterranean known since ancient times for its mineral wealth, its superb wines and produce, and its natural beauty. The Turkish Cypriot state made a unilateral declaration of independence in 1983 and adopted the name Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
A "golden green leaf cast into the sea and a land of "wild climate and volcanoes, in the words of the Greek Cypriot poet Leonidas Malenis, Cyprus comprises high mountains, fertile valleys and wide beaches.