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Location of Cyprus (pictured lower right), showing the Republic of Cyprus in darker green and the self-declared republic of Northern Cyprus in brighter green, with the rest of the European Union shown in faded green is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean and the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean.
Cyprus is located south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, northwest of Israel, north of Egypt, and southeast of Greece.
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.
However, the Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts: the area under the effective control of the Republic, located in the south and west, and comprising about 59% of the island's area; and the north, administered by the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, covering about 36% of the island's area.
Another nearly 4% of the island's area is covered by the UN buffer zone.
In a reversal from the days of Latin rule, the head of the Church of Cyprus was invested as leader of the Greek Cypriot population and acted as mediator between Christian Greek Cypriots and the Ottoman authorities.When the Roman Empire was divided into Eastern and Western parts in 395, Cyprus became part of the East Roman, or Byzantine Empire, and would remain so until the Crusades some 800 years later.Under Byzantine rule, the Greek orientation that had been prominent since antiquity developed the strong Hellenistic-Christian character that continues to be a hallmark of the Greek Cypriot community.Throughout Venetian rule, the Ottoman Empire frequently raided Cyprus.In 1539 the Ottomans destroyed Limassol and so fearing the worst, the Venetians also fortified Famagusta and Kyrenia.
It was during this period that the island was fully Hellenized.