The first signs of civilization in Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, are traced back to the 9th millennium B.C. According to tradition, Aphrodite, the ancient goddess of love and beauty, was born from the foam of the sea on the southwestern coast of Cyprus, near the ancient city of Paphos.
The geographic position of the island determined its destiny through the ages. While Cyprus functioned as the crossroads between the East and the West and as a true international trade centre, it was also conquered by successive powers dominating the Mediterranean through the centuries. As a result, this small, modern European state has developed its own unique character, harmoniously blending various cultural influences through its multifaceted interaction with neighbouring countries, but maintaining its Greek character.
Independence from British rule in 1959 led to the declaration of Independence of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960.