Cyprus gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1960. Despite a constitution which guaranteed a degree of power-sharing between the Greek Cypriot majority and the Turkish Cypriot minority, the two populations – with backing from the governments of Greece and Turkey, respectively, clashed in 1974, with the end result being the occupation of the northern and eastern 40% of the island by Turkey. In 1983, the Turkish-held area declared itself the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus". So far, only Turkey recognizes the TRNC, while all other governments and the United Nations recognize only the government of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island. The UN operates a peacekeeping force and a narrow buffer zone between the two Cypriot ethnic groups. Fortunately, open hostilities have been absent for some time, as the two sides (now with the growing involvement of the European Union) gradually inch towards a reunification of some sort.
On the Greek Cypriot side, beyond a significant sector of light industry, the tourism and services sectors have been growing very rapidly. Cyprus has become a fairly typical Mediterranean tourist resort, attracting millions of tourists annually, mainly from northern Europe. Its position at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa has led to a significant expansion of the service sector (which has lately been reaching markets such as the ex-Soviet Union and Eastern Europe). Various incentives have made it very popular as a site for offshore trading, shipping, and other offshore activities. The even more turbulent political climate in some of the nearby Middle Eastern countries (such as Lebanon) has led to various companies choosing Cyprus as a base for their activities in the area.
Cypriot cuisine is closely related to Greek and Turkish cuisine. It has been influenced over the years by factors such as:
- the deep rooted Greek civilization and culture with the dominance of the Greek diet and the concept of taverna and meze
- the many foreign rulers (Lusignians, Arabs, Ottomans) who brought along their own food habits which were gradually adopted as local
- the favorable climate allowing the production of natural food ingredients
- the long history of the island in grape and wine production.