Since 1974 Cyprus has been unofficially divided
in two. While both sides identify as Cypriots, one part is ethnically Greek, while the other
is Turkish. And both sides obey separate governments. However, there are signs that the Turkish
military occupation on the island is dwindling, and the two sides may reunite soon. So why
is Cyprus divided? Well, ownership of Cyprus has changed hands
several times. Originally, Cyprus was populated mainly by Greeks. But around 1570, the Ottoman
Empire, which later became Turkey, conquered the island, and many Turks migrated there.
In the late 19th century about three quarters of Cypriots were ethnically Greek, while just
a quarter were ethnically Turkish. For much of their history, Greek and Turkish-Cypriots
lived together in ethnically-diverse neighborhoods. After being under British rule since 1878,
and following both World Wars, the two communities split based on nationalistic and religious
loyalties. Radical political organizations became responsible for the assassinations
of hundreds of people along ethnic lines. In 1960, Cyprus gained independence from Britain,
which relieved some colonial tensions. But after years of infighting their unity as a
nation was tainted. In 1974, Greece’s military junta backed
a coup d’etat of the new Cyprus government to assert more influence over the island.
In response, five days later, Turkey invaded Cyprus, and captured about a third of its
territory. In subsequent battles over dominance, thousands of Cypriots died and were displaced.
The United Nations stepped in to broker a cease-fire deal soon after, and a Buffer Zone
between both sides was created. Greece then rescinded virtually any claim over Cyprus
once Turkey threatened all out war. But since 1974, Turkey hasn’t left Cyprus,
and the country is divided and ruled by different governments. However, ONLY Turkey recognizes
the Turkish-Cypriot territory, also known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
The rest of the world, including the UN and the EU, recognizes Cyprus as just one nation,
called the Republic of Cyprus. Political relations between both territories
remain delicately balanced, but nowadays, fighting has subsided. And in April 2015,
people in Turkish-occupied Cyprus elected a new president who is an advocate for reunification.
The new president promises that his policy will be “focused on reaching a peace settlement”.
He says, “This country cannot tolerate any more wasted time.” Other international leaders
are also hopeful. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, believes that the parties “can make
real and lasting progress in the year 2015.” If you’re interested in learning more about
how powerful Turkey is, make sure you watch our full video here. There’s a link in the
description below. Oh yea, and if you’re not yet subscribed… what are you waiting
for? Thanks for watching!