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Anticolonial rebellion and communal tensions in Cyprus, an island in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, have resulted in a seemingly intractable conflict that has divided the country. The roots of this conflict lie in the different and contradictory national identities formed by Greek and Turkish Cypriots since the colonial era.

From 1571 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire ruled Cyprus. After 1878, however, the island was occupied and administered by Britain. Cyprus retained formal Ottoman sovereignty, but the Ottomans had no real influence on day-to-day administration. Britain faced constant pressure from Greek Cypriots who wished for Cyprus to become part of Greece. British authorities considered this but decided to keep control over the island.

After World War II, however, Greek Cypriots asserted their claim for unification with Greece more ...

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