Colonised by the ancient Greeks in 1400 BC, Cyprus has had a succession of foreign rulers through the centuries, including the Romans, the Byzantines, the Franks and the Venetians, whose 300-year rule ended in 1571 when the island became part of the Ottoman Empire. After almost 250 years of Ottoman rule, Cyprus was placed under British administration in 1878.
The island finally became independent in 1960 after a protracted and violent struggle against the colonial power between 1955 and 1959. After lengthy negotiations, Britain, Greece and Turkey drafted a constitution for the new state, along with Treaties of Guarantee and Alliance. The Republic of Cyprus came into being in August 1960.
The constitution and the two accompanying treaties established a complex power-sharing structure between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, which precluded partition of the island, or union with Greece or Turkey. Both countries, along with Britain, were also designated guarantors of the independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic.
The constitution provided for a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice president, while the Turkish Cypriot community was granted three ministerial positions out of a total of ten, and fifteen out of the fifty seats in the House of Representatives.